“You are a whore.”
Wednesday evening, 26 November 2008
Celia: She wanted to bring muffins. That’s why she’d made so many. They are sitting in her dorm room, more than she could eat herself, but she couldn’t look at them. Couldn’t bring herself to touch them, not after that night with Simmons. She’d stopped for pizza instead. Pizza and the bottle of cheap whiskey she’d gotten from one of Emily’s friends. They promised it would burn all the way down.
She’s looking to burn tonight.
It’s weighing on her, the knowledge of what she’s done. Weighing on her on the trip over to Stephen’s house. Weighing on her even as she knocks on his door, backpack with her “sleepover gear” inside slung over her shoulders. She’s wearing a smile and the dress he met her in, but it’s just a mask. She knows she’s rotten inside.
GM: Stephen greets her at the apartment’s door.
“Oh, hey, you’re a surprise,” he smiles as he kisses her.
He shows her inside. The studio apartment’s one table is laid out with his laptop and assorted papers and textbooks.
“You could’ve texted me you wanted to come over, I’d have picked you up.”
Celia: “I wanted to grab pizza.” Celia presents the box as an offering. “Surprise. Is now a bad time?”
GM: “Never with you. Never with pizza either.” He clears some space on the table, helps her off with her backpack, and starts munching on a slice. “Mmm.”
“How’d things go with Vivian and your mom?”
Celia: Celia reaches into her bag for the whiskey, too. Presents it with a flourish. There’s a bag of chips and bottle of soft drink, too. Classic sleepover food, the kind of stuff Celia doesn’t usually touch.
“I think okay.” She gives him the gist, the lawsuit against the insurance company. The police report. “Wants her to file for bankruptcy.” She’s busy pouring a glass of that cheap, shitty whiskey, but the question is there in her voice.
GM: Stephen grins at seeing the booze all the same. He munches on some chips along with her.
“Huh. That’s a great idea with the bankruptcy.”
“And reporting the earlier abuse, too. I wasn’t sure about the statute of limitations for what your dad specifically did. This is why you always talk with the real lawyer.”
He takes a swig of the cheap whiskey. “I’m not surprised she’s doing the insurance lawsuit pro bono, either. Lawyers here need to do 50 hours per year. They usually pick causes or people they really care about.”
“But if this somehow takes more than 50 hours, you’ll want to talk about a contingency fee. That’d mean she only gets paid if she wins, with some of the proceeds from the settlement. Those are pretty common with lawyers.”
Celia: “I’ll let her know. I’m glad she went. I thought maybe the bankruptcy was, like, my dad getting to Viv or something.”
Emily’s friends were right about the whiskey and the burn. All the way down. It’s fire in her empty stomach. She chases it with the soft drink, then reaches for a handful of chips.
“She’s happier, though. Thanks for setting it up. Now I just need to get out. Clean break.”
Are those her dad’s words? She can’t remember. Maybe.
GM: “Oh, filing for bankruptcy is the last thing your dad would want for your mom. We look at it as this horrible thing, but bankruptcy explicitly exists so that people can get out from the boot on their necks. If you’re in a position to need it, it can be a great thing.”
Stephen tosses back some more chips. “But you’re welcome. I’m glad it’s helped her. And you.”
“You’ll obviously be better off too if your mom has some money in her pocket after your dad cuts you off.”
Celia: “Yeah. I was looking into that. To see what he could do.” Looking into that from her knees. “It’s called a… irreverent trust. No. Irrevocable. He can’t take it away. Unless I fail, uh, stipulations.”
GM: “Yeah, those are pretty common for parents who want to pass on money to their kids.”
“I’m guessing his are insanely strict, though. Or just plain insane.”
Celia: “Church. No drugs. The hymen thing. So I’ve got until Dr. Creep puts his hands in me again.”
GM: Stephen’s face darkens. “You shouldn’t let him put his hands in you. Money isn’t worth that.”
Celia: It’s a lot of money. Where’s that bottle?
“I know. Mom said I should run off and join the circus.”
GM: “Ha. You could do a dance act. Or maybe the clowns’ makeup.”
Celia: “I was thinking lion tamer, personally.”
GM: “Whips. Hot. I can see you in a slinky costume too.”
Celia: “Mmm, I was hoping you’d say that. My master plan involves convincing you to run away to the circus with me.”
GM: “I can be their lawyer. Circuses need lawyers too.”
Celia: “All those elephant tramplings.” Celia nods seriously. Pours more whiskey for the both of them. “To the circus, then.” She clinks her glass against his.
“To the circus.”
“Will you still go to Tulane, after you leave your dad, or cos school full time?”
Celia: “I think I’ll finish cos school full time. Should be done by summer. And then maybe Tulane, it’s just… expensive. And I’d still be considered dependent.” She sighs. It’s heavy. “I could put it off until I’m 24, then I’m independent. Or married. Ha.”
She watches his face out of the corner of her eye.
GM: “Yeah, that sounds like just what your dad wants,” Stephen remarks. The word ‘marriage’ doesn’t seem to elicit more than a blink. “I don’t think it really makes a difference whether you’re a dependent or not, unless your dad gets put on the hook for child support. Which you’d obviously want, since he’d have to pay your mom more money. Plus he’d still have to pay for your college.”
Celia: “I… is that how that works? I don’t think he’d have to pay my college. Just child support. And maybe back pay.” She doesn’t know the laws about back pay, just that it exists.
GM: “I’m pretty sure your college fund counts, actually. The courts consider all assets the parents have. They can order him to still pay for your college, if he has a fund set up for that purpose and you’re still your mom’s dependent.”
He sips some more cheap whiskey. “But you should definitely ask a real lawyer like Vivian to make sure. I’ve gotten some stuff wrong that she didn’t.”
Celia: “Oh. Well. I’ll… keep that in mind, I guess.”
The whiskey is going to her head. She thinks she understands.
“What if he’s in jail, though? Like when Momma reports the abuse. He still has to pay?”
“But also,” she says, holding up a hand, “you know what’s decidedly not sexy? Talking about my parents. What if we just bang?”
GM: “I think they can b…” Stephen answers at first, then shuts up at her question.
“Yeah,” he grins.
“That’s a lot more sexy.”
Friday afternoon, 28 November 2008
GM: Business sends Em back to the salon. His ‘boyfriend’ evidently loves the makeup job, because he calls him a “sissy faggot,” “crossdresser boywhore,” and “my fuckable little bitch” more times than “disgusting cocksucker.” They do oral more than anal that night, so Mark can get a good look at his dolled-up face all throughout. He even cums over Em’s eyes. It stings. Like fucking crazy. Em might wonder if he’s about to lose his sight.
Maybe there’s shit in those makeup chemicals. Maybe there’s shit in his client’s cum.
Or maybe he’ll go blind because Clarice was right and he’s brought it upon himself.
Em goes back to the salon, though. Mark wants his transformation to be “even more complete.” He wants Em to look like a girl in all ways, from his face to his clothes to his body to his mannerisms.
“Get more of that shit from whoever you’re getting it from. God you’re such a fuckable little bitch.”
