The words caused Michael to feel as if he'd been expelled, for a
second time, from the womb.
"I don't believe in sex before marriage," Audrey repeated,
noting the spread of alarm across Michael's delicate features.
This was their third date, and the after-dinner conversation in
Audrey's tidy duplex had taken a sharp turn. Michael seemed too
shocked to say anything, so Audrey cast about to find a way to
rephrase, maybe even explain, her belief. Instead, her mind took
her, inexplicably, to a memory of the only occasion she'd ever
seen her mom in an ungovernable rage. She must have been about
nine at the time, and her brother was a little over two years
older. Her mom had caught her brother "playing with his thing,"
and for some reason found this act so wicked that she dragged
the unfortunate boy by his ear into her bedroom without even
troubling to close the door. There she snatched up her
hairbrush, grabbed the child around his waist, bared his bottom
and, while standing, administered a spanking that seemed
interminable. As a girl, Audrey had not understood the exact
nature of the offense, but as a woman now in her thirties she
regarded men's sense of entitlement as destructive of true
intimacy. She cast a suspicious glance at Michael.
"How often do you masturbate?" she heard herself say before she
even realized that she'd uttered the question.
Michael squirmed and paused before stammering, "Maybe every
"Don't you have any self-discipline?" Audrey shot back, her eyes
flashing with momentary anger.
"All guys do it," Michael mumbled sheepishly.
Audrey began to doubt if the relationship had a future. She
liked Michael. It had been many years since she felt so
attracted to a man. He was courteous and witty and, above all,
kind and gentle. But she would have to deal with the pressure of
his ungoverned sexuality; and she felt it an affront to her
dignity that he would be pleasuring himself while they were
"I do love you, you know," Michael interjected quietly.
He'd never said those words before. Audrey caught his eyes and
held them firmly in her gaze. Yes, I believe he does, she
thought to herself as she began to experience a confusion in all
"Well," she replied precipitously, "if you lack self-discipline,
then you need discipline."
Michael blinked uncomprehendingly, but then under Audrey's
steady look, he came to see what she was saying.
"You mean I need to be spanked?" he offered by way
of a paraphrase.
"Yes," Audrey said, with a quiet confidence that restored her to
Michael was at a loss for words, so Audrey broke the silence.
"If you want a relationship with me, you will stop all
self-gratification and you will submit to whatever correction I
think necessary. And you will take your punishment like a man."
After that declaration, Michael was even less prepared to gather
his thoughts into coherent speech. Audrey took advantage of the
pause to continue: "You don't have to decide anything now. In
fact, unless there's an emergency, I don't want to see you or
hear from you until Saturday. If you accept my proposal, come by
in the morning, say around ten, and if things go well, we'll
have our fourth date in the evening. I'm sure we can find a
restaurant neither of us has tried."
Michael was on the brink of saying something, anything, but he
became suddenly aware that Audrey had stood up. He took this as
a cue for his departure and lingered over putting on his coat,
hoping for a kiss longer and deeper than the one he'd enjoyed at
the end of their previous date. Instead, he was embraced by a
lingering hug that made him feel surprisingly comforted and
Audrey recognized that she had enveloped Michael in a deep sense
of calm, and she began to tingle at the prospect that he might,
he just might find it in his best interests to submit to her
plans for him. Only next Saturday would tell.
Audrey was glad that Michael had left, but she found no
pleasure in her own company. It was as if the embrace that
gave Michael an unaccustomed sense of peace also emptied her
of what she needed to relax. Her fingers clenched and,
involuntarily, she loosened them by tying her hair up into a
bun.. She moved toward the the heavily used upright piano,
an inheritance from her grandmother and a source of all her
bliss and all her frustration. She lowered herself gently
onto the stool, as if she had just been spanked, and felt
her jaw tighten as she registered what she already knew. She
could not reach the pedals. The stool would have to be
shifted unnaturally close to the instrument. She did not
have the heron-like legs of a ballerina. Her brows furrowed,
and the lines deepened as she glanced at the sun-faded cover
of the Schirmer edition of Beethoven's music for solo piano.
She wanted to pound the keys in an ecstatic play-through of
the Hammerklavier sonata, but she was incapacitated by a
sudden fixation on her hands. Her fingers never had the
reach to play the late Beethoven comfortably. She was built
for Bach, but only physically, not emotionally. And she
wryly recalled how in an
E. M. Forster novel--was it Howard's End?--a
supercilious male character opined that young women should
not play Beethoven, indeed even listen to him, because his
music posed a threat to their emotional well-being. And she
began to fantasize about being Beethoven's pupil, and
everyone knew what a grouch he was, and so what would happen
to her if she hit a wrong note. She wriggled on the bench.
Such fantasies were not healthy, she told herself, and she
returned to look at her hands.
They were still dumpy. Pretty enough, to be sure, but the
fingers lacked the extended elegance of those in Rossetti's
painting aptly titled "La Bella Mano," a painting she adored
yet resented. Whenever she visited the
Art Museum, especially at the request of visiting
relatives, she made a point of denying herself the joy of
buying a reproduction. But she had come quite some way in
accepting her hands as they were. Yes, her fingers were
short, but they were powerful. They were made to grasp and
to clench and to pinch . . . . and to smack. Yes, they may
have cost her a concert career and consigned her to a life
as a teacher and a church organist, but they also liberated
her into a secret servitude--an obsession with bottoms, with
squeezing them, and beating them, and reddening them, and .
. . .
She felt herself getting light-headed, and she wondered if
she had entered the wrong room after Michael left. After
all, in a box beneath her bed, there was a well-thumbed
stash of forbidden spanking literature. How she would now
like to read some of Edith Cadivec's paeans to the joys of
birching a shapely bottom. And how she would like to tread
again the path that Harriet Marwood set out for her charge
Richard. But she could not bring herself to rise from the
piano bench. Instead, her bottom pressed relentlessly
against its hardness, and she focused again on
They were a constant source of worry. Not just her
livelihood, but her life--her very sense of being--depended
on them. Her nightmares most often took the form of car
doors slamming on disembodied fingers. What was she to do,
she wondered, if Michael actually showed up on
morning. He was not a football player, but he was a
good deal bigger than she, and her hand alone would not make
much of an impression, at least not without it getting
swollen. She drifted into recalling that there was a major
concerto written for a pianist for one hand--yes, the Ravel.
And there were a few others. But how was that relevant, she
snapped at herself.
Her shoulders clenched, and she doubled over, bringing the
full weight of her upper body to push her bottom deeper
against the bench. As she did so, her mind freed itself to
roam over her duplex, and she began to see, in her mind's
eye, wooden spoons and spatulas in the kitchen, a ruler in
her home office, belts in her closet, a hairbrush in her
bedroom. But there was something missing. She did not have a
bath brush, and she needed one. She'd put off buying an
old-fashioned model, made in Vermont, that the Bed and Bath
store at the mall had in stock because she was sure it would
go on sale at some point. Who buys these things anyway? Now,
however, was the time for a purchase. If Michael didn't show
on Saturday, it would be his loss, she found herself
thinking with a chuckle. At least she would still have an
item she could put, with some reluctance, to its intended
use. But who intends these things anyway. Now she was
giggling, and she bounced off the piano stool to finish the
glass or so of wine left in the bottle from dinner.
Copyright (C) 2009 Mael DelaVara
(the rest of this story can be read on the Member's