Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Random Morning Ramblings

It's been about a month since T had a major schedule change that has changed up my sleeping hours and available privacy.  I've also been working more lately by going in a couple of hours early. 
The end result is that I've been getting up a lot earlier and going to be significantly earlier than I have over the past few years.  I'm exhausted a lot earlier in the day and if I wait until my previous "normal" times to write (11pm-2am), I'm too tired to write anything.

I'm definitely getting more sleep.  I have a lot less time to reflect and write.  I have far fewer thoughts.  I can't tell if this is a good thing or not.  On the upside, I'm not up during the normal times where I feel my emotions peak... these are the times when the bad feelings can rise up but they are also when I really feel and understand the joy of the day.  It feels a bit like I've stopped feeling as sad but the byproduct is that I'm no longer feeling as happy either. 

When my thoughts don't swirl around over various topics my mind doesn't really seem to reach the places that were the source of my analytical writing.  When I don't reach the depth of my emotions I don't resonate with the feeling that are at the root of my personal writing. 

I won't comment as to whether this is good or bad.  I'm sure to the outside world it seems healthier to get normal hours of sleep and not think about what swirls in my heart.  Inside things feel a bit strange. 

In case you were wondering why I've cut the majority of my writing to fiction with the occasional emotional outburst (such as early last week)... the thoughts and feelings behind it all just aren't there for me to draw from.  The Sea of Thoughts isn't calling to me. 

I know that many care not for fiction or fantasy but that currently is what drives me in my writing and this past arc has REALLY challenged me to explore my thoughts and feelings in regards to the content. 

On a side note, it only took blogger 12+ hours for my last 2 posts to show up in the reader...

I wouldn't mind going back to making other types of posts... but I will probably need some inspiration to do so.  e.g. if anyone has any ideas they would like me to write about feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fiction: fs01 - Arc 7 Bonus Chapter - Christmas Past


Author’s note:  This takes place 15-20 years in the past and accompanies parts 50 and 54.

-----------------------
Arc 7 Bonus Chapter - Christmas Past

My eyes open to the blare of the alarm above my head.  I flail my arm and slap its top until the beeping stops.  I sit up and feel the circulation flow through my body.  My head throbs.  I can’t believe I am waking up so early on Christmas morning.  Mother is out of town with her boyfriend.  I stayed up too late watching TV.  My tired eyes spot the pager lying on the dresser.  I am up because I have no idea when ‘she’ will contact me and I should be ready or I’ll face ‘her’ wrath. 

I get myself ready quickly with a brief shower, shave, and tooth brushing.  A quick peek out the window tells me all I need to know.  I hunt for layers but I don’t have many to speak of and make do with what I have.  After dressing I clip the pager onto my belt and head downstairs.

I eat a bowl of cereal and drink a glass of juice while sitting at the table.  It snowed again last night.  Mother’s words echo through my head. 
“Make sure to keep the walkway and driveway shoveled.  I don’t want the neighbors to think we’re lazy.  I’m going to ask them about it when I get back and I’ll cut off your allowance if you don’t keep up with it.  If you got off your ass and got a job to chip in we could get the snow blower fixed but for now the shovel will have to do.”

My thoughts twitch with a bit of resentment.  Yes, what the neighbors think is important enough to threaten my $5 a week.  I want to get a job but ‘she’ won’t allow it.  I have to be on call 24-7.  I have no choice. 

I finish eating and walk over toward the sad looking plastic tree adorned with a string of half-functioning lights.  I retrieve the two packages from under the tree.  I mouth the words out loud to no one.
“Yes, I promise not to open them until Christmas day.”

I take a seat on the couch with the presents stacked on my lap. 
“To: F
From: Mother”

I love that she writes herself as Mother but can’t even take the time to write out my name.  Before tearing open the paper I secretly hope for a new pair of gloves and a hat.  To my disappointment the box houses a pair of brown corduroy pants that I will never wear or I would probably get my ass-kicked.  The small package is a pair of black socks.  I know it’s the thought that counts… but is that why it hurts so much when the only thought that comes to mind is, “you really don’t know me at all”?

I crumple up the paper and throw it in the trash. 
“Merry Christmas.”

I take a deep breath.  The snow won’t shovel itself.  As I pull on my coat I scour the closet for gloves or a hat.  It’s bursting with mother’s coats that manage to slide off their hangers and frustrate me as I attempt to hang them back up.  All these coats but I asked for a second pair of gloves and a hat and she unloaded on me about how she’s not made of money.  Everything I find is mother’s and she would kill me if I got anything dirty or sweaty that matches with her outfits.  Finally in the back corner of the closet, wedged under a pair of her boots sits an old pink hat, a pair of pink earmuffs, and a pair of purple mittens.  I pick them up and stare at them in quiet contemplation.  A second later I toss them back in.  Someone might see me.  It’s not worth it.  I’ll be a man and tough it out. 

The shovel is a piece of shit but I make do.  The wind bites with a bitter cold so the easiest way to stay warm is to keep moving.  There is a lot of snow but it’s light and moves easily.  I manage to finish the driveway and walkway without exhausting myself. 

I feel the pager vibrate on my belt.  I hurry inside, struggling with the door that sticks whenever it gets cold.  I quickly discard my shoes, sprint to the phone and dial ‘her’ number.

‘She’ answers on the first ring. 

“57 seconds, gayboy.  Cutting it close, are we?”
“Hello, Miss Brittany.”
“Get over here and make me breakfast.  You have 20 minutes.”
“But, Miss…”
The dial tone interrupts me before I can finish.

I put down the phone, grab the small box on the counter, and step into my shoes in a flash.  I will never make it 6 miles in 20 minutes, especially in the snow.  I trudge through the snow with difficulty.  The sidewalks are full and no one is in a hurry to clear them.  I blow on my hands, the warm air reducing their sting before I hold them over my frozen ears.  It’s nearly an hour and a half before I arrive at her door.  I ring twice and shove the snow away with my shoes.  Once exposed, I lift the mat and use the hidden key to unlock the door before entering. 

I discard my shoes and head up the stairs to her room, rubbing my hands together as I go to warm them up.  I knock at her door.  She waits to answer me.
“You’re late, gayboy.”

I slowly open the door and walk inside with my head down.
“I’m sorry I am late, Miss Brittany.”
“What pathetic excuse do you have this time?”
“I was late because I am worthless, useless, and stupid, Miss Brittany.”

