by Ariane Lessard
La Mèche, 2018
The tall guy with the brown hair and the sway back was my first one. That was fifteen years ago. I’d been attracted to him from the minute he’d walked in the door that day. He was about my age, which was pretty rare for the diner. Most of the truckers were older, my dad’s age maybe. I remember wanting to feel his hands on me. I wasn’t a virgin anymore; I’d lost my cherry a few years back to one of the Delaney brothers, who’d knocked me up before moving to the city. When my parents found out I was pregnant, they lost it. I was too young. I was ruining what little chance I had left of making something of myself. They agreed to help me with Thomas as long as I got a job. At the time, the diner had seemed like the only decent option in the entire village. I’d met Savage and Deborah there, and just like that, I’d become a waitress and a whore.
The tall brown-haired guy had walked in, I’d found him cute, and he’d become my first client. I’d been expecting an almost religious experience. I hadn’t expected him to treat me any better than that scumbag Delaney, but he’d seemed like a good person. Everything happened so fast. I followed him out to his truck, but he didn’t even wait till we got inside. He did me up against the fence. That was the second time in my life I was humiliated during sex.
The worst thing was, afterwards, I told myself it was my fault. I’d wanted to seduce him.
Eventually, I learned to spot the kinder ones. Often, they were the uglier ones—too shy to look me in the eye, but I could sense them getting turned on the minute I’d walk away from them. Those guys became regulars. Some even became friends. They’d drop by the restaurant once a month, where they’d sometimes find me with a swollen belly. My answer was always categoric: No, it wasn’t theirs, it was mine. That’s how Paul and Maria came into this world—fatherless. I’d always avoided bringing them to the diner, for fear some moron might get ideas about trying to bond with them. No matter how careful I was, though, that Jefferson woman still couldn’t keep her nose out of it, claiming my kids were Will’s. She was convinced he must sample the merchandise, convinced we let him do it. The uptight bitch.
She must be miserable, that Jefferson woman. Ever since she opened her trap, Deborah hasn’t been able to stand me. She and I used to be friends, though. Ok, maybe not friends, but we’d seemed to get along fine. Now she looks down her nose at my family. Yes, I adore my children, but they’re not the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not saying they were conceived in love, because I certainly never loved any of the men who gave them to me. Of course, I love my kids. But sometimes I can’t help looking at them and thinking they don’t exactly bring back many happy memories. I’ve never once thought about abandoning them, but as soon as they turn eighteen, I’m killing myself.
Translated by Ann Marie Boulanger