Even if nobody else is there for Chloe, she knows that she can rely on Izaak. Will he be able to help her after her grandmother’s death? Or will her bad habits send her life into a more chaotic spiral?
As I sat on the fire escape looking out at New York City, it hit me that I’d finally done it, I’d finally moved away from home. I’d finally escaped my past and all of the memories associated with it, and moved to a new city where I’m just another face in the crowd. And everything was different.
I lit a cigarette and leaned back. It was crazy to think about all the differences. I’d lived with and cared for my grandmother until she passed away. I’d been in charge of every decision in our lives, and never let anyone try to tell us what to do. In fact, I hadn’t answered to anyone in years… obeying orders was not a strength of mine. Now, though. Now, I was living with Izaak, and I wasn’t sure he’d take the same shit from me that others had.
Izaak is a close friend of mine from Poland. We studied undergrad together and he later went to Harvard Business School before accepting a job at one of the top-consulting firms in New York City. My path, on the other hand, was totally opposite. I had to drop out halfway through my final year of college to focus on making money to pay for my grandmother’s nursing home, my formal working experience was limited to managing a group of bratty teenagers at a local pizza shop, and I hadn’t even moved from my childhood home, much less out of state (or out of the country!). And, of course, as a result of this miserable lifestyle, I developed some habits that I’m less-than-proud of.
I’d managed to escape most of my bad habits when I escaped Louisiana, but a few still remained. As I took a drag of my cigarette, I reminded myself that this was one of those habits I needed to break. Ha! As if I had that much will power… I wish. It was hard enough putting everything else behind me.
I hadn’t told Izaak that I was a smoker. When my granny died a few months ago, he was the first person I’d called, and the first person to arrive at my doorstep with open arms to comfort me, regardless of the fact that we hadn’t seen each other in nearly 3 years. He was literally the only person who hadn’t deserted me at that point. But Izaak held high standards, especially with being tobacco-free, and I didn’t have the heart to add this fault of mine onto all the others I’d revealed.
I took one last puff of my cigarette and stubbed it out, then threw it below me. It was time to get out of my head and start making something of myself. I had to finish (okay, start) editing my resume, and figure out how to get my credits transferred so I could finally get my degree. It was all just so overwhelming… so much to do and so discouraging sometimes…
As I opened the window to climb back into the living room, AKA my new bedroom, I noticed a tall figure standing there, staring at me. It took me a second to realize it was Izaak.
“You scared the shit out of me!” I said. “How long have you been home?”
“Long enough to know what you were doing.” He paused, leading to an awkward silence when I didn’t know how to answer him. His blue eyes were icy, as if his hurt was being covered by anger, and he was trying to control both emotions at once. “You didn’t tell me that you started smoking.”
I shrugged him off and started walking away, but he blocked my path. I scowled, looking up at him. Didn’t he know that escaping is what I do when I don’t want to deal with something? “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, Izaak.”
He continued staring at me, using the awkward silence as a means for sizing me up, trying to read me and figure out what his next move would be. This had become a pattern recently… Any time I let him down these last few weeks, we’d have a similar confrontation. Neither of us was comfortable enough with fully expressing our emotions yet, we were just trying to find our balance and figure out if being roomies would actually work. I could feel him breaking, though, and knew that eventually he’d be really to send me on a bus back to Louisiana without so much as a “thank you, come again.”
“Chloe,” he said evenly, “sit down. Let’s talk.”
His words, his tone, sent a chill down my body. I felt my heart pounding inside my chest, the butterflies fluttering in my stomach, and my throat dry up. Symptoms of anxiety, because the words “let’s talk” can never lead to something good…
I followed him to the couch and sat down, trying to compose myself. We made eye contact again. “I know that you’ve dealt with a lot these last years. And I know that it’s going to take time for us to rebuild our friendship after not seeing each other for so long. So I’ve been talking to a friend of mine… a psychologist… you would probably really like her…” He paused to gauge my reaction, and I tried to keep my facial expressions in check so he wouldn’t be able to read me. I know, it’s weird that I was so aware of these things, but Izaak’s a management consultant; his daily life depends on his ability to read people! And if he was talking to a psychologist, someone else who spends the days reading people, that means that he’s probably trying to figure out the best way to kick me out of his apartment.