I look up after she doesn’t respond.  She sprawls on her bed in her nightgown and a large fur coat as she reads a fashion magazine.  She closes the magazine and tosses it on the floor.
“You’ll need to be punished, gayboy.  Strip.”

My face burns red in embarrassment.
“Yes, Miss Brittany.”

I slowly remove my clothes, unable to look in her direction due to the shame.  She laughs as I slide off my boxers.  The cold doesn’t bode well for my shrinkage. 
“Come here.”

I slowly approach the bed as she rolls over and pulls something out of a drawer.  A click and the familiar fumes of the marker soon enter my nose.  I place my hands behind my back as I feel its cold wet touch on my naval.  “Tiny Penis” soon appears with an arrow pointing down. 
“Against the wall.”

I take a few steps back and keep my eyes on the floor.  My eyes shut with the flash that accompanies the click and the whir of the Polaroid camera.  She shakes the ejected photo and watches as its image appears.  Another flash pops with a click and a whir.  I want to cry.  The mechanical sound of dignity being stripped away is always painful.  I’m sure these will end up in her locked safe with the others by the end of the night. 

“Put your clothes on and get started on my food.  I’m starving to death here.”

She slides back upon the bed, sitting upright against the headboard.  I get dressed in front of her.  We make eye contact once and her lips form a smirk.  She notices my erection before I can get my pants all the way on. 

“So do you like my new coat, gayboy?”  I swallow and feel my temperature rise.
“You look very pretty in it, Miss Brittany.” 
“It is sexy.  I’m guessing my Mom picked this one out.  My step-dad has awful taste.”

My hand feels the box that I hastily jammed in my pocket before I left the house.  I swallow and take a deep breath as I build up my courage.
“I have a Christmas present for you, Miss Brittany.”
“Oh, really?  That’s sweet of you, gayboy.”

I retrieve the wrapped box from my pocket and approach the bed.  I kneel before her and extend my hands to her.  She takes it from me and wastes no time tearing off the paper.  I watch as she opens the box and lifts the chain and the silver heart pendant, holding it up in front of her face.

I lower my head and I crack a small smile.  It quickly shifts to a frown as her laughter fills the room.
“Really, gayboy?  Did you really think I would wear something so cheap?”

Tears well up in my eyes as I watch her toss it across the room into the corner by the bed. 

“Food.  Now.”

I quickly turn away so that she cannot see me.  I contain the tears until I’m out of her room.  My feelings spiral in a glorious mess.  11 weeks worth of allowance to buy a gift for the girl that has terrorized me for 3 years all because of a snide remark made about me on her 18th birthday.  I can’t tell if I’m fucked up or just a loser. 

I cook her a large breakfast; their well-stocked kitchen always has an abundance of food.  I make her French toast, eggs, and bacon with a small dish of strawberries and bananas and a glass of juice.  I pull a rose from the bouquet on the counter and place it on the serving tray with her dishes. 

I don’t know why I do what I do.  I know that she can ruin my life but do I really have a life to ruin? 

As I pass through the entryway I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror.  My eyes are red and puffy.  The shame washes over me, I don’t want her to know that she made me cry. 

I enter her room and find her seated and dressed.  In the time I cooked breakfast she had time to get ready and do her make-up.  Her new coat sits on the edge of the bed. 

“Took you long enough, gayboy.”
“I’m sorry, Miss Brittany.  I’m useless.”

I lower the legs on the edges of the serving tray so that she can eat while sitting in bed.  I lean over her and place the tray in its position.  Her perfume enters my nose… that sweet smell… my eyes quickly dart to her cleavage before looking down.  I blush, realizing I have another erection.

She takes the first bite of her food.

“Quit looking at me.  I hate it when people watch me eat.  Go make yourself useful and shovel the driveway and walking paths.  You’re an eyesore.”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.” 

I lower my head and depart the room. 
“Don’t forget to clean the snow off my car.”
Her words reach me as I walk away.

Why am I here?  Why does she have to fuck with me on Christmas of all days?  The questions circle in my head as I push the large shovel across the long driveway.  The labor clears my head.  The ugly answers soon start rolling in.  I have no place better to be.  There is no one waiting for me at home.  The only person that talks to me also hates me.  I feel a pain build in my chest. 

Their house is huge.  The driveway is huge.  The walkways are needlessly elaborate.  My hands, nose, and ears devolve into two feelings: stinging or numb.  Relief fills me as I finally finish the job. 

As I return into the house, Brittany stands near the door.  She wraps her new fur coat around her as she looks in the mirror.  I watch her hands in their lavender leather gloves adjust the purple beanie on her head. 

She clears her throat and extends her foot.  I kneel in front of her and lace up her boots.  So many eyelets, the stinging in my fingers makes this a difficult task. 

“Why were you out shoveling without gloves or a hat?”
“I don’t have those, Miss Brittany.”  She lets out a giggle.
“Why not, gayboy?”
“Don’t you remember, Miss Brittany?  You took them from me in November and told me to ‘man-up.’  You never gave them back.”
“Oh!  So that’s what those gloves and hat were on the floor in the back.  I threw those out, they were disgusting and covered in slush after a few weeks back there.  Why didn’t you just buy another set?”
“I didn’t have any money, Miss Brittany.  I was saving it for something.”
“Hah.  Don’t tell me that instead of buying new gloves and a hat you spent your money on that pathetic little necklace for me?”

A frown covers my face and I shut my eyes while facing the floor.
She lets out a hearty laugh. 
“That decision must really sting just about now.  You really are stupid, gayboy.  Besides, you’re 18, you could have just sold plasma.”

I look up and our eyes meet as I fight back the tears.  As they well up she scoffs and is the first to look away.  She walks to the front closet and begins to dig around.  She retrieves an intricately adorned cardboard box and sets it on the table next to the door. 

“I can’t believe my step-dad got this for me last year.  How old does he think I am, 5?  Put these on.” 

She passes me a set of pink knit mittens with a red heart design on the back of the hand and fur trim at the cuff and fur pom poms dangling on a short elastic cord.  I remain motionless.  She waves her hand around in disapproval.

“Did gayboy grow a spine?  Take them and put them on, NOW.”

