The bruises have been upsetting me today. Latticed patterns have emerged out of the funny short streaks. The deep violet was so much more charming than this mass of reddish-purple. The formerly innocent hollows have now turned into jaundiced pale green-yellow circles that change color and shape all the time. Today, I do not like the marks as much, though I have gotten used to wearing them, they are no longer beautiful to me. The slightest touch still stings but it no longer gives me pause as I move about my day knowing that underneath my clothes I have been battered. You were not available to see them at their pinnacle. You missed witnessing the best part of them, when they were still gorgeous and fresh and uniquely mine; before I got used to them, before they turned into massive absurd flaws that I have to hide from judgment. I have stopped nursing the marks and now I am waiting for them to heal which is taking an excruciatingly long time. I cannot remember just when the swelling went down, or when they became stunningly angry.
With every breath I am reminded of my imprisonment by the dark ropes that constrict around my chest. He is leaning against a wall directly in front of me waiting for my response.
After a prolonged silence he says, “You know, if you don’t tell me what you want, you won’t get it. And I’ll be just as happy to watch you remain tied to that chair all day long.”
He takes a few steps towards me so that his shins lean against my bent knees. My eyes stare at the swelling in his pants. He places two fingers underneath my chin and tilts my head up to face him. I want to bottom-out with my eyes cast downward but he will not let me.
“You are in a rare position. Anything you ask will be honored, you need only ask for it.” He raises that compassionate smile from behind an otherwise inscrutable expression for only a few fleeting seconds and my heart opens wide when he finishes his thought.
“And you must ask for what you want.”
It takes all of my strength to form the words that follow.
“I want you to take this cane and use it to beat me painfully.”
“I want you to introduce me to suffering beyond what I think I am capable of enduring.”
“Is there more?”
“And I want you to be cruel beyond what you think you are capable of being.”
The last request seemed to take him by surprise.
The bruises are trying to seep down my legs and into my feet. It might be an illusion but I think they have stretched closer to my knees overnight. They are definitely fading now as the yellow bleeds into the purple bleeds into the red bleeds into the blue making the whole mass the dull color of dusty dry dirt. I notice now how I resist their disappearance. Yesterday I was angry at their meanness and today I feel as if they are retreating because I do not appreciate their significance enough. It is still true that the area suffering the most sensation is what used to be the unmarked centers. I no longer cringe when I touch the darker bruises but sharp pains still sear though me when I poke at the lighter, now grayish middles. You managed to plot your brutality so that the recovery keeps bringing me back to you despite your absence. Visible suffering slowly disappears to reveal insidious sensation hiding in the most conspicuous places; and the less distinctly marked skin conceals deeper pain.
He gently lifts the cane from my lap.
“Do you need a gag?” He asks.
“No.” I answer.
“I will gag you if you decide to scream out.” He warns.
I have stopped using words.
He wields the cane in sharp, quick movements; hitting my left thigh with fast, bullet-like taps, starting close to the top of my leg and working his way down to my knee. The cane strikes the inside of my thigh dangerously close to my sex for such fast motion which I worry might spin out of control and slice my most delicate skin. Silently I remind myself that I have placed my trust in him. My cheeks are burning, they must be flushed red now. His face has darkened and his eyes have grown impossibly wide.
I cannot look at my legs. I have that same feeling I get when an injection is about to be inserted into my arm, I want to look but the sight of it makes me dizzy and causes the pain to worsen in anticipation. Like the needle, I think I feel the piercing sting before it is in me. I keep my eyes fixed on his beautiful-mean face.
He strikes me over and over with that knotty bamboo cane, applying measured pressure in slaps that come too fast to count. He does not slow down or rest, he does not take the time to breathe; he just continues to hit me unceasingly. The repetition helps me concentrate and as my focus narrows to him and the cane the quick snapping of the weapon across my thighs becomes easier to tolerate. Not just easier, this beating is becoming pleasurable the more I am able to withstand it. I have either expanded my tolerance for pain or his application of it has diminished. It is like this for several minutes and I am growing comfortable with my capacity to endure. Then, without any warning he issues a slap that cuts into my flesh and sends stars shooting across my eyelids.
The pain is powerful and now he brings it ferociously. He was only warming me up with the short slaps. I must face my naïveté once again.
His face is now revealing his undisguised passions. He is not doing this for me, he is finding a grotesque pleasure in this savagery. He is lying when he says he does not enjoy bringing the pain. His face reads contentment mixed with cruelty stirred by pleasure.