“Why do you think I would like her?” My pathetic attempt to change the subject.
He sighed, undoubtedly making a mental note of my defenses, then smiled. “You guys both ask a lot of questions,” he said with a sincere chuckle. “I know what you’re trying to do, young lady, and it’s not going to work.” But it did. He finally moved towards the point of this conversation: “You’ve been here almost a month now, what’s your plan for moving forward?”
His honesty helped ease my anxiety, and I was able to let a slight smile emerge. “Izaak, you know I don’t like planning.”
“Well then please tell me, what spontaneous act is going to happen in your life next?”
“You know that the whole point of spontaneity is that you don’t know what’s going to happen, nor when, right?”
He smirked, and didn’t answer my question. “Chloe, it’s time to establish…”
I interrupted him, “what does all this have to do with your psychologist friend?”
Being cut off mid-sentence caused Izaak’s brow to furrow slightly, and his eyes to change from icy-cold to watery-rage. But he was still controlling himself, and of that I was envious. He’d always been much better than me at self-discipline.
Instead of entertaining my insolence, he completed his sentence: “… some ground rules.”
“What? Ground rules? What does that even mean?”
“First, I want you to meet my friend.”
“And have another person analyzing and judging me? No thank you.” I was starting to get noticeably angry, characterized by the sharp tone of my voice.
“She wouldn’t judge you, Chloe. You’re judging her right now by thinking that all she would do is analyze and judge you.”
“Izaak,” I said, glaring at him, “a psychologist’s job is to analyze and judge people!”
“Okay, okay, fair enough,” he said. “You don’t have to meet her if you don’t want to, it’s your choice, but I think that you would benefit from having someone else to talk to, who maybe better understands what you’re going through. But it’s fine, that wasn’t main reason I wanted to talk.” He paused, breaking eye contact for the first time and clearing his throat. Whatever he was about to say clearly made him uncomfortable. “I’ve noticed that discipline and positive motivation have been lacking in your life for quite some time,” he began, choosing his words carefully, “and I think that it may be helpful for you to have someone trustworthy to guide you towards a healthier lifestyle, even if that guidance requires that you hate the person sometimes.”
I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but my heart was racing again and I could feel myself trembling.
Since I didn’t respond, Izaak elaborated: “When there was structure in your life, you thrived. You had dreams and were motivated to achieve them. But life and people have let you down again and again, and you’ve lost hope. And now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” His face lit up as he spoke, and I could feel him smiling on the inside, even through his attempts to remain stoic. “Now you have endless possibilities, endless opportunities. Now you can accomplish anything.” He suddenly became serious again, leaning in towards me and giving me a stern, matter-of-fact look. “Chloe, don’t fuck this up.”
I can’t explain the effect that Izaak had on me at that moment. I was sure that he was making me feel a certain way on purpose, because that’s what he does. He already knows what you want before you do, then uses his creativity to figure out how you can achieve that goal, and then plays with your emotions so that you’ll agree with his solution. But I wasn’t one of his consulting jobs. I wasn’t just some company that he was going to throw plans at and then leave before having to deal with the drama. I wasn’t going to let him off that easily, so I told him just that.
“I know this isn’t one of my consulting jobs. You’re my friend, and I care about you, but it’s my personality to analyze things this way, you know that.” He kept an even tone, suggesting that he had already expected my minor outburst. “Another thing you probably remember about college is that I take on too many projects and leave some of them unfinished because day-to-day details bore me. So when I really commit to a project, it means that I’m very emotionally and personally invested.”
“What are you even talking about?” I snapped, rolling my eyes. “Just spit it out already!”
“I’m trying to be as sensitive as possible, please understand that, okay?”
“I don’t know all of the details of what’s been going on with you these last 3 years, because you won’t tell me. And I know you’ve lied to me – don’t look so surprised, you were just saying that it’s my job to read people – I know you’ve lied about more than this… Do you really think I can’t smell the weed you hide in the shoebox under your bed, or that I would believe you’ve sent out one single CV since moving to New York?” I looked away in shame. “I’m saying all of this today because, one, I’m sick of the lies. I give things to you straight and you’re able to handle it, so why don’t you allow me to handle the things I don’t want to hear? Am I happy to know that you’re smoking cigarettes or slacking off? No, of course not, but I’m even more disappointed that you wanted to hide it from me. And I guess I just want to know why?”
