“It has. You remember what this can do?”
“It’s horrible. Really awful. I’m going to be bruised, aren’t I?” I’m going to cry. I’m going to fight to stay in position. I’m going to beg you to stop. I’m going to remember this night and what it means, aren’t I?
“Yes.” He is blunt. There will be bruises.
A lump forms in my throat.
I examine the thick length of wood, an implement reserved — until now — for discipline. I look at him, weighing the paddle against the man. I am close to saying no. Close, but then I remember us and find the strength to stand and begin to hike up my skirt, unprompted.
“You’re not ready for the paddle,” he says from the bed.
Hope blooms, beatific: an unasked-for reprieve.
“Yet,” he pronounces. The reprieve would be brief, I realize as he pats his thighs. It will be brief enough that I won’t have time to change my mind.
Bring the paddle, I suggested earlier that week.
I want to face my worst adversary with you behind me. I want the strength to submit and emerge bruised but victorious. I want to pay for crimes not committed, stand accused yet proven innocent. I need the paddle. I need to take what you give, just because you give it.