Marquise de M
Is is strange for me to be writing to you now? Me, in this place of exile, and you, dead?
It wasn't supposed to end this way, for either of us. I walk these streets, robed in my solitude and adorned with memories. I thought it would go on forever, the way I lived. All those "liaisons dangereuses" — they were a necessity for me, they were protection. Loving — well, bedding — so many made me feel powerful and transcendent. Having them on my terms meant my heart would never have to break. And my terms meant I played at will and with a wide berth, each of them satisfying a particular craving.
I might have wanted love, once. But the game became my real lover. I knew exactly what to say and do, how to flatter and entice. I knew when to be tender and when to bare my fangs. I knew how to give just enough of myself to hold them both captive and at a comfortable distance. And somewhere along the way, it — the Predator in Petticoats — became who I was instead of the persona I had created to shield me from an unkind world.
For the longest time, it was enough and I had whatever I wanted, when I wanted it.
That all changed with our entanglement.
And so, V, it has come to this — a desire to talk to you here, like this, about this life I chose for myself. Because it is what I've chosen — inadvertently, and before I knew it was too late. I think of the broken pieces that lie in my shadow and wonder which discarded heart it was that marked my point of no return.
You saw me for who I was, V. I broke you, too, in the end, but only because you knew too much, had glimpsed too far beneath my mask. We exhausted each other with our ideological chess match, and while I did not draw the sword that caused your mortal wound, I directed the hand that did. It is what I did best: Remain in control of the game.
Until there was no longer a game to play.
When all of Paris finally saw me for who I had become — a mistress of words and men — it all fell away. You bled to death before my undoing, and I wonder what you would have thought of it. Would it have satisfied you, finally?
Something tells me the answer is, "No." I think what you wanted was for me to be better. To have risen to the many challenges you laid at my feet. To have chosen to be a woman who could have had more.
And as I walk these streets, robed in my solitude and adorned with memories, I wonder who that woman might have been.