His eye still stings the next morning.
Emmett: He goes to her again, specifically, not wanting a stranger to deconstruct and reassemble him.
He should probably be asking what to do about the various loads Mark blew on his expensive eyelashes, but he would rather talk about anything else, so he lets Celia do most of the talking for their next appointment. He’s sure she has lots of stories, as the sane one in her family.
Celia: The room they end up in is not the same as the first time. Students don’t get their own rooms to practice in, but Celia knows her way around this one well enough, and she has him lie back while she gathers supplies. She bemoans the state of his lashes—you can’t get anything on them, she tells him, or the fans close—and uses tweezers and a cream adhesive remover to begin popping them off.
Stories, though, she has in droves: that time at the insectarium at the zoo, when Isabel wanted to have her birthday party at the butterfly garden but there was a booking issue so they ended up surrounded by spiders instead. Her sister was not happy. Celia doesn’t think she’s ever seen that many children cry before.
All of the performances they went to see for their mom. The ballet. The beautiful dancers in their costumes. Celia talks about what it was like to watch her mom float across the stage, how all of the Flores girls were enrolled in classes but it never came naturally to her, how she had to practice so much harder and longer than everyone else to keep up. Until one day it finally clicked. “It’s like becoming a different person.”
She tells him, too, about the Worst Birthday Ever, though she tells it through rose-tinted glasses.
“So there I was, opening presents, and I kept thinking, none of these look like a pony. Not even a toy pony. And I get to the end and there’s no pony. And I was a kid, right, so I was upset, and I think my parents knew that, so my dad says something about having a tea party with me later, and then there’s a knock on the door. And right there, I kid you not, is a man with a pony. The pony just walks into our house as if it owns the place, has a little tutu and crown on. It was adorable.”
“I couldn’t keep it, of course, they said we didn’t have room for a pony, but then we moved later and… and had room for a pony. And I think maybe that’s when I thought magic might be real.” Her tone is wistful. “But, again, I was eight.”
Emmett: Elliot can relate to the dancing anecdotes. He grouses about having a stutter when he was young, how he was scared to talk in class for most of elementary school. He hated speech therapy, too, but one day his tongue found a way to click, too.
Then nobody could shut him up.
The pony story is wild, and he’s almost not sure he believes it. He can hear his father’s voice bemoaning straddling any creature with such frivolous accessories. But it’s also funny to imagine the gruff Maxen doting over his little girl.
Celia: All of her stories are pre-divorce.
“So. Your lashes came off okay. I think with the, erm, the molasses,” she can’t help but giggle over the word, “we might just try strip lashes. They’re less expensive in the long run and you can remove them at night yourself, then just wash your eyes thoroughly to get rid of any remaining glue. Also don’t tell my instructors I told you this but you can literally buy them anywhere, and I can show you how to put them on if you want. It’s tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it you can do them in a car. Not that I recommend that.”
Emmett: Well, at least it’s not like money is an issue. He’ll pay for whatever needs to be done. He doesn’t even feel like shaking down Christina for the expenses.
He’s grateful for her advice, too. He likes cheaper.
Celia: She is quiet for a moment. There wasn’t a full facial this time after the lash removal, but she took the time to wash and moisturize his face to help the makeup go on more smoothly. It’s after she finishes with the eye cream and the lip exfoliant (“to make you extra kissable”) that that she says,
“Can I ask you something? Personal?”
Emmett: He puckers his extra-kissable lips in response to her question. “I’d hope so, seeing as I’m about to ask you to groom my downstairs.” He smiles apologetically with that beautiful smile of her own making.
Celia: “Groom your… oh! Of course.” Waxing. Ladies do it all the time, Celia knows; she’s tried it herself, let her classmates practice on her. Stephen likes it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Elliot wants her to do it to him.
But it does. Because even though she’d put makeup on him, and even though she’d done a little bit of waxing with other women, she’s still about to see him naked. And beneath the foundation she wears her cheeks are redder than red.
She tells him to go ahead and remove his pants for her and she pulls the wax cart over to get herself ready. Snaps a pair of gloves on.
“I’ll start with the back,” she says, and tells him he can either turn over and put his butt in the air or lift his legs up while he’s on his back.
“So my question,” she says as he figures out what he wants to do, “is if this guy you’re seeing knows you’re a guy, how come he wants you to dress like a lady?”
Emmett: It’s not impossible to retain a certain measure of dignity as he stares at her through his legs, ass in the air, his flaccid dick dangling between them like literal low-hanging fruit.
That’s what he tells himself.
“Well, you’d, uh, have to ask him,” he begins, “but educated guess? Guy is closeted, and pretty ashamed of it, so this is kinda his compromise. Lets him enjoy what he’s craving without feeling like he’s fuckin’ a man.”
“Sorry to be coarse,” he adds. She’s like a doe he doesn’t want to scare into flight.
Celia: Celia’s eyes are not on his dick, to be certain. She is very, very carefully avoiding looking at his dick. She doesn’t want to stare. She does, however, examine his ass, which is an altogether very uncomfortable experience for her. She’s never looked at one up close like this before. She spreads his cheeks apart with her fingertips. There’s a round of cotton in her hand that she had pumped some sort of solution onto to clean and prep the skin—standard practice, not because she thinks he’s somehow dirty—and then dips what looks like a popsicle stick into the container of wax. She swirls it around, brings it back out, and swipes the wax across his rear following the pattern of hair growth. Just one strip.
“It’s okay,” she says, waving away his apology as she tosses out the stick, “I asked. Ready? Count of three. One, two—”
No time to tense. She yanks the strip of hardened wax from him in the opposite direction of the hair growth, making sure to pull his skin taut, and once the wax and hair is clear of his skin she presses her fingers down against the area to reduce the stinging. Just for a second, then it’s time for another stick with more wax.
“Hard wax,” she tells him, “doesn’t need a strip of linen. It hardens on its own. Better for the skin in sensitive areas, like genitals and face.” She hadn’t heard of it before Cos school. She thinks it’s pretty cool. Thinking and talking about wax prevents her from thinking too hard about what her hands are doing and what she’s looking at.
Emmett: It feels… not great, but better than being shot. He does not, however, think it’s as cool as Celia does.
“Fascinating,” he manages nonetheless.
Celia: “Do you like him? Doing this for him?”
Emmett: He laughs softly, the bitter expression on his face translating poorly through all of Celia’s hard work.
“It’s not how I’d like to be spending my Friday night, but he pays.”
Celia: She knows she isn’t supposed to comment on the body itself. She’s supposed to ask other questions, keep him talking so he forgets that she’s literally ripping his hair out. But he’s… right there. Spread. Kind of… not right. Her last client didn’t look like that down there. And when she cleans the hair away with another strip of wax, she gets a better look.
“Does that… hurt? Doing it, um…” what’s a polite word for this? “…the back way?”
GM: It still hurts when he shits, at least. There’s red all over his brown.
Maybe he should eat more fiber.
Emmett: He thinks of all the things he could say, all the ways he could express how getting fucked up the ass feels as good as it sounds, and ends up just saying, “Yes. Especially if the other person doesn’t particularly care about what they’re doing. Don’t do it with your boyfriend without setting some limits first.”
