She leaned close enough that I could smell the snuff That swam around in her mouth minus the teeth to hold it in place. Keep the red slashes on your right as you go out she croaked. You’ll get twisty turny up tword the rocks , but always to your right-the slashes. When you’ve had enough, Put them on your left to come back. How would I know when I’d had enough? It didn’t seem like a question I could ask her. She straightened only a bit, enough to lift her stick in the direction we faced On your left to return, she repeated. Or we’ll probably not see you again. I looked back after a few steps and she waved me on with the back of her hand. A “shooing” motion. When I turned after a few more paces, She was gone, a red slash on the tree where she’d been
After the explosion, That really wasn’t an explosion-which would have been preferred- Probably more an implosion; a cave in Where everything that had been built -nope, too passive- Where everything that I had built-crumbled in on me Suffocating Crushing. Had it been an explosion all would have been blasted free and gone. To the four corners, as they’d say Leaving me free under the stars, With space to walk around, free to look for Pieces that might fit together again in some form or fashion. Maybe even better this time. First the moon, then the sun, Light my path across fields, dusty roads, Swamps, fetid drainage ditches that never drain. Under bob wire, along streams, Finally to the hard pack just at town's edge. There was nothing. Not a piece of a shred of a shard, Of the lies that had built my life. It might be a good thing, That I was still wearing them where they’d collapsed across me like bloodied drapes or entrails of a gut shot buck. It was night again. So unimaginable. I’ll wait till morning-there’s one more place to look. Why tell the truth, my old man used to say, When you have a lie that fits so well.
Bonnie’s Bad Morning
Miss Bonnie Eddington woke up gagging, in a sour sweat. She lay on her back waiting for her fluttering heart to settle into its rhythm, still tasting the whiskey. Last night’s sex had been more intense than she’d expected (or had thought to hope for) and had left her sated and smiling. A celebration was called for. She had found the pint of Windsor in the kitchen cabinet when she moved in and left it where it was. She wasn’t much of a drinker apart from her nightly four or five quarts of beer. Her Pa had been a mean gin-drunk so she had sworn away from the hard stuff. But this was a special occasion. She poured a hefty three fingers into a jelly jar. She had no ice and wouldn’t have known what to do with it anyway. The whiskey went down like shards of glass. She winced and followed it with a heavy glug of warm beer. Again and again.
When she sat up, the room whirled around her. Not very fast, more like a kid’s merry go round. It was still early, the room only gray in the predawn. She flopped back on the damp sheets, shifted her legs, scrunched her face and farted loudly. She sighed and rubbed her hands over her belly knowing that if there was anything in there, she was sure she’d be puking it up right now. Where were her underpants? she wondered, sliding her hands below. Her body was slick and her nipples reacted like grasping baby birds when she slipped her left hand over them.
“Bad girls”. She grinned sleepily and slipped her right hand between her legs. When she next stirred, she did so barely, just opening her eyes. She was on her side with her hand wedged between her legs, a finger still slightly inside. The room was bright with sunlight. After registering that it was fully mid morning and mid week, she sat up quickly. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit!” She bolted to her feet too quickly and sat back on the bed. Just a little shaky, she thought. Nothing new. Hadda go though. SO SO late, third, no FOURTH time this month. I’m gonna get fired! She thought.
In the bathroom she splashed water on her face then swished and swallowed a dollop of toothpaste straight from the tube. No time to shower. She looked into the tub and saw her panties floating in a few inches of cloudy water like a dead jellyfish. DAMMIT! Those were her last pair that were even approaching clean. When one had only three sets of panties, there was not much room for error or accidents.
She sniffed her armpits, made a face, grabbed the floating panties and sopped her underarms, then dipped them back into the tub and wrung slightly.. Her Ma used to call it a whore bath she remembered, dabbing and rinsing herself below and behind. What self respecting whore would use her own dirty panties for the task? She tossed them back into the tub and did her best to dry on the damp towel that hung over the sink.
The deodorant would get quite a test today. She rubbed furiously leaving white chunks among the tiny forests of black stubble under her arms. The only perfume she had was a gift from her Ma and it smelled like a funeral home fire. Desperate times, though. She sprayed a noxious cloud and walked through it sneezing like an allergic cat.
