This is Sunday evening right before dusk. We are on the front road, and I am collared and leashed. She has me in a red skater skirt and a white pullover top and, unusually, tennis shoes.
“This will be an exercise in trust,” she says.
“I already trust you.”
She doesn’t reply but pulls something from her shoulder bag, wrapping it around my head.
It’s a blindfold.
“Can you see anything?” she asks after fitting it over my eyes.
“Good. You will walk behind me. Listen for my steps. When I stop walking, you must stop as well.”
“If I tell you to step to the right or left, it will be to steer you around something in the road. You must follow my instructions or you will stumble.”
I realize now this is why she has me in tennis shoes and not high heels — stability and safety.
And so we walk. It isn’t so hard if Amanda keeps a steady pace. It’s when she slows or stops that I have trouble.
I nearly bump into her.
“You must,” she repeats, “listen for my steps.”
So I do, or try to, listen to her shoes clacking softly on the road. It means I cannot talk, or at least not until I get the hang of it.
I walk behind her successfully for a time, but my mind soon wanders and I lose the sound of her shoes on the road and once again I bump into her.
“Shae!” Amanda says.
“Sorry. My mind got distracted.”
“Yes, Miz-A.” Apparently this exercise is more demanding than I thought. I not only have to listen, but I am forced to focus my mind on her steps. In a way, I am not supposed to think. Just be.
We continue, and I do pretty well for a long stretch. Amanda throws in some other directions along the way — “step right,” “step left” — and I navigate that successfully, although I don’t imagine there were really any potholes or snakes or boulders in the road.
The experience becomes one of dependency, which I suspect is the ultimate point. Amanda and I lead somewhat independent lives —she has her work and I have my writing. She does not micromanage me, and I have a fair amount of autonomy in my daily patterns. Still, every minute of my life is lived in the awareness of my subservience to her and her ownership of me as her property. Yet within the house on a daily basis we run in our own circles. She keeps me as her slave, but in an unstructured way. Perhaps this blindfold walk is a little piece of structure designed to focus me on her in a very specific way.
She stops, and this time I am paying attention and stop as well.
“We’ve come full circle around the block,” Amanda tells me. “But we’re going around again.”
“Okay,” I say, “and this time, let me guess, you want me to juggle tennis balls as we walk, just to make it a little harder.”
I listen for her laugh but don’t hear it. I realize how much I depend on seeing her face for feedback. She has a lot of subtle facial expressions that say so much (one reason she is hard to write about). In this moment, I can’t see her face, so I can’t read her mood.
“Well,” she finally says, maybe with a tremor of a chuckle in her voice, “not tennis balls per se, but more like melons.”
I am now at a loss until she tells me to take off my top. I do, handing my tee to her, and now my bared melons are bathed in the cooling night air.
We walk once again, but this time it is harder because I am preoccupied with being topless in public. Who is out there? Who is standing at the side of the road? Who is looking from house windows?
I bump into her again.
“Shae!” she says.
“Sorry. Being like this is distracting. I don’t know who is looking.”
I feel her come close and her fingers take each of my nipples into a soft squeeze. “You should assume that everyone is looking, and accept it.”
“So I shouldn’t focus on the humiliation of being naked in public.”
“To the contrary, I want you to feel every ounce of humiliation from being exposed. But I don’t want you mentally wrestling with who is seeing you and how you can justify in your own mind how you are in front of them. That’s what you do. You think about it too much.”
I nod. It’s true.
She continues: “You need to let yourself be in the moment. Give yourself to the experience, just as you’re giving yourself to me in the walking right now… You need to assume that everyone in the neighborhood is viewing you topless, and you need to simply accept it. You should assume that everyone in the neighborhood wants to fuck you, and you should accept it.”
I take this in. “I’m not sure I have the energy for that right now,” I finally say.
We walk some more.
I try to focus on her steps and not on my now-erect nipples in the cool night air.
We make the full circle a second time. I sense Amanda is disappointed that no one came out to talk with us. She wanted me to experience that — being viewed while I’m topless and blindfolded.
I’m guessing there will be another time.