A single whimper hysterically slips from my mouth compelling him to remind me of the gag and even a blindfold if I continue to make noise. This is not playtime and enacting my distress is not going to influence a sympathetic change to my situation. He cannot control the attempts my body makes to take flight but he can limit the offensive outbursts. Relaxing the beating however, is not in the offing.
He was not lying when he offered to honor whatever request I made and now he will see to the expansion of my experience, whether I end up liking it or not. I asked for it when I was in my right mind. This is no longer my right mind. Nor is it his.
The beating is wild now, like machine gun fire up and down my thigh. He is still working on the left leg. He has not even begun on the right but the shift is coming; he will have at it before he is done. My eyes are watering now. A less confident sadist would back down. A less confident masochist might quit too.
He is finding a rhythm and he likes it. My skin is turning bright, brilliant red, one big mass of stinging red, enflamed flesh. Sweat is running from his brow into his eyes. His face has gone flush, a slightly lighter shade of cherry than he is pulling out of my skin.
Now he mixes hard forceful strikes into the cacophony of easy taps and as I watch him carefully through the fisheye lens of tear-filled eyes I cannot anticipate the force of each strike by his stance or the lift of the cane in his hand. I refuse to betray the extraordinary pain with jerking body movements and unrestrained sounds of agony. I can take it, I keep telling myself until the pain is too much and then my mantra distorts.
“Suffering is an illusion. Suffering is an illusion…” The words echo in my head and instead of resisting the pain now I am absorbing it.
He switches to the right leg, finally, at just the moment I was about to break and scream out. Is he trying to teach me a lesson about resilience? No, now he means to see how far he can take it before he cannot dole out this punishment any more. He is challenging himself.
Unlike his method for starting on my left leg, there is no warm preparation on my right thigh and the very first strikes are so forceful that purple marks break out of my skin instantly. The moments of gradually rousing the red skin are long gone; this beating is about doing damage. This beating is relentless.
He is breathing heavily and moving around me gracefully, like a dancer. Even caught on this chair I am dancing with him, attached to him, inside of him. I see how my fortitude coaxes his aggression and this knowledge makes me even more committed to withstanding this torture. And it is torture. Torture the likes of which people sometimes use to coerce confessions from prisoners. On a different body, on a different face this would be evil damaging torture from which its victim would never recover.
The more I seem to take it the harder he strikes me. I will endure it obediently, silently…
I am immovable. I am determined to take whatever he is donating. The words reverberate in my head, “Suffering is an illusion.” He continues to draw contusions from my body.
Sweat is pouring down his brow and the darkening marks are acclimating to my skin. The abandoned left thigh is stippled with broken capillaries and purple streaks where the cane met the flesh again and again. My right leg is ignited with pain.
It is almost as if I can feel his cruelty and he can feel my agony. I no longer read the stinging slap of the rod on my skin, even as each blow is so sharp that it draws a fresh design out of my flesh. I have surrendered ownership of my body so that we may exchange suffering and know compassion. Each excruciating strike opens my heart even wider.
Without ceremony he puts one final caning into my legs. There was no indication that he would stop but in an instant he is done. He kneels down next to me and lets the cane fall to the floor. He places one hand lightly over my wounded thigh and the torrid heat from the brilliant flowering marks absorbs into his palm. He is gazing into my crying eyes.
The bruises and marks have faded considerably. They are still clearly visible but they seem less angry. They look like greenish-yellowing, purplish-brown blotches, hardly attractive, though compelling enough to activate the imagination. Certain areas faded where I was sure the skin would never give up its adopted purple discoloration. Other spots held on to their appearance though I really thought they would have evaporated early on. The latticed stripes are still apparent here and there, but you have to look carefully to find them. It is now nearly two weeks since you put them on my body and it will be another week at least before they are gone completely. The most curious thing today is the strange and noticeable distortion of the muscles, or tendons, or veins, or blood running underneath the skin on the softly substantial parts of my thighs. When I press my fingers to my flesh I feel distinct anomalies in the form under the skin. A rippling of sorts, as if the mass underneath has valleys and hills and currents running through it. It is an unusual, even alarming malformation that I pray will mend itself. One day soon I will wake up and check for my bruises but they will be gone and I will spend the rest of that day mourning their disappearance and wishing you would find it in your heart to come and dotingly beat me again.
I am still secured to the chair and he is resting his head on the torn and broken skin of my lap. The red hot burn of my flesh seeps into his cheek.
“Say something brave.” I urge him.