A stuffed animal on the awning below. Right in the middle, where it sagged a bit. On its back looking up into the clear blue late winter sky. Whoever threw it up there probably couldn't see it. Maybe even thought it disappeared by magic. Kirsten looked down at it. She wished she could disappear by magic. Or switch places with that bear with one slightly longer arm. If she didn't fall through the awning, she could climb down. Hang by her fingers at the low end-- and drop. Drop to her escape.
She waited there, in the guest bedroom at the back of the house. Alternately looking out the window onto the awning, and sitting the bed, facing the open door. She thought about what brought her here. She could blame it on Markus. All on him. His paternalistic attitudes. And so she did in fits of resentment. But it was just that type of thinking that brought her here. A lack of responsibility, carelessness. A string of little things that Kirsten did. Each one amplifying the selfishness in the moment before. And that selfishness obscuring her judgement.
So she sat. Thinking. When she wasn't staring down at the awning, wishing she was on her back, basking in the sun, like the lost stuffed animal-- she just sat. And thought. Bouncing up and down on the bed every so often. It was a hard and stiff bed. Nobody had made love in it. Hardly anyone had slept in it. Guests didn't stay here. When they came, they usually slept on the fold-out bed in the living room. So they could be in the middle of things. Woken up by breakfast. Falling asleep in front of the fire.
This room, just by habit, had come to be a place for atonement. Kirsten would come here to think, to cool off. When she fought with Markus, it was a place for an adult time out. Sometimes she'd have a mood and she's just sequester herself here. A self-imposed emotional and verbal quarantine. And no doubt, she sometimes found herself sent here. And here she found atonement, accountability. Punishment.
Markus texted. He would be home in little more than an hour. He would leave work, get the children, and drop them at Kirsten's parents. From their perspective, this was a date night. And so, like every time before, Kirsten panicked. She knew what was coming. And she also knew there were specific things she had to do. Something of a ritual. And so it should be. Cause and effect. She had allowed herself to get out of control and hurt people, and so she would be consequenced.
Kirsten knew if she made him chase her and fight her, it would go badly. And the rift between them would go ever deeper. She started sobbing, quietly. She got up, and buried her face in her hands for a moment. And with a deep breath, said to herself, out loud: "Let's get this over with, OK, Kirsten, you bitch!". And with that she pulled the covers down on this little hard queen bed. Gathering three of the pillows, she stacked them up in the middle of the bed. She'd be bottom up, head down, hollering into the fourth as she got whipped.
She got that done too fast. And now there was more waiting. She fidgeted. Went and stared out the window onto the awning again. So consumed with her upcoming and immanent punishment she didn't even noticed the stuff bear with one long arm. Kirsten went to the closet and took the belt down from the nail. She held it. Fascinated, in a trance. The embarrassment and shame of her recent shenanigans flowed through her. She wept. And the memories of past whippings flooded through her as well. She shivered.
Markus had arrived. The familiar sounds of the car outside, footsteps on the porch. His patterns in the kitchen. Water. Opening and closing of the refrigerator, almost an autonomic reflex. Kirsten took a deep breath. Unbuttoned her khaki's and slide them off. And immediately, after that, she lost her panties as well. Standing there, naked from the waist down, with wet eyes, she saw Markus in the doorway as she turned around. Panic.
Kirsten instinctively started to climb onto the bed, to position herself over the pillows, when she found herself being pulled backwards, hard. Almost lifted up in the air by Markus. Oh yes, there would be a talking to. She was sat down hard. She wasn't going to move through this too soon. Have her butt pay without her mind and heart paying attention. This was more uncomfortable than any whipping. To face her selfishness. Kirsten was stuck between Markus' disappointment and frustration and a punishment that was about to come. Two unbearable discomforts, pains.
That evening, Kirsten would lay there, where Markus had whipped her. She'd be curled in a ball. One hand rubbing her bottom. She'd had cried herself out. There would be a peace that she would be grateful for. That night she watched the stars. Something fresh about them. As there was about her. That was relatively new for her. Something she needed, and with it, she got up and walked to the master bedroom where she slid into bed next to Markus. Still bare bottomed, still red. And sore.