*** One ***
She was thirteen when it started. That's when she found the large leather glove in the mall. Something drew her to it, as if it were reaching out to her. She touched it briefly, and it seemed still warm and alive. For the next two hours in the mall, she would walk by it, again and again, constantly checking to see if someone claimed it. But no one did. It remained like an orphan, waiting to be adopted. Then, after looking around, she took it and stuffed it into her purse.
Back home, she held it in her hands, rubbing her fingertips over the dark tanned calfskin. And the smell! There was something about the smell of it. She would try to imagine the man who wore the glove as she ran it through her fingers, and brought it to her face.
Then there was the news of the burglar. Many of the homes in the town where she lived had been broken into, their owners finding just one or two items stolen. People whispered – especially her mother and the other women – about what this burglar might do if he found one of them there, alone in the house ...
Maggie wondered, too. Often late at night, in bed, one hand holding the leather glove to her face, she wondered if the burglar would come into their house when she was alone, her parents out playing bridge or something. She imagined being helpless, the burglar caressing her, laughing softly as he took her.
Whenever she confessed this to the priest, he would tell her not to be afraid, that the police would catch this criminal soon. How could she explain that this wasn't some fear that popped into her head, that she willfully brought these thoughts about, that she wanted to be taken, to tremble as the burglar's leather gloves touched her? She couldn't even explain it to herself.
The break-ins stopped. Maybe the guy had been caught on some other charge, or moved somewhere else. It didn't matter. Maggie's mother and the other women in their town were breathing easier. The trinkets he'd stolen had all been insured, and the claims settled. So everything was back to normal.
Except when Maggie went to bed, taking that leather glove from her night stand, holding it to her face, her thoughts drifting to that fantasy, ...
*** Two ***
College was liberating for Mags. It helped that she drew attention so easily – tall, with light complexion and classic features, her sorrel hair frequently tied back. Courses and classes opened her mind to new ideas, and she enjoyed socializing and making new friends in the dorms and all over campus, and especially the attention of young men. One in particular made her feel very special, a musician named Brent. He was gentle and warm, with a quiet sense of wit. Mags loved how he could make her laugh, and also relax. The night they first made love was like floating on a calm sea in the tropics. She never thought of it as "losing her virginity" but of gaining in intimacy and sensuality.
Then it came back.
She didn't know what brought it back. It wasn't that she didn't like sleeping with Brent, even though it seemed to become all too familiar. Maybe it was seeing that movie with Jodie Foster as a rape victim, although that was nothing like her fantasy. But her fantasy did come back, arousing her as before, and she wasn't sure why or what to do about it.
"I think I'm going nuts," Mags told the Psych Services counselor, feeling her legs shaking. She told her more, and wondered why it was happening. The counselor simply smiled and said that everyone has fantasies, even wild ones like hers, and it didn't mean she was going crazy or missing something. Mags kept pressing with her questions, until finally the counselor let loose a gasp of exasperation. "Maybe you just want your boyfriend to be more assertive."
Bullshit, Mags thought. Brent was just assertive enough. She didn't need him to take charge like some macho guy, ordering for her in restaurants and all that. But, in bed, ...
One night, while they were alone, she couldn't stand it. As he kissed her and held her close, she pushed him off of her. "What's wrong?" he asked.
She looked at him for a long time without speaking, and he repeated the question, caressing her face. She swallowed hard, and placed her hands over her head. "Hold my hands down," she said. Brent looked at her with his mouth open, then placed one hand on each of her wrists. He began to kiss her, and she turned away. "No. Look at me."
"Mags, what's going on?"
"Please. Look at me, even if I look away."
"But – "
He bit his lips, then did as she asked, pushing on her hands, pushing into her, as she imagined him with a mask and gloves, closing her eyes and imagining being forced. She squirmed about, moaning and showing her pleasure, trying to resist the even greater pleasure of showing resistance.
When Brent was finished, and they curled up and cuddled, he asked her what that was about. "Later," was all she could murmur. And she had no idea of how to tell him.
Over the next couple of weeks, he kept bringing it up, and she kept putting off talking to him about it. Finally, he sat her down and insisted on knowing what was up.
