The Courage of One’s Convictions – Ted Morgan
Locks of delicate raven hair unhurriedly descend her back. Dark hair frames her pale small-featured Celtic face – a face still youthful after years of meditation and exertion. Parched lips open just a bit and Prussian eyes search the dark cabin. The most intense sound she hears embodies only her plaintive panting.
Locks of delicate raven hair hold the scent of the wildflowers she wove into it earlier that day. From time to time, the taste of Belon oysters, not as flavorful as Louisiana oysters, and spot prawn along with asparagus issue from her gut. Pressure builds in her bladder.
A mirror adorns one end of the cabin. In the dim light, she observes her defenseless beauty. Her throat still feels excruciatingly raw from hours of hopeless shrieks, howls, and cries. Salty dredges of tears shed hours earlier burn her cheeks. What possessed her to effect this flight of fancy?
Locks of raven hair fall over a lengthy blanched linen dress. Bits of Scandinavian embroidery grace certain borders of the dress.
Outside, amiable afternoon sunlight subsides into shadows. Chilly spring breezes wander through trees before transgressing screens at open windows. Intimations of wildflower fragrances seem to filter into the cabin. The scent of antiquated ashes makes that odor uncertain.
Gradually, burdens in her bladder make Cynthia whiten from proximal discomfort into instantaneous anguish. However, she marvels at her helpless beauty, her utter vulnerability to the man who adores her.
Earlier, the Franciscan nuns at the ferry on Shaw Island had smiled greetings. Did they intimate the evil she planned for herself? Before the nuns, his posture had improved. He evidently put his impure thoughts on hold.
Just before night, he returned to San Juan Island. He returned to the rustic log cabin with the singled cedar roof and red trimmed windows. “Michael, I’ve got to pee!”
“Well, don’t do it in the hot tub!”
“Michael, I’ve got to pee!”
Michael bent down and kissed her full in the mouth, “How is this day of your dirty dreams?”
He removed the four handcuffs – two from each side of the chair and two from two crossbars below. The four cuffs hung from her wrists and her ankles. He told her to lift her linen dress as they crossed the room to the toilet. Yet, Cynthia walked regally across the room with the dress held high above her naked snow-white legs and ivory vulva.
With great relief, Cynthia surrenders the burden in her bladder into the pure white bowl. Then, she asks, “Michael, I’m thirsty. My lips are chapped.” Michael heals her lips with balm and serves her a tall glass of fresh water. He nods as if to ask, “Are you certain?” He faintly nods back. As if experiencing his initial crush, Michael vents a deep sigh. “It’s the only way?” his look says.
“Yes, it is the only way,” her slight nod replies.
Without another word, Michael pushes Cynthia to her knees by the flush toilet. He abruptly pulls her ravishing raven hair over her head and pushes it and her down into the bowl. He tells her to wash her hair in the bowl. The handcuffs clank and drop loudly into the bowl. She completely immerses her head in the bowl until pheromones, uric acids, and salts cover her exquisite beauty.
She lets the fluid trickle down her face. Then turning her far enough back to see him from the edge of her vision, Cynthia says simply, “Your turn.”
David opens his fly and without a word tells Cynthia to turn completely around and to bend back over the antique tub. Then his uric acids, salts, and pheromones meld with her own in her hair. He feels like a demented freak and a ferocious monster.
Cynthia towel dries her defilement. Then patiently Michael blow-dries and brushes out twists and entanglements. They dress for dinner.
Cynthia wears an elegant dark blue dress crafted from Egyptian linen. David wears a Brooks Brothers off the rack suit. He had picked up the dark charcoal suit on sale in New Orleans.
All during dinner, they gaze into each other – lost as if lovers for the first time. Cynthia’s familiar spontaneous manner falls into subdued rapture. Michael had humiliated her just as she had wanted. She would reward both of them in the deep bed of the island cabin. Michael had already had enough.
That afternoon, he wondered how he could have degraded himself to act out a humiliating amative game demanded by the woman he adored. Michael marveled that his romantic passion for Cynthia suffered him to act in a way he would never have conceived of acting. He followed through on the game, but he had flinched before he did.
The ferry ride in chilly, damp night thrilled Cynthia and Michael. Almost alone, they walked in embrace the decks of the ferry. Rusty pickups mixed with Lexus and Mercedes SUVs.
Before turning to bed, Michael tells Cynthia to sit down in the wooden chair. Without protest but with a playful smile, she submits again to handcuffs. Then he begins to wrap her body – still dressed in the elegant blue dress – in long bands of rubber. Soon she cannot move.