I accept them from her hand and slowly pull them on.  My face burns red with shame.  The next item is a matching pink hat with a Red heart design on the front and a fur pom pom on the top.  I slowly pull it onto my head.  The scarf has a series of hearts and pom poms and it finds its way around my neck.  Last is a pair of fur earmuffs with the heart designs on the headband.  I swallow as my pulse sky rockets.  If I was going to do this, I should have just worn the ones that I found at home.

She approaches me and with her eyes piercing mine she smirks while adjusting the hat and earmuffs on my head.  The Polaroid makes its way from her purse like she’s some sort of quick draw export.  The pop, click, and whirr leave my heart sinking into the pit of my stomach as she shakes the photo before stashing it in her purse.

“I’m bored and want to go for a drive.  You’ll be coming with me.  It’s hilarious, but I think this will be the first time in my car.”  
“I need to finish the dishes and pans first or else they’ll…”
“Or else the food will stick and you’ll have to scrub them extra hard to get them clean?  I don’t see how this is any of my concern.”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.”

The familiar feeling of defeat sets in.  I start to unwrap the scarf from my neck.
“What do you think you’re doing, gayboy?  Did I give you permission to take that off?”

I stop in my tracks and feed it back around my neck.
“That color makes your name even more fitting, doesn’t it, gayboy?”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.”

We head out to her SUV.  Brittany is right, this is my first time riding with her.  I slump low in the front seat, trying to be as small as possible and nearly invisible from the outside.  Neither of us speaks as she handles the car around familiar parts of town before turning onto a road that leads to its outskirts.  I watch the familiar scenery fade away as the lights and buildings thing out.  Trees and fields sprawl as far as I can see. 

Brittany makes a turn onto a small side road and after a short ride she pulls the vehicle to a stop.  She departs and I follow after her.  I watch as she takes a few steps before raising her arms and twirling in circles with her face looking up at the gray sky.  A few light flakes descend upon her as the sun sags low in the horizon.  This place… is like a well-kept secret.  A small clearing in the woods… nothing but this little open patch surrounded by trees for as far as the eye can see. 

She walks a ways in and clears the snow off of a stump before sitting and crossing her legs.  She closes her eyes and lifts her face like she’s listening to something that only she can hear.  I guess that it must be solitude.  I stand at a distance admiring her.  She is still so beautiful… just like I remember her from our youth.  She’s different now but I still long for her in my heart.  Her voice breaks the silence.

“Why do you do what I tell you to do?”  My face blushes red with her abrupt question.
“Because, Miss Brittany, you are blackmailing me.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.”

I lie.  I want to tell her that I love her… that I have always loved her.  I want to tell her how lonely I am and how much I missed her.  I want to tell her that I will be there for her no matter what, even if she abuses me.  I lie because it’s too pathetic to admit the truth.  I lie because I don’t want to believe that I’m this sad or desperate.  I lie because I don’t know what else to do… if I tell her the truth, I feel like my heart will explode and I will die with it.

She stands and walks back toward me.  She doesn’t make eye contact as she heads straight for the car.  As she passes me her voice cuts into my heart.
“I only talk to you because you do what I tell you to do.  If I couldn’t use you I wouldn’t be caught dead talking to a loser like you.”

I am slow returning to the car.  She is already inside with the engine running by the time I make it back.  I open the passenger door.  She cuts me down.
“Get in the back, gayboy.” 

I shut the door and get in the back seat.  We do not speak on the ride home.  She speeds.  My head races around in confusion, battling with the pangs in my heart.  I don’t understand her.  I don’t understand myself. 

We arrive back at her house.  She kicks off her boots in the entryway and runs up the stairs into her room.  I collect them and place them neatly by the door, brushing off any residual snow onto the mat.  I calmly remove my shoes and follow her.  She stands in front of her bed, her hands hidden from view.  I watch her lip quiver but I cannot read her expression.  I begin to unzip my coat.

“Did I tell you to take your coat off?”  I zip it back up.
“No, Miss Brittany.”
“Put your hands on the wall.”  

I take a breath and comply, knowing what will happen next.  She takes my wrist in her hand and pulls my arm behind me. I feel the metal cuff close and lock around my wrist.  It clicks several times as it tightens, she continues until there is no give around my wrist.  The other hand follows.  She does it police-style, palms out.  I’m sure the keyholes are facing the elbow.  The cuffs are on over the mittens, preventing me from removing them. 

In a quick motion she pulls the hat down over my eyes and nose.  I open my mouth and the pantyhose stretches and pulls tight gagging me uncomfortably as she ties it behind my head. 

“Face down in the closet.” 

I can still see some faint outlines through the knit hat over my eyes.  I make my way clumsily, bumping things outside of my view. 

“Why do you have a fucking erection, you pervert?  You’re so fucked up.”
I lay down in the closet like so many times before.  I feel her wrap another pair of pantyhose around my ankles and knot them.  A set around my knees follows.  Lastly I feel her fiddle with my ankles and she pulls them, forcing my knees to bend before she secures me into a hog-tie position with my ankles tied to the handcuff chain.  The closet door closes behind me. 

What did I do?  I hear the television in her room turn on and the volume blares.  I’m sorry, Miss Brittany.  I sob gently before retreating into nothingness. 

The abrupt silencing of the television stirs me into a conscious state.  The closet door opens, peeking a ray of light into the darkness.  I hear the pop, click, and whir of the camera.  Moments later the pantyhose binding my ankles to my wrists loosens and I can finally relax my legs.  Her knee digs into my thigh as she removes them one by one.  The handcuffs and gag follow.  She pulls the hat and earmuffs off my head.  My eyes blink rapidly as they adjust to the light. 

“Take off your winter clothes and lay on the bed.”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.”

I pull off the mittens I rub my wrists as circulation returns to my hands before removing my coat and the scarf.  I place my coat neatly on the floor and place her items on the dresser.  I walk over to the bed and lay down on my back.  She opens the fastener on her coat, letting it fall open.  Underneath she wears black panties with a matching bra and stockings.  I swallow and feel my pulse rise.  I pitch a tent in my pants.  She notices, scoffs, and rolls her eyes. 

“Keep it in your pants, gayboy,” she snarls as she approaches the same side of the bed. 

She takes my wrist and handcuffs it to the bedpost.  I watch as she retrieves her lavender hat from the nightstand.  To my dismay she pulls it onto my head, covering my eyes and nose.  It smells of her shampoo and perfume, the sweet scent fills my nose.  I feel her climb over me and she sprawls out on the bed, next to me. 

