I am grumpy this morning because I don’t want to spend the day doing the designated project — cleaning out the dining room.
I stand outside the kitchen at 7:15 with the coffee tray in my hands, our morning ritual, waiting for Amanda to come out of her bedroom. She sleeps in till 7:45, eventually emerging and taking coffee from my tray at around 8:00. This doesn’t normally bother me — it is her absolute right and it is my proper place.
But this morning it annoys to no end that she is late getting up and that I am standing with a tray of coffee for her, but she isn’t showing up, and oh yes, because I’m already roiling inside about having to do a crappy home project for the next eight hours and now we’re getting started on that even later.
She pours coffee into her mug, looks at me, and senses I’m not in a happy place.
“And how are you this morning?” she asks, somewhat warily.
“I’m fine.” My response is flat and cool.
Amanda drips some milk from the creamer into her coffee.
I ask her if she enjoyed sleeping in, but my words carry an edge, a faint echo of accusation. She hears my tone, ignores me, goes into the kitchen to fetch herself a yogurt, and returns to stand before me.
“Do you have a problem with my sleeping in?”
“It’s fine,” I say.
She hates this passive-aggressive shit, and I think I am rarely guilty of it, but I am certainly full of it this morning.
Amanda looks at me through squinted eyes. “Stand here with the tray for another fifteen minutes, get yourself right, and when you’re ready to talk to me proper, find me on the patio.”
Well, I stand there for another fifteen minutes, though it isn’t really a worthy obedience. I am stewing, imagining a scenario in which I stand there all day as some sort of protest, my own silent temper tantrum. That’ll teach her.
I soon realize that Amanda would just let me do it, let me stand there all day and she’d never say a word and I’d wind up just marginalizing myself and enduring self-imposed agonies.
I pour myself coffee and go out to the patio.
“I don’t want to clean the dining room,” I announce.
“Clearly,” Amanda replies, “but what was all that in there?”
I don’t answer.
“You know, slave girl,” she says, “you’re right at the edge.”
“Amanda, you will look at every piece of paper and make sure it’s filed somewhere. It’ll take forever.”
“What would you do instead?”
“Take everything in the room and put it out front for the trash. Would take forty-five minutes.”
She looks at me sternly: “Shae, you better turn this around right now. I’m close to making you do a week as a service slave…”
So this is her recent find, a new thing. She has always been reluctant to punish me physically, loathe ever to hit me, although she has at times, and she’s occasionally used a flogger on me and a whip, but rarely, and not in punishment but play. Amanda doesn’t like violence, which is a lovely virtue, but it leaves her without a physical means for my discipline.
She has tried a psychological approach — removing her focus and presence for me — which is in fact very effective, but it still to her mind lacks a physical component.
Recently she stumbled into this idea of “sentencing” me to service slavery. She talked with me about it several times as a new idea, an interesting wrinkle for my slavery, but she has never invoked it.
As I’ve written before, there are some chores I enjoy doing — namely, laundry and scrubbing the kitchen floor. But my affinity for chores stops there, and Amanda knows it. The idea of spending my life as a maid is a little taste of hell.
She evolved this punishment of making me a service slave for a period of time — day, week, month. As she would apply it to me, being a service slave would be a whole week of home projects, this loathed dining room makeover times seven. Also it would forbid me sex of any kind or any sexual pleasure. She would likewise remove herself from me emotionally and relationally. (Which she can be very good at.)
I am rarely rebellious or bratty, so there hasn’t been need for her to think about enforcing service slavery.
Until Saturday morning.
So she mentions this service-slave punishment and continues, her voice rising into a hiss and a yell: “I have my reasons for going through the boxes in the dining room. I don’t have to justify that to you… Again — and this is your last chance — take a moment, get your head right, and come back to me begging for mercy!”
She is piss-angry, and it pauses my brat-rebellion. I take it in, nod, walk away.
