I'm going to cheat on this one. My story is more about guilt than conscience, wallowing in guilt at having followed your conscience, but apparently not well enough to prevent disaster--and then enjoying being punished. This is quite an old story, about 12 years old, but remarkably timely.
"Hey, are you all right?" She rang the bell again and knocked, hard. I couldn't seem to move. What was the point? What was the point in anything? The world was going to hell, with my own country toting the handbasket.
"Lynn! Ms Rackliffe!" She pounded until I could feel the vibrations through the floor. I pictured her big, strong hand, knuckles reddening at the impact with my door, a hand I'd imagined so many times impacting other places... Some part of me stirred, though not, as yet, the parts that could move me out of my huddle on the couch.
"Look, I know you're in there. The lights and TV go on and off, but you haven't picked up your mail or UPS deliveries in three days. If you don't tell me you're okay, I'll have to either notify the police or break down the door myself."
Three fucking days--no, fuckless days--of despair. The bastards had won. In spite of the exit polls, known voting irregularities, and statistical impossibilities, no recounts in Ohio or Florida were going to make any difference. The voters had cast away all reason, and, in the states where gay marriage rights had been trampled into the dust, all sense of human decency as well.
Not that decency in the conservative sense had ever concerned me much. What the hell possessed people, anyway, to be so obsessed with the kind of sex other people were having? And so unconcerned about their own government's campaign of war, destruction, arrogance, and downright stupidity?
She knocked again. "Last chance," she called sternly. Her tone of voice had begun to play tricks on me. If I'd been standing up, my knees would have wobbled--which suddenly made standing up a more appealing prospect than it had been in a while. "Looks like some galley proofs in the mail," she added. "Are you such a hotshot writer your editors will let you blow off deadlines?"
I tossed off the quilt and shuffled around for my slippers. She must have heard me, because she waited silently on the other side of the door, all imposing, silver-brush-cut, six feet of her. I realized suddenly what a mess I must look. Well, why not, when the future looked even worse?
Time was, my mother used to say, when your postman knew everything about you short of your underwear size. This one had been delivering my mail for only about three months, but she already knew my politics, my taste in porn, and the publishers who were buying (or rejecting) my work. She'd asked me to autograph an old copy of On Our Backs a couple of weeks ago, and since then I'd been doing my best to make sure that even my underwear size was no mystery to her.
It had been a game, inching along toward something major-league. She'd been playing along by knocking and hand-delivering all my mail, even if it was only pizza coupons, trying to suppress her amusement and maintain the official role belied by the gleam in her eye. I'd been planning, if all went well, to dispense with the underwear altogether and appear at the door on the day after the election attired in nothing but a map of the country drawn across my torso, with the blue states colored in. Maybe the whole thing could have been tilted to make a bright blue Florida jut downward in its most interesting possible alignment, pointing the way to glory.
But all hadn't gone well. For the past two days she'd rung my doorbell, and I hadn't responded, unable to face the world except through the furious online filters of Atrios' Eschaton, Daily Kos, Buzzflash, Agonist, Fuckthesouth, until even the bloggers' convincing but unprovable conspiracy theories became more than I could bear.
Now, on the third day, under threat, I opened the door.
"You look like hell," she said brusquely, a frown denting her wide brow. For a moment I was tempted to throw open my bathrobe and flash my unmapped nakedness at her anyway, until I remembered that I hadn't showered in three days. Or possibly longer.
"When was the last time you had a meal?" She kicked the door shut behind her, moving inexorably into the kitchen. I followed, and looked vaguely into the sink. Traces of macaroni and cheese had been drying on the unwashed dishes there for at least two days, but I was pretty sure there were more recent cracker crumbs sprinkled across my computer desk.
"I'm not hungry," I said, with some attempt at dignity.
"Well, I am. And you will be." She thumped the stack of mail down onto the table and backed me against my refrigerator, trapping me there with one muscular arm braced on either side, her large body blocking out the rest of the room. And the rest of the world. For a brief moment I felt the warmth of protection and the tingle of challenge, all merged together. A smile threatened to take charge of my lips.
Then I saw the postal service insignia on her sleeve. Stylized, streamlined, invoking speed and reliability; but still an eagle. Still the symbol of war. I began to shake.
"What...?" Then she saw where I was looking, and backed off, leaving me shivering even harder without the warm shelter of her body. I stifled a whimper. "The uniform? Damnit, you're even farther gone than I thought! Have you been getting any sleep? You haven't been home more than three or four days a week in the last two months. No wonder you're crumbling."
Her voice was rough, with an underlying note of concern. She'd noticed, I thought. Kept track of me. Well, I'd had to tell her to hold my mail whenever I was away working on voter registration and getting out the vote in states where it might matter.
Except that nothing I had done had mattered. I slumped back against the refrigerator and began to slide down it. "All that work...we tried so hard..." Tears burned in my eyes and stung my throat. "I did my best..."
She dragged me upright with her big hands under my armpits. Her thumbs pressed into the sides of my breasts hard enough to leave marks. The pain was a welcome distraction, I realized. Amazingly welcome. My nipples began to harden, and the tears retreated just a little.