"I just wanted to try something different," she blurted.
"Yeah, but ... why that?"
She shuddered, folding her arms over her stomach and bowing her head. "Okay," she squeaked, "but you can't tell anyone!" When he promised, she told him all about it – and her growing desire to live out the fantasy. Now it was his turn to tremble.
There was a tense silence between them for a while, until a week before spring break. Brent asked her: "Do you really want to do this fantasy thing?"
She hesitated. "Why?"
He took out a packet – plane tickets, car rental agreement, and description of a bungalow on an island in the Florida Keys – and described the plan. They would fly to Miami, drive to the bungalow, and one of the nights they were there, he would play the intruder and they would act out her fantasy. Mags could feel her heart pounding. She looked into his eyes, and kissed him deeply.
They flew out a week later, and drove that first night down the Keys. From the porch of the bungalow, there were no other signs of civilization. The next morning, they went over the plan: each night, Brent would leave Mags alone in the bungalow, and either sleep on the beach in his sleeping bag, or come in dressed as a burglar to take her. Every night, she waited with more and more anticipation. And every night, she fell asleep alone.
Their last day, Brent apologized. He couldn't bring himself to do it. She would hold him, and say it was all right. Too much to ask for, she thought. When they came back to school, things seemed to be back to normal. By summer, though, they had broken up, and while Brent never brought it up, Mags always wondered.
The rest of her time in college, she drifted in and out of hook-ups and short-lived relationships. She focused more on her studies, on finding a major, first choosing English Lit, then switching to Business. But she never forgot Brent, the excitement of waiting for him to take her, ...
*** Three ***
The confessional was pitch black. She always wondered: was this what Hell was like?
The small sliding door on the other side of the grille whisked open, wood clacking against wood. Light filtered through the grille, white with a tint of orange. She couldn't see the priest, but she knew he was there.
Margaret crossed herself as she began: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last confession."
"Tell me of your sin, my child." The words were automatic.
How could she put this? After two decades, she still had difficulty. "Ummm, ... lustful thoughts. I keep having these ... " She stopped, took a deep breath, and tried to begin once more. "I keep fantasizing about ... "
Here we go again.
"Go on," the priest said gently.
"I think about a man coming into my house."
"A particular man? Someone you know?"
"No, no one in particular. I can't see his face. But, I think about a man coming into my house and ... taking me."
She counted the number of breaths before the priest responded – one, two, three, four –
"Taking you. You mean sexually."
Wow, he got it. "Yes," she confirmed.
"And you want him to do this?"
"Well, that's kind of what's hard to explain. I mean, I'm thinking about it ... because it excites me, but ... in the fantasy, I ... resist him, ... he forces me, ... I ... have no choice."
Seven breaths this time. The priest asked if there was anything else, and she mentioned that she masturbated. He then gave her the lecture about keeping one's thoughts on matters of the spirit, not the flesh. This many Hail Marys, that many Our Fathers, and the door on the other side of the grille closed. Margaret crossed herself again, and left to go home for the night.
*** Four ***
Margaret came off the elevator to the reception area of her company. Her assistant Ari was waiting for her there with good news – the contract from Wichita had arrived. No messages, but she had a conference call to Denver scheduled at ten o'clock.
Mister Barry was waiting in her office with a woman with short blonde curls, about Margaret's age. He introduced them: "Margaret McCullough, this is Sheri Kahn, one of our new account managers."
Sheri grinned and held out a hand. "Hi there!"
"Welcome aboard," Margaret greeted her, and they shook hands.
"I thought you could show her the ropes, as it were," Barry said. "Just let her watch you at work, explain procedures as you go along."
Margaret agreed, and Ari then took the morning coffee order – the usual for Margaret and himself, venti chai for Sheri. They began by going over the Wichita contract, and Margaret took time to explain all of the details. It helped that Sheri had already gone through much of the company's protocol manual, and time went quickly. Margaret suggested they go to the café across the street for lunch.
"Hope you don't mind I'm a carnivore," Sheri quipped.
"The only thing I'll mind is if you blow cigarette smoke in my face."
"No problem there," she laughed.
