'You're always too tired, darling. Give up your job. We'll sell our house and buy a holiday business in Spain.'`We had been to Spain many time on holiday and had often daydreamed about retiring there. But we would still need an income.
You won't here the last of this,' she said. 'You've tricked me and used me. I'll track you down and get my revenge.' I ignored her meaningless threats; I sold the business and put the money into a Spanish bank. Susan was fluent in Spanish and took care of the details.
Six months later we were the proud owners of three holiday villas and an old mansion. Susan decided that it was best if she handled the business and planning side and I did practical jobs.
'You need a change from business responsibilities,' she told me. 'You need to just have things to do and nothing to worry about any more.'
I was told that we had to sign Spanish legal documents as regards residence and our different responsibilities and happily did so. There seemed to be a lot of these legal documents but Susan sighed and said,'That's continental bureaucracy for you.'
We spent the first weeks painting and decorating the villas, or rather I mainly did this while Susan handled the publicity, the finance, and designed kitchens and bathrooms for the holiday homes, ordered bedlinen and decided on colour schemes. This seemed to need endless trips to see people and have long 'business lunches' while I was left to rub down new plaster, paint, and sweep up the mess. The state of things gradually got more and more messy.
'Well, darling,' she said one morning, 'You have to make sure everything is sparklingly clean for our guests after all your renovation work.'
'That won't take you long,' I said. 'Cleaning is a woman's work, surely.'
'It will take you a long time,' she answered and her voice grew cold. 'Every square inch of wall, floor and ceiling must be immaculate. All the bathrooms, toilets, shower-rooms and kitchens must sparkle. No guest must ever be able to complain about anything as regards cleanliness.'
'I'll need a complete cleaning kit for that,' I said, making a joke out of it.
'Exactly, today we go to the supermarket and buy everything you will need.'
Susan drove, as usual, and we entered the supermarket. The trolley was soon filled with every possible cleaning product, including mops, brushes, buckets, plus pink latex gloves. Plus a box to keep them in and carry them around.
'You already have a plain work apron but here's a second one - you must wash them every day and iron them to look neat,' and she put in a knee-length yellow one with embroidered trimming around the pockets. I kept quiet as it was so embarrassing.
'And slippers so you can move around easily - oh dear all they have left in your size are these yellow flowery ones, never mind.'
'It's very hot now so for your morning and sometimes evening cleaning work you wear just your apron, a long Tshirt, your slippers and these old knickers of mine because they are light.,' she decided. It felt odd at first but I soon got to like thefeeling of wearing these clothes.
I found I was doing housework every day, two hours at the beginning and the end of every day. I had to start at 8.00 am and at 9.00 pm, after evening meal, Susan would get me busy dusting, polishing, washing up and even finishng ironing while she watched TV and phoned her friends. I was allowed to listen to TV through the wall . It was most frustrating not being able to see it. Susan checked meticulously. If she found a speck of dust or a cobweb I had to reclean the whole room. If there was a crease in a sheet or blouse, I had to unfold the whole pile and start again. 'These are going to be top-class holiday homes,' she would say, 'and people who pay a lot of money expect perfect accommodation.' Several times I missed lunch by the time I had caught up or didn't get to bed till 1.00 am. I still had to spend the afternoons on outdoor work in my masculine clothes. Susan liked to sunbathe and read while I worked.
One day Susan came back from the doctor's and looked sad.
'What's the matter,? I asked.
'I'm sorry but I can't sleep with you for the next six months. I can't explain the details- women's problems. But I'll try to find a way of making sure you're satisfied.'
'That's OK,' I said. ' Whatever you need.'
'Well, I'm afraid you have to sleep elsewhere. If you spent a week or so, that attic room in the old building would be quite a nice bedroom for you.'
Susan helped me enthusiastically, and a week later I had a plain bedroom but with flowery pink bedding.
'I'm sorry - it's all I could get for now. The nights will soon get chilly and I couldn't find proper duvets, so I'm leaving you a couple of my thick winter nightdresses. Don't worry - no-one is around and if they keep you warm, what's the harm?'
This seemed very strange, but I put one on that night and was certainly nice and warm. I found I enjoyed the soft, feeling of brushed cotton.
Susan dared me to wear it when I brought her morning tea in bed. So I did and she laughed and said,'You look really sweet, darling. Just to please me, will you stay like that and help me by catching up on the ironing for me. The doctor said I must rest in the mornings.'
There was a small mountain of ironing and it kept me there for over three hours while Susan, dressed wandered in occasionally and stroked my bottom. Wearing the nightdress in broad daylight as well as ironing made me feel stangely peaceful and quiet.
'You're doing so well, darling,' she said. At midday, she said,'Look, leave this for now, take off your nightdress and just wear your usual uniform and please get lunch - I have to go out on business in an hour. Just wash up and clear away afterwards and then you can put on your jeans and do the afternoon gardening work as usual.'
We settled into this new routine quite comfortably. There were some changes. Very soon, Susan decided that it was a bit silly to keep me in a nightdress for the whole morning while I did domestic work. 'Why don't you serve my morning tea ready for work?' she suggested. 'Wear your apron and just to amuse me wear these knickers and tights underneath. Honestly, darling, you'll find it very practical and comfortable.Anyway, there's been an accident with the washing machine and your own underwear is ruined, I'm so sorry. I'll put it aside - it can be used as cleaning cloths. ' At first I was highly embarrassed but soon got used to it..
