I walked through the room with some discomfort. I had thought that I was well now. I had thought that I had fully recovered from my illness. It was with some chagrin that I realized this was not the case. I looked at my 'to do' list with some dread. As I sat down with a glass of juice and looked at my pile of papers, I found myself weary and angry. I was tired from being sick and all the energy it has taken. I was tired simply because I was still sick. And I was angry because I had plans to do many things and a deadline that was fast closing. As I glared at the page before me, a hand settled on my shoulder.
"Must you be a perfectionist?" he asked me with a tone of gentle reproach and mild exasperation. I scoffed and was about to make a droll comment back when a wave of nausea rolled over me. Instead, I closed my eyes and tried to breath through my nose. Discovering that having my eyes closed made the sense of disorientation worse, I opened my eyes and sighed with disappointment. "Did you not learn that you have limitations, dear girl?" he said.
"I don't like them," I answered sullenly. "I have stuff I need to do. Things to get done..." I started when he interrupted me.
"Things that other people can do for you. Things that are not critical and that were not part of your original plans even. Things that you should not add on. You should not pile on more work when you are just now well enough to be out of sickbed. You'll put yourself back in it with this attitude," he said firmly. My shoulders slumped and I sighed.
"It is not shameful to be sick or to ask for help, you know," he said as he began to massage my knotted shoulders, "I have been sick and in need of help. I even tried to avoid seeking it out. It made me surly and unpleasant. Father was quite ... concerned." I looked at my pile of work, feeling defeated. "Is it victory you seek? Do you seek it for yourself?" he said, noting how I tensed again and my attitudes towards my work. "I think it is not victory you are looking for. All this frantic work, it is flight. You are trying to run away from yourself again. What have we said about this habit of yours?"
"I shouldn't do it," I muttered. He shook his head and sighed. "Why do you put up with me? I'm so .. so fucked up and broken," I said bitterly. Hands that had been tender turned hard. His grip on my shoulders was suddenly like iron and painful. I gasped with surprise. He took hold of my hair and pulled my head back so that I was look up at him rather than where I had my work arrayed before me.
"One thing you are most definitely not is fucked up. Nor are you broken. I have told you you are not allowed this statement about yourself. This is not to continue," he said sternly looking down at me. Something inside me quailed before that hard expression in his face. For reasons I could not place, I suddenly found tears beginning to well up at the corners of my eyes. A desperate need to argue that he was wrong came to my lips. Before the words could spill out, he tugged harder at my hair, stilling them at the source.
"Those are lies that they told you. It is filth that will not cross your lips e'er again if I have any say in it," he said in an implacable tone, "Do you understand?" I blinked the tears rising out of my eyes and gave a small nod in what limited motion I had available to me. His expression softened as the anger that arose was set aside. In its place, came a look that was somewhere between pity, disappointment, and sorrow, but never quite fully reaching it. He let go of my hair and stepped around before me. As I moved to drop my head and attempt to hide my face out of the horrid sense of shame that came from being the cause of this look, he knelt before me.
His hands cradled my cheeks as he brushed his thumbs over where the tears had fallen. "There is no shame here," he said, "Not for you. Not here. You are wounded. It is unreasonable to expect someone with a broken leg to run a race when they can not even stand. You did not wound yourself, not even by misadventure or folly. They hurt you. They lied to you and then fed you yet more lies, claiming it was medicine."
I swallowed past a lump in my throat that had nothing to do with the minor rebellion happening in my guts. "Look at me," he commanded me softly, his tone tender. I looked from the point somewhere around the middle of his chest up to his eyes. He gave me a small smile. "Hey, there you are, pretty girl," he continued in that soothing, kind tone, "It is alright. You are going to be ok. You have to let yourself rest and recover." I closed my eyes as the urge to sob slammed into my chest. He smoothed the hair away from my eyes. "Be easy, dear heart," he soothed, "You have nothing to prove here. You are worthy of love. And care. And rest."
Tears escaped down my cheek. "But I have so much to do," I whimpered, "If I don't do it ..." He set his fingertips on my lips. It was a queer sensation to have them trembling against his still hand. I took a shuddering breath.