She pulled aside the curtain that passed for a closet door and surveyed her possibilities. Superintendent Dexter preferred skirts or dresses for the teachers but with no underwear, she couldn’t chance it. A single stumble or updraft would upset the whole apple cart. Jeans were a no-no. She still had a few of the plain dark polyester trousers that she’d worn while waitressing at her father’s pub. They were mostly snags and stains but would do in a pinch. They still fit her because her Ma had always bought clothes oversized so that when she “came into her body”, they wouldn’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe. She had come into her body well before leaving home but no one could tell because her clothes were so baggy. She was able to fold over the trousers into a full three inch pleat in front. An old leather belt cinched to the furthest homemade hole held them in place.
The only remotely appropriate shirt that would hide the waistline was a long-sleeve red jersey, too warm for the season. She looked in the mirror but had difficulty recognizing herself-her features seemingly bleached and rubbed out. She saw nothing but a smudge under a matted bundle of chestnut hair piled atop her head. She wanted to cry, but there was no time. She pulled a brush through the mess on her head until it fell to her shoulders,and slipped her bare feet into her loafers, stopping only to gingerly pick up the banana that was on the bedroom floor and slip it into a grease stained paper bag.
She took the three flights to the street too quickly and once outside, stopped to put her head back and breathe deeply. Not the best move given the dumpster beside her. She retched but nothing came up. When had she eaten last? Fuck it, who knew? She tossed the bag into the dumpster and headed for her stop.
As soon as she hit her corner the 73C hissed to a stop and the door sighed open. Something went right. Because it was later than usual she had her choice of seats. It was the usual driver, Martha, a large black woman with Popeye arms. “Hiya Sweetie”, she said. “Gettin’ a late start today?”
“Have had better mornings”, Bonnie answered, flopping into the seat opposite and one behind the driver so that Martha could see her in the mirror without turning around.
“You don’t look too good”, Martha saidr. “You gotta puke open the window.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Boy troubles?”, she asked.
“Girl troubles? I don’t differentiate or discriminate. To each her own.”
“No, no…this is all me.”, Bonnie sighed.
Her legs seemed impossibly long, Like they were telescoping as he rolled Her underwear down her thighs And finally past her bent knees. Outside, buzzard shadows scudded across the ground, in ones and twos at first. Then, as she rolled onto her side, offering, In groups of eight or ten. He had no desire to step out into the hot sun to count Not because they’d see him. They knew where he was. They could sense dead things- Even souls and spirits. The parching wind crackled through dried leaves, Drought doing autumn’s work Ahead of the calendar. She had cried earlier. Though he had felt bad at the time, He had no recollection of why. Now spooned against her He pushed in slowly- Over her hissing. She was as dry as the yard And he had nothing to change that.
Blinking awake, I couldn’t immediately place The sound. But at three a.m. Any sound that’s not the buzzing of cicadas Or tree frogs, Begs attention A clatter? A clicking bump? There had been serious rain. Was the river on the rise Banging the boats together? Might have to go down and lengthen the lines. Grabbed the flashlight and stepped out into the damp chill Where the halfmoon light glowed Weakly through the fog. Hadn’t taken the time to Pull on my wet sneakers -an ordeal in itself- So buckled immediately when an acorn cap Bit into my bare foot. Then again, on the next step when it stuck there. I had to lean against the cabin’s slippery wall to lift my foot; In my dotage I need either two feet on the ground Or a hand assist. I envied the horses on this, lift one leg still three down. The river was in good shape if a little murky from the storm but the boats were riding fine. Cans were scattered around the patio Probably a coon-long gone now. A skunk would have left his aromatic calling card and coyotes would have announced Their presence. I hadn’t carried the .22 out with me Because shooting guns in the middle of the night Just out of a dead sleep is The most appalling kind of folly. Then, from somewhere on the mountain Came the mournful call of a Great Horned Owl Too faint to have heard from inside. I tried to answer but sounded ridiculous. Embarrassed for the owl, I shut up. He moved and called again. Then again from the triple sycamore just downstream. I’d clean up the mess in the morning. Appreciative. The owl was worth getting up for.
