Today I Read…Dear Abby

Dear AbbyToday I read Dear Abby by Peggy Barnett.

Abby has the perfect job. She travels around to different exotic locations, stays in first-class resorts where she is waited upon hand and foot, and she gets to paid to do it all by the travel magazine that publishes her column, Dear Abby. Too bad she hates it.

All of these beautiful places with their own culture and people and history, and all she ever sees is the five-star bar. She wants to actually get to know the locals, see the world, not just the standard tourist attractions, carefully sanitized and packaged for the crafted “authentic” experience.

And then she meets her goddess. Beautiful, generous, lush Ixazaluoh, who makes Abby feel things she’s never felt before. Sensual Ixazaluoh, named for the goddess of water and weaving, and women’s arts. Lovely Ixazaluoh, who is more than just a hotel server. Abby wanted to change her life, and now her life will never be the same.

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This story was recommended to me by a friend, and it’s not really your standard romance story. Abby is unhappy, and meets a woman who changes her life (yes, part of it is because of sex), but it’s not really a happily-ever-after ending, even though it is. They will always be together, even though they aren’t together. Abby is a human sacrifice, but a willing one, and the implication is that her life will be the better for it.

Abby needs to take control of her pleasure in order to take control of her life. And she needs to accept pleasure in order to accept the gods into her life. She needs to be brave enough to let herself be wanted, to change her life. She’s been clinging to her safe life, with a job that isn’t terrible but doesn’t make her happy, all in the name of paying the rent and feeding her cat. I think that’s something a lot of people can understand.

Oh, and obviously this is recommended for an adult audience.

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ABBY DOESN’T BELIEVE IN MUCH OF ANYTHING.

If she was fanciful, if she was one of those fiction writers who can invent whole worlds out of a single meaningful social taboo, she might have the imagination to believe in a god. Any god. But she doesn’t, so she can’t.

All the same, the serving woman is a bit of a goddess. That’s the only way Abby can describe her. Out of everyone and everything in this overly-clean and pre-packaged little hell-hole, only this woman has caught Abby’s eye. She’s not sure why. Abby doesn’t sleep with women, although she can admire a nice pair of breasts, attractive features, beautiful hair. It doesn’t have to mean she wants to have sex with the rest of the collection, though.

Maybe because there’s something oddly authentic about this woman. But there shouldn’t be, and that’s what is making her stand out. She’s a resort worker, they’re all the same, really. They’re meant to be visually interchangeable to the tourists, all dressed in the same brown tailored shirts and cream shorts, all the women with their hair back in buns, all the men clean-shaven. They’re meant to be moving furniture, ignored and paid their pittance and sent off the resort to live their real lives beyond the too-white walls and too smooth-paths.

Maybe it’s the way that the woman’s hair is so black it shines blue. Maybe it’s because the smooth, high-cheeked planes of her face speak of local ancestry, and the rich smoky colour of her skin tells of a heritage untouched by Spanish conquistadors or Western marriages.

Abby is projecting, she knows this. She’s exotifying the serving woman and it makes Abby snort with disgust at herself.

And yet… Abby can’t take her eyes off the woman. If it were possible, if there were such things, then perhaps the woman might have been a little bit of a goddess. Of course, she couldn’t really be one. Goddesses don’t serve daiquiris to fat, sweating tourists on faux-marble pool patios. At least, Abby didn’t think so until now.

And yet… the server has a way of walking that makes her look like she’s not quite touching the ground, and there’s something almost too-white about the sclera of her eyes.

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