"You have done enough. Rest," he said. I opened my eyes and looked at him, caught up in a wave of utter misery. "Why do you punish yourself? Do you even know why?" he asked. I shook my head and started to look away. His hand against my right cheek stopped me from turning my face away. "Stop. No one is going to punish you for any of this. You are sick. You are not playing or trying to get away with fooling around and fobbing work off," he said.
"But I am going to be in trouble," I said in a voice that was childishly small and fearful.
"From who?" he asked.
"I don't know," I said, struggling not to wail in fear, "I just will be."
"Then I will protect you. Stop and rest. You need it. No harm will draw here nigh you," he answered. His solemn expression turned to a small, rueful smile filled with self depreciating humor, "I'm sure you can forgive me if I haven't a sword. My bare hands may have to do, or I'll pick up one of yours. You have plenty to spare."
I swallowed uncomfortably, somewhere between anxious tears and pure misery. And I realized that had been there lurking beneath the surface all day. "Do you trust me?" he asked. I nodded, not trusting myself to speak with out starting to cry. "Then go sleep and let all this work sit," he said, "I'll mind this and then come join you." I closed my eyes and shivered with this sense of terror. "I'll not leave you alone. You will never be alone," he said, rising up to press a kiss against my brow. With his lips pressed against a childhood scar that I never really liked, he said, "It will be alright. Just go sleep. You need it. Fight again tomorrow. It is another day." He wrapped his arms around me and I did my best to breathe through the tears that threatened.
[Not entirely in keeping with the original intent of the blog, but it remains. I have a feeling things are going to shift here going forward.]
Friday, December 16, 2016
I stood on the pedestal awkwardly. It was not of great height. It was not terribly narrow. Still, I was uncomfortable with this exercise, feeling a curious sense of dizziness and as though I was going to fall if I shifted my weight. A light shone down on me, blinding me to what was around me. I looked forward as I had been instructed, my head bowed slightly in a small gesture to some how hide something of myself. A thin wrap of some sort of soft fabric was wound about my shoulders. I held the edges of it tightly around me with my arms crossed before me. The gauzy white fabric was my only covering. My hair was unbound and fell across my shoulders and into my face. I could hear someone walking around me.
A voice that was stern, if not imperious, said from some distance before me, "Straighten up. Stand properly." I rolled my shoulders back and lifted my head some. The sound of something whistling through the air came moments before a narrow rod of some sort struck my shoulders. It was not painful, per se, but it startled me. I straightened abruptly with a yelp of surprise. A white wand a little wider than my pinky finger came before my face and tapped the underside of my chin. I lifted my head to avoid it. Standing at my full height and with my head raised, I felt uncomfortably exposed.
The walker began to move about me again. The white wand moved at the edge of the pool of light. The discomforting sense of dizziness began to arise again. I felt the wand tap the back of my left knee. "Do not lock your knees," the male voice said from before me again, "It would be a shame if all of this was for naught." I swallowed uncomfortably and did my best to relax my stance. The sound of the footsteps at their even pace suggested that they could continue their efforts for a long hour. I, however, was uncomfortably tense and felt ready to get down off of the low pedestal. "Do you know why you are doing this exercise?" the voice said again.
"Because I must learn grace," I answered.
"Incorrect," he answered. The white rod swished through the air and snapped me smartly across the buttocks. I yelped and reached a hand back to ward off a possible second blow. The fabric began to slip off of my right shoulder and I moved to pull it back up. "Leave it be," he commanded. "Answer my question," he said after a moment, "Why are you doing this exercise?"
"Because I must learn ... something," I answered. I felt myself tense in expectation of another switching. When nothing happened, I shifted my weight from my right to my left foot and did my best to relax my knees.
"What are you to learn?" he asked and the walker began to move again.
"I don't know, sir," I replied with out bothering to hide my uncertainty or unease.
"My Lord," he corrected me, "It is my Lord, not sir."
"Forgive me, my Lord," I said, casting my gaze downward, "I do not know what I am to learn from this exercise, my Lord."
He made a thoughtful sound. The walker came to a stop off to my left. "Shall I enlighten you, my dear?" he said. There was some measure of amusement in his voice. A shiver ran down my spine.
"If it pleases, my Lord, I would be most grateful for his explanation and insight," I said, struggling with the urge to fidget with the cloth. He chuckled as the one who had been walking around me tapped their wand, possibly against their thigh or their hand. The sound was both ominous and exciting. A measure of confused anxiety rolled through me.