She takes my hand in hers and she shapes it so that my index and middle fingers are together.  I feel them enter her mouth.  She guides my hand as I feel the base of my palm glide across her naked flesh.  My tent stiffens.  She pulls it over her body.  I feel it creep below the silky touch of her panties.  Her hands guide it from outside of the soft fabric, guiding my fingers in gentle circles over her clit. 

I hear her take a deep breath as her body squirms under my touch.  Her hands continue to lead me until I find a motion that yields positive results.  She moans and her hands leave mine.  I continue the motion and gradually speed up.  Before long her breaths heave while she grinds her crotch against my touch.  I feel her body squirming around against mine.  This is the closest I’ve been to sex.  The excitement in my heart keeps my body in a state of hyper-awareness. 

I continue rubbing, gradually moving faster.  Small circles.  Firm but gentle.  Around and around.  I feel her knee against my thigh.  Her hand grips my shirt and makes a fist.  She moans and writhes as my fingers continue their work.  Around and around… faster… the pace of her breathing increases.  Her moans become cries.  Her body thrashes on the bed.  I keep moving, faster, firmer. 

“Oh Fuck!”

She cries out, her arms shakes against my body.  I feel her hips pulse once… twice… again.  She yanks my hand out of her panties and her body slumps limp on the bed. 

My head continues to spin with the reality of what just happened.  I just gave the girl that I love an orgasm.  She speaks and interrupts my euphoria.  The tone of her voice soothes me.  The contents of her words tear at my heart.

“You know… gayboy… if it weren’t for me you would be completely worthless.  If I didn’t use you, you would be completely useless.  You’re invisible unless I choose to see you… and no one cares about you.”

I begin to sniffle as the ache in my heart takes over.  My face contorts under the cover of the hat.  The pain of acceptance… I know that everything she said to me is completely true. 

“I’ll ask you again.  Why do you do what I tell you to do?”

I bury the truth in my heart and spit out lies.
“Because you are blackmailing me, Miss Brittany.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.”

She scoffs and grits her teeth, pulling the hat from my face as she rises to her knees on the bed. 

“I fucking hate you.  You tell anyone about what we just did and I will ruin your life.  They wouldn’t believe you anyways.  No one gives a shit about you.  You are nothing.”

She reaches out and quickly unlocks my wrist from the bedpost. 

“Make me a pizza, finish the dishes, and get out.”

I use all of my strength to fight back the tears.  I’m such a coward.
“Yes, Miss Brittany.”
I leave the room and go downstairs.  As the pizza cooks I finish scrubbing the pans and cleaning the dishes from earlier.  I’m so confused. 

I prep the serving tray with her pizza, a soda, and a side of carrots and celery with some ranch dressing.  I place another rose from the bouquet onto the tray.  I don’t know what I’m feeling… this mix of warmth and pain eats me from the inside.

At her bedroom door my coat sits outside with a note:
“Leave the food and get the fuck out!”

I set the tray down carefully and give a couple of gentle knocks on the door.  I lean my face close.
“Merry Christmas, Miss Brittany.”

I don’t expect a response nor does she provide one.  The walk home feels colder than the walk there.  I can’t make sense of what happened, her tone, or what we shared today.  I think I must have hurt her but I don’t understand what she wanted from me today.  She hurts me all the time.

My stomach growls as I enter my empty house.  I open the fridge and grab a cold piece of fried chicken that I eat alone at the table.  Out the window the snow starts to fall again.  More shoveling tomorrow. 

In my room I lie on my bed and close my eyes, replaying the events of today.  An erection soon follows.  I slide out of my pants and relieve myself with a few pumps.  I’m so fucked up.  Her words echo through my heart.  I’m worthless without her.  I’m useless unless she uses me.  No one cares. 

I curl up into a ball and weep quietly.  I’m sorry, Miss Brittany.  Merry Christmas. 

END ACT

Fiction: fs01 - Part 54


Author’s Note:  This takes place about a half an hour after Part 53.

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LIV

After Dinner we reconvene in the living room.  Mistress sits on the throne in the middle of the semi-circle.  She has me kneel on the bearskin rug a few feet in front of her, well in view of everyone.  One chair remains open.  Sammy and Gordon continue serving wine.  Based upon their mannerisms, tones of voice, and excitement level it’s clear to me that all of the women are at least a little drunk. 

My nerves have been on edge since dinner.  My head tracks back and forth across the room like it’s on a swivel.  I have no idea what to expect.  Lisa breaks the silence.  Her bright red cheeks tell that me she’s quite intoxicated.

“fur… I just wanted to clarify something.”  She lets out a small burp, which brings an additional blush to her already red face.
“I feel bad saying that you aren’t a real person back there.  I wanted to make sure you know that I do think you are a person… I just don’t… ya know… see you as an equal or anything like that.  I know that I just see you more as what you do than actually having feelings… or something.  Shit, that came out wrong.  What’s a nice way of saying that I don’t care about your feelings but care that you exist?”

“I thought you were trying to apologize, not make him feel worse, Lisa.”  Theresa’s words hit her with maximum impact.

Lisa covers her face with her hands. 
“Damn it, leave me alone!  What I’m trying to say is that… like… I care about your feelings but that they just aren’t as important as a normal person’s.  I think of you more like a faithful servant than a human being.”

I smile at Lisa.  She’s adorable when she’s flustered.  I understand what she says and it makes me happy that she cares.   Sometimes I feel like I’m only tolerated because I’m with Mistress.  I don’t mind being of lesser status as long as I’m appreciated. 

“Cass, you told us to lay it on thick but now I feel guilty.”
Lisa chugs her wine.

“What is she talking about, Cass?”  Barb’s curiosity rises.
“I may have asked them to be a little bit harder on fs today, Barbie.”
“But you didn’t tell that to me.”
“In due time my Dear…”

Mistress smiles at Barb and takes her hand. 

The doorbell rings.  Mistress pops to her feet.
“Our special guest has finally arrived.”

Mistress makes a motion with her hand.  She wants me to stay put.  The others rise and head to the door as Sammy and Gordon open it.  I can only make out a faint outline in the dim lighting.  I watch Mistress escort the new guest along the outer wall of the cabin to the room next to Lisa’s.  Sammy and Gordon follow with the luggage. 