It’s full summer now, Too late. Two months ago A pair of Orioles were tending their hanging nest In a drooping branch of the old shag hickory Not ten feet from the corner of the deck. The industrious feeders bringing morsels to the three Gaping beaks, snug in their bag. Are gone now. Their hardscrabble life Was entertainment for weeks. But it’s ended now. The Orioles are still around As visitors. Flashes of orange crossing The river from side to side Stopping occasionally to tweet. But gone My tired eyes follow an orange streak Down above the shallows Where my old man, hunched in his jon boat, Cigarette clenched firmly between his gums, Would take smallmouth on a spinner. In his time he killed more Bass than anyone along this stretch. That time has ended. Now his ashes settle in the same shallows, With the darters and minnows Mingling with algae among the gravel, Hopefully food for stoneflies...
We’ll Write Our Own Story
He could see her down the alley, heading home. She was moving so slowly through the shadows that it occurred to him she wanted to be stopped, to be called back. In fact, as he watched, she slowed her pace to the point that she was hardly moving. She seemed to be not walking anymore, just languidly floating like algae in a light current.
Then, in the darkest spot in her path, behind the hulking void of the American Legion hall, she turned and he saw a glint on her cheek. It struck him later as uncanny that he was able to see tears on his girl’s cheek from that far away in that darkness. The simple truth was had he not seen that tear-that simple trick of reflected light-he never would have called her back.
He stepped away from the garage to be seen and raised his right arm and with a flap of the elbow and a flick of the wrist, beckoned her back. Seeing him she froze then, hurried no more, began to retrace her path, her pace quickening with every step. By the time she cleared the Legion’s shadow she was in full stride, long legs covering broken asphalt and her wet cheeks shining. He opened his arms ready to catch her. The slaps of her sneakers got louder before they stopped when she launched. He wrapped his arms around her and buried his face where her neck should have been and squeezed his own chest hard, his hands wrapped around his own arms.
Having braced for an impact that never came, he stumbled backward and spun to his right, dropping a hand to the ground to steady himself. Realizing that his eyes were closed he opened them and found himself alone in the middle of the alley. He looked around quickly. Nothing. His heart thumped. He started in the direction from where she’d come, scrambling, jogging and calling her name. He saw her, didn’t he? She saw him. She had been there. Hadn’t she?
Spinning his head, he noticed a faint light in one of the bedrooms of the apartment above the garage. He raced between the buildings and thumped heavily up the wooden steps two and three at a time. The door was open. He burst into the space that he knew so well calling her name. He crossed the kitchen in two strides, Then down the hallway where the dull yellow light oozed from under the door.
He grabbed the knob and tried to twist but it was frozen. Locked. The door yielded easily with a loud crack to a single thrust of his thick shoulder.and there she sat on the end of the stripped bed, elbows on knees, face in hands weeping. The ferocity that brought him crashing through the locked door vanished in the face of her sorrow. He slid to his knees between hers and gently and finally wrapped his arms around her.
“What?” he asked.
“I know how this ends.” she said bleakly.
Enveloped by him, her sobbing ebbed somewhat.
“No you don’t”, he said. “WE say how it ends. Not you, not me but WE. It’s us, it’s always been us.”
“NO” she sad emphatically but without anger. “You won’t change. You may think you will, but you won’t. What you were is too strong, it will pull you back. And for that person, I am just a sidekick-the kid down the alley.”
“True. Is true, Was true. Will be true.”
She was wrong, he thought. How could she be so wrong? He knew how he felt and everything he’d done had been for them. She didn’t believe him anymore. It wasn’t her fault. Without realizing, they had begun to speak different languages. His was the only one they’d heard for years. He had to learn to speak her’s.
He sat back on his haunches and untied her left shoe. He slipped it off and set it aside. Then rolled off her short ankle sock and placed it in the shoe. He repeated the steps with the other shoe. Straightening on his knees he grasped the bottom of her T-shirt and lifted it up over her head where she took over and pulled it all the way off shaking out her hair in a way that seemed triumphant. She never wore a bra and her small breasts, like orange halves, were at eye level. He again wrapped his arms around her bare back and snuggled his face between them. She shivered for the first of many times that evening.