Sitting at their table, Margaret noticed an unusual keychain tag on Sheri's purse – a rectangle with blue and black stripes, a white stripe in the middle, and a heart in the upper left corner. "What's that for?" she inquired.
Sheri looked up from her chicken penne. "Oh, that's the leather flag."
Margaret wrinkled her nose. "A flag for leather? Is there one for suede, too?"
Sheri giggled at the joke. "The leather community." Margaret still didn't seem to get it. "SM? Kink?"
Now it sunk in. She had to keep a grip on her fork. "You mean ... whips? Handcuffs?"
Sheri nodded calmly. "You got it. I'm not in your face about it, but I'm not going to hide it, either."
Margaret regained some of her composure, picking through her salad. "Well, some of the people in the company might not be all that tolerant."
"What about you?" Sheri inquired. She looked straight at her when she asked.
Margaret froze for a second or two as she chose her words. "As long as you do your job well," she explained, "I don't care what you do in your bedroom."
Sheri grinned, wrinkled her nose, and let out a giggle. "Well," she quipped, "it's not just the bedroom."
"What do you mean?"
"My husband and I go to this club on Saturdays, the Rose and Thorn."
"Why? I mean, what can you do there that you can't do in private?"
"Meet old friends in the Scene, maybe play with someone new. No sex with other people, it's not a swing club. But, we do non-sexual play with people, once in a while."
"How can you call what you do 'play'?"
"Well, for starters, it's fun – "
"Fun!?" All tolerance was out the window by now. "What you do, it's about pain, about surrender, about controlling others – "
Sheri cut her off, looking her straight in the eye: "No. Not pain. Intensity. Not surrender. Trust. Not controlling others, or being controlled by another. Control of yourself, with the guidance of another." Margaret said nothing for a while, and finally Sheri broke the silence: "You're having a problem understanding this."
"Of course I am."
"But," she pressed, "you want to."
Margaret felt a shiver. "What makes you think that?"
"Your eyes getting darker. Your questions. Your inability to tell me to shut up about it."
Margaret sat there, mind and body frozen, until the chime on her cell phone rang, her two minute warning. She plucked it from her purse and switched it off.
"We should get back soon," she managed to say.
*** Five ***
On Fridays, everyone asks you about your plans for the weekend. Ari would often go out dancing. Margaret usually relaxed, maybe did a few personal chores. Her social event was Wednesday night eight-minute dating. You signed up to talk with a number of people for eight minutes a piece, rotating around like musical chairs. A couple of times she'd gone out with someone she met in these settings, but those never seemed to lead anywhere. Most of those sessions were her listening to some guy drone on and on about something. She chalked it up to her having to kiss her share of frogs until a prince came along.
Sheri came into her office with a question, and Margaret reflexively asked her what she was doing for the weekend. "Ronny and I are going to the Rose and Thorn."
"Yup," she responded. Her tone was totally casual, like they were going to the movies. Then Sheri stopped, turned back to Margaret and asked her: "Want to come?"
She looked up, straight at her. She wanted to say something like: "What the Hell makes you think I'd want to go to a place like that?" – but she was even more afraid of asking that than actually going to the club. So, she said as simply and as blandly as she could: "No thanks."
Sheri smiled, and sauntered up to her desk. "If you ever change your mind, want to learn more about the Scene, ... " She reached over for a pen and a Post-it, and wrote down her number. "We usually go every Saturday."
Margaret took the Post-it, and Sheri walked out. She'd heard about "gaydar" – did people like Sheri have something like that? Well, if she did, it was way off! She wasn't into whips and chains, or being someone's slave. Yes, there was that fantasy, but that was different. She never acted on it, for one thing. Okay, there was that time in college, but thank God her boyfriend got cold feet. And she never fantasized about being hurt, or about her giving in. Giving in was one thing. Being taken was another ... wasn't it? Yes, it was – it had to be.
She crumpled up the Post-it, squeezing it good and hard before throwing it out.
*** Six ***
She'd forgotten about the other time, after college.
It was her first year after college. Margaret was sharing an apartment with two other people, starting her first full-time job. On weekends, her roomies would be gone, and she would have the place all to herself. And the fantasy came back.
