The Wanderings of Amy Ch. 20bycaligula97236©
Chapter 20 - A Conversation with Burnside
Wendy's disappointment with not having been punished at the Halloween Party intensified throughout the first two weeks of November. Perhaps Amy and Paul did not need to be punished, but she did. Wendy increasingly became convinced that an intense punishment experience was what she needed to get over her problems with gambling. She realized that she could not talk to either Amy or Suzanne about what was going on inside her head. They would not understand. Finally she decided to talk directly to Dr. Burnside.
In the middle of November Wendy went to Burnside's house with a copy of her book, "Wendy". Her heart pounding, she rang the professor's doorbell. It was strange to see Burnside opening the door dressed in a simple sweatsuit, instead of a business outfit or a fetish outfit. Yes, even Ruth Burnside wore sweats.
Burnside was working on some lesson plans, but she was not really rushed, so there was some time for her to sit with Wendy and look at her book. Wendy was so nervous she barely could speak. She could not look her former professor in the face. At first Burnside was totally perplexed as to why Wendy had come to her house. She could tell that Wendy was not too sure herself. However, she was polite to Wendy. She invited her in and offered her some tea.
Wendy sat down. She looked at Burnside nervously. Her hands shook as she gripped her book. It was the professor who began.
"Wendy, from the looks of you I'm going to guess there is something in your life that you are having a lot of problems with. I'm going to guess that you expect me to help you. I hope it's not something with your studies, since you're not my student."
Wendy nervously shook her head. Finally she held out the book to her hostess. Burnside took it, read the back cover, and thumbed through it. Immediately it captured her attention. Burnside thumbed back to the beginning of the book and read the introduction. She skimmed over the essays and again looked at the pictures. The issue Wendy was dealing with was clear enough. The fact that Wendy had come to her for help also was clear enough. What Burnside was not sure about was how to help Wendy. She looked over the pages trying to figure out what was going on in Wendy's head and what she wanted. That was hard, since Wendy did not know herself what she wanted.
Burnside studied Wendy's drawings for their artistic merit. They were extremely good. Some of the images aroused Burnside. Every so often Burnside looked up at the artist, who was fidgeting nervously. Finally Burnside decided to get some more answers from Wendy.
"Your work is very good. I'll be honest and tell you that your pictures excite even me. But I need to know why you're showing me this book."
"I...I don't really know. I...need help. I don't know what to do. This...thing in me..."
"Wendy, let's get something straight. There is no "thing" inside you. You gamble because you want to. The issue you face is not getting rid of a 'thing'. The issue is convincing yourself that you don't want to gamble anymore. What you're dealing with is not a chemical dependency, and you'd better stop thinking of it like that."
"Dr. Burnside, my counselor says that..."
"Bullshit. What you do is because it's what you want to do. There is no 'thing'. Now, what do you want from me?"
Wendy fidgeted. She looked at the floor. She couldn't answer because she still did not know.
"Let's get something else straight. I don't like people who look away during a conversation. You look at me."
Reluctantly Wendy looked up. Her eyes met Burnside's.
"Now answer. What do you want?"
Wendy shook with fear. Her voice was barely audible.
"Dr. Burnside, this past Spring I gambled $ 60,000 dollars. I want...I need..."
"Come on, Wendy, out with it. You need to say whatever it is that you want to tell me."
"I need to be punished. I need to suffer. I need to pay for my stupidity...with real pain.."
"And so you are asking that from me..."
Wendy nodded her head. Burnside's lips tightened.
"Wendy, you don't nod when I ask you a question. Now, answer it properly."
"I...I want you to whip me. Like in my drawings."
"Whip you? Why? What good do you think that's going to do you?"
"I...I don't know. I...just want it to stop. I want it all to stop."
"What to stop, Wendy? I'm not going to try to guess what's going on in that brain of yours. So let's hear it."
Suddenly Wendy broke down crying.
"I hate my life! I can't stand myself! Those pictures...that's what I want to happen to me! And no one gets it, no one understands...not even you! I thought...you'd understand...but you don't!"