Celia: “My roommate said she wants to get a tattoo that says ‘Exit Only’ after her last guy stuck it in the wrong one.” Celia makes a face. She can’t imagine why anyone would want to try that.
She pulls another strip of hair free, then decides to ask. “If they do care, is it…?” She doesn’t know what she’s asking. Fun? Enjoyable? He didn’t sound as if he particularly cared for it.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t ask.” Almost done with the backside, though, there’s a plus.
Emmett: Elliot laughs at that, even through the rectal stinging. “You can ask. I’m just bitter about it, is the truth. I’m still pretty new to… this line of work. I agreed to work with men, and now I’m reluctant to walk that back and rock the boat. It’s a problem I made for myself.”
After another moment, he says, “I imagine some people like it. I mean, people do it for fun, so presumably they enjoy it. But I’ve never much enjoyed being on the receiving side. Occupational hazard.”
Celia: Rock the boat. There’s that phrase again. Celia nods, though, because she thinks she understands what he’s getting at.
“You ever do it to anyone?” She tells him he can put his legs down now, and to put the bottoms of his feet together with his knees pointing out to either side. Spread, as it were. She considers him for a moment. There isn’t a delicate way to do this. And she’s only touched the one dick before. Is this a weird form of cheating?
She reaches for the wax.
Emmett: He obliges, his body used by this point to obeying somebody else’s touch.
“One or two women who wanted it done that way. I never cared for it. The things you have to wash off after…”
Celia: Celia makes a noise. Something like an uncomfortable giggle or titter, what might have been a guffaw if she were less ladylike. But she’s not. She’s a lady. So it’s a giggle.
She claps an arm over her mouth regardless, and once the shock and awe wears off suddenly touching his dick is less intimidating.
“You’re too much,” she tells him, shaking her head. “I hadn’t considered…” She cuts off in another round of giggling. She doesn’t need to say. The hot wax finds its way onto his inner thigh with the stick. She very deliberately uses the back of her hand to keep his testes out of the way. She’s glad for the gloves, glad that there’s a barrier between his balls and her hand. The wax comes out with tiny little hairs attached in one smooth pull.
“My dad told me,” she says as she gets the wax going again, “that I couldn’t have sex until marriage. So I thought the work around would be, y’know, butt stuff.” She yanks the wax strip, presses a hand against his skin to soothe it.
Emmett: He yelps softly as she yanks, swallows as her fingers try to soothe him. Once he would have been aroused by the close contact. Now, he’s just tired.
“What does your dad need to know about what you get up to? Remember, I’ve talked to him, and he wouldn’t know a good time if it tackled him naked on the field. Besides, it’s not like you’re doing him any favors by taking it up the ass—er, to be blunt.”
“And, if I’m not wildly off-base, it’s not as though you or your sister tell him everything anyways. Kind of hard to imagine him knowing you’re working here, frankly, and being alright with it.”
He lets that sit for a moment.
“He doesn’t, does he?”
She doesn’t know how much to tell him. What’s safe. He’d been caught lying in high school; who’s to say that he changed his ways now? She swallows down her apprehension. He’s naked on her table. She’s seen his cheeks-spread asshole, torn up as it was. She literally has him by the balls.
If that’s not trust, what is?
Still, she waits until the wax is on his scrotum, the skin pulled taut to keep it from hurting, before she tells him.
“No. He doesn’t. I’m enrolled elsewhere, and I do this too. It’s what I’m actually into. And… you’re right we don’t tell him everything, and of course I wouldn’t tell him about sex, but there’s a doctor that… feels up inside to check.”
She pulls the strip of wax free from his balls. It’s painful, even with the skin pulled tight, even with the hand she uses to cup the area after to reduce stinging. It’s obvious, by her very timid touch, that she is not used to handling such packages.
“The hymen,” she clarifies. She puts more wax on him, as if she hadn’t just dropped a bomb. It’s warm, almost hot. It goes along the patch of skin right next to where she just waxed. “You were right about crazy.”
“I’m trying to find a way out.”
More honest than she’s been with anyone, and all it took was a ball wax.
Emmett: It’s easier to get people to talk to you when you take your clothes off and let them touch you. Who knew.
“That,” he says, between sucking air in through his teeth at the hot-and-cold contrast of pain and soothing, “is nuts. Man doesn’t want you having sex, but pays a guy to look inside you? I’d be looking for a way out, too.” He closes his eyes. “I mean, I did look for a way out. And my parents were only obnoxious, not crazy.”
Celia: “Told you they were crazy.” She doesn’t sound pleased about it. Just matter-of-fact. “Crazier is mom’s solution for me to get knocked up and trap my boyfriend into marriage as a way out. Trust still pays then.” She huffs. Rips more hair out. Almost done now. And she’s gentle despite the dark mood, so that’s something.
“Recommend it, then? Your line?” Whoring, she means.
Emmett: He looks at her seriously, almost sternly.
Well, as sternly as he can, naked and through his legs.
“Not even a little bit,” he says. “Not in this city. Not with the options you have. It’ll break you.”
He ponders for a moment and says, “But you’re not keen on pushing out a baby, either? Or maybe forcing your boyfriend into becoming your husband?”
Celia: “Leaving one master for another?” She shrugs. “I barely know the guy. Could be just as bad as my dad.”
He helped her mom, though. That’s something. He didn’t have to do that.
“He was real nice about my first time.” Her smile is almost shy. Hard to imagine why, while she’s standing there with his dick in her hand. “But we use condoms.” She applies a final strip of wax to him, right between the balls.
“Anyway, wanna help me set him up for prison?” she grins.
Emmett: He nods along to her rationales. They’re ones he might make himself.
“Um, your boyfriend or your dad?”
Celia: “Dad. Final strip. Hold tight.” She doesn’t give him much time to brace himself, just pulls free the hardened wax and hair and drops it neatly in the trash. Then she’s got some new solution in her hands, something that’s cooling and soothing that she applies liberally, and it’s maybe a little reminiscent of a handjob.
Emmett: Which, admittedly…
He’s not that tired.
He nevertheless does his best to ignore the sensation, “holds tight,” and answer her question.
“I mean, we joke a lot in here. But… is that something you want to do? It’s not the kind of thing you do half-heartedly. You’ll need to risk everything to do it. You might not succeed. And even if you do… remember what I said about getting what you want?”
Celia: No. Celia can’t keep more than a single thought in her head at a time, Daddy said, and even that’s a challenge. She must have been thinking about something else.
Of course she can’t take him on. Stupid to say that. Stupid.
Stupid to be doing this, too. Going to school. There’s a naked man on her table and his rapidly hardening dick is in her hand and oh Lord what am I doing?
“Oh, I was kiddin’, silly.” She’s a little breathless. Her hands stop moving; she pulls them away as if they’d been scalded. She doesn’t quite meet his eye, and her smile is perfunctory. “Shouldn’t have joked about that, my apologies.”
Emmett: He’s quiet for a little while, making idle chatter with her until he can put his pants back on.
