I insisted on getting the cab and she, amazingly, agreed. She wanted to wrap things up so she could be completely free for the rest of the weekend.
I couldn’t help imagining the “I’ve missed you so much hug” . I was trying to come to terms with my mistakes and the future consequences, with how much of a pain in the ass I am. But some tiny, stupid, part of me thought it deserved a hug and kept putting images in my head.
I wanted the plane ride to last for ever; I was tempted to say to the taxi driver to drive me somewhere else…. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when we entered her street and when I remembered how ecstatic I was just one year ago, coming down the same street… What plans of brilliance and success I concocted. And now I was coming a failure.
Strangely enough, I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be. The fear of punishment was just one small part of the negative emotions, well… until I saw her, on the porch, her arms crossed. She was wearing elegant, black sweatpants and a T-shirt. She was magnificent.
For a second I thought of Maleficent, in the movie and I didn’t hide a giggle as I was coming dragging a small suitcase behind me. I felt happy to see her. She looked at me head to toe. I had gained weight but she didn’t comment on that.
– Oh, I wouldn’t be so cheerful if I were you. – she said calmly and inhaled deeply while showing me in. To me, at that moment, she didn’t seem like she was glad to see me. It turned my happiness sour. I reminded myself that I only came to tell her that I cannot stay and study; that I won’t be a bother.
– I am sorry… – I said it, and although I deeply was, at that moment I wasn’t being sincere. I wasn’t sorry, I was hurt.
– We’ll talk about everything when you settle in your room. And I don’t understand why you didn’t bring back more things… I guess you have some ideas, but we’ll straighten it all out.
Her house was as beautiful and perfumed as always. Compared to ours it was a castle. Not because of the size, but because everything was perfect. She had done some redecorating while I was away. Living room seemed like a room from the 19th century – there was no TV to begin with. The armchairs were fit for a queen, and yes…. both the back and the arm part were very practical, if you must know. A carved wooden desk was placed by the window and the only thing that felt out of place was the laptop on it. On the fireplace mantel there were some photos, but I didn’t have time to take a good look.
– Do you need help with the suitcase?
– No – I was taken out of my trance. – Thanks. – I felt elated. The reason was beyond me. In the matter of seconds I was in “my” room. There was the bed and the wardrobe. No desk, no chairs… I was beginning to have the feeling that I will not be spending much time in there…
– I hope you like it this way. This year you will be studying downstairs.- I loved her voice. I loved that she wanted to help me because if anyone could, it would be her. And if only she was my … Mom …or Dad … or somebody who chose to raise me or chose to give birth to me… but she was doing this for some other reason… I couldn’t understand why she would sacrifice so much.
– Look, Nat… – I felt so guilty that she went through all that trouble – We have to talk… I can’t
– The dinner will be ready in 15 minutes. – she said quickly and inhaled deeply again, looked at me in a strange way, turned around and left.
The shower felt great, but I had read so many domestic discipline stories and it made me so sad that my story wasn’t one of love; it wasn’t one where I could expect a smiling Top to take me into her arms … the one where I could hope to mean something to someone. And I couldn’t understand why she did all that… It’s something you do for a daughter… and most people wouldn’t do it for their own children.
She made my favorite pumpkin pottage. I felt guiltier by the second. Why don’t I have more strength to be what she deserves?!!!!!!!!!!!
– Is it that bad? – She smiled for the first time.
– No… it’s wonderful… Nat, look… I don’t deserve all this… I mean… I don’t know why you did all this; I am a lost cause.
– Aaaagh! (I was seriously annoying her) Stop it with that self-pitying already! It’s been enough! – (Ok,… now she made me angry, which is much better than feeling guilty. And yes, even back then I knew she was right… I mean, she’s always right, for God’s sake!)
– OK, I will not pity myself. But I don’t understand why you’re trying to help me. – She looked at me as if she were hurt. I was even more confused. She expected me to know? What, that she loved me?! Come on… She doesn’t show other signs of love, like, there is no tenderness…
She seemed as if she wanted to say many things, but in the end her expression became resolved and kind of cold.
– If you don’t know already, maybe you shouldn’t. – She said after a very long pause. Then, after we had finished the pottage, she told me to go get ready for bed.
– But we must talk first, please… I..
– Oh, we will. – the meaning was quite clear.
As I was getting ready I was beginning to feel the happiness, the freedom from my usual rumination. I almost skipped around because I felt that she did love me. When I tried telling myself that I am just fooling myself, again, a thousand reasons and proofs popped into my head. She loved me!
Finally in my pajamas, clean, perfumed and happy I ran downstairs and before she could do or say anything I hugged her. For one second her guard was down, for one second she hugged me back. She really hugged me and held me! I whispered: “I love you sooo much!”
– I know, silly, I love you, too… – I hugged her even tighter. I felt there was nothing in the world I couldn’t do. She kissed my hair, gently leaned her cheek on it and then she sighed – But that doesn’t change the fact that we have to talk. – Very gently she pushed me away and towards the couch. The belt was on the table… Pillows stacked on one armchair, almost to the top of the back side…
– As you can see – she continued in a strict and soothing voice – I have made some changes, because this year everything will be different. You will be studying at that table. Kim bought you a new laptop and I had it connected with mine so I will now what you’re doing.
– But how…? – I was sincerely surprised and curious. She just gave me a warning look, not to interrupt her, I guess.
