Laying in bed on a Sunday, I pick up my phone and type a text to Melissa. Ever since the Halloween incident, we’ve been texting nearly every day. Sometimes about dance, mostly about meals, and sometimes I try to throw in some personal talk, though she’s not usually that responsive to it.
ME: How would you feel about going grocery shopping with me? Like a field trip? 🙂
MELISSA: You don’t have food at your sorority house?
ME: Ugh. Hardly. We have a small pantry with granola bars, popcorn, mixed nuts. I think I’d have better luck with snacks if I had some of my own.
MELISSA: Ok. That sounds fair. I usually shop on Sundays. You can come with me.
ME: Are we friends? Or like… no?
MELISSA: Excuse me?
ME: Well I don’t know. I mean, you’re more than my physician, wouldn’t you say? I need to know what to call you. Are you my friend? My mentor?
MELISSA: Is this a really important conversation to be having right now? Let’s go with mentor, ok?
MELISSA: Great. See you Sunday.
I put down my phone and rub my temples. I’m irritated- mostly with myself- over how obsessed I am with this lady. I went quickly from hating her guts to clinging to her like she was my lifeboat in the confusing world of college athletics and eating disorders. And now, I’m worried that I might have an actual crush on her. Well, it’s Friday and I have until Sunday to worry about it. I decide to skip the bars (last week was rough enough) and take myself to the studio for extra practice. I already danced for three hours today, and ran on the indoor track at the campus gym, but the studio is open all day for open rehearsal on Fridays and I need to build up better muscle memory for my new part. We only have about 6 weeks to get our performance stage ready; I tell myself that it’s not about the exercise, it’s about perfecting my part.
I eat an orange for good measure and take the bus back to the studio. It’s an uncharacteristically warm and sunny day for early November, and the studio is full of light. A few girls are practicing already, so I warm up at the barre quickly and start running my part from start to finish over and over. I know that I’m tired, but I don’t like “marking” my parts. Only going full out will ensure that I blow everyone away next week during class. On my sixth or seventh run through, my ankle twists in a weird way and I collapse to the grown with a sharp gasp. After realizing that it was just a nasty roll, I lay back onto the ground in exhaustion, barely conscious of the bodies continuing to dance around me.
“What the fuck, man?” says Caroline, who I hadn’t even noticed until I heard her voice by my side.
“Hey to you, too!” I smile, sitting up to greet her.
“You’re going to kill yourself if you keep rehearsing. What are you even doing here? We had class ALLLL morning.”
“Jeesh, I’m just running through my part for memory’s sake a couple times,” I snap defensively, “I didn’t realize I needed your permission.”
“Ok,” she said, her face contorting in hurt, “You just look tired and took a nasty fall, so I wanted to check in. Like friends do. Y’know.” Her pained expression nearly breaks my heart. Dear, sensitive Caroline.
“You know, you’re right,” I said, “My part is fine. I’m stressed about other things and I’m taking it out on you and my legs,” I say, putting my hand gently on her arm, “I’m sorry.” She brightens immediately.
“Want to grab some ice cream and talk about it?” she asks, “I was just coming by the studio because I left my favorite bracelet. I’m totally free.”
“Make it froyo and I’m in,” I wink cheerfully, letting her help me up and throwing on an oversized sweater. I change my shoes and we head to a nearby frozen yogurt shop, settling into a private corner so that I don’t have to worry about eavesdroppers.
“Caro,” I say carefully, “I have to tell you something and it’s super private, ok? It’s about someone I… you know… like.” Caroline’s eyes go wide but she contains her excitement.
“Ok, what’s up?”
“I like… well… I’m feeling conflicted, but I think I like someone who is not a man. Which makes her a woman. Which makes me maybe gay and ohmygoshCarolinepleasedon’ttellanyoneanddon’thatemeandthinkI’mweird.” She stares at me blankly for a few minutes before wrinkling her brow and shaking her head.
