by Annabeth Leong
The story below is fiction (normally, I write nonfiction for The Grip). Note that this story includes themes of age play and references to childhood abuse.
Five years ago, I didn’t think I had the guts to do this scene, no matter how many years I’ve thought about it.
Five years ago was before I met Janine. She knows how to get into me like nobody has since I was small. I’d have run screaming from most people with that quality, but the key is I trust Janine, even when she occupies the deepest parts of my psyche.
What she looks like matters less than how she smells and sounds. When I wear her blindfold, her boots on the wooden floor sound like judgement itself, and deep down it’s hard to remember she’s on my side. Her smell, though—that always reminds me. She is comfort food and leather, an aroma that has become the definition of transcendence to me.
“You’ve been bad,” Janine grumbles, her voice grouchy and not her own.
I know that turns some people on, but not me. My stomach drops into my toes. I can’t help struggling, both against the ropes that bind me and against the cloying sense of failure that quickly clogs my throat and makes my eyes sting.
I hear her take a breath in sharply. It’s hard for Janine to see me like this, I know, even if she wants to see every part of me. I know she feels distressed when I’m distressed, and that these echoes of the distress I felt when I was small awaken even more resonance in her. Her fingers brush my arm briefly, the touch her own rather than that of the character she’s playing.
Then she says the line, her voice growing strange and strident. “Are you crying, little girl? I’ll give you something to cry about.”
As it always did, that line makes me cry. My sobs transform from silent, half-hidden things to loud, ugly spasms. Janine doesn’t let up, because I told her not to when we negotiated this.
“Be quiet,” she threatens, “or I’ll give you something to cry about.”
The rough edge of a wooden spoon runs up the side of my arm. In the past, she has hit me with a flogger designed to draw blood, and I have smiled through the pain and mumbled endorphin-drugged words of love. None of that matters now, though. All the blood my tops have drawn, all the marks they’ve made on me, all the times I felt strong or was told I was brave—none of that takes away my small-animal fear of the wooden spoon. I take a slow breath. It won’t even hurt that much, I tell myself, but that’s the wrong approach. It’s not about how much it hurts. It’s about what it means.
“I can’t,” I say. It’s the line I’m supposed to say, and Janine takes it to mean I can’t stop crying, like she’s supposed to. I also sort of mean I’m not sure if I can do this scene. “I can’t.” I’ve got to communicate more clearly. I owe that to her. My brain is swirling, though, and it’s hard to remember that I chose this.
“Quiet,” Janine says.
She draws the spoon edge back less than an inch and returns it to my skin a moment later, the impact too soft to break even the surface tension at the top of a glass of water. It’s more than enough to break me, though. “Yellow,” I say. I force the rest of the words out. “I don’t know if I can get through this after all.”
She changes her touch back to her own. She puts a hand on the side of my face. Her fingers smell of the potatoes we peeled earlier for dinner. She pulls my head against her thick, leather-clad thigh. “You’re a good girl,” she murmurs in her own voice. “You’re so good. You can get through this if you want to. But we can stop now if you don’t.”
She gives me time to think about stopping. I close my eyes and breathe her in. Saying that I feel safe with her isn’t quite right because she can scare me to the point of tears and desperation when we decide to play like that. But I feel clear with her, like I would never lose myself. Like she would never lose herself. I think that no matter what we do, we are always Emma and Janine, people who love each other. When we act out old dramas together, we know that’s what we’re doing.
My heart pounds. Regret starts. I wish I’d never told her about this idea. On the other hand, I want nothing more than for her to tear me open in the midst of this, to find a way to the soft places I lost long ago. Janine is big and strong enough to take my anger, fear, and pain, just as I am big and strong enough to take her force and menace and need for my tears.
“I still want to,” I whisper, and immediately start crying harder because I can’t stop thinking about the wooden spoon.
Stick candy, my father called it. The first time he threatened me with it, I thought he was offering me a treat. Would you like it? Yes, I would. I’m going to slap that smart mouth right off your face. Are you crying, little girl? I’ll give you something to cry about.