Still staring at the floor, I mumbled something only to be further reprimanded and told to look him in the eyes. So I tried again, taking a deep breath, tears forming in my eyes. “I’m afraid that you’ll kick me out.”
“Have you done anything that warrants you getting kicked out?”
I shook my head, “no.”
“Listen, Chloe, I invited you here, I’m prepared for you to make mistakes and do things that I disagree with, that’s just life. But it feels like you haven’t prepared yourself for the same.”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about anymore…” I said, looking out the window, ready to escape from this conversation. Man, I needed another cigarette already.
“I knew none of that sensitive crap worked with you,” he said, half annoyed, half joking. “Chloe, you’re setting yourself up for failure by not letting anybody in and by not taking chances. Why haven’t you sent out your CV? Because you think you’ll get rejected. Why do you hide the cigarettes and the weed and who knows what else from me? Because you think you’ll get rejected. You’d rather avoid all of these situations than get rejected because you don’t want to accept the consequences. But the reality is that all of your self-sabotaging behaviors will make your life worse in the long term.”
By this point I was slightly pouting, a bit offended with his brutal honesty, but also I knew he was right, and I didn’t know how to respond.
“It seems that you like to push my buttons and see how far you can get before I react.”
“That’s not true,” I defended.
“I’m telling you what I see from my perspective, and if you would like to share yours, I would be more than happy to listen.” I rolled my eyes. “I think you deserve a hard, bare bottom spanking.”
I did a double take. “W-What?!” I’d tried to shout my answer in anger, but instead it came out hoarse, nervous, afraid.
“You heard me. I’m not going to kick you out – I can’t imagine you’d ever do anything that would upset me that much, at least I hope you wouldn’t. You’re a better person than that. But I will spank you, and I will also propose that we make a plan to deal with your behavior in general. It’s possible for you to drop unhealthy habits by enforcing a system of rewards and consequences. My intuition is sometimes wrong, but the feeling I’ve been getting is that you’ve been pushing buttons for years, crossing lines to see what you can get away with, and instead of being challenged, people have run away from you.” He stood now, towering over me enough to make me feel really small. “You’ve wanted someone who will fight back, establish boundaries and not take any of your bullshit.”
I didn’t know how to respond. I was ashamed to admit that he was kind of spot on… nobody had ever been able to read me that clearly… what was it about Izaak that allowed him to crack me? And did his psychologist friend have anything to do with this?
As millions of thoughts were racing through my head, Izaak went to the other room to retrieve a straight-backed wooden chair. He placed it in the middle of the room and came towards me, taking ahold of my wrist and helping me to my feet.
“I will stick around, Chloe. I will even stick around for the day-to-day details, because I do care about you and want you to succeed. And not my definition of success.” He closed his eyes for a minute as if trying to remember exactly how he had practiced this speech. “I know we may have different definitions of success, but I believe that if we are both committed to this, we will both be happier in the long run.”
I was stunned at the whole situation. Everything happened in slow motion, and my senses were hyper-aware. I felt his warm fingertips against my skin, inhaled the distant scent of his cologne… I heard the clock’s every tick and tock, and felt my heart pumping inside my chest. I studied my friend, still dressed in his work attire, the tie slightly loosened and his shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows. But a person’s eyes will tell you the most about him… and when I looked into Izaak’s, I could only see vulnerability… Probably the same thing he’d seen in my eyes when he realized that I just wanted someone to save me from my own destructive behaviors, someone who could bring me back into the real world. And I also saw the hint of some other emotion that I’d never noticed with anybody else before… it’s impossible to explain, but I’m pretty sure that his body language was displaying what I’ll call “the spanko emotion.”
I gave a slight nod as if probing him to continue. The vulnerability that had been present quickly faded, and now the spanko emotion took over.
Izaak sat down in the chair and grabbed the belt loop of my jeans, pulling me towards him. “Young Lady,” he said in a low and stern voice, “I don’t know how long it’s been since someone gave you a good spanking, but I can guarantee that it’s been too long.”
