by michelle ayton
From the moment she started to dance she knew there was no going back. The music had started to play and music cannot be undone try as you may. No going back. No going anywhere, and no need. She was here : she was finally ‘there’, confused but content. As though predestined the time and the place and the music had conspired and she was transformed utterly in an instant. An instant that had lain in wait for years.
In retrospect she may have suspected that many things which had seemed accidents of chance at the time had been nothing of the sort. Had perhaps, and only perhaps, been part of an endlessly patient plan. Perhaps even a subtle revenge carried out over years. There was no point in asking outright – Deborah would only agree with that hint of irony in her voice which Cecilia found utterly infuriating. Strange that – how a mannerism which had once seemed so captivating could now set her nerves on edge.
Much more seemed to infuriate Cecilia now than ever before.It was all too easy now to fly into a rage and succumb to tears. Woman’s tears : how often she had heard that phrase spoken with faintly disguised derision. How often she had been warned by helpful advisors to steer clear of “women’s tears ” and here she was engulfed by them at least once every day and perfectly happy. The tears were after all just a symptom of something more important and delightful. The tears were mere carriers of emotion welling from within as though the rock had suddenly split and instead of molten lava bursting forth in a passion and a fury there ran instead a quiet stream of slightly salt slightly warm gentle water.
Cecilia felt a contentment she had never known. The welling of emotion was glorious. She found a fresh delight in music. All of her senses were vulnerable to new sensations of sound and form and colour – especially colour. She found she had a whole new palette of softer hues with which to paint the world. To be so gloriously and, she hoped, endlessly out of control of her feelings was a joy to be embraced.
She didn’t even care if the tom boy she had married was getting her own back after so many years – or merely passing on the joy she herself had discovered in a similar revelation. Deborah was clever. Deborah had known perfectly well that in time the fruit would ripen – with a little encouragement.
Deborah had enjoyed the moment too : had watched in delight as Cecilia took her first steps in this new world. A simple subdued dance – solo – just for the two of them – one swaying gently and one watching. Watching and tacitly encouraging with just a hint maybe of pride in her creation.
For Deborah’s creation Cecilia certainly was and credit was due and gratitude – and tears each day when Deborah left for work – like a newly wed silly young thing.
Looking back it was easy to see a pattern. Deborah from her privileged background waited on by maids and nannies not knowing how to cook or manage. Many had been mystified at the time. More than once on entering a room a conversation had tailed of with an embarrassed “I don’t know what she sees in …….” Well now Cecilia was beginning to find out and couldn’t bring herself to be angry or anything but contented. After all a few chores are only chores and a few tears only tears.
Deborah, to whom the whole mystery of sex had had to be revealed, rather impatiently as Cecilia now saw. Deborah who had never worn perfume or satin underthings. Deborah who had to be coaxed to show off her gorgeous legs in her first mini-skirt and learn that the higher her heels the more men ( and women ) looked up to her. The small town girl who had to learn that no man is ever your boss when you wear stilettos to the office. She had learned it all and learned it well and now she was dishing it out in spades.
A slow game that had gathered pace over the years. A thorough job as Cecilia now saw. That old provoking habit of leaving her very lovely underthings lying untidily around where they simply had to be touched – on a chair or on top of a book. Nothing too obvious but of course knowing that they had been moved when she returned. Simply carelessness ? – perhaps.
And of course the “help” she always needed when she was shopping for something new. The long long marches through department store perfume counters : the modelling of the new outfits and the overlong visits to the nearby lingerie department. ” Sorry dear – I was just looking for something to match, I didn’t realise I’d kept you standing for so long, carry these for me like a dear and I’ll buy the coffees. ”
The ‘chance’ remarks – ” I wish I had eyelashes like yours – a girl wouldn’t need make up if she had those – you’ve no idea what it’s like wearing these false ones.” No she had no idea, but she began to wonder.
And one day she found out. Deborah was away at a conference and boredom set in and Cecilia suddenly found herself without any reason that she could think of applying her first false eyelash – very clumsily. But the second was easier. Something to do with left and right handedness perhaps – like having to learn to fasten buttons the opposite way. Things you do without a thought until something makes you think.
Deborah had brought back a beautiful full-sleeved shirt from that weekend. Very tight on the body, sea green in colour,”to match your eyes” and affected not to have noticed that it did in fact button from the ‘wrong’ side. “No one will notice anyway darling – the buttons are concealed and it looks wonderful – I love you in it – it might have been made for you”. Perhaps – or the other way around.