I honestly don’t know what got into me. I think sometimes you have a desire to push back on something — which is natural, as you don’t necessarily love everything you’re made to do — and you resist it, a little at first. But soon it’s no longer about the “something” — cleaning the dining room — but about the resisting, taking a stand for the “cause.” In time, you become defiant for reasons you’ve totally lost track of.
In truth, the threat of a week of service slavery is the deterrent for me. I am still filled with righteous indignation when I make my way back to her. But I am now resolved that nothing matters as much as avoiding a stint in service slavery.
“I’m sorry,” I say to Amanda. “I was wrong.”
She sits in silence with her coffee, waiting for me to say more.
“I don’t know why I got like this. I just got it into my head that I didn’t want to do this today. I know it’s not my choice. You control that, and I submit to you.”
“I apologize for my attitude, words, rebellion. And I beg for your mercy, asking you, Mistress, to waive any punishment. I’ll be better today. I promise.”
She recognizes, rightly, that I am a bit perfunctory in my apology, that it’s more by-the-book than heart-felt. She finally accepts it, but not without a few consequences.
For the day, she’d had me dressed in a tee-top, denim skirt, and flat canvas shoes — an outfit for a day’s work.
Now she tells me to take my top off. “I’ll have you bare-titted today.” And she has me put on heels instead of the flats. “Each time you take a box down to the basement,” she says, “you’ll take off your heels and put on your flats. When you come back up, you’ll switch again. I want you standing in heels all day. I don’t want you breaking an ankle. I do want your ankles to ache by the end of the day..”
“I called Patricia, and she’s coming over around ten. She says John might join us for a few minutes when he gets back from his golf.”
I nod and thank her.
“Now get me more coffee. When I have my second cup,” she says, “ we’ll get started on this.”
I am put on the task of the bay window. It’s a substantial size, and boxes stack high on two sides, with files in a number of piles everywhere else. I sigh, resigning myself to the idea that today will be a slice of my life I will never get back.
Amanda works on the files and papers on the table against the wall. Much of what’s in the room are her own work files from back when we moved.
Patricia comes by at around eleven, nodding with a smile when she sees me topless. Amanda explains that I was a bad girl this morning, but “narrowly we averted disaster.”
It sometimes hard in the aftermath of sin and reprimand not to fall into a child’s space — acting like a little girl to one’s parent. I fight this, as it feels swirly to me, and I know Amanda doesn’t like it either. But it’s hard not to go there. I start in on the work silently, with Patricia and Amanda talking in the background. In short time, I come out of my mental space and ask Amanda an adult question about how she is organizing her papers and if she wants me to blend my work into her system. We talk a while about this, and it’s a mature conversation. I manage to retain my adulthood, albeit in the shadow of everything earlier that morning.
John Miller comes over at half past noon with sandwiches and drinks. He nods, grins at my bare breasts, and says, “Sometime, Shae, I should take you golfing with me. My buddies would like you.”
Amanda chuckles, looks up at him, and starts to say something. I know she is thinking that Mr. Miller’s jokey comment might actually be an opportunity for her to do something with me. My eyes meet hers, and I tilt my head, my expression one of hope she won’t go there. She smiles at me, bites her tongue, and says nothing more.
I mouth the words, “Thank you.”
We finish in five hours not eight. Patricia Miller helps us speed up the process considerably.
Mr. Miller has to leave to meet a friend, but returns later, ostensibly to help carry boxes to the basement, but no doubt hoping I’m still bare-breasted while clearing the bay window. I was. He and Patricia sometimes see me in various states of undress, and each time I am self-conscious about it, though I get used to it with them. Theirs are friendly lusts.
I have gotten back into sync with Amanda, averting a week of service slavery. She is going easy on me, my reprimand in the simple form of being made topless and put in high-heels while standing all day.
However, there is one more thing.
“You wanted,” Amanda says, “to cart the whole dining room to the trash pickup. Well, we have a few boxes of trash, as it turns out. I want you to carry those boxes down to the road for the pickup Wednesday. I’ll have you standing there when the trashmen come by. I’m considering what I’ll have you wear — or not wear — for your little date with them.”
So there will be that.