Name Your Poison
Words never fail me. I trust them completely. I trace them with my fingertips on my upper thigh when I’m nervous. I draw them on my skin using a black BiC pen while stuck in traffic.
Words are my friends.
When I listen to the radio, I note any unusual words found in rock songs. Sting uses terms like “luster.” I drive and roll the word in my mouth—luster. In “I Will Buy You a New Life,” Everclear repeats words. I speak the lines like a mantra as the road unwinds in front of me.
But Jack used words against me. While I can write from one dark sky to the next, speaking those words out loud is a hardship. My tongue trips over the hurdles. I sprawl on the asphalt, knees scraped, palms raw….
Jack could read me.
“You’re so smart,” he continued. “What do you think I should do to you?
I held my tongue.
“I’m asking you a question,” Jack repeated coolly. “You get two chances in my world. Name your punishment.”
Like in the fairy tales. You know the ones. The Grimm’s Brothers’ cruel tales—always, my personal favorites. In which the evil queen or imposter princess is tricked into naming what ought to happen to someone who has behaved in the exact manner that she has. (The royals never recognize themselves, somehow.) But this was different. He would do what I said. And I was responsible for choosing the proper level of discipline. It would be like sending me out to cut my own switch. If I chose one too weak, too slender, I would be punished far worse than if I picked correctly from the start.
I knew better than to tell Jack to spank me. Spankings are candy to me, a reward more than a true punishment.
Two things Jack didn’t like: worrying and waiting. I was digging my hole deeper by the second.
“Crop me—“ I didn’t ask it as a true question, yet I didn’t have the strength to make my voice a statement. The cadence was somewhere in between.
“Good choice,” Jack said, rising from the bed and heading to the chest. “We’ll start with that.”
I tensed, automatically. I wished for clothes, even clothes Jack would lift, or rip off me. Being totally naked is always worse. Always. Jack started slowly. Each stroke hurt, but I could tell he was saving his energy, and this scared me more than if he’d cut fiercely from the start. Jack had a plan. He might be pretending to put me in charge, but he was driving the car. He knew the route.
He used the crop until my ass was on fire and my breathing was ragged. Tremulous. Then he touched me once more. The same way he had at the start. Stroked me all over with his strong hands, making the pleasure radiate through me. Intense. Remarkable to feel such sweetness and tenderness after such pain. And once more, even though I ought to have known better, I let myself relax, melt into the mattress, close my eyes.
Jack leaned over, like the Prince before the kiss, murmuring in a lilting tone, “And what should your punishment be for trying to persuade Alex to lie to me—”
“Did you think he wouldn’t tell me?”
“Did you really think so?”
I plead the Fifth, I thought, but didn’t say.
“Name it, Samantha.”
My head spun. My heart raced. What did Jack want to hear? What ought I say?
He pressed even closer, his body on top of mine, holding me down. “One last chance, baby. Name it—”
Alison Tyler writes in the wee hours with her sidekick—coffee. She is the editor of fifty books for Cleis Press and the author of thousands of short stories. Find her at alisontyler.blogspot.com and twitter.com/alisontyler
Alison Tyler is loyal to coffee (black), lipstick (red), and tequila (straight). She has tattoos, but no piercings; a wicked tongue, but a quick smile; and bittersweet memories, but no regrets. She believes it won’t rain if she doesn’t bring an umbrella, prefers hot and dry to cold and wet, and loves to spout her favorite motto: You can sleep when you’re dead. She chooses Led Zeppelin over the Beatles, the Cure over NIN, and the Stones over everyone. Yet although she appreciates good rock, she has a pitiful weakness for 80s hair bands.
In all things important, she remains faithful to her partner of eighteen years, but she still can’t choose just one perfume.
Visit her website at www.alisontyler.com.