While he was speaking, Terence was transformed into two very different men. The one who was calmly explaining the rules to her and the one who made her feel like the most miserable wretch in the world.
‘Do you know why I am doing this? Because there is no greater pleasure than that of initiating someone into an unknown world. Taking someone’s virginity – the virginity not of their body, but of their soul, you understand.’
‘Today you can ask questions, but the next time, when the theatre curtain goes up, the play will begin and cannot be stopped. If it does stop, it is because our souls are incompatible. Remember: it is a play. You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.’
‘What if I can’t stand the pain?’
‘There is no pain, only something that transforms itself into delight and mystery. It forms part of the play to say: “Don’t treat me like that, you’re really hurting me.”
Maria, kneeling, lowered her head and stared at the floor.
‘…in order to avoid this relationship causing any serious physical harm, we have two code words. If one of us says “yellow”, that means that the violence should be decreased slightly. If one of us says “red”, it must be stopped at once.’
‘You said “one of us”…’
‘We take turns. One cannot exist without the other; no one can know how to humiliate another person if they themselves have not experienced humiliation.’
These were terrible words, from a world she did not know, full of shadow, slime and putrefaction. Nevertheless, she wanted to go on – her body was trembling with fear and excitement.
‘Was tonight worth one thousand francs?’
Terence seemed pleased with this response.
‘I’ve asked myself the same thing. The Marquis de Sade said that the most important experiences a man can have are those that take him to the very limit; that is the only way we learn, because it requires all our courage. When a boss humiliates an employee, or a man humiliates his wife, he is merely being cowardly or taking his revenge on life, they are people who have never dared to look into the depths of their soul, never attempted to know the origin of that desire to unleash the wild beast, or to understand that sex, pain and love are all extreme experiences.
‘Only those who know those frontiers know life; everything else is just passing the time, repeating the same tasks, growing old and dying without ever having discovered what we are doing here.’
in “Eleven Minutes”