It felt like any other therapist’s office, not that Josie had much experience by which to judge. The full extent of her knowledge in that area had been gleaned from Hollywood and one miserable experience in school when her parents had caved to an eccentric teacher’s suggestion that she might benefit from having “someone to talk to.”
Although she had tried to keep an open mind, that episode had been enough for Josie to write off the entire therapy idea. She’d had expectations of discussing things in an adult fashion, hearing feedback on her thoughts and feelings and hopefully making a bit of sense of the world. Instead she had been handed a pack of crayons and instructed to draw. Josie had stifled her indignation and chose to see the exercise as a test of self-control in reigning in her urge to chuck the coloured sticks at the woman cooing over her incomprehensible scribblings. She desperately hoped that Dr. Gregory Meyers would not be as disappointing. This was, after all, an entirely different sort of appointment, though his office gave no indication of the departure from traditional therapy.
It had a distinctly bland, vanilla feel to it, as offices and examining rooms always tend to though perhaps not usually so ironically. The room was decorated in a neutral colour scheme, and adorned with just enough unobjectionable abstract paintings to keep the space from looking too baren. The chairs were upholstered but hardly comfortable, and the wastebasket at her side was conspicuously empty. Only the partially filled water jug on the end table gave any indication that the room had been recently used. Josie flipped over the clinically-clean glass next to it and poured herself a drink, focusing on the task as though it were a spiritual experience rather than just a tactic to delay glancing in the direction of her new therapist.
He met her gaze over his peaked hands- such large hands- with an oddly familiar benign smile. He seemed to be waiting for something. . .
Josie blushed, sure that she had missed something in her musings. “Sorry, could you repeat that?”
Dr. Meyers smiled more broadly and gave her a knowing wink, as if her question were expected and only reflected marginally poorly on her ability to interact with another human being. “I asked what it was that brought you here,” he repeated.
“I came across your website,” Josie began, confidently sticking to the facts, but found herself unable to continue from that simple statement without giving too much away about the late-night search that had led her there.
“Most do,” Dr. Meyers responded, filling the silence amicably. “It’s hardly the sort of service for which one would get a referral, and much less the sort of thing one discusses with friends over coffee. Most don’t discuss it at all, and some of my clients assure me that while actions may speak louder than words, the things we talk on here are just as helpful as the actual spanking.”
He had said it. Josie was momentarily relieved that he had been the first to do so; she had entertained nightmarish daydreams of saying the word herself only to find that this was all some sort of elaborate scam to catch her out in revealing her private fascination.
“So, you found the website,” he continued. “What was it that intrigued you? What made you think to reach out and schedule an appointment?”
Josie faltered again, trying to find words to describe what had happened within her when she had discovered his service. She opened her mouth several times, thinking she’d found a way to start, only to close it again as thoughts whirled within her mind. Finally, she again opted for simple honesty. “I’m not quite sure.”
“You’re hardly alone in that,” he replied encouragingly. “Very rarely do new clients offer a concise or correct answer to that question, though I find that it’s still a useful device. Some start to ramble, some become shy, one girl even got up and sprinted for the door. The ones that stayed on did eventually start to vocalise their motivations, but that often takes several visits, and I believe that not many will ever understand the deepest nature of their need.”
“So why do your clients come to you?” Josie asked, partly to stall for time to gather her thoughts, and partly from a desperate hope to no longer be alone, to hear of others that had struggled the way that she had, to hear that this might actually help.
“I can’t give specifics, of course, though I’ve found that people come here for a few different general types of reasons,” his expression grew distant, as though he were checking things off a mental list. “Some what to return to a more simple frame of mind, when problems were dealt with swiftly and dropped. Some enjoy the sensations, often from a particular implement but sometimes also desire variety. Some want to be punished, to be made to feel shame. Some are just curious. Some want to let go, to surrender to another if only for a short time. Some-”
“Yes,” Josie interjected. “That one. That sounds. .. right.”
“Good,” Dr. Meyers replied with a ready smile. “There’s more to it, as you are no doubt aware on some level, but knowing that much is a start. Why is it that you want to surrender?”
Again, Josie found her speech stuck in a mental mire. She had an answer for him- several actually, but couldn’t sort out one from another, couldn’t be sure where one thought ended and the other began, couldn’t find any sort of boundary between what she craved to experience and what she knew should remain safely and securely in the realm of fantasy.