I felt some tugging on my jeans, then heard the sounds of my jeans being opened. Izaak’s fingertips brushed gently against my belly as he moved my shirt away and pushed my pants and panties to the floor, leaving me more exposed and vulnerable than I’d ever felt. I started panicking on the inside, screaming at myself to do something to make this stop, but then I heard: “Quitting smoking is going to be tough, and I intend to be there with you every step of the way to help in your moments of weakness.” I felt a gentle breeze on my thighs and goosebumps started forming on my arms. “Moving forward, you will be spanked any time you smoke, do you understand?”
Without missing a beat, Izaak slapped my left thigh, and hard. I really hadn’t been expecting that! “Owww! What was that for?” I whined. He gave me a look that was surprisingly easy to read, so I allowed myself to submit enough to say, “I meant to say, ‘yes Sir, I understand’.”
He gave a half smile, happy to know that his prediction of my spankoness had been accurate, and that it wasn’t impossible for me to play the submissive role. Challenging, yes, but not impossible.
Izaak’s fingers enclosed around my wrist again, and he motioned for me to lie across his lap. I took a deep breath before being silently obedient. I could at least afford him the decency of not challenging his authority too much in the beginning. And I guess I also didn’t want to make it any harder on myself. And I did feel kind of guilty. It was hard to let go of all the things I hated about myself, and something about corporal punishment led me to think that it would be a therapeutic release.
As I tried to wiggle myself into a moderately comfortable position, I recognized the contrast between the coolness of the hardwood floor against my toes, and his warm hand resting on my naked bottom. The sounds of our upstairs neighbors vacuuming were so loud that I worried about how much they would hear of my punishment. The dry taste of nervousness in my mouth mixed with the disgusting flavor of Marlboro Lights. I felt the warmth radiating from my thigh where I’d been smacked earlier. I felt Izaak’s legs underneath me, calm and confident, unlike my own body that was quivering with anxiety.
“Another thing Chloe,” he said gently, circling my waist with his left arm and tensing up as if he were getting ready to deliver the first swat, “your routine is about to change. No more staying up all night, no more sleeping until late afternoon. The first step towards a better life is taking care of your physical health. We will structure your days to include healthy meals, exercise and a good night’s sleep.”
He’d waited until I was over his lap to tell me all of that because he knew I would be resistant. I always get defensive about these sorts of things! “Don’t I get any freedom of choice??” I asked, looking back angrily.
His expression was a mixture of amused and determined. “Not until we’ve established the good habits, which will take about a month, the same length of time I’ve given you to do this all on your own. Since you haven’t made your own progress doing things your way, we’re going to do things my way now.”
“What if it doesn’t work?” I asked weakly, wondering if it was too late to run away from all of this. But part of me didn’t want to run away. Part of me had been craving this kind of structure for a while, which is what had attracted me to someone like Izaak in the first place.
“Then we will have another discussion to figure out what will work.” With that he tightened his grip on me and landed the first sharp smack to my bare bottom. The swat didn’t take me entirely by surprise, it hurt about as much as I had expected, but my tolerance was higher than I’d given myself credit for. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad.
Izaak followed up with another slow, methodical swat, so hard that I felt my bottom jiggling afterwards. I was blushing profusely at the thought of that when he landed the next swat, beginning to develop a rhythm. I promised myself that I’d take my punishment without much noise, but as his pace quickened, the more challenging it became to stay quiet.
“I never thought I’d have to punish you like this, Chloe,” Izaak commented, delivering an especially hard swat to my right sit spot, then another to my left.
“I didn’t either,” I answered, biting on my hand to keep myself from shouting out in pain.
“And I’m going really easy on you today since it’s the first time.”
I was fearful and excited at the prospect of knowing what a “real” spanking felt like if this was his idea of going easy on me! He was doing such a thorough job, covering every inch of my full bottom. It was tingling and stinging all over, and each swat made the pain more intense.