The others slowly return to their seats as Sammy and Gordon float refilling their wine.  I overhear them speaking in lowered voices.  Most are curious about the guest; apparently this was a surprise to most. 

A few minutes later everyone is back in their seats.  The click of heels on the hardwood floors approaches from the direction of the room.  All eyes focus in on the figure emerging from the shadows.  The woman is a blonde.  She wears a magenta robe that matches the others, the tips of her boots peek out from the front as her long strides carry her gracefully out of the shadows.  She takes a seat in the open throne.  I trace over the contours of her face… she’s familiar but I cannot place her.  She flashes a grin as she takes a full glass of wine from Sammy.

“I’ve worn some kinky stuff in my day but this really does it.  I do love this robe though, where can I get one?”
“That one is yours to keep, of course.  Once you put it on you are a part of our little club if you choose to be.  If you would like a different color we make them at my shop.  I have to say though… it’s so good to finally meet you in person, Brittany.”

My eyes go wide as I feel my chest knot up.  She’s older but her cheekbones… the way her nose is angled up every so slightly… the full lips… I’m ashamed that I didn’t recognize her.   A feeling of uneasiness creeps its way into my heart.

“It is great to meet you, Cassandra.  We’ve known each other on social media for what, almost 5 years now?  I was surprised to get this invite on such short notice.”
“I’m very happy you could make it.  You ended up being part of a conversation we had a few days ago.  Barbie here asked me if I knew you and when I said yes, she thought it would be fun to invite you.”
“I was part of the conversation?  I doubt it was anything good.”  She lets out a small laugh.  Barb whispers across to Brittany while Mistress continues.
“Please call me Barb, and not Barbie.”

“It was fine.  Barbie was just curious as to how my slave came to be the way that he is.  I’m pretty sure he’s freaking out inside right about now.  It’s more fun to let him stew.  I saw that you got divorced last year?”
“Yes, Cassandra.  I’m finally free of that asshole.  On the upside, I married up and we had no pre-nup so I got quite the settlement as well as a monthly stipend as long as I don’t remarry or get a high paying job.  I feel guilty admitting it but I’m actually better off not working as things are.  Things are quite comfortable right now.”

Theresa chimes in.
“I hoped you raked him over the coals.”

Light laughter ensues as Brittany continues.
“So what all did you talk about that I was a part of?”
“We mostly reminisced about my slave in his younger days.  Why don’t you share some stories with us, I’m sure everyone would love to hear a first-hand account rather than my brief little rehash.  Tell us some of your favorites.”

Brittany’s face blushes bright red.
“Oh my God… I was such a bitch back then.  Give me a minute.”
Brittany chugs down her glass of wine.  Sammy is quick with a refill.  She takes a few more sips off of the glass before fanning her face with the glass.  Her eyes meet mine and she responds with a wicked grin.

“I totally used to terrorize him back then.  When I transferred back into public high school I noticed him right away but by then I cared more about being popular than being nice and he was anything but popular.  I noticed that he would always stare at me.  I was just going to ignore him until my friends Chloe and Courtney noticed as well.  Over a few weeks they told me to teach him a lesson for looking at someone that was ‘out of his league.’” 

She pauses and takes another drink.  My heart hurts a little, knowing that she noticed me the entire time but chose to ignore me. 

“Anyways, we got drunk one night and came up with a plan.  I remembered that he was always smart, so I figured we could benefit from it as well.  I had Chloe and Courtney lure him to the girl’s bathroom after school and a group of us duct taped him to the stall frame so that his wrists and ankles were secured and put a piece of tape over his mouth.  I took a pair of scissors and cut off his shirt, dropped his pants to his knees and cut off his underwear.  By then he was crying but I tuned it out.  We took out some permanent markers and wrote and drew all over his body.  After Chloe wrote ‘gayboy’ on his forehead that nickname just sort of stuck.”

The memories rush back… deeper than before.  A wave of shame crashes upon my heart.  I lower my eyes and let my arms go limp at my sides.  The others listen to her words intently.

“After that we took pictures of him.  Courtney shoved a marker up his butt.  He thrashed around and bawled while we all just laughed at him.  It was then that I got really nasty.  I told him that if he didn’t do exactly what I said that I would enlarge the photos and post them all over the school.  He was so freaked out that I don’t think he realized that you can’t order enlarged prints of Polaroids.  He completely bought it and was my personal servant from then on.”

My knot tightens.  This story makes me feel stupid.  Brittany downs the second glass of wine.  Her cheeks grow rosy and I can tell she’s loosening up.  Sammy refills her glass.

“What else did you do?” asks Theresa.
“Well let’s see… oh yeah, I used to make him walk to my house every day after school even though I had room for him in my car.  Rain, snow, it didn’t matter.  If he didn’t get to my house I was going to spread the pictures.  My parents were always gone so we’d make him do our homework and wait on us.  One day when we were trying on outfits for a party Courtney noticed he had a boner.  We made him put on a pair of panties and tied his hands behind his back and took more pictures with his little cock poking out the top.  It was hilarious.  After that I somehow ended up with a pair of police-grade handcuffs and whenever he got an erection we would handcuff his hands behind his back and lock him in the closet.  Oh, we were sooooo mean.  I still can’t believe we did that.  I swear it must have happened almost every day.” 

“What do you think the meanest thing you ever did was?”

Brittany blows her hair from the side of her face and arches her eyebrows for a few seconds.

“I’m not sure if I can think of any one thing that was the meanest but there was a time when we wanted to go shopping at the mall.  It was a very cold winter that year.  We put him in a tight pink t-shirt and made him walk.  The mall was like 8 miles away.  The mall was packed and we went shopping all over the place and made him carry our bags.  We spent a lot of time in lingerie stores, too.  His face was so red.  He was so easy to tease.”

”He still is.” Mistress chides bringing about a round of laughter.

I feel very small.  Hearing Brittany tell stories causes each memory to rush back in vivid detail.  My heart aches.  I want to disappear. 

“Cass says you’re the reason that he likes women in fur, is that true?”

Brittany rolls her eyes in a joking manner.
“Probably?  I’m not sure.  After my parents divorced my Mom was kind of a gold digger.  She married this rich doctor and they traveled all the time.  She felt that gifts equated your value so even though they were gone, there were always gifts.  Mom was a big fan of furs so when I turned 13 I started receiving them every year on my birthday and Christmas.  Expensive furs.  When I wore them I they made me feel loved and as I matured they made me feel sexy as well.  At school I wore cheaper furs that were more practical but at home I would wear the real furs whenever I wanted to feel good about myself… which was almost every day.  I never really wondered what gayboy thought of them, but he must have liked them if what you’re saying is true.  Does he still have an erection problem around women?”

