Irresistible Chapter 1

Nov 7, 2015 by

Irresistible Chapter 1

Serialized Novel


The artist was the first man to slap her in the face. Not nearly hard enough of course. In the beginning he was still afraid to hurt her. Maybe he was afraid that she would scream, or tell. After all he did not know her, and he had a reputation to look out for. But after that first slap he knew that she would never scream or tell. She knew that too. She was pleased. More than pleased. She felt known. The more frequently he hit her, the more known she felt. She was hopeful that just maybe he was waiting to get to know her even better so that he could slap her more and more without being afraid of the consequences. That was all she could hope for.

She, the girl of the story, her name is Martine. Some people call her Tina, but she prefers Martine. It’s a French name given to her by her father who said his family was from Aix en Provence. His family was really from Poland but he had a cousin in Aix en Provence whom he hadn’t spoken to in 25 years.

She has always been the child of this father. The child of the liar.

No one challenged the father about his origins. Not Martine or the mother. They both knew. But they learned not to. They taught themselves not to know things. It was the rule of the family this not knowing. It was the agreement.

So, from the very beginning, from the baptism, the child was what the father wanted her to be. She was French. She was sophisticated. And so too then, was he.

The father spoke often to his lovely, sophisticated French daughter’s body. To its thin planes. To its straight line from her neck to her feet. He spoke to her breasts before they were there. Implanted himself inside of them believing that he could influence their future shape. He was concerned with their future.

He never spoke to her face. He looked at her from the neck down only, giving her the sensation of being headless, or of talking from her stomach. As a very young child Martine believed that she spoke from her stomach.

Outside in his garden the father speaks to the arms of his daughter.

“Feel your skin here,” he says touching the soft inside of her long thin arms, “while I touch this flower petal.”

He moves the fingers of his right hand from the shoulder of Martine, inside, to the bend in the elbow. With the fingers of his left hand he cups a rose from the bottom and moving his hand upward he brings all of the open petals together.

“It is the same, your skin and the flower petal. No? Go ahead touch the inside of your arm. That’s it, softly, softly,” he says while pushing his fingers slowly in and out of the soil around the roses.
“See how good that feels.”
She does not answer him. She is lost in the unbelievable softness of the inside of her arm.
“Now tell me what your skin feels like,” he asks the space where her breasts will be.
“Like a flower petal,” she whispers.
“That’s right,” he says to the inside of her thighs, “like a flower petal.”

The father, he creates a desire for himself within his daughter, awakening her body and indoctrinating her mind. Before she knows what it is she is feeling, her life is already an erotic haze.

She is excited by the father but she cannot tell him and she cannot tell herself. She cannot know what she knows. Later, after so many years of not knowing it becomes impossible to know. Difficult to remember.

To train oneself to not know what one knows for sure is not a simple matter. It erodes the gut instinct. It involves a kind of suicide. A distancing of the mind and of the feelings in the body.

This forgetting, this erosion of the gut, it creates a particular vulnerability, a space, for similar circumstances at later dates.

The mother does not look at her daughter’s body or touch her at all.

It was the father who cared for the body of Martine. It was the father who loved the body of Martine, who bathed the body of Martine, who put the body of Martine to sleep. And the mother who could not, because the father did.

The mother, although she was not young, was still a child herself. She used to be the child of the father, and then, after Martine was born, she was not. She had been usurped. She was filled with rage at the daughter for being an even younger child than she. For being, in her youth, irresistible to this father.

Martine’s head became where she lived. It seemed to be the only part of herself which was private. Her body belonged to the family. To the father through obsession and to the mother through hate. It was commented on, touched, photographed, alternately accepted and rejected in all of its various stages of growth. But her mind was her own. Distant and pristine, untouched and untrammeled, apart from her body and separate from everyone she knew.

At ten years old she writes, “Whole world under glass, young girl stands outside, dreaming.”

As a child Martine loved objects of all sorts. Walls, picture frames, cups, saucers, bowls, floors, all of them. She believed that they could feel. That they could hurt. She understood them. She spent much of the time of her childhood apologizing to sidewalks for walking on them, cups for banging them down on tables, pencils for sharpening them, as she would to a dog for stepping on its tail. She made no distinctions.

Alone, her life became a series of trials and errors. This was how she learned What tasted good and what made her spit out. What clothes to wear to school and what to wear out to play. And later, at the time of our story, of the story of Martine and the artist, what type of people to spend her time with. Who to let in and who to move away from. Who to wake up next to, who to fantasize about, and who to simply think about.

Alone, in an untaught world her journey is magnificent, but sometimes dangerous.

Margot Berwin is the author of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire and Scent of Darkness.

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