She watched him, eyes clear and alert, as he unsnapped her jeans. Then lifted so he could peel them down and off. When he kissed the tops of her long thighs and moved his tongue inside of them, she moaned softly. Her panties were white with tiny red roses spattered over them. Little girl panties. She had others she would have worn if she knew this was going to happen. She yielded to his touch when he pushed her back onto the bed. She scootched backward to lay instead of sit.
He put his mouth on her soft mound where it pushed against the cotten and breathed his hot breath onto her there. When he looked up, she was watching him wearing an expression he’d never seen before but having seen in, never wanted to do without it.
“We say how this ends”, he said firmly.
“I might be starting to believe you”, she said, her hand touching his cheek.
The two young women regarded each other carefully., as one would study a reflection in a full length mirror. One turned out her ankle and the other did the same and watched how the calf flexed. They were both wearing shorts, but not the same kind-one had jean shorts cut high enough that the pockets showed below the ragged hem. The other wore nylon athletic shorts that were similarly short.
He suddenly remembered his mother in a bra and panties (he had to have been six or seven because they still lived in the apartment) twisting and turning to catch all views of herself in the long mirror on the back of her bedroom door. As she modeled, he lay on her bed pretending to read a book about the Confederate general Jeb Stuart. The book was over his head by a good couple of years but he was drawn to it in the library by the painting on the cover of a dashing figure on a horse riding through gunfire. But all he could think about was the crack of his mother’s butt which he could see as a dark line through her sheer panties.
The two women were remarkably similar in build at least from the waist down and they studied one another’s legs carefully, each twisting and turning.
“We’re not the same person,” said the one in the athletic shorts.
“Who said we were?” answered the other.
“Your breasts are bigger than mine”, said athletic shorts having turned to profile to better evaluate.
Both were braless in T-shirts, one gray, one black.
“Your breasts are fine”, said jean shorts with a sweet smile.
“Easy for you to say,” athletic shorts answered, her gaze squarely on the other’s breasts.
“Anything more than a mouthful is wasted, right?” jean shorts said with the same-maybe even wider- smile.
“Where’d you hear that?” athletic shorts asked quickly.
“Frankie says it all the time…”
“He does”, she answered.
“Any luck on that front?” she asked, still smiling with a bit of concern.
“He’s coming around”, she answered in a tone that conveyed the opposite.
“Frankie’s a stubborn one.” jeans short said.
Hearing his name mentioned aloud in what had to be a dream caused Frank to stir. And when he did the slight pain in his shoulder from having fallen asleep on the couch was enough to bring him fully awake. He was in the garage, the flickering fluorescent above the workbench casting a dim blue that didn’t cut much of the darkness. He had no idea what time it was, but he could still smell Teena. She couldn’t have been gone long.
He sighed and sat up, dropping his feet onto the concrete floor, only then realizing he had an erection. He reflected on his tent pole sullenly hoping it was from the two women in his dream and not of the memory of his mother in her underwear.
“Oh well”, he sighed, rising. “Nothing to be done…”. He pushed himself down the leg of his jeans and picked his way through the clutter toward the door.
Getting Back to “Us”
Hannah LaGrange was feeling it. Not the wine, she was just sipping. There had been an open bottle on the counter so she’d helped herself. Samantha wouldn’t mind. She never opened one herself-that would be overstepping in her mind. Timmy was back in his room playing video games never to return so she was alone. The warm breeze had dried her and the sun had just dropped below the tree line. She sat up and flopped her legs off the side of the lounge chair. Another dip to end the day. She sipped again and set the glass back on the concrete, stood and stretched. Just the thought gave her goosebumps! She padded to the deep end of the pool and jumped in feet first, slicing all the way to the bottom. She flexed against the pebbly bottom and pushed back to the surface. Just cool enough to be refreshing.,but she didn’ jump in the pool to be refreshed.
She breast stroked over to the side where the warm water jet was. She had a small shiver when she felt it against her thighs. Then, with a final glance back toward the house Hannah let go of the side of the pool and sank, quickly pulling her bikini bottoms off. Then she grabbed the side of the pool again, pressing her body against the cool wall and, legs open slightly, positioned herself carefully in front of the jet. She actually chirped when she found the right spot. Wouldn’t take long, Hannah LaGrange was feeling it tonight.
