CORSET

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Virginia Zaharieva was born in Sofia. She is a writer, psychotherapist and the mother of one son.

Virginia Zaharievahe graduated with degrees in Bulgarian literature and psychology at Sofia University, St. Kliment Ohridski. She is the author of three books of poetry. The following is an excerpt from her latest book, Nine Rabbits (QM, 2008), which was nominated for the 2008 Helikon Prize for the best contemporary Bulgarian fiction and was the best-selling Bulgarian book in bookstores for 2008.

CORSET

Tomorrow my husband turns forty. What can I give him when he already has everything? I'll give him myself.

I go and buy a black corset with garters, stockings and the most whorish pair of red high heels in order to erotically jumpstart our snoozing seven–year–old married life. That evening we go to another birthday party at the luxurious home of a famous poetess and critic whom the literary moguls hover around. I've put on the corset, I'm not wearing panties under my luxuriant skirts and while we discuss the problems of hermeneutics and the third phenomenological reduction to maintain erotic tension I discreetly masturbate on the armrest of a chair that the director of the Institute for Contemporary Art has nestled into.

I'm terribly tempted to strip down to my corset. Nobody realises how close I am to acting on my fixation. These guys are obsessed with expressing themselves. I imagine how their dicks are hanging despondently in the darkness of their pants, having drained all their eroticism in the direction of tongues hopelessly entangled in perfidious analysis. Thus we get sloshed without realising it. Especially my husband (what's got into him?). I can't stand it any longer and pull my girlfriend into the bathroom to show her. I hike up my skirts and she just about wets herself. We giggle, whisper and drop our glasses. People try to force the door from the outside, give up and run to puke and piss in the courtyard. After midnight, having managed to pick fights with half the illustrious critics, which further inflames the intellectual lust of the evening, I leave with my husband, who has already staggered into his fortieth year. We brush our teeth together and gloat over some of the evening's details. He sloshes his way towards the bedroom, while I remain in the bathroom to freshen up and put the finishing touches on my plan. I come out in my full regalia. In this get–up, I leave our apartment, slam the door and go to the landing between floors where I had earlier hidden a huge bouquet of Bordeaux chrysanthemums. Then I go back and ring the doorbell to complete the delivery.


I stand there in my red high heels, corset, stockings, bare ass and beaver, my top half hidden behind the Bordeaux. I deeply inhale the aroma of the graveyard – that's how I see chrysanthemums. They are my teachers in the love of life. I prick up my ears to catch the sound of movement from inside the door. Nothing. I ring again. Silence. Just the moist graveyard fragrance and the stoicism of my red high heels.

How could I have slammed the door shut? I don't give up and ring again. I can't believe it – yet another stumble into the absurd! Well, at least I have good taste.My husband slumbers away drunk and aesthetically exhausted from hours of verbal battles. I pull over my neighbour's coconut welcome mat and sit down gingerly as it prickles. Three o'clock in the morning. He's sleeping the deep hearty sleep of a man of forty and I'm sitting bare–assed on the steps in front of my own apartment.

Pounding on the door and yelling isn't an option – how could I explain it to the neighbour lady, the wife of the chief prosecutor of the Republic of Bulgaria – why am I here with my beaver hanging out with a huge bouquet trying to break and enter? The terror of humiliating myself.

Ringing the doorbell discretely at length seems stupid and exhausting.

All of a sudden I am terribly tired from this autoerotic exertion. I just want to end these theatrics and go to bed. The last thing I remember is the feeling of my bare legs under my light–blue flannel bunny pyjamas.

First ending:
The prosecutor goes to play tennis in the morning and finds me asleep in this rather undesirable pose on his very own coconut doormat, covered in Bordeaux chrysanthemums.



Second ending:
I walk down the stairs, because the elevator is broken, and inevitably pass by the bodyguard of the head of parliament who lives on the second floor. The bodyguard gives me his overcoat in exchange for a blowjob and thus I arrive at my mother's, to whom I have no idea what I say.

Third ending:
I go down to the second floor, where at that very moment terrorists are kidnapping the head of parliament. I am the cherry on top of the whole story, transformed into a compromising figure. I make the front page of the newspapers in my corset.

Fourth ending:
In this naughty get–up, I ring the doorbell of my neighbour from the third floor whom I find very sexy as he takes out his trash, and cross my fingers that his lover hasn't decided to sleep over tonight.


Fifth ending:

Covered up in the bodyguard's overcoat, I go back to the home of the critic and her husband, the minister of heavy industry, since they at least have a sense for the absurd. They give me a t–shirt that reads: "Touch me and we go to bed together."

Sixth ending:
Screaming and pounding, I hurl myself at our door, waking up the entire apartment building and when the neighbours start arriving, my husband sleepily opens the door and murmurs, "Oh, is it you?" and wanders back to bed…

Around noon he mischievously leans in close to me and quietly asks, "Uh, was I dreaming last night or did it seem to me that you were dressed in a rather unusual outfit…?" "Oooh, you were dreaming," I tell him and roll over onto my other side. The corset was packed away. When I leave my husband years later, I start wearing it out to nightclubs in combination with a blue Chinese workmen's coveralls for excavation work. Pants, with men's patent–leather Pradas underneath, and the corset on top of everything with its garters hanging free of stockings.

The postmodern deconstruction of the fetish!


Two of the garters from that corset hung on one of the mirrors in my Installation for Mirrors and People that I put up at the Irida Gallery – the mirror had a dark red frame with black feathers and gold for added splendour. To this very day those garters hang in Vesi Koeva's wine bar at the Military Club, while I gave a third as a gift to the host of the show Dolce Vita, dedicated to erotica.

The fourth one disappeared.

Since there is no one to accept it hard and fast, the erotica breaks up and infects various objects with desires, which is in fact its style: from the presence of just one garter we imagine the other three.
Eroticism is in the unknown!

Fruit Geographies

Make a dish of fruit. Peeled pears, mangoes and lychees are the most suitable, as well as strawberries, raspberries, cherries and melon.

Carefully arrange the slices on your lover's body and eat them slowly. From time to time share the taste of the fruit with your love object.

This snack is refreshing and sharpens the epidermis' sensitivity.

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The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation and Vagabond, Bulgaria's English Monthly, cooperate in order to enrich the English language with translations of contemporary Bulgarian writers. Through 2008 we will give you the chance to read the work of a dozen young and sometimes not-so-young Bulgarian writers that the EKF considers original, refreshing and valuable. Some of them will be translated in English for the first time. The EKF has decided to make the selection of authors' work and to ensure they get first-class English translation, and we atVagabond are only too happy to get them published in a quality magazine.

Enjoy our fiction pages!

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