As Wendy buried her face in her hands, Burnside suddenly was faced with a dilemma. The girl was asking her for help. The professor took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to deal with this huge burden that suddenly had been thrust upon her.
Burnside was not a subtle or gentile person. She was not one to sit with Wendy and hold her hand and try to comfort her. Burnside suspected that Amy and Suzanne must have spent the entire year trying to comfort Wendy, to no avail. It was apparent that she had been receiving counseling, but that wasn't working either. Wendy did not need to be comforted; what she needed was quite the opposite.
"Wendy, sit up! Get your hands off your face and sit the fuck up!"
Wendy was surprised as being spoken to so harshly. She complied, although tears continued to stream down her face.
"Now, we need to get a few things straight! Don't tell me that I'm the one who doesn't understand, because it's YOU! You're the one who doesn't understand! You don't understand a god-damned thing about who I am or why I do what I do! And something else. You say that you want to be punished like in your drawings. It's obvious you don't know what you're talking about! There's no way I'd go that far with anyone, even if they asked me to! I'm not into punishing people to the point I have to pay their hospital bills! Your drawings are excellent, but they're not real! It's obvious you can't separate fantasy from reality if you think you could endure what's in your drawings!"
Wendy sat silently, shaking slightly. Suddenly, Burnside realized something that alarmed her. Wendy was in very serious psychological trouble, something that went way beyond a simple addiction to gambling. Burnside wondered if perhaps she was only days away from committing suicide. There was only one way to find out, and that was to ask her quickly and directly, extracting the truth before the student had time to think of an evasive answer. Burnside drew a quick breath.
"OK, a quick question. Are you, right now, thinking about committing suicide?"
Wendy sat silent.
"I asked you a question. Are you thinking about committing suicide?"
"And how are you planning to do it?"
"I thought about cutting my throat."
"With what? What are you planning to use?"
"My fantasy was one of those old straight edge razors, but I don't know where to get one. So, I...I have this Swiss Army knife with a real sharp blade."
"You gave it some thought, then, method and instrument. Got it all figured out."
Wendy looked at the floor. "Yes, Dr. Burnside. I've been thinking about it."
Burnside stood up.
"You're thinking about cutting your throat with a Swiss Army knife. How nice! How fucking selfish of you! Did you ever give it any thought as to what that might do to Amy or your photographer friend, if they found you dead with your throat cut? Or to your parents, if they had to see you in the morgue with a big, bloody gash in your neck? Any thought about any of that at all? Or was it just all about you?"
Wendy sadly shook her head.
"Don't you shake your head, you answer my question!"
"No, I never gave that any thought."
"So it was all about you! Poor little Wendy, oh poor baby, how much she suffered! Never mind anyone else! Never mind that the people who care about you the most are the ones who you'd hurt the most by cutting your throat! Never mind that whoever finds you would have to look at a floor full of your blood, deal with the police, explain to everyone what happened, try to make sense out of it themselves, and probably have nightmares for the rest of their life! I guess that just doesn't matter! Think about that, for a change!"
Wendy sat staring straight ahead of her, tears running down her face.
"I was hoping that...maybe if you punished me, it would force out whatever it is in me that's making me...I don't know...making me think all this stuff."
Burnside thought about the situation. She realized that she did have a good opportunity to help her forlorn guest, because she felt that she understood Wendy better than anyone else in her life. Burnside suspected that she had been the first person to hear her visitor clearly admit that she wanted to commit suicide. It was obvious that the kindness and support that Wendy had been receiving were not helping her. Burnside was convinced that instead of being treated with kindness, Wendy needed to be treated roughly and submitted to a very strict regime. What the girl needed was a lifestyle change. Yes. A lifestyle change, that was it. She needed to be driven, to be forced into a structured existence, and face real consequences if she failed to meet her obligations. Burnside thought about basic training in the Navy. She remembered one part of her training, facing the gas chamber. She had been afraid of the gas chamber as much as everyone else. But when she came out, cleared her lungs, and wiped the snot and tears off her face, she felt better about herself. Burnside realized at that moment she could face her fears and overcome them. Wendy needed something along those lines. The professor felt she could do something that would work.