She tried placing an ad in the Tattler, the weekly alternative paper:
SWF 21 wants masked man to break into my apartment one weekend
and use me for his pleasure. Call to discuss and set up.
The paper wouldn't take it. "Legal liability issues," they said, suggesting she reword it. Instead, she went through the "Men Seeking Women" ads – but they all had their own fantasies, mostly of having a slave, or of being a slave, or doing more than one woman at a time.
Then she saw another set of ads in the paper: Escorts. They were for women offering their services to men willing to pay. Hookers. Call girls. Maybe ... gigolos?
She called the first number, and asked if they had any male escorts. "Yes," the woman at the other end said, "but they only service other men."
So she kept calling, asking each service if they had men who serviced women. No, sorry. Nope. Sorry, no men.
And then: "Yes, we have Gregor. He's six foot one, one hundred eighty-five pounds, very muscular, well-groomed, speaks a number of languages – "
"Can he do a fantasy for me?"
"What kind of fantasy?"
"I want him to break into my apartment, with a mask and gloves, and, uhhh, ... well ... "
"Would you be resisting?"
"Um, yeah. Not for real, not like he's really raping me – "
"I understand," the operator assured her. "Let me discuss it with him and get back to you, okay?"
Margaret could feel her whole body tingle. "Okay, of course, thank you!" She hung up, and waited. How long? She hoped it wouldn't be too long. Ten minutes. Twenty. Thirty. Forty. She kept imagining what it would be like, what his voice would sound like, the feel of his hands grabbing her. The phone rang. "H-Hullo?"
"Yes, this is Donna from the service calling back?"
"I've talked to Gregor about your fantasy and, um, ... I'm sorry, but he feels he can't really do something like that."
"Oh," she murmured. "That's okay, I understand."
"Listen," Donna told her, "I know it's hard for a woman to find a male escort, and especially for something like this. Let me give you a few numbers to call. That should make your search a little easier. Do you have pen and paper?"
Flabbergasted, she scrambled to get a pen and a notepad, and then wrote down the numbers Donna gave her. "Thank you so much!" she bleated.
"Sure," Donna said, the word drawn out and smooth with sympathy. "Good luck to you."
Margaret would keep calling, but she would have no luck. Sorry, none of our guys work weekends. No, our gentlemen don't do fetish or fantasies. You're kidding, right?
Forget about it, she thought. She immersed herself in her work, and reading poetry, and going to the pool at the Y once a week. Anything to keep her mind off of it. Work, poetry, swimming. Work, poetry, swimming.
Maybe confession would help. Or going to concerts. Or trying to get a normal date, through the personals or some singles events. Just as long as she was busy, then she wouldn't think about it ... well, at least not that much, anyway.
*** Seven ***
Eight-minute dating was another bust. It made her think again, about what she wanted. And that brought on the fantasy, first in flashes, and then the overwhelming desire to let it all out. Back to her bedroom, under her covers, then a few days later in the confessional. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Eight Hail Marys, ten Our Fathers, think of the spirit and not of the flesh, go and sin no more.
Was it the fantasy that kept her from getting a relationship? Was she afraid that a man might actually do that to her – or that he wouldn't? How do you tell someone of a desire to be seized, bound, stripped and used? How do you trust someone, anyone, outside of the priest who was bound by the seal of the confessional, with something like that? Somewhere she'd heard or read that fantasies were best left as fantasies, never to be brought to life. And when your fantasy has taken on a life of its own, pounding on the doors of your mind, like a hungry beast demanding to be let out? So intense, she couldn't control it, couldn't trust anyone with it ...
Intensity. Trust. Control of yourself, with the guidance of another.
One Thursday, she went to Sheri's office, closing the door behind her.
"Are you going to that club this Saturday?"
Sheri nodded slowly. "Would you like us to swing by your place, say seven thirty?"
Margaret nodded back. "I'll give you the address later."
She turned toward the door, then faced Sheri again. God, what was she getting herself into? "Look, I ... I just want it clear that ... I'm only going there to look around, maybe ask some questions."
"Sure. That's fine."