According to her mother, Hannah was a “wanter”. That was when she was feeling charitable. When she wasn’t in a good mood she’d call her daughter greedy, grabby, jealous, none of which really bothered Hannah. Guilty as charged, she thought. She wanted stuff. Things. Nice stuff. Nice things. Didn’t everyone? Didn’t her mother? Or had she been so far down for so long she didn’t know how to want things anymore. She certainly didn’t want to be like her. Sometimes she wished that Samantha Lawson was her mother. Was that bad? Samantha had it all. What Hannah was desperate to figure out was how to get the things she wanted. Until then, she’d enjoy what she could, even if, like the Lawson’s lavish house and lifestyle, it didn’t belong to her.
Sated, finishing with a moan, Hannah pushed herself away from the pool’s wall and dropped to the bottom to retrieve her suit which she tossed onto the patio. Then, weak kneed, she pulled herself out of the pool, and wrapped herself in a towel and went inside tiptoeing back to Timmy’s room. She cracked the door-it was dark; he had put himself to bed.
The next afternoon Hannah’s phone buzzed on the table beside her vibrating her keys. She picked it up and turned it over. Samantha. She hit the icon. “Hello?”, she said, on speaker.
The woman’s deep, syrupy voice filled the small kitchen. “Hi Hannah. Would…would you be able to stop by this evening?”
She hesitated a moment and wracked her brain. “Was I supposed to sit tonight?”
“No, no…not till the weekend. If we…” She trailed for a moment then came back with a flurry. “…There’s something I want to talk to you about, that’s all.”
That’s cryptic, thought Hannah. “Is everything alright?” Samantha virtually never called her to talk or to have her drop in when babysitting wasn’t involved
“I don’t know, actually….But, I’m sure it’s fine”, said Samantha hesitantly. “Around seven?”
“OK”, Hannah said brightly, conveying none of the creeping concern that was starting to root. Five hours away. What could this be? she wondered. Maybe she wants me to go away with them to watch Timmy on a trip. She had done that last fall. No, that wouldn’t require a visit-they could talk about that this weekend. “If we…” echoed in her head. What had she done? she’d known Samantha since they’d moved here-over ten years ago.
She had played soccer with her daughter Abby who was a couple of years older than Hannah and off at college. This babysitting gig was the best job ever. First, they overpaid her, enough that it was her only summer job: they wanted her always available. And Timmy was eight going on twenty five, so he was no problem at all. There was always some wine consumed-not alot and it was, if not encouraged, definitely condoned. The pool and the hot tub were major benefits. Samantha knew she had friends over now and again but they just hung out at the pool or in the great room. Of course, there were the fashion shows, but how could Samantha know about that?
Hannah shook her head and went into her room to prepare to shower. She wasn’t going to go on like this all day. She’d put it out of her mind and just wait and see.
At seven sharp she pulled into the driveway beside the red Porsche and as she walked toward the door saw Samantha through the wide windows coming to meet her. The woman greeted her quickly, almost coldly. Even dressed down for an evening at home she was a striking forty year old- gorgeous in dark jeans and black cotton shirt with sleeves rolled halfway up her forearms.
Samantha didn’t immediately clear the doorway and Hannah gave her a quick hug in greeting. “Timmy is…?”
“He’s off with Craig to a father/son party at school. So it’s just us”, said Samantha, closing the door.
“Oh, OK.” Hanna fell in behind as Samantha led the way into the kitchen. There was a sweating glass of what Maddy knew to be Pinot Grigio on the island. This would be the time when Samantha would offer her one. But she didn’t. She picked up her glass and said “Come,” Samantha led the way into the great room and to the leather sectional that faced both the fireplace and 75 inch plasma TV mounted above it.
“Sit. I want to show you something.”