"What you are asking from me is something more long term. Sure, I can whip you. But what good will that do if you don't change your lifestyle? It's your lifestyle you need to change. You have a lot of stupid thoughts floating around your head, and what you need is a long-term change in the way you live to get your mind on something else. That's why people go to in-patient counseling, to change their lifestyles and to change what they're thinking."
Wendy looked at Burnside intently. The professor mulled over her next words. An idea began to take shape in her head.
"Wendy, how would you like to live with me in the Spring? I can work with you. I'll make you change your lifestyle."
Wendy nodded. Burnside's face became tense with anger.
"Wendy, you do not nod when I ask you something! That's the third time I told you! Answer me properly!"
"Yes, Dr. Burnside, I'd like it if you can help me. I'll live with you, if you think it will do me any good."
"OK. I want to explain a few things. Once you move in, you will give up your independence and your life as you now know it, for the entire Spring semester. The moment you come through that front door, you will remove all your clothing, and you will put on a collar. That collar will be the only thing I will let you wear when you are in my house. Once you enter my house I will lock up your clothes and you won't see them again until you leave in May. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, Dr. Burnside."
"You will study. You will take a full load of correspondence classes in your major and get A's in all of them. I will check your work before you send it off. You'll exercise and get into decent physical shape. I will give you a schedule that you will adhere to. You will not have much time to think about gambling, or anything else. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Dr. Burnside."
"You will be responsible for maintaining my house clean to my satisfaction. You will cook my meals. You will clean my shoes and iron my clothes. You will serve me and my guests. You will host my Mardi Gras party. You will do whatever I tell you to do. You will satisfy me sexually, when I'm not with one of my other friends. If you make any mistakes you will confess them immediately and I will punish you. You do anything that irritates me and I will punish you. If I need to tell you to do something twice I will punish you. If you ever give me or anyone else attitude, I will punish you. Do you understand all that?"
"Yes, Dr. Burnside, I understand."
"Now, is that what you want?"
"Yes...Dr. Burnside, that is what I want."
"Good, so we have an agreement. I want you to think this over until the end of the semester. I expect you to finish well and get A's in your classes. Don't sign up for anything in the Spring except correspondence classes. I can help you get a couple of independent studies so you don't lose the semester if you can't get a full schedule. If you are determined to go through with this, be here the day after Christmas at 9:00 am. You'll need to bring a cell phone that you can re-charge. That's all you will need. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Dr. Burnside, I understand."
"There is something else I want you to understand. This will be a chance for you to start over. It's a second chance at life. Beats cutting your throat."
Wendy left the house with her emotions in turmoil. She was dreadfully afraid of her tentative arrangement with Burnside. It was obvious that Wendy would suffer intensely during the time she would spend with her former professor. She wondered about the classes. The fact that Burnside wanted her to take correspondence classes and independent studies obviously meant that she would not be let out of her mentor's house. She would spend the entire semester in isolation, naked, and at Burnside's mercy.
As cruel as the professor would be to her, it also was obvious that Burnside's thoughts never excluded Wendy's future. She would be taking a full load of classes, or at least close to it. Academically, her impending sentence of servitude would not affect her. Wendy understood that her future mistress expected her to leave the house at the end of the spring semester and continue with her studies and her life.
Wendy trembled at the thought that the slightest mistake on her part would result in a punishment. She had seen Burnside's array of punishment devices. Probably she would feel all of them at some time or another. That scared her and excited her at the same time. Over the past six months the student had fantasized continuously about horrible punishments being inflicted on herself. Burnside had said that she did not go that far, but Wendy knew from her own experience that Burnside knew how to inflict intense pain on another person. If Wendy went through with the arrangement, her body would be feeling that pain on a daily basis.
Burnside had said that Wendy would be wearing a collar. Wendy knew enough about S&M culture to realize the significance of that statement. Wendy officially would become Burnside's slave at 9:01 on December 26.