– You will report to me, when you leave for school and when you finish. I will know your location, and not only through your phone. I will look at your schedule for every class and you will turn in your papers at least one week ahead of the deadline. I will quiz you every night on the subject of my choice. If I am not satisfied, you will get a sound spanking. – I felt elevated. I felt I could do it. It was such a wonderful feeling after so much time of hating myself. A strange kind of self-confidence was appearing. I felt I could actually do it all. I even saw myself getting all As. It will all be worth it! We will succeed. I will overcome this stage of idiocy and I will be able to do so much for her one day. But then, she continued: – You will also start working part-time. – I was getting dizzy. I can’t do it all and work. It’s too much…. I can’t… – There is an opening for an entry level office clerk position in my company. – In her company!!! Is this a dream come true or a nightmare…? But how will I work and study! Last year I was supposed to do only one and I failed. My thoughts were racing. – You have the interview for the position on Tuesday. On Monday, you will come with me to my office and meet with the clerk who will teach you the necessary things and explain everything you need to know to impress them on the interview. Anna, are you listening to me!? – she instantly got angry.
– Yes, yes, I am sorry. It’s just too…..
– Well it’s too much…
– Stop it right there! First of all, it is not too much. Secondly, I will be there every step of the way, like it or not and if I see that it is too much, you will be allowed to quit the job. However, until I say differently you will be studying, working and getting all As.
-All As! But that’s impossible with the – but she didn’t let me finish. She got up and said firmly:
– Get up and bend over the armchair.
– But Nat, please… – I knew I deserved a spanking for sooo many things, I did, but I couldn’t make myself get up. And I wanted to explain to her that I cannot do what she wanted me to.
– Do not whine and do what I said. You deserved this over the summer so many times and don’t make me get into details. If I remember everything you won’t be able to sit for days! – I wasn’t moving. I was just imploring her with my eyes, voiceless. Of course, it did not work.
– If you don’t get up, it will be without the pajamas.- she said in a nonnegotiable voice while holding the belt in her right hand. Since she had such convincing arguments, I just had no choice but to force my legs to work. The back of the armchair was surprisingly wide with the height just below my rib-cage. I leaned on it.
– All the way over. – she added without any empathy. – I gave her a final imploring over the shoulder but there was no changing her mind.
As my feet were leaving the floor my upper body found support on the pillows. I felt so exposed and ridiculous… my butt in the air like that…I hated the humiliation part of it. The whole set up made me feel like I was too old and too big for this… The discipline was supposed to make me feel protected and within the safe boundaries, like a child and this was making me feel ridiculous… But the moment she approached and put her hand on my back, my thoughts were gone. Fear was seeping through me. For a second it felt like I had never been spanked. I was struggling not to jump from the armchair and run. I wished so much I were a small kid that could hug her, sinking my head into her belly and practically hugging her waist or her legs. I wished I could be so tiny that scolding would be seen as enough.
– Why didn’t you answer my calls this summer? – her voice brought me back to how I had treated her.
– Because I felt guilty… – I felt pretty shitty and I felt like I had nothing to lose.
-Ahm…- she was expecting me to continue.
– I knew I had been horribly difficult, and childish, and… a total failure… and you offered me everything…. and you’re not my Mom… it’s not like you had any obligation to … to.. to take care of me like I was your…. like …as if…
-my daughter. – she was impatient.
– yes, … and I had taken away a whole year of your life…. I was a burden and… I mean, you put in the effort and I didn’t…
-So you decided to repay me by ignoring me?
– Nooooo… I wanted to stop being the burden… I wanted to free you from myself.
– But, without putting in the effort. You wanted an easy way out. So you can make the “effort” worth even less.- I was speechless. She was right. Now I wanted to get off the armchair and face her. But as I made a move she pressed her hand on my back and started snapping that belt fast and too effectively. My thighs and my butt were sore within two minutes. I was shocked at first and only gasping with the strokes, but the pain was building up fast. Every stroke burned like hell very soon.
– Naaat … Please…I am soooory I am sorryyy – I begged, but she went on relentlessly. Soon, I had trouble catching my breath between the sobs. – I’ll… do .. every-thing-I-am-sorry….- It was a terrible experience, and it felt almost cruel. The sounds of the belt were ominous. – I aaa-aam sorryyyy…Naa-aaaat .. I’ll be good I’ll be good I promi—ise . – I knew she had to make it horrible because this was supposed to be punishment for the whole summer, and also a warning of what would happen, but… it didn’t feel loving at all. – Pleeease .. nooo mooore… – I imagined my butt won’t be red but kind of bruised. – Pleaa- aseee… Finally, after spiraling further and further into horror mode, suddenly I switched into some state where I could only feel the pain, hear the belt, and let out emotions, crying like a hurting baby, without filter. And then she stopped.
I slowly came out of that state, and I knew I felt different although still sobbing. She gently touched my forearm as an invitation to get off the armchair. As I was getting up and wiping my face she handed me a tissue. When I turned around I saw that her face had been streaked with tears and that it was now dry. I hugged her and she hugged me tightly. While she was holding me, she kissed my head a couple of times and whispered, almost as if she was asking me to promise.
“Don’t you ever pull this again! Ok, kiddow?”
“I won’t. I promise.”
I was incredibly tired, but somehow there weren’t any thoughts in my head. I mean, I kept thinking: “I love you, I love you so much”, but it wasn’t really a thought, it was more of a mental verbalization of the overwhelming feeling. But there weren’t thoughts about past or the future. And there was peace.
(Just for the record, I saw that my butt was slightly bruised on the right sit spot but the rest of it and the thighs had deep red stripes, but not bruised. So the cruelty part was mostly in my head. )