“Shae. We’ve been best friends for like two years. Half the theater department is gay. You should know that I’m far from a homophobe, and I love you no matter what. I’m sorry that this is stressing you out so much. Mostly, I’m glad that you’ve found someone who gives you butterflies. I want to know all about this lucky lady!” I smile in relief and laugh.
“It’s not a thing yet,” I say carefully. “She’s older and she has a son but I think she’s single but she probably isn’t gay, so basically I’m just setting myself up for humiliation and heartbreak. But, at least I know my preference for, you know, ladies, and maybe I can try a dating app or join an LGBT group on campus.”
“Well, I still say that you let her know,” Caroline presses gently, “You’re a great catch, and the worst she can say is no.” I nod appreciatively. My friends are so great and I can’t believe I was so weird about telling them. I jump across the table and give Caroline a big hug. I doubt I’ll say anything to Melissa, but having a friend know the news lifted a considerable weight from my shoulders.
It’s Sunday and I’m bouncing off the walls in excitement.
ME: I’m seeing her today…..
CAROLINE: Her her?! Omg. Can’t wait for news.
ME: Oh, I’m not telling her shit. I’m just sharing my excitement 😉
CAROLINE: You do you, baby. I’m cheering for you!
I’m excited to see Melissa, so excited that my heart is pumping double time when I hop into her Audi. She greets me warmly, and then immediately starts rattling off a list of suggested groceries. My mood quickly plummets as I force myself to face the reality of the situation. She’s a doctor. She’s a mom. She is successful and she thinks I’m a baby brat who needs help in life. She’ll never feel for me the way I do for her. I cross my arms and stare out the window, trying to prevent myself from crying. I just have to be an adult about it.
“Uh, are you listening to me?” Melissa asks in annoyance from the drivers seat.
“That’s a rhetorical question, I presume. If I were listening, I would have responded.” I’m greeted by steely silence. When we pull up to a red light, Melissa reaches over and grabs my chin, moving my head so that I’m looking into her fiery eyes.
“That attitude is unacceptable. I’m doing you a favor. You’re going to be respectful.” I simply glare back at her.
“Didn’t realize taking me along to the grocery store was such a fucking chore.”
“EXCUSE ME?!” Melissa gasps incredulously. “What on earth has gotten into you?”
“Nothing,” I sigh dramatically, “I’m just overworked from all of the dance this week. I’m sorry. Go on, I’m listening.” Melissa’s eyes narrow ominously, but she chooses to go on with asking questions about groceries and my schedule. I answer her in a flat, disinterested voice, but I avoid any more snotty comments. When we get to the grocery store, I walk alongside her cart like a child. I bet everyone thinks I’m her daughter or something. I scowl at the thought and my mood sinks back into the dark zone.
“Do you have a mini fridge?” Melissa asks casually from the fresh fruit section.
“Do you like dried fruit?”
“Not really.” She sighs, obviously picking up on the fact that I’m still grouchy. We manage to proceed through the store with a tense back-and-forth. When we circle back to the front with a cart full of groceries for both of us, I stop by the wine display.
“I don’t think that’s a necessary snack,” Melissa says in exasperation.
“I don’t think your opinion is a necessary contribution,” I spit back immediately. Having had enough of my backtalk, Melissa swiftly storms over to me, eyes full of warning, and grabs my wrist firmly.
“This is the last warning that you will get today, little girl. You drop your attitude right now, or I will not hesitate to discipline and humiliate you in front of this entire store.”
“You wouldn’t do that,” I spit back in challenge, “You’re a doctor.” Her mouth twitches almost imperceptibly, and then she spins me around and lands five extremely hard swats to the back of my jeans. It doesn’t hurt too much through the fabric, but my face immediately turns red with embarrassment. I look around frantically. It looks like only one person noticed, and she doesn’t linger to find out what’s going on. We do live in New England, after all, and the people here have a certain coldness about them. She could probably beat me to a pulp without someone looking up from the pasta sauce selection. Melissa’s grip around my wrist is harder now, causing me to twist away from her in pain. She lets go and moves her hand swiftly to the back of my neck. Being held in that spot has some sort of strange calming effect on me. I feel like a kitten being easily manipulated by its mother. My sense of calm ends quickly when Melissa subtly digs her expert fingers into the pressure points on either side of my neck. I gasp and feel my legs starting to collapse from the painful sensation.