Janine lets go of me, steps back, and becomes terrifying again. “Are you crying, little girl? I’ll give you something to cry about.”
She manhandles me into position, my ass up to receive my licks. Her fingertips tremble against my waist. She pulls my pants and underwear down roughly. I am shaking harder than I’ve shaken as an adult. My throat is too tight to swallow my saliva and a bit of it drools out the side of my mouth and onto the bed. I’m glad I can’t see, that Janine has given me the privacy of my own darkness.
The wooden spoon comes down across my ass, carrying both the sting of the present and the ache of the past. I can barely stand the sensation as it spreads over my cheeks, but I don’t get to dwell on that because Janine keeps the blows coming fast and hard.
This is not pain that feels good. This is pain that blazes like hellfire across my skin and through my heart. This is pain that burns me out and cracks me apart, that I keep thinking I’m not going to be able to take anymore. I hold my safeword at the back of my mouth the way that, as a child, I clutched my favorite glow-worm doll to my chest when I had to go out to the garage alone in the dark. Even if I don’t need to use it, I need to touch it, to take comfort in its presence.
My sobs have become silent again, body-wracking. They contort me. They add an element of breath play to this already intense scene because I can’t get control of my lungs while this is happening to me. I am not crying soft, pretty tears. I am crying tears that make my face muscles seize, that make snot pour from my nose and onto my upper lip.
The inside of my mind goes black. There are only a few things left in my world. The spoon. The safeword. The tears. Me. Janine.
There’s a clatter as the spoon drops to the floor. Janine grabs my ass and squeezes, her palms hard and cold against my heated, tender skin. She is shaking so hard I hear her teeth chattering. She reaches one hand forward and brushes her knuckles over my wet cheeks. I hear a sucking sound that makes me think she’s sucking my tears off the back of her hand, and I realize the privacy of the blindfold wasn’t only for me.
I know what she wants to do. We talked about it. The tension of the moment stretches out. She told me ahead of time that this would be the part she might not be able to do in real life, no matter how hot it made us to fantasize about it in the dark.
Her fingers return to my face, wipe the snot off my upper lip. “You’re disgusting,” Janine says, but her voice cracks out of character.
She pauses for so long that I think she’s going to stop the whole scene. I’m too scared to move, poised on the brink of too many things. “Yellow,” she says finally. “Yellow. I don’t fucking know if I can talk like that.”
I discover then that I can get some control of myself after all. I slow my crying enough that I can whisper to her, give her a message from the Emma of the real-life present. “You’re good,” I tell Janine. “So good. I love you.”
I am aching for the rest of what we talked about, but I remind both her and me of the truth: “We can do this another time if we need to. If we want to.”
She smoothes a hand down the side of my thigh. Her fingers tighten cruelly, and I gasp. “I want it now.”
My body answers with a long shiver, a sense of impending catharsis. “Green,” I tell her, and she answers with a slap to my reddened ass.
“You’re disgusting,” Janine says, her voice stronger now. “You’re still crying, little girl? I’ll give you something to cry about. I’ll fucking give you something to cry about.”
She forces her fingers between my legs, finding my cunt. I don’t know when I got wet. I haven’t felt any pleasure so far this scene. My body somehow got ready, though, as if my tears lubricated my cunt as well as my face.
Janine attacks me with spearing fingers. “You take that, you fucking disgusting girl. Is that something to cry about? Is it?”
I can’t answer her. I’m crying too hard. I’m feeling too much. I’m in a place past bad and good, a place beyond memory or the present. This was my childhood. This wasn’t my childhood. I am big and strong enough to take the desires that make Janine feel ashamed. She is big and strong enough to give me something to cry about.
I cry and cry, for myself, for the small parts of me, for the lost parts of me, for the places I can’t open anymore, and for the ways I can’t properly close, not even when I want to. And eventually, Janine finds her way so deep into my cunt, which feels just then like my life and like my soul, that I come for her, still crying.
I'd like to acknowledge the influence of Xan West on this story. If I hadn't read Xan's excellent book Show Yourself to Me, I don't think I'd have had the guts to write this.