PART I: THE MAN.
This is the way you like it: hands tied, legs bound, mouth gagged, buttocks lifted up in worship to the ceiling. You stand before her whimpering figure, a smirk playing on your face. Excitement. But something is missing; her pain hasn’t yet birthed tears. You pick up a leather belt, swing it in the air a few times and saunter towards her.
“Cry!” It’s an order.
Muffled sounds escape her mouth, her eyes are wide open, the happy red of pure fright. The eyes that have known you for two years now shine with wonder at the unveiling of the real person you kept neatly tucked away, hidden from the light. The sounds please you, rush over you like a cool waterfall, arouse you into hardness. You hit her hard, one butt cheek at a time, the sound of leather against flesh filling the room. Until you hear the sobs, until you see strings of tears become a river underneath her, you do not stop. You climb the bed, slide slowly into her, the pleasure tearing through you like a wild fire. Under your breath, in between thrusts, your lips open and close in steady rhythm. You are counting.
“One, two, three…”
When you finish, you untie her and lie beside her quaking body folded in shame. Her tears do not reach you, they don’t ache your soul, instead they lull you gently into slumber.
Mellow, I am not sorry. I thought I could change you, give you shelter from your demons, but it was stupid of me. You need help Mellow. I can’t bring our baby into this home, not with this you in it.
You wake to hurriedly packed clothes, a door wide open and this note instead of her on the bed. You do not go after her. Somehow you always wished she left sooner, left you alone to drench in your hurt. You stare at the wall for several minutes, painting and erasing memories, trying to make peace with a past that eats away your present. You will go to your room, an overdose numbing your senses, a silent prayer dancing on your lips that this time, you do not wake, that when you close your eyes, you do not dream. But it will come like it always does, like a dark cloud swallowing the sun.
“Count from one to ten.” A voice, soft and familiar floats in, ticklish against your skin.
You will shut your eyes and picture the numbers coming out of your skin, tearing through your flesh as saws, coloured in your blood.
One, two, three…
PART II: ADOLESCENCE.
She ties her hair into a knot and readies herself for her 9:00pm appointment. A weird customer, this one. But in her profession, the tastes of the customer do not matter, as long as they can pay to have whatever fantasy they wish for brought to life. This is all that matters. The first day he comes, his hands quiver and his eyes glow. But she doesn’t see fear or inexperience like she expects to but a quiet sort of determination, a sort of excitement. He is the youngest of all her customers, she gauges him to be about fifteen or sixteen and from a wealthy background too, because he always pays in full and in crisp cash. But of all her customers, his tastes are the most difficult to adjust to.
It is 8:45pm. The room is small and occupied by a frail plastic table, laden with little bottles of make-up and a cracked mirror. A bed is in the corner pushed against the wall. She reaches for a box underneath the bed and from it pulls out a bundle of thin yellow ropes, and a slender whip. She arranges them on the bed and waits for his careful, almost timid knock.
Today he asks for something new, it startles her, frightens her.
“You want to call me Miss Cynthia?”
He nods and focuses into the wall behind her. His jaw is set, his mind calcified. He tosses a slim bundle of money onto the bed and faces her. Questions that she has kept under lock and key threaten to find release, but she is sure he wouldn’t answer any. It is not in her place to ask, she is obedient to the money alone. She roams her eyes over his features; a square face set with deep dimples, thin lips and eyes drained of all light. He hardly speaks to her, not even asking her name in the six months he has been coming, the same day, by the same time. In the brief moments while she watches him dress to leave, she senses something amiss, something locked away in his chest, pushing against his skin.
He follows the same routine: hands tied, legs bound…
In between forced sobs and faked tears, she strains her ears to hear him, to listen to him count under his breath.
“One, two, three..”
PART III: THE CHILD.
I learn to count numbers when I turn four years old. I begin to count one to ten first, then move on to bigger numbers. Mama loves to hear me count. She would watch me close my eyes and recite the numbers, joy spread all over her face. But she wouldn’t see the numbers come out of my skin, tear through my flesh, drenched in my blood. She would rejoice and shower praises on Miss Cynthia, my lesson teacher.
Everybody I know likes Miss Cynthia. She is tall, fair and delicate like a flower vase. When she smiles it is a curtain parting to reveal bright warm sunlight. Miss Cynthia teaches me mathematics; she teaches me how to count, to add and to subtract numbers. When she comes to teach me at home, Mama is always at her shop in the market where she sells foodstuffs and Father at his office. We would sit in the living room, on the soft Arabian rug littered with my books and papers. She would teach and I would keep silent, watching her hands move all over the notes. She likes to sit close to me, to let her legs meet with mine, and she likes to open up her shirt till the top of her breasts pop out. She likes me; she would say so and run her hands over my face gently, then dig them into my trousers and hold me tight. Then her eyes would glow with a different light, under her breath she would begin to count, slowly and deliberately tasting the words as they leave her mouth. I would close my eyes and imagine the numbers take shape, floating in and out of my mind. So I wouldn’t see her tie my hands over my head, and wrap a cloth around my legs. I wouldn’t see her lift me into my room and gradually strip me naked. But I would feel the warm of her lap as she mounts me; I would feel the heat of her tongue as she runs it over my body, the shiver of her breath against my skin alive with lust and desire. Sometimes she would turn me over, fold my legs underneath me and I would feel something cold and blunt slide into me, in and out until she stops and whispers into my ears.
“Let us do our numbers, Mellow.”
My eyes will surrender molten tears, my mind will become a sky of black clouds pouring black rain. Something will leave me, tear itself roughly away from me with finality. But I will nod and begin counting while she moves.
One, two, three…