What Wendy did not realize was that her upcoming servitude under Burnside already was changing her. For the first time since the Spring she forgot about her urge to gamble and her secret urge to commit suicide. She had to get ready for December 26. There was a lot to take care of.
She started with her parents, telling them that she was going to enroll in an intense in-patient counseling program at the end of the semester, something similar to a boot camp. The only contact she would be permitted with the outside world would be her cell phone, and that only in the case of an emergency. Wendy's father, still totally perplexed at his daughter's gambling insanity, agreed that Wendy had to do whatever it took to get back to normal. His anger at her had softened. It was clear that if Wendy could overcome her problems, eventually she would be able to repair the relationship with her parents and move back in with them.
Without telling Amy, Wendy's next step was to visit Robert at his office. She asked him to draft a power of attorney that would allow Amy to completely take over her affairs until May. Wendy told Robert the same version of her situation that she told her father; she was about to enroll in an intense in-patient counseling program that would last the entire spring semester. That left Robert perplexed, since he had heard of all kinds of programs, but never one like what Wendy was describing. He did not press her for details.
Wendy concentrated even more on her classes. Burnside told her that she had to get A's. She already was doing well, but the thought of Burnside's leather switch made her push herself even harder.
Wendy talked to her department chairman to see what classes she could take through correspondence. She entered the chairman's office with a copy of her book and her explanation about the in-patient counseling program. There were four courses that she could take as correspondence classes. Wendy made arrangements with one of her professors for two independent studies. That gave her six classes. She figured six classes would be plenty, given all her other upcoming responsibilities.
The biggest immediate change in Wendy's life was her relationship with Amy. Wendy suddenly was desperate to spend time with Amy and have fun with her as much as possible before December 26. During November and December Wendy invited Amy to several movies and a concert. Their daily meetings for coffee, suspended since late March, resumed again. Wendy shocked Amy by asking her the details of her life with Paul and her studies. She was curious as to what Suzanne was doing with her pictures. Wendy had taken no interest in Amy's life since Spring Break, and this was a nice change. Wendy was eager to share meals with Amy and help her in the apartment. Amy was elated at having her friend back to normal.
In spite of Wendy's return to "normal" in Amy's eyes, she realized that something strange was happening, or about to happen, to her friend. As finals approached, Amy asked Wendy what was going on. Wendy, with only a touch of apprehension, explained her upcoming arrangement with Burnside.
"That's why I'm so anxious to spend as much time as I can with you. I'm afraid I won't see much of you or anyone in the Spring."
Amy was surprised, but she did not object to her friend's plans. Amy had undergone enough painful experiences of her own to be able to comprehend Wendy's thoughts more than she realized. Amy could understand what Wendy hoped to accomplish by submitting to Burnside. Wendy's internment in the professor's house would be a death, of sorts. She would be re-born coming out of Burnside's house in May. Wendy did not know how she would turn out, but she knew that she would be different than she was now.
Amy realized that two years ago she had gone through a similar experience. She suffered tremendously during the final weeks of her trip with Courtney. Amy's high school life, and everything she had been up to that time, died in that alley with Courtney. Amy saw the strapping she received from Robert as her painful re-birth into the world, and the beginning of who she was now. Wendy would have a similar experience with Burnside.
Amy and Wendy became much closer during the final two weeks before Christmas. They opened their souls up to each other. Amy finally was able to talk completely freely about Courtney and what she felt about her death. Wendy opened up about her own experiences in high school. They talked about their parents and their childhoods, their friends, and life in general.
Amy thought with regret about Wendy's lovely body being covered with welts. But she also trusted that Burnside would be careful and not go too far.
Amy thought about Suzanne. She knew that the photographer would be horrified upon learning about Wendy's plans.
Amy decided to talk to her professor about Wendy, right after the last of the finals had been graded and turned back to the students. With finals over, Burnside seemed more relaxed and talkative. They discussed the tests and how to improve them, the plans for the spring semester, and Burnside's thoughts on recent economic developments in the US. Finally Amy asked about her friend.