Melissa leans close to my hear, her fingers still pressing in painfully. “You will drop your attitude right now. And you will never challenge me again. I have no problems with disciplining you in public, and trust me, the only person embarrassed will be you. You’re right that I’m a doctor. I know your body better than you do, and I can make you physically miserable without anyone else in this store knowing that you’re in pain. I’ve warned you once that my discipline can be creative, and you won’t get another warning.” With that, she releases my neck, and I stand there looking at her and panting in a combination of disbelief and terror. I feel suddenly guilt-ridden about how nasty I’ve been. She had been so kind and attentive lately, and here I was bratting up a storm all afternoon. My eyes fill with tears, and I tentatively step toward her with my arms open. She allows me to embrace her and I bury my head into her shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Doom,” I squeak in my cutest voice possible, “I’m having a bad weekend and I took it out on you with my attitude. I appreciate you bringing me to the store and all that. It won’t happen again.” Melissa takes a deep breath and rubs my back lightly as I sniffle.
“Ok, calm down,” she whispers gently, “Let’s check out- without the alcohol- and I’ll make you dinner tonight. We can chat about it. Next time, just tell me what’s wrong like an adult so that we don’t have to go through this, yeah?” I nod emphatically and follow her demurely to the checkout counter.
When we get to her house, we’ve both calmed down considerably. We cook home made Thai food together, which is actually way more fun than I would have anticipated. I miss being in the kitchen, and Melissa is pretty darn good. I can hear her son moving around upstairs, so I’m a little more shy than usual. I also don’t want to get snotty with her again, so silence is considerably better.
“I’m going to call Aaron down for dinner,” she says, looking at me intently, “Please behave and be a good example for him, or the wooden spoon will make its way from the noodles to your bottom later.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I say quickly, “I’m honored that you’d let me meet your son. Family is important. Best behavior.” With a warm smile, Melissa calls her son downstairs, and the three of us sit down for a very odd family meal. Aaron is 9. He’s too old to be a cute little kid, but he’s not quite old enough to be bratty and insolent. It’s a good age. The three of us chat about soccer and Thanksgiving and college football. When we wrap up, he asks to be excused so that he can return to his video game upstairs. Melissa agrees, and he scampers off. I briefly wonder whether I could ever date someone with a kid. Sure, one dinner was pleasant enough, but that could get really complicated really quickly.
“Now,” Melissa says, folding her hands in her lap and turning to face me, “Let’s hear what’s been eating you all day.” Her voice is firm but kind. I know that she meant to tell me that I need to fess up, not merely ask me.
“Ma’am,” I said slowly, “The thing is, I can’t actually tell you my specific problem, but I can say that dance has been challenging what with the performance coming up and all, and I have some personal stress that I’m not at liberty to discuss…” Melissa holds a hand up to stop my rambling.
“You made it my business when you nearly made me beat your butt in a grocery store,” she says firmly, “So I’d like to know what it is. You have become my business.”
“I’m embarrassed,” I whine, “And you won’t like me anymore.” I’m desperate to avoid the topic. Maybe I can make something up to appease her? A fight with my distant parents? Wanting a different part in the performance? Melissa beckons me over and lets me sit on her lap. When she starts rubbing my back, I feel my defenses go down.
“Whatever it is,” she says slowly, continuing to gently caress me, “We’ll deal with it.” Feeling he breath on me and feeling her touch suddenly makes me feel more than comforted. Dammit. I’m actually aroused. Sighing in frustration, I push away from her and look her dead in the eyes. Summing all my courage, I clear my throat dramatically and take a breath.