Only then does Michael pull out a practice golf ball. A small leather strap runs through the hole in the plastic. Cynthia gags. She cannot stand having her mouth violated. Michael laughs as saliva begins to trickle down the sides of Cynthia’s red lips. She recollects that she forgot to pee.
Michael says, “We all have our little triggers – our little fantasies. Would like to enjoy mine?” Cynthia tries to say, “No, no, no!” Her look screams at him. She has a paper to deliver in Palo Alto in three days. She has a paper to deliver on feminist theology. She knows his little fantasy because it is one of her little fantasies – the one she could never quite do.
“You denigrate your femininity even as you flirt and charm old men into wild fantasies,” Michael mentions. “You are a damn hypocrite.”
David brushes out that incredible hair. He brushes with long loving strokes. He pulls up hair and brushes from underneath. Cynthia waits anxiously. Her breathing approaches that of one in panic.
Cynthia knows that she is a woman who needs hair. Without it, she will look freakish. With short hair, she will look plain. Michael, of course, knows better.
“Are you ready?” Michael takes out shears. Cautiously, he trims hair in small cuts from the back of her head. Tediously, he cuts her hair just to the natural nape of her head. Then he trims away her bangs. First, he cuts above the eyebrows. Then he cuts higher. Piecemeal, he cuts to the edge of her forehead. He smiles.
Cynthia watches the incremental destruction of her ravishing beauty. Her labia burns. Her nipples extend into excruciating hardness. Her eyes forfeit focus. Her clitoris swells like a lover’s penis.
From time to time, Michael kisses her eyelids. He toys with her remaining hair. He pulls at it before he cuts. He stops and admires his artistic enterprise. As Michael begins to cut the hair on the top and sides of her head, Cynthia bursts into tears. Saliva dries on her chin. Saliva drops onto the elegant blue linen dress.
Hair accumulates on the hardwood floor. Eventually, Michael pauses a long time to build and light a fire. Cynthia studies his still almost athletic body and his sympathetic but no longer boyish countenance. Michael seems in a good-natured dreamlike state.
He tells Cynthia the gag can now come out, but he warns her that her teeth will be the price of any loud sound. “Beg me for your hair. Beg me. Beg me.”
“Michael, my hairdresser can fix this. Stop. Stop, Michael. Stop, Michael. Stop.”
Michael cuts Cynthia’s hair into a beautiful short cut. Cynthia thinks that he has mutilated her. “Why, Michael? Why? Why?”
Then Michael pulls out the Oster clippers. He attaches a colorful guide for an inch and a half long cut. Starting from her brow, he idly passes the clippers afresh over and over her head. “No, Michael! No. No. No.”
Then, he begins anew with an inch-long guide. “No, Michael. No.” Half-inch, quarter-inch, and eighth-inch clips pass in numbing regression. Finally, an old electric razor tears away the terminal haze of blackness covering an ashen raw scalp.
Each violation horrifies Cynthia. Each snip sears her labia. Each fallen piece of her helpless beauty reduces Cynthia to raw terror and crude sensuality. She pees on herself. Michael cuts away the lovely wet linen dress.
He places a weird wire frame over her breasts and then slowly winds rope around each breast with small gage rope. Soon they both protrude like a hideous caricature of Paleolithic femininity. Michael transforms not just Cynthia but her goddess into raillery.
He plays with her clitoris and puts suction cups from snakebite kits of it and on each nipple. Cynthia evaporates into horror and yet oddly bliss. Orgasm after orgasm floods her body with only the caresses of Michael’s hand on her hair to explain.
Shaving takes a long time. A warm wet towel fills the nubs with moisture. Hot lather smells like a man’s barbershop. The razor works away the all ruins of once ravishing hair.
For good measure, of course, he shaves away her eyebrows and then tells her to hold herself still as he trims her eyelashes to nothing. Only then, does he take her to be his lover again. Full of tears, full of devotion, overwhelmed by submission – not to Michael but to the fantasy that could only come into existence without her consent, she rejoices in her eroticism.
Three days later, Cynthia opens the reading of her scholarly paper with an excursus. She talks briefly about the tyranny of feminine iconography in religious discourse. No one even bothers later to question her rather sheer but awe-inspiring and exquisite presentation of herself. She certainly has the courage of her convictions.
That young scholar playing with her raven hair catches Cynthia’s attention just as she catches Michael’s notice. What happens next?