They sat side by side on the cool leather. When Samantha hit a button on the remote a video of the Lawson’s master bedroom materialized, the doors to Samantha’s walk-in closet wide open. Hannah’s heart sank even before she saw herself on screen, strutting out of the closet wearing Samantha’s gold lame evening gown. Samantha was a head taller so the gown dragged a bit. And bunched up top as Hannah was no match in the breast department. Hannah watched, mortified, as she struck poses in front of the mirror then looked away as she slipped it seductively off and onto the floor. She had gone into the closet after showering from the pool. So in the video between fittings, she was completely naked. She bent slightly wiggling her butt into the mirror.
Hannah grabbed Samantha’s forearm and sneaked a quick glance at her face. It was clouded but seemed to reveal no over-the-top anger. “You know what I paid for that gown that you just dropped on the floor?”
“Not as much as that black one you’re about to put on…”
Hannah peeked at the screen in time to see her naked backside slip back into the closet. “Can you turn it off please?” Her voice was small.
“Really? It’s just getting good. I like the way you accessorize. Especially the way my pearls hang over your little boobs when you were topless in my leather skirt. That’s coming up…You sure you don’t want to see it….The way you pressed your arms together to make cleavage. So cute. You should see it…”
“No…” it was a whisper.
Samantha pressed the button on the remote and the screen went black. “Suffice to say, this isn’t what I was expecting to see when I left the nanny cam running. I started noticing my jewelry was moved around-not exactly where or how I left it. Then some other things; I always hang outfits front to the door. Always. Sometimes I’d find them turned or on different hangers.
How could I have missed that? wondered Hannah. “I…I’m sorry”, she said, trying to break the thick air that hung over them.
“I thought it might be Timmy, playing dress up. That would be fine-it’s a phase-but I thought I needed to know what was going on. But no, it wasn’t my eight year old son dressing up, it’s his teenage babysitter.”
“I’m so embarrassed.” Hannah said thickly.
“I can imagine. Let me ask you…how can I trust you in my house? With my son?” Samantha asked simply without sounding harsh. They were not rhetorical questions.
“Timmy has nothing to do with this. He was asleep and your door was closed”
“Are you sure he was asleep?”
“I checked on him”
“Because he told me that before turning out the light he came out to check on you. You get that? My son came to check on YOU. And he saw you in the pool. But you weren’t really swimming, just hanging on the side of the pool…singing”, he said.
Hannah made fists and pushed them against her forehead. Could this get any worse?
“I asked him where in the pool. And he showed me where. I know that spot….Of course, on the other hand, if you’re going to have sex in the pool when you’re watching Timmy, I’d just as soon you do it alone.”
Hannah actually wanted to cry out of embarrassment but nothing would come. She knew this was bad, she was going to lose the best job ever which meant having to man the fryer at Mickey D’s over the summer..What would she tell people? …”I’ve never stolen anything!” she pleaded. “Never did anything….”she caught herself.
“Go ahead-finish that sentence. What were you going to say? Never did anything that you shouldn’t have? Boy, that’s a wide net.”
“Please don’t fire me. I love being here. I love Timmy. I love…”
You’re great with Timmy and that’s what matters.. If I showed this tape to Craig-you would be so gone, so fast.
“Please don’t show him.”
Yeah, so I’ll have to keep this from him…which isn’t pleasant, believe me. Because I’m really pissed at you. I don’t know that I can trust you anymore. I gave you-you earned-the run of the house-I was never specific: don’t try on my clothes-don’t dance nakend in my bedroom, but some things don’t need to be said, do they?”
“I was out of line…”
“Obviously. I didn’t check my underwear drawer. Did you…?”
“Oh good. You do have your limits.” She said coldly.
Samantha’s tone finally brought a tear to Hannah’s eye and a choke to her voice.
“I just feel this will be something between us, I’ve created this thing between us.”
“There’s no “us” right now Hannah.”
“I’m sorry…Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?
It’s a shame you’re too old for a spanking”. Samantha was speaking to the top of Hannah’s head as the mortified girl’s eyes were fixed on the table in front of her. Hannah snorted a quick laugh as Samantha’s words hung in the air. When she looked up there was a glint in the woman’s green eyes that might signal a way out of her predicament. Hannah shrugged. “Am I? I don’t know. Never had one.”
“Maybe when I was little…”
“Lucky you. I wore out my hand on Abby’s butt when she was in high school.”