As he does, he looks at her with that dolled-up face and says, “As somebody who’s made a lot of stupid decisions? Hypothetically, if I was going to try and get out from under your dad… I would want to make sure I’ve got all the cards in my hand I could get.”
He pulls out his phone, asks her her number. When she gives it to him, he texts her ten digits.
“There’s a girl named Miranda on the other end of that number. She’s not real keen on politicians, and she has ways of finding out things. She’s like a wizard with a computer. Hypothetically, if some girl called her saying her abusive daddy was a state senator, and an asshole, and said Emmett sent her…”
He holds her gaze, pretty eyelashes doing their job far too well.
“Then she might be persuaded to help you out by finding some more dirt on him. Hypothetically. And you would have my number, too, in case things went to shit anyways. Okay?”
Celia: She’s quieter after that. Finishes her job, but maybe doesn’t look him in the eye as much. She starts to protest when he tells her about Miranda, to repeat the line about how she was only kidding, but his sincerity stops her. She nods instead. Tells him that she’ll reach out to this Miranda. Thanks him with a shy smile, and doesn’t add the wax to his service bill. Small favors.
She doesn’t point out that he gave her his real name after using an alias. She saves his number as ‘Elle’ anyway, just in case.
“Don’t be a stranger,” she tells him. She hugs him, too, because he’s nice and because she’s seen him naked and because she doesn’t know how else to say thanks.
Emmett: She doesn’t need to.
“I’m not. Call me Em.” He hugs her back, and then he leaves.
Small favors, indeed.
Tuesday evening, 9 December 2008
GM: Celia goes to Paul’s house for one more visit, after the first. It’s been… what it’s been. She gets down on her knees, wraps her lips around his penis like a popsicle, and swallows his cum. He fondles her breast, then he pays her and she left.
$500. He calmly tells her that’s the going rate for experienced and classy escorts, which she decidedly is not. But it’s not as if he’s paying her with his money. He insinuates she is stupid for having expected more. He’ll give her more installments in return for further blowjobs. Or anal.
Celia swallows her pride. And a good deal more.
Fastest money she’s ever earned.
Only money she’s ever earned, besides at John Jay’s student salon.
It’s money for the business she wants to open. It’s money to help out her mom. The settlement and child support aren’t guaranteed.
She can see why girls like Sami do this, if they get paid as much as she does. Emily’s out there every day busting her ass at long hours for a pittance of the pay. Some evenings she gets home and just collapses right into bed without a word, not even changing or brushing her teeth.
Celia: Does it really count as money earned if it’s her money?
Her dad’s money, technically, held in trust for her. She’s just getting it early.
She tries not to think about it when she goes to his house and lets him put her on her knees. She tries not to think about a lot of things while she’s with him. Like her boyfriend. Or what Emily would say. Or that she’d looked down on Sami for doing this same thing.
She tells herself it’ll be just one more time.
GM: She’s already said something.
“I hear there’s a lot of girls who do it to pay tuition, but I’d rather keep my dignity.”
Or there’s her mom, busting her own ass teaching all those lessons at the dance studio. Multiple studios, she’s admitted, because no single studio wants to give her so many hours. Hunting down kids to give private lessons on top of those. It seems like her entire life consists of nothing but eating, sleeping, and teaching dance. The little signs of poverty are everywhere in her house. When the strap on her purse breaks, she ‘swears’ with a million exclamations of “Fudge! Fudge! Fudge!” and tries to sew it back together with needle and thread.
One evening she asks if Celia can prepare dinner (she’s already got all the ingredients and printed the recipe—at work, since she owns no printer) while she gets some extra rest. That occasion seems to have been sufficiently embarrassing that she’s instead canceled dinner a few times, citing not feeling well. Celia can see the money for tuition and car payments all but bleeding out of the increasingly haggard-looking woman.
She doesn’t even ask where the money is from when Celia produces $500, from those first few minutes on her knees with Paul. She just bows her head and clasps her hands in prayer, then wordlessly hugs her daughter.
All she has to do is suck it like a popsicle, then swallow.
Celia: It’s worth it, isn’t it?
To see her mom… happy. Happier, anyway. Less exhausted. Less falling-apart-at-the-seams. To be able to come over for dinner with the groceries she’d bought with her daddy’s allowance after taking her meals on campus, handing all $500 to her mom. She hadn’t spent any on herself, even though she really wanted those cute shoes she’d seen in the window display at a boutique. Every penny went right to her mother, and she’d been relieved that she hadn’t had to lie about where it came from.
But $500 only goes so far.
She’s back for more. On her knees. Eyes closed. Sucking. Swallowing. Vomiting later, when she’s alone. Rinsing her mouth, as if the burn of the Listerine will get her clean. As if the scalding showers will rid her of the knowledge of what she’s done.
It’s helping her mom. That’s how she gets through it.
Even when he starts touching her. Fondling her. Calling her his. She never says no.
GM: It’s only been three evenings.
Barely any time at all, next to the long hours Emily and her mother work. She can’t give Emily any money, and she’s not sure her roommate would accept it even if she did, but her mom starts to talk about cutting back on her hours. She’s filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with Vivian. They meet with the trustee assigned to her case. There is no court appearance before a judge. The process is relatively straightforward, even if there is a lot of paperwork: Celia’s mom has few assets and no financial dependents. They can expect it to be done in perhaps four months.
“We’ll see, sweetie,” she says with a quietly hopeful smile.
Then Celia’s back in Paul’s house for another visit. He looks her over with that same bland, plastic smile that never reaches his eyes. She could take a picture of his face, cut out the portion below his nose, and he would not look as if he were smiling.
“We are going to do something different today, Celia,” he announces.
He closes the front door and walks upstairs without waiting for questions.
With the bare halls.
And the steel doors.
Her mouth is dry, tongue adhered to the roof of her mouth. She can’t even swallow. Why upstairs? He’d told her not to look around. Had given her explicit instructions that first time she’d asked to use the bathroom. She’d tried to block it from her mind, hadn’t wanted to dwell on it. Empty cabinets. No toothbrush. No bottles. No hair products. No sign of life, nothing but soap and towels to suggest the room is ever used.
Blood in the tub. Rusty colored stains against the porcelain. Someone screams in a distant memory.
Celia blinks and he’s halfway up the stairs.
She should go. Run. The door is here. Right here, all she has to do is turn and go—
Her mom needs her.
She moves toward the stairs, shoes off, white socks sinking into the sterile carpet. She doesn’t dare touch the banister on her way up and deface the wood with the oils from her fingers.
GM: He does not voice his approval. He just walks ahead of her, his own shoes silently padding against that same carpet. They look immaculate. A thought occurs to her: does he have a separate pair that he only wears inside of the house? She cannot imagine him wanting the filth from the outside world trekked inside.
Paul stops mid-way down the hall and turns his hands around a doorknob.
The bathroom door’s.
Celia: Celia stops short behind him, mind racing with all sorts of unfounded thoughts:
He’s going to kill her. He’s going to bleed her out in the tub. He’s going to bathe in her blood. He’s going to sell her into slavery and she’ll be trapped behind those steel doors with the rest of his whores. He’s going to, to, to—
She takes a step backwards.
