Anyway, she was the sort of woman that other people called that sort of woman. Not to her face, of course. There were mutterings though, in pubs and cafes, at the school gates and in the supermarket checkout queues.
Being thought that sort of woman was not in the least troubling to her. She consoled herself with the fact that while others thought she was that sort of woman, they were not judging her to be that other sort of woman. That would be too much to bear.
Although, as she grew older and wiser, she saw that being regarded as that sort of woman allowed her a certain amount of leeway in her behaviour. Especially to that sort of man, which the women who called her that sort of woman always quite fancied but never had the nerve to get too close to, in case their friends and neighbours started claiming that they were that sort of woman too.
Not that they wouldn’t have minded being that sort of woman, at least in their dreams and fantasies, or – perhaps – another life. But being that sort of woman, particularly in a place like that was not something they had the strength of character, or the personality, for.
If only they’d that the chance to be that sort of woman, then they felt they would have grabbed the opportunity with both hands rather than ending up in the comfortable, but dull little world they lived in these days.
It was all right, as far as it went, to be settled. But there were other worlds out there, the sort of worlds they read about in these books they avidly consumed while pretending to despise them, much like all their friends. They all said they’d tried reading the notorious ones and had given up on them.
But the local second-hand bookshop was filled with the well-thumbed copies of that book they’d all pretended they’d given up on. Every copy was well-creased down the spine where they’d been read one-handed. Each copy had red wine and chocolate stains on more or less the same pages. The times the hero had done that thing they’d never try at home… well, not after the last time when the husband had fallen asleep at the critical moment, leaving her to do the washing up in handcuffs and leather underwear.
Overall, though, they considered it was probably best not to be that sort of woman, at least not around here, and not in this lifetime. But the one who they all thought of as that sort of woman had a secret smile she wore when they talked about her, because she knew all along that she was – in fact – not that sort of woman at all.
But she did know which of the ones of those who claimed to disapprove of her were really that sort of woman – though they pretended not to be. She also knew one day she would tell all… perhaps even write another mammoth best-selling book about it all under her secret pen name.