The blank sheet of stationery looked so bright lying there against the dark mahogany of the desk.
She picked up the paper and held it up to the bare bulb overhead, admiring its delicate translucence ... its cragged texture ... its ghosted logo ... the watermark is almost medieval ... never heard of the manufacturer before ... probably from Europe, where they still have a clue about analog and tradition and manual and skill and extravagance and...
She exhaled a prolonged sigh through her nose and picked up his Michel Perchin pen that gleamed like the proverbial little red Corvette under 20 coats of wax.
Such a masculine toy.
An advertisement for his virility.
Like some overpriced Cuban cigar.
The Hemingway syndrome.
Christ, this thing has the heft of a bazooka.
A lethal weapon.
She wished he had provided something more comfortable to sit on than a metal folding chair.
So hard and cold against her naked butt.
She scanned what used to be his guest bedroom for the thousandth time.
Cheap pine floorboards, splattered with baby-blue blotches from some long-ago nursery renovation.
No furniture besides the desk and chair.
Nothing in the closet.
He said he was redecorating.
Which was supposed to explain the plywood nailed up over the window.
She stared at the door for a moment.
Is it locked?
Or are you just too nervous to check?
Not that it mattered.
Her eyes drifted down to the fluff between her thighs.
"What's he going to do to you tonight?" she asked it out loud.
As if its lips could form words, too.
That's entirely up to you, her mind responded on its behalf.
She unscrewed the cap of the pen and laid it on the desk, then crossed her legs tightly.
But what to write?
"Tell me your darkest desire," he had suggested.
"Something you've never shared with anyone."
She permitted herself a crinkle of a smile.
What, he wanted more?
Their entire relationship seemed to be one long exposť of their souls, an infinite loop of excavation and revelation.
Unearthing the dangerous visions she thought she had locked away in a private safe that made Fort Knox look like a piggybank.
The ones with enough passwords to encrypt the CIA, every bank account in Switzerland, and the secret formula for Coca-Cola to boot.
Only he knew the combination.
Left, right, left.
Tumblers clicking home.
Turning her inside out.
She rewound her history tape to childhood. Playing cowboys and Indians. Always allowing herself to be captured. Squirming and squealing as the boys lassoed her to a tree in the woods.
Pretending to be an unwilling prisoner.
But only so they'd tie her tighter.
So much more complicated now.
Is it? Really?
She remembered a silly, smutty ditty that she and her high school friends used to sing as they drove around town pretending to be on the prowl.
"Good girls don't," they would shriek whenever it came on the radio.
And then she would silently mouth the final refrain, the one the singer practically purred.
But I do.
Well, no, I really don't. Not back then, anyway.
I just wanted to.
And she kept it all bottled up inside her until it was dangerously overinflated, seams straining like Rosie O'Donnell in a dress she stole from Parker Posey.
She thought about the scenes in minor movies that made her secretly swoon, like Natassja Kinski spread-eagled at the end of Cat People, or the hogtied heroines in Big Trouble In Little China.
And her bootlegged copy of Lair of the White Worm, starring a very young Hugh Grant gone to fetish hell.
Only it looked like heaven to her.
And don't forget the collection of Penthouse Forum magazines with purported reader letters about submissive adventures, shamefully bought at a Quik-Stop several miles out of town.
Totems and talismans.
Baggage for a journey with no real destination.
A furtive reverie that never broke the surface of her carefully rendered reality.
Oh, yes, she rued.
She opened one of the desk drawers.
Nothing to look at except the paper.
Nothing to play with except the pen.
And you, she noted, as she glanced down at her breasts.
Her left hand floated to her right nipple, fingers grazing the bumps with intimate acquaintance.
She closed her eyes and increased pressure.
Maybe this will help fire the imagination.
Not that you ever required much assistance in this department.
She tried to think of something complicated, something that would impress him with its creative possibilities for distress. Perhaps a dramatic suspension involving my hair. Balancing precariously on one foot. Limbs lashed to his Nautilus machine.
No, maybe he wanted her to script a scene. NIN groupie. Emma Peel. Patty Hearst. P.O.W. Ponygirl. Thousand-dollar whore.
Cowboys and Indians.
All of the above.
She let her hand fall away.
All I really want is him.
His hot breath on my skin.
His fingers groping.
Would he hold back on me?
Make me suffer?
Beg for the abuse?
Or would he take me roughly?
Seal my mouth with tape?
So he could do whatever he pleased?
Oblivious to anything but his own needs?
Heart pounding wildly against me?
All up to you.
The trick to life, she reminded herself, isn't getting what you want.
It's wanting what you get.
It's only everything, she sang to herself.
Why does this feel so awkward?
What if he doesn't respond?
Maybe you're afraid you'll scare him off.
Too much too soon.
Too little too late.
Chase him back to his fortress of solitude.
The line between romancing and stalking gets rather fragile when the object of affection doesn't return the favor.
Oh, just be honest and tell him how you feel.
Yeah, and prisons are filled with people who confessed the truth.
This must be what jail is really like.
She wiped her fingers across her forehead and noted the shine.
Come on, this shouldn't be so hard.
Don't make such a big deal out of it.
Let yourself go.
But that's just it.
I already have.
Doesn't he know it?
What more can I do to prove it?
Not some pathetic scribbling.
He could download dirty daydreams by the truckload from the net.
This called for epochal.
She reached between her legs and squeezed, hard.
Rubbing the lamp.
Summoning the demon.
A dark room.
Ankles cuffed to a spreader bar.
Arms laced tight in leather behind your back.
The back of the gag roped to your elbows so you're forced to stare at the ceiling.
Nipples clamped and strung up so you can't lower yourself.
Him lying on his back, head propped up on cushions between your legs.
Then abandoned with vibrators jammed deep in your ass and pussy.
Knowing it would only be worse when he returns.
Her eyes popped open like parachutes just a few ticks before the internal nuclear incident.
She smiled broadly and relaxed against the chilly steel of the backrest.
Validate the transaction.
Proof of ownership.
Please retain this copy for your records.
She leaned forward, picked up his ridiculous pen, and began to print across the top of the stationery in her most architectural block capitals.