"You truly do not understand, do you?" the man somewhere before me in the shadows said. I was unsure if I heard marvelment or disbelief in his voice. I heard a sound as though someone was standing up out of a leather chair. Footsteps came forward. Dimly, I could see something of a person standing ahead of me. He was tall. He seemed familiar, though I could not place why. He moved towards my right, walking slowly. "You do not know why I have you here," he said slowly, as though he was considering his words with great care, "Perhaps a mirror would be necessary for this lesson." He stopped behind me. The person standing at my left walked away and then I heard something being wheeled forward in the darkness ahead of me.
The mirror was an ornate thing. It was easily as big as I was tall and mounted in such a manner where when it was brought before me I could see myself easily in it. The daphinious fall of fabric from my left hand just over my bosom managed to some how modestly cover me but also reveal the curves of my body. The scars beneath it seemed but a trick of the folds of the fabric. The softness of my belly and fullness of my thighs was reminiscent of the Grecian sculptures of Aphrodite. I started to look away from the reflection. A hand reached forward from the shadows behind me and took hold of my chin.
The grip was strong and did not allow me to turn my face away from the mirror. "Look closely, dear heart," he said behind me, "See what I see. Look at the softness of your skin and how it gleams in the light. Behold the fullness of your lips and the blush across your cheek. Note the way your hair lies upon your shoulder with that fine thread of silver through it, glistening like frost on autumn leaves. Tell me, do you not see beauty here?"
"I... I don't know," I answered uncomfortably. In the reflection, I could see his shoulder and part of his side as he stood behind me. His head was bowed slightly, his face hidden by a fall of long dark auburn hair. In the limited light that fell on him, he seemed to dwarf me even though I stood upon a dais that raised me up off the ground somewhat. He moved closer and the shadows on his face looked familiar, though I could not clearly see his face between the way the shadows fell, his hair being in his eyes, and his head half hidden behind mine.
"Your fair eyes are blind," he purred in my ear, "Open them so that you may see more clearly."
"My eyes are open, my Lord," I said, unable to keep the small, anxious whine out of my voice. He chuckled.
"Poor confused girl," he said and his hand slipped from my jaw to wrap about my throat. As he did so, warmth rolled over me. My eyes widened and I gasped. "Keep your eyes upon the mirror," he whispered, "Look and see what I see." As he spoke, I felt as though a caress passed over me. My eyes rolled and his grip tightened. He gave me a single firm shake. My eyes snapped open. I stared at my reflection.
I stared in fascination. My expression was one of pleasure. My body stood taught with aroused tension, my breath frozen in my throat as I found myself anticipating something more. "Do you see, girl," he said quietly in my ear, "The pretty little blush and the open mouthed smile of delight? The soft gaze and eager body? Do you see this?"
"Yes, my Lord," I murmured. I strained to see his reflection in the mirror. He gave me another firm shake. My eyes rolled as I shuddered with pleasure and gave a soft moan.
"Do not look at me," he said, "Look at yourself."
I looked in the mirror as though one who was hypnotized. Perhaps, in a way, I was. For, now I could not help but see how everything in me was bent towards him with yearning. I felt as though I was looking at a masterwork of some old world painter. It was a dizzying moment. His free arm wrapped around my waist as he stepped up close behind me. I took in a deep breath.
I could smell the scent of the deep forest on him. The cold bite of the winter wind and the astringent tang of pine mingled with the musk of fallen leaves and their slow decay. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, relishing the earthy scent. Somewhere in it, I could discern the sharpness of whiskey. "It is you," I sighed.
"Open your eyes," he murmured in my ear. I opened them, seeing his face through the veil of his hair and mine. My head rested lightly on his shoulder, my body arched slightly. "Do you understand?" he asked.
"I will try, my Lord," I answered, sounding almost as intoxicated as I looked. His thumb passed lightly over my pulse. For a moment, it pressed firmly against it. I took in a breath and shivered with pleasure.
"There is no try. You will learn," he said.
"Yes," I answered dreamily. His expression, which had been deadly solemn and serious, turned to a look of mild bemusement.
"My dear, sweet girl," he said with a chuckle, "So confused. But willing. You can be lead to water after all. Now to get you to drink."