Mistress laughs.  I blush.
“Oh he definitely used to.  I’ve put a stop to it since then.  His penis stays locked up in a steel chastity belt pretty much 24-7.  I do let him out once a week for cleaning but I doubt he even remembers what it feels like to play with himself.”

“I still can’t believe that, Cassandra.  That a man would let you lock up their junk like that.” 

Dominique lets out a small laugh.  She wasn’t present for the conversation earlier in the week so this is all new to her.
“Really, Brittany?  It sounds like you were quite the little dominatrix when you were younger.  I’m surprised you turned out vanilla.”

“Is everyone else here into like that BDSM stuff or whatever?”

All voices sound in unison.
“Yes.”

Brittany leans her head back and guzzles more of her wine.  Her face flushes red.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I just feel really na├»ve all of a sudden.”
“Don’t.  It takes some getting used to.”  Mistress smiles at her.
“So I’ve been worried that I would tell all these stories and you would all think I’m some kind of terrible person… but why do I get the feeling that no one actually feels that way?”

Lisa blurts out.
“Don’t be silly.  We want to hear more.”
Theresa steps in.
“I think what my drunk friend here means to say is that all of us are very familiar with fur and we’ve all at some point had a hand in doing things like that to him, if not worse.  Hearing you tell these stories is actually quite sweet and we’re enjoying it a lot.”

“fur?  Is that what you call gayboy?”  Mistress responds to her question.
“My slave’s name is fs01.  Or fs.  The girls have taken to calling him ‘fur sissy’ ever since I started dressing him like that.  You can call him whatever you would like.”
“Hah.  fur sissy… that’s classic.”

Barb leans forward.
“Please continue.  Do you have any stories that are dear to you?”
Brittany sighs.
“Yes.  I do have one.  Senior year of high school both of our parents left us home alone over Christmas.  This was somewhat common for my parents but I usually would do Christmas with a friend or a relative.  This year I was home by myself.  fur sissy’s parents left him home by himself too.  I made him walk over every day in the cold and snow and he was so poor, he didn’t have boots, gloves, or a hat.  I made him come wait on me every day.  Over break I started feeling lonely.  I did some soul searching and realized that he had become important to me.  While I loved tormenting him I began to count on his company… always having someone there whenever I needed them.  I think I was in love with him.”

“Oh, wow.” 
“Yeah, it was kind of crazy.  Here was this poor unpopular boy with no friends that I was horrible to… and I just started to care for him.  I remember he brought me a Christmas present that year and I just blasted him over it being cheap or something like that.  That was a weird day.  I took him for a drive and basically begged him to tell me he cared for me but instead he broke my heart.  I punished him when we got back and made a more aggressive and sexual move.  It was awkward but special.  I baited him again and he broke my heart.  From that day on I was even worse to him and that continued until we graduated.”

Tears fill my eyes as I remember that day.  I hear B’s words clear as day.
“I’m disappointed in you, fur sissy.”

I’m disappointed in me, too. 
“I don’t blame him, B.  If he was even half as confused as I was back then I’m sure he didn’t know how the hell to react.  Cassandra, is it okay if I talk to him now?”
“Go right ahead.”

Brittany gets up from her throne and approaches me slowly.  I keep my head down as the tears in my eyes finally reach their limit and the first one streams down my cheek.  She sprawls out on the bearskin rug next to me, her face displays a pleasant smile.  The sweet scent of her perfume invokes some deeply buried feelings within me.  My sex strains against the belt.  She speaks to me I a gentle tone.

“Hi, gayboy.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”  I nod slowly in response.
“I’ve missed you so much.” 
She reaches out and embraces me, pulling my face into her chest.  My eyes catch a flash of something shiny buried in the fur trim of the robe.  She rocks me back and forth and it frees itself, toppling end over end before dangling from its chain.  I recognize it immediately.  The silver pendant I bought her for Christmas. 

The gates of my heart burst open and the emotions flow freely outward.  I sob into her chest, unleashing all of the pain and confusion of my teens and 20’s.  She continues to hold me as she rocks me back and forth… she speaks to me from her heart.
“I’m so sorry.  You were always there for me.  You were the one I could count on.  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  I took you for granted.”

Brittany begins to sniffle but continues to talk.
“In college Chloe and Courtney bailed on me as soon as they got boyfriends.  I thought about you a lot but I didn’t think I could ever show my face to you after what I did.  I was so worried that I ruined your life.  I ended up following in Mom’s footsteps.  I married a rich boy.”

I raise my arms and embrace her around her waist and squeeze. 
“Are you happy, gayboy?”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.  Very happy.”
“Do you have a good life?”
“Yes, Miss Brittany.  I love my life.”
“Do you hate me?”
“No, Miss Brittany.  I could never hate my first love.”

She sobs and places her head on mine. 
“Thank you, Miss Brittany.”
“For what?”
“For making me the person that Mistress would choose.  Without you, I would never have found her.”

We cry out our tears together.  After a few moments we release each other.  I take the pendant in my fingers and give it a kiss.  My body feels lighter.   I’m sure Brittany’s does as well.  I watch as she stands and teeters and makes her way back to her throne. 
“Cass, your husband is a wonderful man.”
“Thank you, Brittany, he definitely is.”

Barb stands up from her throne.
“Husband?  You’re married?  Seriously?”
She runs her fingers through her hair and sits back down.

“I swear I told you, Barbie.”
“No, you just said you had a slave that lived with you.  Oh my God, I’m a home-wrecker.  Fuck.”

She covers her face with her hands.  Mistress motions to me with a motion of her head.  I shuffle on my knees over to Barb’s chair.  I place my head on her knee and rub my face against her thigh.  I reach my arms out and embrace her as best I can.  Barb looks down at me.

“You’re really okay with this?”
“Yes, Miss Barb.”
“Why?”
“You make Mistress happy, Miss Barb.  Also, you’re a very special woman: Mistress chose you.”

She pets me and shakes her head. 
“At some point I might get used to this crazy world… please… tell me that I will.”