It was only a matter of time. ” Can I borrow the turquoise shirt darling – just for tonight – it would be perfect” – adding a little slyly “you can have it back later”. With interest. After a few drinks and a good party there had been no argument. It was just a sex game, an erotic fantasy of the sort essential to any successful marriage – Deborah said. ” You want your shirt back sweetheart ? – come and get it – would you like another drink ? – tell you what – let’s toss for it – heads I keep the shirt, tails you take the lot. ”
Hard to believe a double sided coin might have been involved, more likely just the confusion of alcohol but of course Deborah won and Cecilia was led for the first time before the mirror in sheer black nylons, pure silk lilac bra and pants (Deborah’s most treasured ), a slightly too tight velvet skirt, the shirt now strongly anointed with Chanel No.5 – and false eyelashes.
An incident only. The drink must have done it. A little sheepish in the morning. Glorious sex of course. “How do I get this stuff off my face ?” “Use the cream in the pink jar with some cotton wool. It’s best to leave it on for a little while.”
An incident only but of course a seed had been sown. Over the years a little nurture was applied. Instead of a shirt Deborah might bring home a pair of pink lacy pants “for Saturday night” or a garter belt or cheap scent “so you’re not always borrowing mine.” Games between lovers. Games that grew more subtle with a logic all their own and the sweet sweet taste of secret forbidden fruit. Naughtiness, fantasy, built on something elusive but substantial.
Forfeits were introduced. Little trips to the supermarket wearing pink silk and black satin underneath and being made to choose lipstick with nail colour to match as a special treat for “being a good girl”. Of course as with any game the stakes had to be raised occasionally. The fish had to be played carefully now it was on the hook. A weekend trip to London concealed an appointment to be fitted for an expensive hairpiece, and of course a cheap and brassy blonde one “to wear if you are naughty”. All achieved by stealth and guile. How wonderfully she had managed it. Coaxing, cajoling, mocking just enough to achieve her end.
Cecilia was more and more the willing subject. Looked forward daily to her next surprise. Became impatient if Deborah neglected her : a little petulant a little emotional. Sometimes she would be caught in the confusion of her own emotions and try to fight her feelings. All the while being played by an expert. She was in no state to resist when the hook finally struck home.
Deborah, when the moment was right, very casually explained the final rite of initiation. “We ‘re going shopping this morning dear or rather you are. I’ve decided you need a few things. Let me have a look at you, have you shaved properly ? excellent. There’s a list in this envelope and a new cheque book so you have no excuses. I’ve even put some money in the account – my treat.”
On the way she explained her first assignment. “You are going to pick out and buy for yourself a lovely pair of black patent court shoes with three inch stiletto heels, no less – the sort you have always liked me to wear. You must try them in the shop to be sure they fit properly – they’ll give you little nylons which make the shoes easier to slip on – you will have to check them in the mirror and walk a little to see if they fit properly. I will be watching from nearby so don’t just grab a pair from the rack. None of that ‘for my wife’ nonsense. If you are asked you are to say clearly and politely that your mistress has ordered you to buy them and you dare not disobey.”
The word ‘mistress’ hit Cecilia like a bombshell. So obvious. She was in thrall and did not wish it any other way.
Afterwards Deborah made her take the new shoes out of their tissue wrapping in the coffee shop and admired them loudly. “Well done Cecilia” – it was the first time she had used the name – “now that we know how things are I think it’s time you learned how to care for yourself properly”. And she led me to the make up department where the salesgirls with endless patience and care suggested colour schemes and demonstrated exactly how to properly apply pencil, stick and powder.
After the shock of signing the first cheque it had all gone surprisingly smoothly. Only one muffed attempt at the new signature. How had she managed to open a new account? I should have known better than to ask. “My mother warned me that all men were the same” said Deborah ” and I’m delighted to say it seems she was right : even boring bank managers. Let’s just say I persuaded the poor thing. By the way I’d better take care of the book until you need some new things – now that I am legally in charge of your affairs. I closed your old accounts – you won’t be needing them any more – it’s much simpler this way. Signing in your new name finalised the arrangement – you would find that very hard to explain away – and who would believe you ? Now don’t fret dearest all you have to do is ask me nicely when you want to go shopping again. I do believe you were beginning to enjoy yourself today – you didn’t complain once did you my pet ?”
“Why Cecilia ?” I enquired in the cab from beneath my clutch of bags and parcels. “It’s the formal version of Cissy” she replied “why do you ask ?” There was no more to be said.
From the moment I started to dance I knew there was no going back. Floating on a cloud of Chanel and rustling silk and feeling elegant as never before in my ‘spikes’ the music simply washed me away. Feeling the gaze of my mistress I essayed a little sway of the hips and she smiled confidently. She too knew there was no going back. Cecilia was finally formed and ready to serve obediently and willingly. What are a few tears and tantrums after all compared to the joy of a new dress and a bouquet of pink and lilac flowers to be arranged before supper.