GM: Paul opens the bathroom door and turns around.
“After you, Celia.”
It does not reach his eyes.
Celia: “I, ah, I don’t need to use the bathroom, Mr. Simmons.”
GM: “Inside, you stupid girl,” he commands, the smile now gone.
Celia: Even when he smiles there’s no kindness to his eyes. Without it they’re two chips of steel that promise all sorts of unpleasant things if he has to repeat himself. Celia hastens to obey, slipping past him into the bathroom.
GM: Paul steps in immediately after her. He closes the door behind himself. The click sounds like the loading of a gun. The door is blocked behind his body.
He doesn’t say anything.
He just looks at her.
There’s no expression on his face.
Celia: Celia can’t look at him for long. She drops her gaze to the floor, eyes darting toward the tub on their way down.
GM: She doesn’t see any stains. The tub is immaculate. It could have all just been her imagination.
“Remove your clothes,” Paul says perfunctorily.
Celia: She had to have imagined it. Like the other time. It was all in her head. Daddy said so, that it was all in her head. Or maybe it wasn’t imagined, and he just cut himself shaving, and—
She tries not to think on it too hard.
Her fingers move to the buttons on her blouse before she has a chance to think about what he’d said or where this is going or what he wants or why she has to get naked (he’s never asked her to get naked, no one has seen her naked except for Stephen). Her hands shake. She fumbles for one button, then a second, turning her body away from him.
GM: He doesn’t say anything.
He just waits.
The blouse comes off. Then the skirt, with an unzip and neat step out.
All that’s left are the socks, bra, and panties.
Celia: The socks come off one at a time, joining the pile of discarded clothing. Then the bra, unhooked from the back, slipping down her arms and then off. Finally the panties, thumbs hooking in the waistband to slide down her bare legs. She crosses her arm over her chest, the other hanging down in front to cover herself.
GM: She feels Paul’s gaze boring over her exposed skin.
The bathroom is cold.
“I would have told you not to remove your underwear, Celia, if you were to retain your modesty,” he states.
His voice isn’t irritated. Or amused.
Just a bland monotone.
Celia: A flush creeps across her skin. It starts in her cheeks, turning them pink, and quickly moves down her neck and across her chest. She’s warm despite the chill, though goosebumps prickle her skin and her nipples stiffen as soon as she removes her arms, forcing them down to her sides. She doesn’t look up.
GM: He cups her breast in his hand. Like the last times she’s visited, but with no cloth in the way this time.
He doesn’t squeeze. Just looks at the naked breast as if inspecting a piece of meat.
Celia: Her chest rises and falls with every shuddering breath she takes. She closes her eyes when he touches her, holding herself perfectly, absolutely still when her nipple presses against his palm. The expected fondling never comes. Not like when Stephen touches her. Not even like when Mr. Simmons has touched her before over her bra and shirt. This is… different. Clinical. And altogether unsettling.
GM: A long-feeling moment passes.
Finally, Paul says, “Lie supine in the bathtub.”
Celia: Celia’s eyes fly to his face. Naked. In the tub. Blood. Naked. In the tub. Blood. Naked, tub, blood. Moisture pools in the corners of her eyes.
“I—I have to-to, have to… Mr. Simmons, I—”
Her entire body shivers, words catching in her throat.
GM: Paul removes a towel from the hanger, turns on the sink faucet, and runs it over the towel. He then wrings the moisture from the the towel, twists it into a whip-like shape, dampens the tip, and abruptly flicks his wrist. The wet towel strikes Celia’s belly with a sharp, wet crack. She can already feel the welt forming on the reddening skin.
“You have to obey, you stupid girl. I grow tired of repeating myself,” comes Paul’s sharp voice.
“Are you incapable of following even such simple directions?”
Celia: She doesn’t scream—just a sharp inhale, biting down on her lip to keep herself quiet. Her back bends as soon as the towel-turned whip strikes her flesh, hands moving in front of her to press against the forming welt, shoulders curling inward to make herself smaller. The tears spill over her waterline and streak down her cheeks.
She nods her head over and over again as she stumbles backwards into the tub, sinking down against the floor until she’s flat on her back.
GM: Paul bends down over her. It looks as if he’s going to touch her, do something to her, but then he simply plugs the bathtub’s drain. He raises himself and looks down at her, towel whip still in hand. She feels so small, lying naked and flat against the floor while this clothed and unsmiling older man stares down at her exposed body.
“Bring yourself to climax.”
Celia: Celia can’t look at him. Her eyes dart from his face to the ceiling to the shower head and finally to the tile beneath it. Heat floods her cheeks. The tears don’t stop. She’s never done that before. She’s never touched herself like he wants her to. Stephen has done it for her, kneeling between her legs, with fingers and tongue—but she doesn’t know what he’s doing, only that it feels good.
“I—I don’t—I’ve never—”
A glance at the makeshift whip in his hand causes the words to die in her throat. She swallows. Her hands slide down her body, thighs spreading. There’s a spot here somewhere that Stephen touches, she just has to find it.
Fear finds her dry. She’s usually slick by the time Stephen gets her out of her clothing, ready to bring him into her, but he always spends time kissing and touching and stroking her in just the right way, and there’s none of that here. Just pain. Anxiety. Dry skin against her fingers. There’s no pleasure there, nothing but discomfort and vulnerability when she spreads herself open to search for that spot.
GM: Paul doesn’t say anything.
He doesn’t smile.
He just stares.
Towel whip in hand.
While she spreads her legs in the tub.
While she searches her dry loins for the magic spot Stephen always finds.
What would he think?
Celia: It’s unnerving, that stare. Those eyes. That non-smiling face. Celia doesn’t look at him long. She closes her eyes, trying to focus on what she’s doing, trying to find that spot.
It’s a long search. She thinks she has it once, there’s a little nub-like thing that makes her mouth open when she touches it, but it doesn’t feel like when Stephen does it. His fingers glide against it, make small circles, sometimes tap. Hers drag. Dry skin on skin. It’s uncomfortable. Painful, even. It chafes. She stops, moving her hand lower, desperately searching for the opening between her legs where she drips from when Stephen gets her alone. She has to force the tip of her finger past her lips, settling into the tiny canal—only to find it dry. Not wet. Not even damp.
She’s at a loss for what to do. She doesn’t know how to get herself off.
Finally, it occurs to her to use her own saliva, and she brings a hand to her mouth to get it wet before returning it to that spot. It doesn’t glide well, but it’s better than nothing—at least while it lasts. She has to return her hand to her mouth every half minute or so, and the constant interruption prevents her from getting anywhere down there. She tries to touch it lightly. To rub in circles. To go up and down, then side to side. She keeps her eyes squeezed tightly shut.
It takes a long while of that back and forth, shoving thoughts of Mr. Simmons as far from her mind as she can, before it starts to feel anything like when Stephen does it. She tries again to slide a finger inside of herself and is rewarded when it comes away with the tiniest bit of moisture.
