It was a strange sort of place, Venice. There was a duplicity about it which tugged at something deep within her. Its darkness and mystery did the same, and she supposed that was the start of her undoing. By day it was culture and tourism, romance and an old life in a world reborn somehow into this modern day. It was street vendors and markets and tat-selling tourist shops competing for the attention of day trippers who spilled from their over-priced gondolas. Amidst the stunning architecture and centuries of culture, economics had created a surface which cultivated current need. Yet the choice was there: float with the flavours washing over the city or dive deeper and taste something unfamiliar but somehow known?
Those who stopped to indulge their senses heard the echoes and smelt the dark promise of something more. They felt a certainty that something richer was contained with the network of canals and side streets. That the superficial could give way to a secret kingdom not apparent to those who merely glanced, but just discernible to those whose eyes were not blinded by simply satisfying their own expectations. And as she walked, she thought that she felt a power pumping through the arterial canals, feeding the city with passion and heat.
They wandered side by side that first day, their only words, comments lost to the indifference of the other. Polite responses which drifted into the sea of chatter and left no trace. There was a time it had been different, but that was gone. Although the recollection of what was lost must have permeated them somehow and last night, amid the warm mugginess of the evening and the sounds from the street something from somewhere called to them both, only to disappoint them once more. Now, as she walked, she felt slight discomfort at the passionless sex which had taken place.
Later on in the city, when the multitude of voyeurs had left on coaches and water taxis, it felt different. More hopeful somehow. More like the seductive haven it was meant to be. Slipping away from him that evening, her intention was simply to find some breathing space from her current suffocation. To have so much but savour so little was a torment with which she beat herself regularly and often she would find a reason to be alone to indulge herself without the noise of their silence.
Her intention was never to be completely transformed, but sometimes, when something dormant is awoken, there is no going back. The music drew her in to what she thought was a simple trattoria but turned out not to be. A magical old-world place, dark and cool, tucked away in the shadows of one of the labyrinthine streets, it was the very pulse of what was possible. It was there that she lost herself and found herself too. The mask of one life slipped easily away to reveal the other. Duplicitous like the city itself, she let go, embracing her other side, and was gone.