The Host

She often invites him over for dinner, so she spends hours preparing herself to be presentable in front of her guest.

First, she takes a long, hot bath to refresh the glow of her skin, adding flowers to let their fragrance seep into every pore of her body. Next, she selects the right clothes and jewellery for the weather and occasion, and then moves a careful hand and eye over the curves of her face as she puts on her makeup, which is more of a source of comfort and familiarity than a pressing need. Last but not least, she spreads the dinner table, lights a lamp, and burns some incense so that the entire room is filled with her presence.

She doesn’t want him to leave.

So when he comes, she doesn’t tell him that the food belongs to someone else. When they converse, either with polite words or raucous laughter, she doesn’t tell him that the incense was stolen and her clothes and jewellery were given to her by someone else. She doesn’t tell him that it was another man who had told her she doesn’t need makeup, but taught her how to put it on anyway. It was another man who had brought out the best of her beauty, like drawing clean water from a desert well.

When he sits in front of her, these are all things she doesn’t say, and things that turn her into a thief and a liar. Even when he weighs down her arms with expensive bracelets and crowns her with gold, these are things she will never tell him, because as long as she doesn’t share her secrets, she can keep on pretending that they’re not true.

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One thought on “The Host

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