May 17, 1896
I remember Caroline. The way she smiled when I walked through her door, the flutter of her eyelashes across a crowded room, and the way she smelled nervously holding my hand. I would always be nervous too. I always feared I would say something wrong, something innocent and insulting in the same breath. Undoubtedly, I did and not once but many times. Caroline would forgive me for a passionate kiss. In those days, actions spoke louder than words. Yes, I remember Caroline and I miss her.
No, my wife has not left me again. The Caroline I recall was my friend, she was young and beautiful and full of spirit. The one who graces the living room corner is my wife. She inhabits the same body, albeit older but just as beautiful if not more so and let us not forget that spirit which has not weakened over time but grown stronger. Still it became clear to me today she is no longer the friend I recall.
I had thought since Caroline has been behaving better through this week, I would reward her with a nice afternoon on the town. She has always loved the act of shopping and truth be told I thought it would be best if she had a new dress to wear when we meet my new employer next month.
First impressions are so important and Caroline is capable of making them go either way. I am not above bribery to achieve my goals, although were Caroline to think for a moment she would certainly realize that opposing my goals at such a meeting would be as disastrous for her as it is for me. Unfortunately, it is easier to buy a new a dress than to get my wife to think in the logical terms of cause and effect. I wonder if this is true of all wives or am I the only man blessed with a purely emotional creature?
We were walking pleasantly on Main Street when the first sign of trouble should have been heeded. The afternoon warmth on my back was relaxation incarnate. The walk along the shops was delightfully slow and I was reminded of my youth and the carefree days of summer. I suppose it was the memory to blame, and I grasped Caroline’s hand in my own. It seemed such a good idea at the moment, natural as though all the hard years of marriage had never been. She pulled away, not immediately, but too soon and too deliberately to have been anything but a rebuke. I was too agreeable as usual and let it pass without mention.
A few steps away, Caroline’s eye was caught by a window display. She stood marveling before it as though the dress would magically transport itself from inside the store to her person. It took less than a minute for the salesman inside to recognize prey. He opened the door and smiled at her. She returned the smile with a slight blush and by the look in his eyes he knew he had her trapped.
I sighed and followed them inside. The door nearly hitting me as clearly I was the less important of the two of us.
“Oh, do forgive me sir. I thought this beautiful creature was alone.”
What he really meant was he thought she had the purse strings and I was not relevant. Perhaps this is because he has sold her many items in the past when I must ashamedly admit she did have the purse strings.
“Quite all right fellow. I will only deduct 10% from the sale this time.” I smiled pleasantly to ease the sting.
His face whitened a touch but he skillfully maintained a smile.
“Oh, Charles! Don’t be a miser.” Caroline chastised me.
I should have nipped the situation right then. I should have turned her over my knee and spanked the attitude right out of her. I should have rescinded my generous offer to reward her good behavior. Instead I stood mouth agape for a moment and then settled into a waiting chair.
“Get yourself fitted dear.” I said resigned to a long wait and too high a bill.
The salesman went about his business. Caroline flirted shamelessly with him all the while. His hands took liberties which no man should take from another man’s wife. I seethed quietly in my chair. Caroline flashed me smiles and winks, not directed at me but clearly for me. She wanted my rage, I am certain of it. The salesman would glance at me as well from time to time but his looks were of disgruntlement. No doubt he would have liked me to leave.
At long last, Caroline was clad in the new dress. She modeled it proudly in front of the mirrors. I stepped forward to have a look. Should I have acted as though it was beautiful just for the fact she was wearing it? I think not.
“No, Caroline. That will not do at all.” I said.
I need not have bothered for the salesman’s face said all that needed to be said. I am not a man of fashion but I do know how to play cards and the young salesman could not win with a royal flush.
Caroline however was not as observant or was she testing me?
“But, Charles, it is the one I like.”
“It does not flatter you.” I replied.
I turned to the salesman who clearly found our argument amusing.
“Tell her the truth.” I said to him.
“You are beautiful.” He said without hesitation.
He smiled as crooked as his words.
“She is indeed but the dress is not.” I replied.
He chose silence.
“You just don’t love me.” Caroline complained.
Do such comments deserve a response? A husband should not have to re-affirm his love at every turn. The commitment of marriage itself seems affirmation of love enough but should that not be enough there is all the years of caring for her, tending to her needs. How after all these explicit signs would she come to question my love?