Laughter ensues.  I smile. 
“You know, pet, it was Barbie’s idea to invite Brittany.  She asked if I knew her and when I said yes, Barbie thought you could use some closure.”
I squeeze tighter. 
“Thank you, Miss Barb.  You’re a very special woman.”

Dominique springs to her feet.
“Enough of these Hallmark moments, I demand cake!”
Her demands are met with unanimous agreement.  Sammy and Gordon bring out some large serving trays and pass out slices of cake.  From my vantage point it appears to be some very rich chocolate.  I watch as they dig in.  Sammy and Gordon stand on either side of Dominique and eat as well. 

I glance up and make eye contact with Mistress.  I read her expression like a book.
“pet, would you like a piece of birthday cake?”

My insides twist knowing full well what is happening.  Her lips part into a wicked grin.  She knows that I know.  I accept my role as their amusement.  I place the ball on the tee and wait for them to swing.
“Yes, Mistress, I would love a piece of cake.”
“Barbie?”

Barb takes a deep breath and locks her eyes on mine.  A smile forms on her face.
“A slave wants cake.  That’s so cute.”

Laughter ensues. 

END ACT


Monday, August 22, 2016

Fiction: fs01 - Part 53


Author’s Note:  This takes place several days after Part 52.

-----------------------------------
LIII

Over the past few days Mistress and her friends split their time between skiing and the spa.  Thankfully there were no repeats of the earlier events but just to be safe, Mistress bought me a new outdoor outfit at one of the local shops that is passably male.  She also changed up my role so that I would accompany them to the chalet when they were skiing and stayed back at the cabin tending to chores while they were at the spa.  While I vigilantly kept a lookout for Wonder Woman, our paths did not cross again.

Barb has taken on a more interactive role with me, easily making demands and throwing out the occasional tease.  I have to believe that the previous discussions on my submission and submissive sexuality have affected her.  She still doesn’t address me by a name other than slave.

This morning seems different from the rest.  I feel invisible.  It’s an odd feeling to adjust to.  While it can be stressful to be overworked and burdened with tasks, feeling idle unnerves me a bit.  It’s like my mind already accepts that my role on this trip is to serve, please, and amuse them.  If I have no role to fulfill it leaves me feeling… empty.

I watch Sammy and Gordon buzz around the room, rearranging furniture and moving things to and from storage.  I approach Mistress as she sits on the sofa and kneel at her feet.  I don’t make a sound; I merely kneel and watch her face as she browses on her tablet.  She’s beautiful.  If we were at home I could sit and do this for hours, perfectly content with existing in her presence.  In this environment I can’t help but feel restless.

Mistress slides her foot out of her slipper and wiggles her toes without looking up.  I read her cue and shuffle closer, taking her foot gently in my hands.  I cherish this duty as I carefully massage her foot, working the pads of my thumbs across the ball of her foot.  I detect the change in her breathing as my thumb firmly glides across her arch.  My heart flutters and my sex strains against the belt. 

I immerse myself in my work, a display of love expressed through my hands.  I notice her shift her pelvis as she slouches on the sofa and flexes her thighs together several times.  A smile beams across my face.  As I reach her heel I allow my fingers to stimulate the sides and back while my thumbs continue to work the bottom.  Her breaths are slow and deep.  I watch her diaphragm expand and collapse in a slow rhythm.  I slowly work each toe.  I slide my thumb from base to tip.  I separate it from the rest and move it in circles while my fingers apply gentle pressure.  As I finish her foot I lean down and kiss its top.  She pulls it from my hands and I gentle slide her discarded slipper back onto it. 

She extends her other foot.  I carefully remove the slipper and repeat the process.    I lose myself in her pleasure.  My mind finds peace in service… Mistress… the one I love.  My sex strains again as she moans and slides her hips around the sofa cushion.  I can smell her as her legs part the bottom of her robe.  I lean down and kiss the top of her foot.  I get greedy and steal a couple of extra kisses up her ankle.  Of course she notices and quickly pulls her foot away. 

“I think the slave has forgotten its place.  Get the gag.”

My brow furrows as my spirit sinks.  I disappoint myself.  A quick scuttle to Mistress’s room and I return to her, kneel, and present the locking gag.  I turn away and kneel as she inserts it into my mouth, pulls the straps tight, and locks it to my harness.  I turn to face her when she finishes. 

“Continue.”

Mistress lets the slipper drop off of her foot.  I take her foot back in my hand and work through the process I’ve done so many times before.  As I press my thumbs into her soft skin I steal a glance.  She continues to focus on her tablet, her fingers tapping and gliding across the screen.  My earlier mistake makes me self-conscious… I long to have her eyes meet mine… show me warmth… to let me know that I’m okay.  Errors make me insecure… I strive for perfection. 

My thumbs slide across her arch.  She cranes her neck and takes a deep breath.  I notice her hips shift on the sofa.  Her eyes stay fixed to the tablet.  After the heel I give more attention to the top of her foot.  I glide gently, with flat pressure, in an attempt to stimulate circulation and the nerves.  Her toes curl as I find just the right spot. 

My next instinct is to suck her toe… my loss… my fault.  My fingers will have to do.  I shorten my motions and caress every part of her toe.  I roll the flesh on the bottom gently between my index finger and thumb.  She clenches the tablet with both hands and lets out a low moan.  Her eyes remain on the screen as she resumes her tapping.  Each toe elicits a strong response.  Soon her thighs slide back and forth on the sofa. 

I gently replace the slipper on that foot and go back to the other foot.  She moans on my first pass this time.  My penis attempts another erection.  Every time her knees part I catch the glorious scent of sex and I long to taste her.  Please, Mistress, look at me.  Her fingers tap and glide along the screen.

The ball of the foot… then the arch… the heel… the top… onto the toes.  I carefully work over every part, continuing with the roll of my thumb and index finger.  Mistress’s body reacts but she shows me nothing on her face, her blank expression stares intently onto the handheld screen.  .

I continue my work as I watch Barb approach and lean forward on the back of the sofa and she looks over Mistress’s shoulder.  I reach her pinky toe.  Mistress inhales deeply; her nostrils flare as she arches her hips again. 