“YOU SPANKED ABBY?!” Hannah couldn’t believe it. The tall raven haired class treasurer being spanked by her mother.
“Couldn’t get through to her for a while there. Didn’t you notice how going into Junior year she settled down. You had no more drinking parties over here when we were out?”
“Yeah-and she HAD to be home right at 10. She said she was just buckling down on her studies.”
“She’s a brain-she didn’t need to study that much. But if she came in late I was waiting with the hairbrush with a swat for every minute past curfew.”
“I had no idea!”
Samantha seemed to consider. “I think that behavior rather than age dictates punishment. In fact when I got over my initial shock at your little fashion show-seeing your naked little tush parading through my bedroom, the first thing I thought was that girl needs a good spanking.”
Hannah shrugged. “Whatever you think Samantha. I’ll do anything to fix this.”
“Be careful what you wish for”, Samantha said rising. She gestured for Hannah to follow.
“Where we going?”
“Back to the scene of the crime.”
It was on the walk down the hall, watching Samanth’s back that Hannah started to feel something she didn’t understand. She knew what it was, that tingling, she just didn’t understand it right then. Samantha stood aside at the open door and waved the girl inside. She stepped to the right toward Smanatha’s side of the room: makeup table, the closet and jewelry boxes. She noticed a wooden hairbrush beside the mirror on the table. Had that always been there? As if in a dream she picked it up, testing its weight. Her stomach flipped. “Be careful what you wish for” echoed in her head.
“Thank you Hannah”. Samantha took the hairbrush as if it was being offered and sat down on the straight backed chair that she’d turned away from her makeup table. Hannah’s breathing quickened-and it wasn’t just fear. “Take your shorts off.”
“Off? I thought I would just go over your lap like this.
“Not likely. I don’t spank jeans.”
“Can’t I just take them down?”
“No, I let Abby do that once and she tripped herself walking around with her pants around her ankles. So off.” It was a command, not a suggestion. Hannah was seemingly frozen in place. “You are not going to go shy on me, are you? Now? After everything I’ve already seen?”
Hannah worked on her button with shaking fingers. Samantha reached out and caught a belt loop and pulled her in. ”I think you need a hand”
Not knowing exactly what to do with them, Hannah held her hands clutched in front of her chest as Samantha opened, then pushed her shorts down. She patted the girl’s thigh. “Step out, honey.” Hannah reacted to the soft touch and soothing voice, taking the offered hand for balance. She let herself be led to Samananths’s right side and then, with a guiding hand lay over the woman’s lap. Samantha adjusted her slightly so her toes were just touching the floor and her bottom bent over the woman’s strong thigh. She hissed when she felt her panties being pulled down and made a small “tsk” when they stuck between her legs. She had gotten surprisingly damp down there, something Samantha couldn’t help but notice in the crotch of the light blue panties.
The girl made another unidentifiable sound as Samantha rested her hand on the back of her thigh, just below her bottom. “I don’t really want to hurt you Hannah, any more than I wanted to hurt my own daughter when she was in this position. But I do want to punish you for taking advantage of me and to let you know that it’s not OK. And to do that I am going to really hurt your butt. There’s no way around that.”
Hannah was horrified to be feeling it again. The same way she felt when she was trying to position in front of the pool jet. Samantha lectured, and for emphasis, squeezed her bottom, patted her leg or poked a cheek. Every touch created a flutter inside Hannah. The first smack came as an open handed swat delivered firmly. Hannah grunted softly feeling the sting of it but also the inexplicable buzz that hummed between her legs. As the hand spanking continued, Hannah’s thoughts of escape-of sliding off Samantha’s lap and running for the door-dissipated, replaced by a confusing mix of discomfort, humiliation, and that tingle. Also for the first time this evening she felt strangely close to Smantha. Samantha was doing to her what she had done to her own daughter. She had to care for her didn’t she? Or she would have just tossed her out. Then, as suddenly as the spanking began it stopped and Hannah relaxed realizing she had been subtly lifting her bottom to meet Samantha’s punishing hand..
