Thursday, 21 July 2016
Now there is the creak of a chair and a hint of movement in the shadows. The room grows a little brighter and I can make out the silhouette of a man as he stands and moves towards me. He is tall and intimidating, his voice deep and resonant.
I lower my head, keeping my eyes down as I’ve been taught. I have no control over what will happen next.
‘It’s time,’ he says.
His voice makes me weak. I feel lightheaded, as though I might faint.
‘Put your hands on your head.’
It’s a simple command, one I can easily obey. Gratitude washes over me as I lace my fingers on top of my hair. The position forces me to raise my head and I see him for the first time. His eyes are dark and brooding, his expression inscrutable. I can’t bear the eye contact, so I drop my gaze. Before I can focus on the floor, I see what he is holding. It’s a small whip. A dozen red and black tails hang from a braided handle.
He notices me noticing and brings the whip up to my eye level. Then he slaps it against his palm. The sound makes me jump, and I sense that my nervousness gives him pleasure.
‘Do you know why you’re here?’ he asks, his voice low and silky, full of authority.
I open my mouth to speak, but at first nothing comes out but a little squeak. I clear my throat and try again. ‘Yes, sir.’
His expectant silence prompts me for more.
‘My master sent me to you.’ I can barely bring myself to speak the words, but I manage to force them out. ‘To test me.’
‘You know of my reputation, then.’
Oh yes. Who doesn’t? I am overwhelmed by the reality that I am here. Actually here. With him. My head is spinning with the impossibility.
‘Hmm? I didn't hear you.’
‘Yes, sir,’ I say, my own voice barely a whisper. ‘I do.’
He nods, seeming pleased – both by my answer and my obvious fear. He looks like a judge about to don a black cap and sentence me to the gallows.
‘Very well, then,’ he says. ‘Stand still and straight. Arch your back.’
I had been expecting him to tell me to turn around. Instead, he stays in front of me and merely takes a step back. I feel my entire body begin to tremble as I realise what he intends. I lock my knees and inhale deeply.
from "Tested" by Rose de Fer
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