“And in the future,” he said, increasing the intensity of his smacks, and finally causing a whine to escape my lips, “I expect you to be fully honest with me.” I groaned in response, not totally sure that I was on board with his expectations, but not wanting to argue given my current position. He must have suspected something, so he increased the speed and intensity of the swats, so much that I was squirming and whining even more. “After this punishment, it will be a clean slate. Now is your last chance if you would like to get something else off your chest.”
He stopped spanking for a second, resting his hand on my warm bottom before pulling my chin towards him to look into his eyes. He said nothing, only studying my face, checking for any hint or clue that I had more to hide.
“Let go, Chloe. Let go of the guilt, cry it out.”
“I can’t,” I whispered.
He helped me up and my hands flew to my bottom to rub out the sting, but instead of letting me do that, Izaak held onto my upper arm while walking me to the couch, delivering a smack with each step. “I see that I’ve been too nice,” he said, the icy glare coming back. “Bend over,” he said, pointing to the armrest on the sofa. His cold words pierced something inside of me… something I couldn’t quite describe. I bent over, raising my bottom high in to the air, and turning my head so that I could see him as he unbuckled his belt. It was a black leather belt, thick and wide, the kind of belt that’s perfectly associated with what southerners call “a good butt whuppin’.”
“Is there anything else you need to tell me?” he asked. He folded the belt over once and held it casually to his side, waiting for my response.
“No, Sir,” I answered meekly.
He nodded, believing me, and then raised the folded belt. “This will not be over until you’re able to let everything go, or at least some of it.” Then he crashed the leather down onto the center of my bottom.
“Owwwww!” I cried. Earlier, the spanking had hurt about as much as I’d expected, but now it was much worse! And to top it off, Izaak didn’t give me much recovery time before delivering the second lash, and then the third. “Ohhh Izaak, please!” I begged, now feeling his disappointment loud and clear.
He was satisfied with my cries, feeling like he was finally getting through to me. I subtly reprimanded myself for not making a bigger scene out of the hand spanking and for letting my stupid pride get in the way. Now I was getting proper discipline rather than just a slap on the wrist.
“Okay, okay,” I howled, now trying to squirm my way off the couch. I felt Izaak’s hand on my back, gently pushing me back down as he delivered a deafening lash across my thighs. “Owwwwww, I’m getting the message!” I told him. But now he’d realized that in order to get his message across, actions were more important than words, so he remained silent. “Izaakkkkk!” I howled, now burying my face into my hands and letting the first tears slide down my cheeks. “It hurts too muchhhh,” I said, kicking up my right foot, to only have it pushed back down before another lash to the thighs.
“Be still,” he commanded.
His firm, yet calm voice mesmerized me.
“Put both feet flat onto the floor and stick your bottom out. And do NOT make me tell you again.”
“But Izaak,” I cried, now letting the tears flow more freely. I was almost ready to let him win. I was almost ready to forgive myself for all the shit I’d done.
I locked my feet into place and stuck my throbbing, red bottom into the air as if I was asking for more punishment. “These last ten are going to be hard and fast. If you get out of position, we will start all over again. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Sir,” I said, squeezing onto my own hands tightly and clenching my butt cheeks anxiously. I heard the jingle of the belt buckle, then the loud cracking sound of the leather meeting my flesh. The stinging sensation spread through me quickly, and I cried out just in time to receive the second one, inches below the first. I counted to myself each of the lashes, only losing count when struck on my thighs. That was when my tense body finally relaxed, and I collapsed into the couch, crying softly. I was finished resisting and now only focused on my tears and physical pain.
Izaak finished up the swats and stood behind me, allowing me to cry. I could feel heat radiating from my bottom, and even through my tears of embarrassment and shame, I wondered what it looked like. Was it cherry-red? Were there stripes from the belt? Also, knowing the punishment was over brought about a new sensation… I was definitely turned on by this whole experience. How does that even happen?
The floor creaked as Izaak walked towards me, stooping down to my level and moving my hair out of the way until he could find my face. I looked up, eyes red and puffy, the tears still coming. I was sniffling and hiccupping and confused.
“Nothing else you want to tell me?” he asked again, with tired and friendly eyes, sitting the belt down to call a truce.
“No, Sir,” I answered through the tears.
But I was lying. There was so much to confess, but I couldn’t. Because once you confess, there’s no going back.