“I have a crush on you.” I say in a low, serious voice. Melissa’s jaw drops just a little and she laughs. She actually LAUGHS.
“I’m sorry, a, a crush?” she clarifies, “Like, a romantic crush?” Humiliated, I don’t try to stop the tears from coming.
“I should go,” I say brusquely, standing up to leave. With no hesitation, she grabs my skinny wrist and pulls me back onto her lap.
“You know,” she says, suddenly serious, “I mean, I am a little surprised, but I think maybe what you feel for me is… I understand that you haven’t had a disciplinary figure in your life before. It can be… intense.” She pauses for a moment, and I hold my breath. “I know that it can feel intimate, and it’s possible that you’re just confused by all of the emotions. You have a lot going on right now.”
“I’m not confused,” I insist, “But I know that it’s not a thing. You see me as some little kid, and you’re a University employee, so yeah, I know it’s not a thing. And you’re probably straight.” Melissa looks sympathetic, which is way better than looking totally creeped out.
“Do you always get aroused when I discipline you?” she asks bluntly. I’m surprised by how forward the question is.
“Well.. no,” I stutter, “It hurts, really. But sometimes, after, I just feel, like, romantically attracted to you. I don’t know. You’re beautiful and you make me feel safe and you make me feel… submissive. Which is arousing.” My face is bright red and I could die from humiliation any moment.
“Discipline can be arousing,” Melissa agrees, “Though I’ve spanked many bottoms, platonically, and usually women don’t fall in love, or lust, with me.” I feel a little jealous at the thought of her having spanked other people, other women. Perhaps even had sexual relations with them. I hide my jealousy and wait for her to speak again. Running her hands through my hair, Melissa plants a kiss on the side of my head. “I don’t feel like you’re a daughter,” she says, and relief washes over me. “I have considered that you are infinitely adorable, but our mentoring relationship has been somewhat professional given that, as you said, you’re a student and I’m an employee. I’m also a divorced 39 year old woman with a 9 year old son. It’s not simple.”
“Do you have feelings for me?” I ask boldly. Melissa sighs and continues to caress me.
“I don’t want you to get hurt,” she says, plainly avoiding the question. I nod. I need her. I need her guidance and discipline, and if our relationship fails, I’d be lost. Maybe having her as a big sister figure is better than not having her at all. But now that I’ve put my feelings out there, can we just pretend it never happened?
“It might be too late,” I suggest, “I already have feelings, and we’re kind of having the conversation.” I smirk mischievously.
“How about this,” she says carefully. “Why don’t you stay the night, we can… think about our feelings… and in the morning we can pretend this all never happened, or decide how to proceed otherwise. Most of me thinks this is a mistake, but you’re an adult, and I trust that you can make these types of choices for yourself.”
“I can,” I insist, “I’m consenting. You’re not coercing me.” I don’t know what I’m consenting to, per se, but I know that I want her.
Glancing upstairs at her son’s closed door, Melissa swings me around so that both of my legs are straddling her. Dominantly, she pulls me in for a kiss, and my entire world goes dark. It’s marvelous. It’s both soft and hard, insistent and unsure. I lean harder into her, my breath becoming more urgent as we continue to kiss. Suddenly, she stands me up and turns me around with a smack to my bottom.
“Meet me in my room,” she says, “And keep your voice down… or else.” Eyes wide, I practically sprint up the stairs. My heart is pounding. When she enters the room after a few minutes, she shuts the door and sits down on the bed.
“I’m a virgin,” I blurt out suddenly, realizing that I never expected things to get this far and didn’t think it through. She laughs.
“You’ll still be a virgin tomorrow,” she says warmly. “But you’ll have also had the most amazing orgasm… or two… of your life.”
With that, Melissa pushes me back down onto the bed, and I let her physical strength overpower me. This is way better than the spanking that I deserve I think in satisfaction as she runs her hands possessively along my body.
What. A. Night… Again 😉