"Yes," she said soothingly, "you did..." She broke off abruptly and looked intently into my eyes. Her tone changed, seething with scorn. "Sure, you tried, but you didn't try hard enough, did you? You call that doing your fucking best?"
I couldn't flinch away from her bruising grip. Her words seemed brutal, biting--but oddly familiar. My own words, in fact. I discovered that I didn't want to flinch. What had I written next in that story she must have read? Never mind, I'd just wing it. "I'm sorry," I muttered, ducking my head so that my brow rested between her breasts. If I leaned one way or the other, if I turned my head, my mouth could fill with... No, I hadn't earned such bliss. "It's all my fault. I know it is."
"You bet it is," she growled. "And you're going to get what's coming to you." She yanked me over to a high chair at the kitchen counter and dumped me there. I watched in awed anticipation as she pulled off jacket and shirt and stood flexing her hands, her white wife-beater clinging to the tantalizing contours of the flesh beneath.
I started to untie my ratty old bathrobe, but she slapped my hands away, then lifted me from the chair, swung around, and suddenly I was sprawled across her lap. My bathrobe was bunched up around my waist, leaving my ass hanging out in all its chilly vulnerability, so much more humiliating than full nudity. No amount of wriggling and kicking could make my feet reach the floor. I whimpered.
"You want something to cry about?" Whack! Her hand came down full force, no warm-up. I yelled, and braced for another hit, but she pinched and squeezed hard for a few seconds, probing for sensitive spots, not that there was an inch of flesh that wasn't either aching or aching for more.
Whack. Whack. WHACK! A relentless rhythm, repeated with variations, making me realize, as much as I could think at all between gasps, that I'd had no conception at first of what full force could mean.
On and on, with no let-up except to get me off-guard, interrupt my expectations. From my ass to my thighs I was hot, throbbing, quivering before and after each impact, and my whole body jerked with the intensity of each strike. The tears were back, flowing down my cheeks, snuffling in my nose, but the wetness squeezing from my cunt under her relentless pressure made a keener impression.
"Please," I whispered, but she ignored me. "Please," I cried louder, wriggling my crotch against her thigh, then trying to raise my butt, straining against the forearm steadying me across my waist. She paused.
"'Please,'" she mocked. "You think you've had enough? Ready to forgive yourself, are you? You think this is it, we're finished?"
"No, please...I need...I'm so hot..."
"Flaming hot," she agreed, pinching one buttcheek hard. "And getting pretty tender. Maybe it's time to stick a fork in and see if you're done." There was no time to process what she'd said before two fingers and then another thrust into my hungry cunt. The tines of her "fork" seemed to spread apart, clench together, probe commandingly just where my need was most demanding, until, just as her other hand came down in a sharp, solid slap on my sore ass, the wrenching spasms hit and shook me from my toes to my streaming nose.
It was a long time before I could fumble the sleeve of my robe up to wipe away my tears and snot. She was stroking my reddened ass gently now, but for a little while I still sobbed softly, wringing every drop of release from that magnificent catharsis.
Finally she carried me to the couch, and we cuddled for a while. I started to work my mouth surreptitiously across her undershirt, millimeter by millimeter, but suddenly I sat upright. "Don't you have to finish your route?" I asked.
"Nope. I have the afternoon off. Just came by to check on you."
I snuggled back. "You did a good job," I told her. "I'm so glad the postman never gives up."
"Neither snow nor sleet nor stolen election," she agreed. "I've been around the block enough times to get some perspective. And so should you. A little food might help, though." She set me aside. "C'mon, I'll take you out for something spicy enough to get the circulation flowing, if you can manage to get dressed."
My circulation was already in fine shape, but I was suddenly ravenous. In fifteen minutes (ten for a mutual shower that nearly derailed our plans) we were heading toward her station wagon.
"Just a minute," she said, her hand on the door. "Extra credit if a young whippersnapper like you can tell me what those are about." She motioned toward two weather worn bumper stickers held on with strips of duct tape.
"'McGovern/Eagleton'", I read. "Um, '72? But...wasn't it McGovern/Shriver?"
"Yeah, eventually," she said. "Close enough. But look it up. Politics is always messy. How about the other one? I saved them both when I finally had to junk my first car. They don't make 'em like Dodge Darts anymore."
""Don't Blame Me, I'm from Massachusetts'." I had to think about it. '72...'73... "Nixon? Watergate? The impeachment?" She nodded, but still waited. "Okay, right," I said. "Only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia went for McGovern."
"And even then," she pointed out, "McGovern got 40 percent of the vote. Don't go forgetting how many people are still on the same side you're on. And some of them are getting their rears in gear to fight on." She opened the door and didn't wait for me to say anything else, which was a damned good thing, because I didn't have anything else to say just yet.
She just let me relax as we rolled onward toward food and fellowship, her hand on my thigh and my head against her shoulder, my thoughts for once not so much on politics as on what I hoped to get with all that extra credit.