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Ghost of an Apsara

The night she approached him as he sat on the fire escape, drinking a beer, looking out over the city, wasn’t the first time he’d seen her. No, that was a couple of weeks before when he’d spotted her walking ahead of
him in the lobby of the condo. It wasn’t the kind of sight you’d forget in a hurry: she was wearing a see-through negligee beneath which her panties were clearly visible. She had fairly dark skin and was unusually curvaceous for
a Thai. Not long after, she got in the lift one day when he was going up to his apartment. They’d exchanged a glance but nothing significant. So it was a great surprise to him when their eyes met that night and instead of going into her
apartment, which he now realised was just three doors down from his own, she walked down the corridor to the fire escape stairs and promptly sat down beside him.

Their conversation was brief and limited: she spoke almost no English and his rudimentary Thai was stretched trying to understand her. It was clear she liked him by her flirtatious manner, the way she touched his leg, gently removed some
dirt from his eyes, and gazed at him. They smoked a cigarette together. He offered her his beer but she refused saying she drank whisky. At one point, he asked to see her apartment and they went up to the door but somehow he sensed she was reluctant
for him to enter. The electricity between them was such that something could easily have happened there and then but he had to work early the next day and it was already late.

The next day, after work, he hurried to the supermarket to buy a bottle of whisky. That evening, as he sat at home, he heard a quiet knock on the door. When he opened it, she stood before him, bearing a bowl of soup which she insisted he
take. His heart racing, he asked her in. Would she like some whisky? He’d bought it for her. But she said no, saying she had to sleep. Mystified, he went to bed thinking about her. Days passed and he didn’t see her again. Until one
night, he heard a soft knock on the door. Again she had brought an offering of food. But this time, when he asked her in to drink with him, she said yes.

So they sat on the sofa, she drinking whisky and he vodka. She could certainly drink, that he could see. As the alcohol began to take effect, it became clear to him she liked him enough for him to make advances. He touched her soft brown
skin and nuzzled her neck, planting tiny kisses behind her ears. He’d break off from time to time to look up words like stroke and touch in the dictionary, so he could explain to her what he felt like doing, so he was sure she wanted it
too. Since he’d learned a thing or two about life in the kingdom in the year he’d been there, he asked her if she wanted him to pay her. She said yes and agreed to just 1000 baht. Eventually, she stood up and went into his bathroom
for what seemed an eternity. At one point, he glimpsed inside and saw her crouching on the floor, washing herself with the shower head. The floor was awash with water. He went and lay on his bed, wondering what was in store for him. She emerged,
wrapped in a black towel, and began to dance. He was thrilled by the sight of her, this dizzy, joyous creature spinning around his room.

She removed the towel and came and lay on the bed beside him. His eyes roamed over her sumptuous form and he began to kiss her from head to foot. She purred like a kitten. Soon they were making love with all the passion of the deeply enamoured.
He gorged on her abundant treasures, her full breasts, perfect ass and neatly trimmed womanhood. She proceeded to ride him like a wild cat. He hadn’t experienced anything close to this before in Thailand. Was this the famed and now so-rare
girl friend experience he’d read about? In between bouts, they lay close together, cuddling. He stroked her and told her in both his language and hers how beautiful she was. At one point, she sprang up and started heating up the dish she’d
brought for him. She seemed happy just to see him eat. The night passed like a dream in his mind. In the morning he told her he had to sleep and she gathered her things and flitted from the room.

Three days passed. He took a friend on a border run in his car. All the time he thought about her, planning what he’d say to her when he saw her again, how he’d get her phone number this time, how they’d go out dancing.
He’d offer her some kind of support, anything that would mean this mind-blowing lover would stay around. When he returned from the border on the Monday, he saw a bag of snacks tied to his door handle. He smiled. She’d left him another
gift, a sign of affection. In return, he left a sticky note on her door, just a smiley face to tell her he was back. Nonetheless, he didn’t see her that night.

In the morning he went for a coffee at the cafe near the condo. When he was going back up in the lift, he noticed a woman he’d never seen before. When they emerged from the lift, she walked in front of him and stopped at the door of
the girl’s apartment. She took out a key and made to go in. Something wasn’t right. He opened his own room then hurried back to see what the woman was doing. She was standing inside a room that was painfully bare. There was no trace
of the girl. It was as if someone had punched him in the stomach. In desperation, he blurted out questions to the woman who it turned out was the owner of the apartment. Where had the girl gone? Did she have her phone number or any contact details?
When had she left? A sense of panic rose within him. It wasn’t possible. How could she have simply disappeared like that? The woman knew nothing about the girl who’d rented her room for a few weeks. Except that she’d gone
back to Bangkok. The woman said she’d come via a Thai guy who lived on the floor below.

He knew the Thai and called him. He came within an hour. Again the questions. But the girl had just been an acquaintance of a female friend of the Thai guy’s. He also had no idea about her. The Thai asked him why he was so keen to
know about her, he seemed surprised. All he could say was that he liked her. He’d spent an electrifying, transcendent night with this whirlwind of a lover and now she’d vanished into thin air. He didn’t care what others thought
about her, what her standing was among her people. All he cared about was the plans he’d been making to turn that marvellous experience into something lasting. He realised she was probably a pro at this game, that she’d played him
for what was most likely her bus fare back home but he knew she had liked him too. His mind went round and round for days. He passed her door every day-how could he possibly forget her? The whole thing seemed like a drunken, erotic dream now.
When he told friends about it, it sounded like something he’d made up.

Gradually, the sense of shock and pain at her absence subsided. He met other women. They loved him in their own way. But he was haunted by the memory of the night he’d spent with the ancient temple dancer, the heavenly courtesan, the
ghost of an apsara.

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