“Oh,” she gasps when she brings it back to that spot higher up. That feels more like what he does. She does it again, biting her lip to keep herself quiet, back arching against the bottom of the tub when she finally finds the right rhythm.
GM: Paul doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t make any noises. He barely even seems to breathe. It’s easy to tune him out. To think about other things and concentrate on sensations, even if the tub isn’t very comfortable.
She can think about Stephen, if she wants. All the things they usually do.
Or she can think about what he’d say, what he’d think, if he saw her now.
Celia: She has a hard time picturing Stephen now. She wants to. Wants to imagine it’s him doing this to her. Even him watching her—there’s something transgressive about it that maybe she could enjoy if he were to watch her touch herself like this, naked and exposed, maybe on a bed instead of in a tub. Maybe he’d tell her what to do: “spread yourself open, let me see… touch there… slide a finger inside… and another… curl them up like that… are you close? Stop. Just wait."
It would drive her mad, the waiting. He’d done it to her once, teasing her until she was a quivering, needy mess, before he’d finally slid inside. It hadn’t taken long for her to come apart in his arms after that.
Now, though, it does take long. It takes a good long while for her to hit that point of no return, where she finally feels like she’s building towards something instead of just rubbing herself to no avail. Her breath hitches, fingers dancing across that spot, back arching, muscles clenching, eyes still squeezed tightly shut—
And then she’s there. It rips through her. She lets out a tiny sound, then another, and finally lets go of the white-knuckled control. The back of her head touches the bottom of the tub, lips parting to loose a series of half-gasped whimpering “ah, ah” as her hips jerk reflexively against the sensation. She’s trembling by the time it’s over, pulling her hands back down to her sides, breathing deeply through her nose.
But it’s like a crash after too much sugar. As soon as she’s done she’s hit by the knowledge that this is wrong and dirty and she’d just climaxed in front of Mr. Simmons.
GM: The bathroom is less cold, a little. Her naked body is slick with perspiration, from trying so long to get off. The tub is uncomfortable. It makes her sore. The welt on her belly stings.
She feels a hand against her bare shoulder.
She opens her eyes.
He looks down between her thighs, at the evidence at what she’s done with herself.
He looks back up at her face. He smiles his plastic smile that does not reach his eyes.
Then he says:
“You are a whore.”
Celia: The words are worse than a slap across the face. She stares, breathing still uneven, conscious of everything wrong with this picture. Naked in the tub. Skin flushed. Sweating. Wet between her legs. Face red. Hair no doubt disheveled.
Celia doesn’t know what to say to that. She presses her knees together to close her thighs, as if hiding the evidence of her arousal and climax will make it not true. She moistens her lips with her tongue.
It’s worse that he’s touching her. Worse that for half a heartbeat she thought he might be nice to her. Worse that there’s no sign of approval or arousal or anything else on his stoic face, just that empty smile that mocks and belittles her without him needing to say a word.
But then he does.
And it’s so much worse than she imagined.
Her face crumples. She looks away from him, as if to deny his accusation, and the tile where her eyes land is blurry through unshed tears.
No, she wants to say. She doesn’t. But she shakes her head, denial all the same.
GM: Paul just smiles his bland plastic smile, reaches into Celia’s clothes, and pulls out her phone. His hand is still on her naked shoulder.
He removes it, finally, and points the phone at her. There’s the telltale click of a snapping picture.
He stares at the phone’s screen, then looks at Celia.
It’s a short, curt sound, devoid of any warmth or humor. It sounds like he rarely ever laughs.
Celia: Horrified, Celia reaches for the phone.
GM: He slaps her hands away, then pinches and twists her nipple so hard she wants to scream. It’s nothing like how Stephen touches her there.
“Bad whore,” he says sharply, like he’s disciplining a dog.
Celia: She doesn’t just want to scream. She does scream when he pinches and twists her, then curls in on herself once he releases her, lips pressed firmly together and hands clutching at the nipple he’d twisted. She draws her legs to her chest, knees beneath her chin, as if that will stop him.
GM: “We are going to play a game now, Celia,” he says instead.
“I am going to scroll through some of the names on your contacts list.”
“I will send them this photo.”
He holds up a finger.
“Unless you perform a convincing rendition of their reactions to seeing this photo and learning what you have done.”
Another plastic smile.
“There will be no need to find out for myself if your performance is sufficiently entertaining.”
Celia: She almost opens her mouth to interrupt him—but lapses back into silence when he holds up the finger. He can’t. He can’t send that photo to anyone.
It’s cruel. It’s twisted. It’s horrendously, absolutely atrocious.
But she nods anyway, because there isn’t another choice.
GM: Paul smiles his plastic smile, then scrolls through the phone and says the first name.
His expectant eyes cut back towards hers.
“Lie back down and spread your legs again while you impersonate her.”
Celia: Celia has never acted before. But it’s easy to imagine what Emily would say if she found out what Celia is doing, how she’s getting her money. The derision. The judgement. The “I thought you were better than that.”
She’s silent for a brief moment, laying back in the tub like he asks, knees bent and spread out to either side. The pang of shame and embarrassment of him seeing here is not quite as hot and heavy as imagining Emily’s voice if she receives that text.
“Y-you—” she cuts herself off, trying to find Emily’s indignant voice. “I thought you were bet-better than this. I work… I work three jobs and you have a rich daddy that buys you anything you want and you’re still on-on your back for money? I’d rather be tired and ha-have my dignity.”
GM: “My, three jobs?” smiles Paul. “Your friend Emily is clearly not a whore like you are, Celia. She is not willing to perform sexual acts for monetary compensation. She values herself more than she values money.”
“I wonder if she is happier.”
Celia: Emily might be happier, even as tired as she is. Or would be if she weren’t worried about failing out because she works so much.
It makes Celia wonder if anyone is really happy.
GM: Paul shrugs, seemingly dismissing the question as irrelevant.
“I suppose she will not be seeing this photo.”
“Let us find out if it will be seen by…”
He scrolls through the phone, then looks back at Celia.
Celia: “I’m—I’m telling Daddy,” she says at the next name. “Let’s see what he thinks about you sending filthy pictures to people.” Her voice turns gleeful. “He’s going to beat you bloody.” There’s a choked sound, then a high-pitched giggle that cuts off into a sob. Celia presses her hands against her face.
GM: Paul yanks her hands away again so she can see his face. Then he giggles too. It’s a high-pitched, mocking tone, continuing from where she left off.
“Ah,” Paul smiles.
“But I suppose she won’t be tattling this time, now will she?”
Celia: He’s crazy.
He’s literally insane.
Celia swallows, staring at him with wide eyes.
GM: Paul’s eyes return to the phone.
He scrolls through it.
He looks back up at Celia, smiling his plastic smile.
Celia: She doesn’t have to think too hard on her mother’s reaction.