Hannah lifted her head when she felt the cool wood of the hairbrush patting her warm bottom. “I don’t think you’ll enjoy this part as much as the last”, Samantha said. God, thought Hannah she knew what I was feeling? There was no more time to contemplate as the woman tightened her grip around her young charge’s waist and let fly with a solid swat that landed equally on both cheeks. The blow elicited a loud yelp that could have been an echo so perfectly did it answer the swat. Then again…and again-every swat a double sound “THWACK! YOW!” Hannah yelped and wriggled and was beginning to kick when Samantha pressed the hard wood of the brush firmly against her already scarlet bottom.
“Settle”, she ordered. “This won’t go on much longer if you behave. Understand?”
Hannah meant to just say “Yes” but that single word unleashed a torrent of sobs. “I’ll try…it just hurts…so bad.”
“I know it does. But we’re almost done.”
“I’ll try”, she sniffled. “I’m sorry.”
“The last ones are the hardest..”
Hannah moaned at the words wondering how they could be harder. Then she found out. Samantha delivered five more swats; two on each cheek and one, the final and hardest at the exact center of the bottom of her bum which echoed through the girl’s void and brought a fresh wail of pain and distress.
“Shhh, shhhh..”said Samantha gently. “You’re done…”
“Thank God!” Hannah exclaimed. Gently crying, she didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to move. Samantha kept her hand chastly on the girl’s leg. ”You did so well,” she told her.
“I tried…” she answered to the floor. “Better than Abby?” she asked looking back over her shoulder.
“Abby was a tough nut-a real hard ass. Took everything in silence. Wouldn’t give me the satisfaction of knowing I was hurting her. That was her thing. I knew I was getting through, though.”
“You got through to me, for sure.” Hannah sniffled.
“There was no doubt about that…It’s a good thing we don’t have any close neighbors.”
“I’m sorry for being a baby. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll be better next time.”
“Next time?” Samantha scoffed. “Here-get up.” Samantha gave her a hand and Hannah pushed herself off the woman’s lap, where she sood unashamedly rubbing her burning bottom. Samantha picked a few face pads from her table and wiped the tears from Hannah’s cheeks, then a tissue to wipe her nose. She was clear eyed and done crying.
Samantha leaned over and picked up the girl’s underwear which she held open as for a child. With a hand on the woman’s shoulder for support Hannah stepped one leg in, then the other, then straightened while Samantha pulled them up and gave her the first real smile of the evening.
“You did well. And you know what? It’s over…”
“There’s “us” again?”
Hannah stepped close and sat on Samantha’s lap clenching her butt cheeks against the sweet soreness she felt there and threw her arms around the woman’s neck. Samantha returned the embrace and, as good as that felt, Hannah wished she could take a dip in the pool…to find her special spot in front of the water jet. She couldn’t exactly ask to go for a swim. Could she?
The double call of the owls in the hardwoods Had become threads in a dream that made no sense. As a boy he had confused the deep throb of the towboat diesels pushing coal upriver, A sound that could only be heard in the dead of night, with his own heartbeat. When the tow went round the upriver bend and faded, He awoke with a start fearing that without the deep vibration he would die. The soft coo of the mourning doves finally woke him. The mossy boulders where he coiled had held the sun’s warmth well into the night Rattlesnakes and copperheads also liked the warm fissures But he never minded sharing..he’d had worse in his bed. The buttery glow of the pallid morning sun Did little to dilute the haze shrouding the ridge. He had not planned on sleeping up there But the long day-spooked by the moon-had abruptly fled Leaving him unsure of the path. It was hard to imagine, so many years later That he had touched him just the once. Had he meant, just the once, in that one night, Or more than one time within that night. Or just one time every night of many? His explanations were never made clear. Even a child knew he was full of shit. The overlook revealed buzzards below; Pepper specks riding the updrafts from the valley floor. She knew the whole time Which was probably why she had never touched him Which would have been his clear preference. But all is forgiven Nothing forgotten Or is it the other way around? It would make all the difference. She was open to him later, But he never lay a hand on her Until much later when she pleaded that he wouldn’t. Now he heard them often Treading the squeaky floorboards at night As he shuddered in his bag Behind a locked door That wouldn’t keep them out, If they wanted to come in. But all is forgotten Nothing forgiven