“Cass, why are you tapping on your tablet when the screen is blank?”
Mistress’s cheeks flush a light shade of red.  Her lips part and reveal her gnashed teeth.  Mistress tosses the tablet across the sofa and her hand takes the back of Barb’s head, pulling it to hers.  Barb’s eyes go wide open with surprise as Mistress consumes her with an open-mouthed kiss.  Her off hand gropes Barb’s breast.  Primal moans and gasps for air surface each time their lips separate for an instant.  Mistress grabs Barb by her shirt collar.

“Bedroom, now.” 

She shoves me with her foot and I tumble onto my side as she struggles to her feet.  They are gone in a flash.  I return to my knees and pause.  A tiny voice calls out inside of me, ‘those were my kisses.”  I pull my hands in to my chest and sulk. 

Theresa snaps me back to reality.
“fur, if you’re going to just sit there, get up and help Sammy and Gordon set things up.”

I hop to my feet and nod before tracking them down and assisting with things.  We move the sofas to the outer wall and replace them with a semi-circle of ‘thrones’ around the fireplace.  We replace the normal dinner table with a longer banquet table.  We hang decorations around the room.  I’m a bit at a loss for why we are doing this.  I simply follow directions; it doesn’t really matter to me since I couldn’t ask questions with the gag in place anyways. 

I have forgotten how distraught I start to feel with the gag in place.  For a while I was accustomed to it but the events of this past week make me acutely aware that it reduces my status even further.  It feels like the dividing line between service and servitude… do I serve with pride or am I bound to serve? 

We set up another large table behind the dining table and cover it with a tablecloth.  It looks like we are getting ready for a feast or a party. 

Mistress returns to the living room and plops down on one of the thrones.  Barb takes the seat next to her.  They slouch and tease each other back and forth with their hands, their disheveled hair flopping around as they poke and prod at each other.  Mistress is beautiful in afterglow.  Her smeared makeup and signs of perspiration display the intensity of her sexual passion.  I feel the belt block my arousal.  I approach quietly from behind, ready to attend to her.  She calls out without looking my way.

“slave, go re-shovel the walkways and chop firewood until the caterers arrive.”

I nod and bow out of habit, as I know that she cannot see me.  I change my boots, put on my coat, and head outside.  Once outside my mind slides easily.  The shoveling takes very little time, it is merely a cleanup of snow blown around by the wind.  The repetition of the axe and the wood… with so many logs to split and no end in sight… this is what I do. 

I put down the axe and stack up the most recent pile of wood.  A series of vans pull up the driveway with the name and logo of the catering company on the side.  I make my way quickly back to the cabin and stow my coat and boots in the closet. 

Sammy and Gordon direct the workers as they set up serving platters and warmers for a wide array of food on the back table.  The aroma makes my stomach growl.  I haven’t eaten yet today.  I’m not even sure what time it is.  The final item on the table is a large cake that looks almost like a wedding cake. 

As the caterers depart I watch Mistress return from her room.  She wears a black version of her robe and has done up her hair and make-up.  Barb follows her wearing a blue robe.  The others aren’t long behind them, each in their group color from their monthly trips to the fetish club.  Theresa in gray, Lisa in purple, Dominique in Red.  B appears in gothic black gown with a fur-trimmed jacket.  I’m never sure if this is B’s natural style or if it’s what Theresa likes. 

I assist Mistress into her chair at the head of the table and continue with the others.  Barb sits to her right and Theresa to her left.  Upon finishing, Sammy, Gordon, and I begin to serve the food and wine.  My stomach growls again.  The wine flows quickly. After the main course is served, Sammy and Gordon fill up plates for themselves and head to the kitchen to eat.  Dominique doesn’t keep them on a food restriction.  I take my attention position back and to the right of Mistress.  I feel myself fade out again to cope with the hunger pains.

Theresa’s knife on the wine glass snaps me back to the present. 

“I wanted to make a toast to my best friend, Cassandra… for giving us time off to take this vacation and paying us well enough to be able to take time off whenever we want it… so that we could be here to celebrate this occasion.  Also, to Dominique for letting us stay at this beautiful cabin and introducing us to a spa that will surely become an addiction for most of us.”

The sound of clinking glasses has me spring to attention anticipating refills.  My instinct is correct and I hurry around the table topping everyone off.  Lisa’s palm smacks me on the rear and I jump with a small grunt from behind the gag.

“He doesn’t even know, does he, Cass?”
“I was checking to see if he would notice, but I don’t think it has sunk in yet.”

A round of laughs follows from the table as I look at Mistress with a blank stare.  Mistress motions to me with her hand and I approach her with caution.  She releases the locks on my gag.  I move my jaw back and forth to relieve its stiffness.   She looks me in the eyes with a wide grin.  I swallow and fidget as I recognize her predatory expression. 

“This party is for me to commemorate the birthday of the slave I own.”

My expression shifts to bewilderment.  I lose track of the days so easily when Mistress isn’t at work. 

“The slave may eat the food that is in the oven.  There’s a juice box in the fridge.”

I smile and nod at Mistress, ignoring the jeers about the juice box.  I make a quick trip around the table topping off their wine.  Barb speaks up.

“God, Cass, I can’t believe he found out it’s his birthday and he has a special meal waiting for him after you starved him all day but he still refills our wine first.  Just how much did you have to flog him to make that his first impulse?” 

Mistress laughs before responding.
“A lot.”

I set the bottle on a cart near the table and quickly retreat to the kitchen.  Gordon opens the oven and retrieves a foil-covered plate with a hot pad.  I retrieve the juice box from the fridge.  I peel the foil away revealing… fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  A quick inspection of the aroma and the texture leads me to one conclusion… the Colonel. 

I spend the next 7 minutes in heaven enjoying a rare treat.  Soon after I return myself to wine duty.  Barb continues to feed her curiosity.

“Am I the only one that thinks it’s strange that it’s Cass’s party even though it’s the slave’s birthday and that he rolled with it like it was normal?  And why are all of you acting like it’s normal as well?”

A roar of laughter shifts Barb’s complexion to a deep shade of red.  I quickly shift my position and get ready to pour as she empties her glass in a series of large gulps.  It seems the alcohol is taking effect on everyone.  Lisa pounds the table with her fist causing the silverware to clank against the plates.  It surprises me when she is the first to answer.

“Oh Barbie… think about it.  Seriously, who would celebrate a birthday party for a slave?  It’s not like they’re people.”

Her last sentence feels like a knife in my chest.  I refill Barb’s glass and quickly drift into the background.  The pain changes into humility as I realize… that Lisa is right.

END ACT