Being without Susan at night was very frustrating. 'Poor darling,' she often said, 'I must think of some way of making you happy. Do you play with yourself? Maybe I'll come and watch.'
I went bright pink with embarrassment. Susan insisted on helping and came over to my attic bedroom that evening. She encouraged me to enjoy myself and I did while she watched. It was a strange experience lying there in my nightdress and starting to moan and wriggle. 'Well done, darling,' she would say, 'but too quick - why don't you try just gently squeezing yourself and lasting longer. Go on, fantasise, open your legs, squash yourself small and imagine some lover wanting to get into your knickers. You look so sexy in that nightie.'
It is totally humiliating now, especially after what was to happen, to confess that many nights I did exactly what she said and played the part of the helplessly turned-on woman waiting for her lover. My cheeks were still pink when I served morning tea. Susan sipped it and smiled at me.
'Sexy little housemaid, aren't you. Perhaps I'm indulging you too much. Clean all my shoes this morning. Don't forget to clean and polish the soles as well. And, by the way, while you are working indoors, I want you to address me as 'Madam'. I've always wanted to be the lady of the manor and this would please me.'
It was difficult at first, but soon I always said, 'Madam,' to her and it became automatic. Susan would nod approvingly.
Over that first six months, I became more and more dowdy and frumpish but Susan blossomed. She took my work for granted and was always busy and demanding. Her clothes became more smart and sexy and she went to the hairdressser's every week. She also became more demanding.
'Oh, darling,' she would say, standing there in her smartest clothes, and perfect make-up, 'I'll be be bringing back Miguel, or Juan, or whoever it might be, for drinks later on. Make sure the toilets are cleaned and scrubbed out. We don't want to make a bad impression.'
or it was ' Polish all the furniture and mop the floors - this place looks scruffy.'
What I really found upsetting was the way she now addressed me, and the fact that I accepted it - there were no more requests - everything was a command.
I protested many times. In the end, Susan said, 'Look, darling, I want us to establish a new peaceful basis. And you still need to learn to unwind. Will you try something? I want you to adjust fully from being under pressure all the time and having all those responsibilities before to a healthier life-style.'
I still loved Susan and said yes.
'Will you agree to doing whatever I tell you, once a day, even if it seems silly?'
I said yes.
'We have a lot of rooms in all the buildings, plus cellars and attics. Each day I will tell you which room to go to for a while, and do nothing, but wear whatever I happen to think of. You will simply wait until I 'release' you. It may be minutes - it may be hours. You have to learn to relax and not worry about time and deadlines. But you only do what I say and do not add anything of your own.'
I nodded. This seemed harmless and perhaps interesting.
'Thank you, darling. You will feel better for it, I promise you.'
For the next few months I got used to being sent anywhere, dressed in whatever Susan commanded, and having to stand or kneel or lie perfectly still until she came back. Or sometimes I would be ordered to do mindless routines, like sweep every square inch of one of the villas with just a dustpan and brush, or iron one of her nightdresses repeatedly until every inch was totally perfect, or go round the skirting boards with an old toothbrush to make sure they were all dust-free. Susan was right - I did learn to relax. I became more passive and willing. It was tedious work but I got used to it. Sometimes, it went too far, I thought. Once Susan said, 'Oh dear, the washing line is full up - I need to use you. Just run up onto the rooftop terrace.'
I did so. ' Now just lie down on your back and spread your arms and legs wide.'
This was most embarrassing and uncomnfortable. Also the sun was already fierce.
' Now what I have left to dry is my underwear, so I'm going to spread my knickers and bras over your arms and legs. There, you look really decorative and useful. It shouldn't take more than an hour. But make sure they don't touch the ground and get dirty. Prop your arms and legs against the walls of the sun terrace. Oh dear, I've still two left over. You won't mind if I fasten the last bra round your chest to dry off and drape this last pair of knickers over your head, will you darling? When they are all dry, bring them down and fold them up in my drawers neatly.'
I felt totally silly, lying there, with her wet underwear draped all over me.
'Really, Susan, what if someone were to come up and see me like this.
'They won't but do you mind if I take a photo?' and before I could reply she had snapped me from various angles. Then she left me to wilt in the sun. My arms and legs started to ache with being kept in position. It took all my determination to keep them propped up until everything was dry. I had never felt so used and humiliated before, and also so useful.
After about two hour, Susan returned and checked her washing. 'Lovely and dry,' she commented. 'Just fold it all up neatly and put it in my drawers in the right places. And, while you're ironing the rest of the washing tonight,you might as well iron my underwear too. A low heat, just enough to remove the creases. I do like things fresh, like they were when I bought them. Oh dear, you have a clear outline of my bra on your chest from the sun. How sweet. Tomorrow, just wear this old skirt of mine, and of course knickers, -I really enjoy seeing your white bra mark.'
I went in and looked in a mirror. She was right. I was so ashamed of my appearance.