“Oh, sweetie—” Celia’s cheeks are red. She doesn’t try to cover her face anymore. She imagines her mother’s face would be red too. “Sweetie, is this how you’ve been getting the money? As a…” she lowers her voice, just like her mother would, “scarlet woman? Selling photos? Having… S-E-X?” She makes a sound that might be a gasp, a sharp, overly dramatic inhalation. “Celia, your father can’t find out, you don’t know what he’ll do—”
Belatedly, she realizes her mistake: that she’s just told Paul she’s giving the money to her mother.
Her “dead” mother.
GM: “So this is the reason behind our liaisons?” smiles Paul.
“Does it make you feel noble, Celia, to perform sexual acts for your mother’s financial benefit?”
Celia: “She… she’s working all the time, it’s not fair, he—he—”
GM: Paul touches a finger to Celia’s lips.
Celia: She breaks off at the touch, blinking rapidly to clear the tears from her eyes.
GM: Paul reaches down, touching the wetness between her thighs.
He lifts a finger back to Celia’s lips.
She tastes her juices.
Paul’s voice is slow and deliberate when he speaks again.
“You are a whore.”
“Your mother has made a whore of her own daughter.”
“She has lost a daughter and gained a whore.”
A sneer touches his face.
“I hope it brings her great comfort.”
Celia: Celia doesn’t think there’s anything to say to that. She stays silent, eyes on his face, watching the sneer spread across it. It’s the first time she has seen anything besides his plastic smile.
Why does he have her come see him if he thinks so little of her?
She wants to say something mean, but all she can think about is the fact that he’s still got her phone in her hand and can send that photo to anyone.
“Are you going to tell my dad,” she finally asks.
GM: “That is within your purview to determine, my whore.”
The plastic smile returns.
“His name is next on your contacts list.”
He pronounces it with an exaggeratedly girlish, mocking lisp.
Celia: “Doh—don’t, please, he—he’ll hurt me, he’ll—”
She can’t make it through the sentence. Whatever her dad will do to her if he finds out is lost in a fresh wave of tears, heart hammering erratically against her chest as she sucks in shallow breaths, trying to find enough air to do what he wants. But she can’t do what he wants. Because she’s stupid, like Daddy says. And she’s a whore, like Paul says. And maybe that’s all she’ll ever be. And Emily and her mom will be right to think less of her. And Stephen will leave her. And her dad will kick her out and she’ll end up doing this for real, trying to make enough money to keep a roof over her head, she’ll be just as broke as her mom in a crummy apartment with no bathroom and mucus colored walls and a busted leg and no one who cares about her because she’s a dumb, half-nigger whore.
She sobs, pressing her hands against her face again, sniffling and hiccuping and looking like the red-faced mess that she is. She can’t even find enough air to do what he wants, can’t even stammer through the impression of her dad telling her she’s stupid and a waste of space and a mistake and that she ruins everything.
She tries. She gets a few words out—whore, stupid, limited capabilities—but she gives up and mouths half-formed apologies interspersed with pleas instead.
GM: “Insufficient, my whore,” Paul says impatiently, cutting through the stream of tears and babble.
“Am I not generous?”
“To refrain from sending this picture to your phone contacts in return for acting impressions?”
Celia: Celia doesn’t respond other than to slap herself across the face.
Then she does it again from the other side.
And again from the first.
Because this is what her dad will do if he sees this photo—beat her bloody.
GM: “Crude but sufficient,” pronounces Paul.
The plastic smile returns.
“Like a whore.”
He looks back down at her phone.
He scrolls through it some more.
“Here we are.”
“The last name.”
He meets her eyes again.
Celia: Her face smarts from where she’d struck herself. She still struggles to breathe; the icy fist that grips her heart only makes it that much worse.
She’d told Daddy that they’d broken up. She’d already spilled the truth about her mom. She doesn’t make that mistake again, closing her eyes against the sight of that plastic smile to see her boyfriend’s face instead. What would he say if he could see her now? Or rather, what would the version of him who’d dumped her after that travesty of a dinner say?
Her lips twist into an approximation of a sneer.
“Nice tits.” Her voice is a rasp. “Doesn’t change how I feel about you. Your dad is right—you’re stupid. Pretty, but stupid. Maybe if you’d let me fuck you we’d have lasted longer than we did. Now I see what you really are, though: a whore.”
It doesn’t sound anything like him. But Paul has no idea who Stephen is.
GM: “The quality of your performances is deteriorating, Celia,” says Paul.
“I find it unlikely you have not engaged in intercourse with the sole non-familial male on your contacts list.”
“After all, you are willing to swallow my seed and touch yourself for money.”
Celia: For a long moment Celia is silent. Finally, she says, “I can’t have sex. The doctor checks. You told me he wouldn’t know if we did it with my mouth.”
“It’s in the trust rules.”
GM: “I know the trust rules, you stupid whore. I oversee the trust. That is where your money comes from, if you are not also so stupid as to have forgotten. Did you believe I would pay $500 for mere fellatio out of my own pocket?”
Celia: Color spreads across her cheeks. Her own money. He’s paying her with her own money. She knew that. Knows that. She’s not in denial over what she’s doing. But it’s not until he says so that she really, truly considers the implications. She’s blowing him for her own money. For her own money early. Like a tax.
A whore tax.
“I didn’t forget.”
GM: “Stephen has never ejaculated inside of your mouth or anus?” Paul asks.
He thought she’d found a loophole on her own.
GM: “Then I am the first man whose seed you have taken inside yourself, Celia?”
Celia: She nods.
GM: “Lie prone.”
Celia: Wordlessly, Celia turns over onto her stomach, arms beneath her chest. She can’t imagine how this will possibly get any worse.
GM: She hears a cabinet open.
There’s a sound like an object moving. Light.
Then a sudden, sharper snap.
“It is desirable to be clean, Celia.”
Celia: Celia flinches at the sound, but her worry over being hit with the wet towel again seems unfounded when nothing touches her. She looks up to see what he’s doing.
GM: She sees that Paul has donned disposable latex gloves.
He kneels down, though still taller than her, and rests a hand upon her head.
“Cleanliness of body is desirable.”
“But so is cleanliness of spirit.”
“They are interlinked. Each is reflective of the other.”
He reaches down with one of his gloved fingers, first along Celia’s buttocks and then lower, feeling up her privates from behind. His fingers press against her pubic mound, and then the tip of one slips just inside of her. His touch is brief, almost clinical, and does not linger before it withdraws. He holds his latex-gloved finger to her nose, as if for her to smell.
“Do you understand?”
Celia: No, she thinks, and she hears her father’s voice in her head. She doesn’t say that, though. She just nods again as if she does. Something about being unclean.
GM: Without warning, Paul jams his other hand’s finger up Celia’s asshole, as fast and hard as he can. She feels something tear as her sphincter muscles instinctively tighten around the foreign object.
Then he pushes deeper.
Celia: Celia shrieks, banging her knees against the bottom of the tub and kicking her feet to move away from him. She pushes herself up with her hands, twisting her body away.
GM: Celia feels the finger already lodged inside of her tear something further at the sudden movement. Paul easily pushes the already prone girl back down by her head with his other hand. Her chin hits the tub’s surface with a painful thunk.
“Struggling will only beget further pain, whore.”