Dr. Meyers let the silence drag on as Josie struggled to compose her thoughts into something resembling language, and, at a stretch, language that resembled her feelings. Try as she might, the task felt hopeless.
Perhaps he noticed a change in her, or perhaps he was just feeling merciful in ending her self-imposed inner torment. “It’s a difficult question, and completely understandable that it’s puzzling to you. Sometimes the feelings that we hold the most closely are the most difficult to unravel. It can help to talk through them, which is part of the reason that we are here.”
Josie tried to smile at him, and tried even harder to offer some sort of response, but instead of feeling encouraged at his prompting, she only felt more frustrated at her lack of ability to participate in this conversation.
“Perhaps a bit of experience would help,” Dr. Meyers proposed tentatively, searching her for signs that she was or was not ready to move on.
Josie met his eyes for an instant before dropping her gaze as if by instinct.
Dr Meyers nodded and stood. As he moved to the large cabinet by the door, Josie winced as she remembered Mrs. Tabor retrieving the dreaded crayons from such a cabinet years before. This time, however, her therapist retrieved an entirely different sort of stick, and one that she would quickly learn to dread far more deeply.
“Do you know what this is?” he asked.
“A cane, Sir,” Josie replied, grateful both for the simple question and that her “research” had paid off.
“Good,” Dr. Meyers replied as he swished the implement through the air. Josie jumped at the sound, naive as she was to the true potential of the implement, even she knew enough to be somewhat frightened.
“I’ve found,” Dr. Meyers continued, “that particularly for the first time it is easiest to take while bent over a chair. Even those who come here to let go find it quite helpful to have something to hang on to during this part of the procedure.”
Josie smiled at his joke, but even she could feel that the expression didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“That one will do nicely,” Dr. Meyers indicated her seat with the tip of the cane, looking at her expectantly.
Alarmed at the speed at which things were proceeding but unwilling to do anything that may shatter the experience, Josie rose slowly on legs that felt barely able to support her and turned as quickly as she dared to place her hands on the seat of her chair. She felt a light tap on the seat of her trousers as he positioned himself behind her.
“These will stay up this time,” Dr. Meyers said calmly, as though they were discussing the weather. “However, I must warn you that this is an introductory mercy only. Bare skin is necessary to avoid injury in more intense sessions, though I don’t doubt you’ll find this suitably intense for the first time.”
As he finished his speech, Josie heard a sharp woosh-crack, and she wondered what he had hit in the brief second before the pain in her bottom snapped into her consciousness. Josie sucked a breath through her teeth as she tried to clamp down on the sensation before it overtook her.
“I see I was not mistaken,” she heard Dr. Meyers say. She had only just begun to process the sensation after a long moment of panting when she heard the tell-tale swish again and the pain redoubled.
She was unable to prevent herself from crying out this time, but stifled the outburst after the first hint of a yelp.
“You can make as much noise as you need,” Dr. Meyers assured her, “though do not move or try to rise.”
Despite his assurances, Josie tried her hardest to take the next stroke quietly, and despite her effort failed utterly. Her shriek reverberated in the spartan office, and she found herself nearly as startled by its noise as she was by the pain itself.
He told her later that he gave her three strokes more for the traditional total of six, though Josie found it difficult to recall the next few minutes with any detail. Her next coherent memory was sobbing into his shoulder, a trickle of shame creeping in that she had completely lost herself on her very first appointment.
She tried to turn away, but he held her in place. “Take all the time you need,” he told her softly as she continued to cry, “you’ve clearly had a very powerful experience, and it is my job to help you get yourself back together afterwards.”
Josie looked up at him, again desperately searching for something to say. “Thank you, Sir,” she began, but was unable to continue.
“I won’t ask you what that was like for you now,” he told her in his gentle voice, and Josie felt a rush of gratitude. Her thoughts weren’t as tangled as they had been before, but even within the calm that had settled in her mind she would have struggled to find anything which she could put into words. “We can continue this discussion next time,” he offered with a supportive squeeze of her shoulder. “It may be easier for you to write. I’ve found that some clients are better able to compose their thoughts when not faced with the prospect of the cane.”
“I can understand that,” Josie replied with both a smile and a shiver. “I’ll try,” she promised.
“Good girl. I’ll see you in two weeks,” he said as he showed her to the door.