Part of the Practice Makes Perfect mini-series. Amy’s been dealing with her emotional pain by smoking too much. Jeremy insists that there are other ways for her to feel better, like crying, but she doesn’t want to.
“What’s going on?” Jeremy asked me one evening when I arrived at his apartment, reeking of cigarette smoke.
“Nothing,” I muttered and plopped down on his couch.
He closed the door behind me and towered over me, blocking my view from the tv. “You’re just not going to come over here and tell me nothing’s going on. I know something is. I can tell during class when you’re not focusing and the less talented players are playing better than you, and I can tell when I see you shoving those yellow homework slips in your pocket that says you haven’t been doign your work, and I can tell when you smell of cigarettes. So tell me, Amy, what’s the problem?”
“Nothing, I’m just stressed.”
He folded his arms. “Stressed because you’re a procrastinator and you’ve had weeks to work on this project and you’re just now getting started? Stressed because you’ve neglected to attend classes three times this week and instead you’ve been hanging out with your pothead friends getting stoned?”
I looked up at him, trying not to express my fear, but rather, confusion in what he was saying. “What? That’s not true..”
“Not true my ass. I wasn’t born yesterday, Amy, and I hear people talking. And I’ve seen the way you’ve been acting, and this pot smoking is going to stop, do you understand?”
“I haven’t been smoking pot!” I lied, standing up to defend myself.
“Oh? And I bet you haven’t been skipping classes either?” he said sarcastically, still towering over me.
“So I can call the school office right now and ask for your attendance and they’d tell me that it was perfect for the whole week?”
“Go ahead and call them,” I bellowed. “Who gives a fuck anyway? It’s not like I care about graduating.”
He shook his head at me. “Listen, I know it’s tough dealing with shit sometimes. I know you’re close to your grandma and you’re worried about her health, but you have to cut this shit out, Amy. Smoking weed isn’t going to make her well, and skipping class isn’t going to ease the stress. You can’t just stop living. You’re going to fuck up your whole life and end up selling your body so you can have the money to get yourself more drugs, and that’s not the life you want to live.”
“I don’t care if I sell my body. I don’t care. I don’t even care if I live long enough to be poor enough and addicted enough to sell my body.”
He had been rigid, but now he turned soft, stroking my face gently with his fingers. “Tell me you don’t mean that,” he begged. “Please, tell me you’re not serious, Amy.”
I just shook my head, fighting the tears that I’d been fighting for the past two weeks when I’d found out how bad of shape my grandmother was in. Like my mom had told me, she was the most stable thing in my life and the chances of her making it too much longer were slim to none. We’d been expecting her death for so long now that I’d been trying to prepare, but now it was even closer, and I’d realized how prepared I really wasn’t. “It’s the only way to numb the pain,” I whispered to Jeremy, referring to the habit I’d picked up over the last couple of days.
“No, it’s not,” he answered, pulling me in for a hug. “It’s not the only way to numb the pain, babe. There’s plenty of other ways, and you know that. You haven’t even attempted to try and talk to me about it, or to lose yourself in music like you used to do. There’s so many healthier things you could be doing… healthier and legal things. I don’t want to see you fuck up everything like this.”
There was a big lump in my throat. I was so close to tears, but wanted to be strong. Wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t weak and I could handle this and it was no big deal.
Jeremy didn’t buy it anyway, though. “Just cry, Amy… Just cry,” he cooed, rubbing my back.
“I can’t,” I whispered again, for fear that talking would dissolve that lump and I’d begin crying sporatically.
“Yes you can. Cry it out, hon..”
I shook my head and he said nothing else, just released from the hug and pulled me over towards the couch. We’d been through this procedure so many times before, sometimes in a playful manner, sometimes in a stern manner… this time it was just a friendly manner. He tugged at my jeans and panties, pulling them to my knees before turning me over his lap. I shivered slightly, but didn’t have it in my heart to beg him to stop. I knew I deserved this.. for skipping classes, for procrastinating, for doing drugs, for lying to my parents about where I was going… I’d deserved this for a long time. He’d known it, too, and was just now confronting me about it because he knew I was stressed. Maybe he thought things would get better, but they just kept getting worse and worse.
He rested a firm hand on my backside, rubbing my back with the other. “Amy, I am so disappointed in you, Young Lady,” he scolded, and the firm hand that had been resting was now smacking my bottom rhymetically. Each smack stung like hell and I was squirming within seconds of the spanking. Squirming to free from his strong grip and to dodge some smacks, but it didn’t help much. He just held onto me tighter, and spanked harder. “I will not tolerate this behavior that you’ve been displaying lately. It’s unacceptable to skip classes, and more unacceptable to do drugs like you’ve been doing.”
“Oooowww, I know!” I howled, trying to squirm away from his tight grip.
“And if I have to spank you everyday this week to make sure you make it to class and do your homework and stay away from drugs, I will, do you understand me, Young Lady?”
“And I don’t know what the deal with orchestra is lately, but I know you haven’t been practicing, and if I did the exercise I first tried with you where you were spanked for every missed note or rhythm, I can guarantee that you probably would have trouble sitting down after we were finished, wouldn’t you?”
“Yessss!” I answered, now sobbing like a baby. He was spanking so hard and the words he said were piercing me… punching me in the stomach like I hadn’t realized before all the shit I’d been doing. And it hurt so much to know that I’d disappointed him so. I’d let him down. I hated feeling like that.
“Now, are you going to behave and do as you’re supposed to?” he asked, still spanking me.
“Yesss, I promiseee!!” I sobbed, having the feeling that my bum had turned quite a shade of red by this time.
“And are we going to have to repeat this anytime soon?”
“Good,” he replied and smacked me a good two or three time before stopping.
My face was buried into the couch cushion as I cried… not only for the pain that had been inflicted upon me, but for the fact that I’d disappointed my good friend, and I’m sure everyone else would be disappointed in me if they knew what I’d been doing, and most of all I’d disappointed myself for doing such things. And I cried for my grandma who was in such pain and I knew she’d be better once taken off this earth because she hurt so much sometimes, but she was such an influence in my own life and I loved her so much that I hated to admit it, even if it was true. I cried because I didn’t want her to die, and I cried because I wanted her to be happy. And I just cried for everything, forgetting about being strong, forgetting about putting up a wall so no one could see my emotions. I cried everything out, everything I’d been feeling over the last two weeks.
I’d only been over his lap for a few seconds after he stopped before Jeremy scooped me into his arms and held me tightly, pressing my face against his chest and letting my tears stain his shirt. It didn’t bother him, though, cause he just held me tighter, rubbing my back, stroking my hair, rocking me back and forth. Don’t all of those consoling gestures that he could do… He’d lost people before, too… everyone has. And he knew it was hard, and knew what I was going through. That’s why I was happy that he was there for me. He made that clear as we sat on the couch, I in his lap on my tender backside.
“Amy, I’m always here for you, okay?” he whispered in my ear. “I’m your friend and I want you to talk to me… and I want to help you out instead of you fucking up your life.”
I nodded. “I know,” I sniffled. “I’ll do better, I promise.”
He smiled, kissing my forehead. “I know, babe… I know it,” he said. And we snuggled on the couch for what seemed like forever, until the sun had set and it was getting too chilly to handle. I fell asleep in his arms and woke up with a blanket wrapped around me to the smell of warm soup for dinner. He brought me a bowl and some crackers, sat down beside me and said “I’m here to listen… so talk to me.” And from there I spilt my guts, telling him all of my feelings and everything that’d been happening lately… That was just what I needed… a friend 🙂