I will tell you how. It is because I have not been firm enough. I have not chastised her when she richly needed it, because I treated her as a dear friend and not a wife. I dared to care of her feelings, illogical and irrational as they may be. No more will I be a good friend.
I slapped her face, not hard but enough to let her know I would tolerate no more disobedience.
“Remove that disgusting garment this instant.” I said in firmness.
Caroline stood still in shock for a moment before complying. The young salesman looked at me as though I might slap him next and were he to lay another finger on my wife I might well have. He smartly stayed back and out of the way. And to think they say the youth are dumb.
Clearly Caroline believed I was set on chastising her in this public setting. She stood still with tears welling up once the dress was removed. Part of me was satisfied to see her waiting for instructions and assuming nothing was beyond my intentions. I would have disciplined her on the spot but for my dislike of the salesman. His hands had already explored more of Caroline than I approved. I would not give his eyes the same pleasure.
“Get dressed.” I ordered with enough impatience in my tone to make it clear I would not be appreciative of dawdling.
She wasted no time. Her face spoke volumes of relief. Outside the shop, I offered her my arm. She hesitated for a moment and then took it as a good wife should. I led us home, my head high while hers was low. I think she knew the incident was far from forgotten despite my gentleness.
“Fetch me your hairbrush.” I ordered as we entered my home.
“What for?” She asked, a quizzical look on her face.
I did not answer. I looked harshly on her and she ran up the stairs without a further word. I removed my coat and tossed it over the arm of the sofa. I unbuttoned my sleeves and rolled them to my elbows. I tapped my foot on the rug waiting for her return.
Caroline came down the stairs timidly. Her head was down, looking at the hairbrush in her hand. It was silver and sparkling. She pursed her lips as she came to a stop before me. Her hand offered the brush to me. I took it.
“Fetch a chair from the dining table.” I ordered.
She glanced up at me for a moment, but wisely chose to say nothing. She nodded and left the room. A moment later she returned with an end chair from the table. Yes, the ones with arms on the side. She smiled a little as she sat it down in front of me. I smiled a little as well but I surmise for a different reason.
“Strip.” I said.
She complied meekly. Her rosy cheeks reminded me yet again of the Caroline of yesteryears. If only I could recapture the days of courtship I think I would be eternally happy. I longed for the rush of emotion from the first time I glimpsed her naked beauty.
She waited naked before me. There was something innocent in her stance which reminded me of a child awaiting a bath. It was fleeting and my heart hardened to the task at hand.
“Bend over and grab the arms of the chair.” I instructed.
Again she said nothing but complied. I unfastened my belt and drew it through the loops. I folded it in half and when her buttocks were bent and bulging out at me I lashed it down on them.
She cried out in shock. I whipped the belt downward again. She whimpered. I swung again and she hopped from foot to foot. Red marks appeared where the belt had kissed her. I could feel she was on the verge of tears and so I whipped my belt through the air faster. She cried out as it touched once more. She burst into tears as it touched again.
“Stand up.” I said.
She stood and faced me. Her hands reached back and massaged her bottom. Tears fell freely from her eyes.
“Take this chair back and bring me the right one, unless you want more of my belt.”
She turned quietly and lifted the chair.
It was not long and she returned with the correct dining chair, one without arms. I sat in it and she laid herself over my lap with only a minor amount of prompting. I took up her hairbrush and laid it softly on her fleshy posterior.
“Please, Charles. I’m sorry.” She said through tears.
“I know you are. You need this and because I do love you, I will give it.” I replied.
I raised the brush in the air and slapped it down on her pink cheeks. I alternated from left to right, keeping my aim to the lower half of her buttocks. She kicked and squirmed as her cheeks grew pinker and pinker. I kept my pace quick and regular.
As her cheeks grew red I took my aim lower, to her thighs. She yelped at the first kisses to her thighs. I smiled, knowing I was making a good impression. Her cries became sobs and her thighs became as reddened as her buttocks.
“I’m sorry, I’m really, really, really, sorry.” She sobbed finally, exhausted and unable to kick or squirm anymore.
I believed her. I stopped my assault and brought the brush to rest on her glowing butt. She cried in relief. I let her sob it all out, there was no reason to rush.
When her tears subsided, I helped her to stand. She looked at me with friendly eyes. I responded in kind.
“Take this and hold it . Stand, facing that corner and don’t you dare even think of rubbing. Am I understood?”
She took the brush from my hands reluctantly and nodded. I stood up.
“I cannot hear you.” I said.
“Yes, Charles.” She replied and walked to the corner, her head down in shame.