Celia: He pushes her down before she can even finish getting up. She tastes blood in her mouth when her chin hits the tub, teeth clacking painfully together.
It doesn’t begin to touch what’s going on with his hand inside of her. She presses her face against her arm, shaking her head back and forth, but she doesn’t try to kick him off again.
GM: “You are a liar, Celia,” Paul continues, finger still lodged inside of her, but driving no deeper. “All whores are liars. Lying comes to them as easily as breathing.”
“You are lying to me that I am your first. Your imagination may be too limited to conceive of oral or anal intercourse as a loophole around your trust’s prohibition, but I assure you, there is no college-age male upon this earth whom that idea would not occur to.”
“Your sphincter muscles are very tight. Perhaps you have not yet engaged in anal intercourse.”
“You are lying to me that you have not given or received oral pleasures from Stephen.”
“Taste your lies.”
Paul removes his gloved finger from her ass and yanks her head up from her arm by her hair. He pulls open her jaw as her body’s muscles instinctively unclench, then shoves the dirty finger up her mouth.
Celia: She’s too relieved that he’s done shoving things inside of her to resist when he opens her mouth, too shocked that he would do such a thing to try to keep her lips closed. Her teeth reflexively close down on his fingers, though she doesn’t bite. They move away again when she gags and sputters as her tongue touches the gloves.
GM: She tastes offal.
It’s beyond foul. As bitter as 1000 proof alcohol. She thinks she tastes faint traces of lunch.
She wants to vomit. It takes all of her willpower not to vomit. She wants air.
“You will cease tasting your lies when you cease telling them, whore. Nod your head if you have had prior oral intercourse with Stephen.”
Celia: She doesn’t just want to vomit. Her stomach clenches, acid and bile rising up her esophagus. She tries to turn her head away but there’s no give in his grasp, nowhere for her to spew it. She swallows instead, mouth made that much more foul by the sour taste from her stomach.
Frantically, she nods her head.
GM: The finger withdraws.
“Truth tastes sweet, does it not?” asks Paul.
Celia: She nods again, tears falling hot and thick down her cheeks. She swallows repeatedly, trying to get rid of the taste in her mouth.
It doesn’t help.
GM: It’s even worse after swallowing. She feels even sicker. Her stomach is roiling. She’s going to lose it. She’s going to hurl.
Paul strips the latex gloves and drops them in the trash can. He washes his hands.
“May you enjoy the draught of truth,” he says, removing the shower head.
“Open your mouth again.”
Celia: She does as he asks, opening her mouth.
GM: He sprays the inside of her mouth with cold shower water.
It helps. A bit.
She still feels queasy.
Paul turns the shower head onto its highest setting, then blasts her body with freezing cold water.
From face to breasts to legs, and lingering especially on her crotch, he hoses her down. Removes all the evidence of her masturbation. Her flesh breaks out in goosebumps. She’s so cold. She feels really bad.
Celia: She curls in on herself when he’s done with the water, teeth chattering. Her hair is plastered to the side of her face and down her back. Her stomach is in knots; it’s another effort of will to keep it down again, to prevent herself from spewing all over the tub now that he’s apparently done with her. She shivers, legs drawn up to her chest, arms wrapped around herself as if to hide her naked form from his gaze. She doesn’t say a word, afraid that he’ll find something else to do to her if she does.
GM: “Rise,” Paul says perfunctorily, then drapes a towel around her shoulders.
“You must be very tired, Celia. A short rest would be desirable, would it not?”
He takes a second towel and methodically dries off her legs and feet.
Celia: Wary, she clutches the towel around her shoulders, covering herself as best she can. She’s at a loss when he starts to dry her, almost stumbling backwards from him. Wide eyes follow the movement of his hands. She starts to nod at his question. Then, realizing he can’t see, she finds her voice.
“Yes, Mr. Simmons.”
GM: “Come.” He guides her out of the bathroom, clothes left in a pile on the floor.
They head downstairs into the living room. Paul sits her down on the couch.
“Sixty minutes should be sufficient. No less and no more.”
It’s not a bed, and there’s no blankets besides the towel, but there are pillows and the couch’s surface is dry and soft.
Celia: It’s far more comfortable on the couch than it is in the cold, hard tub. She doesn’t stop shivering even with the towel wrapped around her. She’s less tired than she is… weary. Exhausted from the ordeal he’d just put her through, mentally more than physically drained. Her body still hurts. She curls up again, resting her cheek on her knee, watching him through half-lidded eyes.
GM: He turns and leaves without further word. Celia is left on the couch to find some measure of rest. Sixty minutes.
Her ass still hurts. She wonders if she’s bled from there. Her stomach is queasy too. And she’s still so cold.
But it’s better than the tub.
Celia: She hopes she’s not bleeding from there. She doesn’t want to get it on the couch. Or the floor. He’ll be mad again, find another way to hurt her. Her eyes slide toward the front door. He’d just left her here. Alone. She could leave, she could—oh. She looks down at her naked body. No. She can’t.
Celia lays down, using the towel as a blanket, and closes her eyes.
GM: Sleep comes heavily but fitfully. She’s out like a stone, but her eyelids weigh down like steel visors when she feels a hand slowly shaking her awake. The worst of the nausea, cold, and pain is gone, but somehow she feels even more tired than before. She feels like she could sleep all day.
“It’s time for you to go,” says Paul. He extends her clothes.
Celia: It takes a minute for the words to sink in past her tired brain. She blinks up at him, slowly rising to a sitting position, and reaches for the clothing. Her limbs feel like they weigh a ton; it’s an effort to sort through her clothing to find her panties, a struggle to get them up her legs. She covers herself as best she can while she dresses, though she doesn’t know why she bothers. He’s seen her naked.
She offers him the towel once she’s dressed and searches her pockets for her phone.
GM: She finds it there.
The picture is on it.
Celia Flores, lying flushed, wet, sweaty, and mussy-haired in a bathtub.
Her face looks like she’d expect.
Paul hands her five $100 bills in a clip.
“For your services this evening,” he states with a plastic smile.
Celia: She pushes the phone back into her pocket. A moment later the money joins it.
“Thank you, Mr. Simmons,” she says to his knees.
GM: He sees her to the door. His hand cups her breast.
He doesn’t say anything.
He just looks her in the eye, and smiles that bland smile that looks as if it will never reach his eyes.
Celia: She wishes he’d say something. Anything. Instead he just looks at her, and she doesn’t know what it means—how he could go from tormenting her upstairs to letting her nap on his couch to this silent, pretend smile while he touches her. She looks down to where his hand rests on her chest. Proprietary. Like he’s entitled to it. Like she’s nothing but a… but a whore. She blinks, his features blurring when she looks back up at him.
She doesn’t like whatever this is between them. He knows about her. About her mom. About Stephen. She remembers her mother’s horror at the idea of her dad finding out about any of it. And Mom said Paul is friends with her dad.
“I—I’m sorry I lied,” she blurts out. “I’m not—please don’t—” She wrings her hands in front of her, edging toward the door.
“I’m sorry,” she says again.
She flees, the mockery of his final smile lingering in her mind.