Powder blue velvet ribbon he loops gracefully about your nape. Grazes virgin skin perpetually hidden by the lush brunette tufts he has brushed to the side. Nothing is rushed. Same strange fingers he plies you have observed for years wrapped about an axe. Peered
curiously through branches after midsummer naps of your adolescence, adrift from your bed. Beyond the boundaries of your father’s dominion, you, often, are led to this log cabin abutting the property lines.
You are thirteen the first time you spy the smoke from its chimney amidst the dense long leaf pines. Tiptoe one day, like prey, wide eyed, to what you might find. Comfort and innocence you leave behind, with your mind, all ideas of who you will be. You stumble on sticks, caressed by a beneficent breeze until you see it, at last, set against a sky, powder blue — the chimney of smoke, a log cabin, too, and a man, ax in his hand, which swings, indifferent to you, towards a ring of dead tree deftly split in two.
Raven hair roughed up by air of his potent swing, the pink of one cheek, in profile, glistening as he works, oblivious to you. Wait helpless there, a fawn in the dew until he is finished and walks straight away. Not even quite certain he sees you that day. He puts down his axe, without pause, and withdraws to a front door he will, unceremoniously, close. How many nights you wake up in sweaty smocked rose bedclothes.
You wander back towards this cabin for years. Last time you watch from a distance, eyes brimming with tears, after a marriage proposal that would take you away from your father’s grand home, this secret place where you stray.
Today he takes notice. Looks you in the eye. Your flesh is immovable save tremors that trail up your thighs to that place you disgrace yourself, closed eyes, in bed since you were led to his cabin to wait. Spread yourself wide in the dark. Steal from your father’s kitchen a serrated blade to trace places you would offer to a woodsman, when bade – a marked succubus inside the untouched form of the seraphim.
After he makes a study of your dark eyes, he will turn away towards his cabin as he has eons of yesterdays. Heart aches even more, ignored, than it did, unnoticed, before until you realize he has left it wide open, his log cabin door. Legs follow without hesitation, clumsy on stairs. He demands removal of clothes right then and there. Brushes your hair. Loops the powder blue velvet ribbon against the nape of your neck, ties it, high, in a bow. Lays you back on a table, spread wide, to inspect a guilt he will nurture in his humble chateau – marked by his hand with a powder blue bow.
There are paintings of dolls over some of his walls, powder blue bows, entreating eyeballs. Wide, pleading irises in complimentary hues stare at their new sister he has brought them in you. On the far side of the room, he reaches for a switch from a collection of intimidating accouterments— paddles of wood carved by his skill hand. Whips and ropes on hooks you will wail from, be expected to withstand. He leans over to hold you then growls in your ear. “If you stay I will hurt you, but I will not keep you here.”
You try to respond with a nod, but he says you must speak. Manage, “Yes, sir,” as he tastes a tear from your cheek. Tells you to turn over – his switch tickling your thighs. Hold onto the table; squeeze shut your eyes, but your ears still hear his swing in the air before your ass feels the strike. The howl you make is your original animal fright though somehow you stay quite still for three strikes more.
The body betrays when he gets to four, constricts your limbs. Becomes as miniscule as it can. He coaxes it open with magnanimous hands. Fingers in furrows make you forget anything not powder blue, the sting of his punishment, your purported virtue. Hear yourself begging for things you don’t know. He whispers in your small ear while he strokes you slow. “I can’t cum inside you until I have one more blow.”
He pulls out sodden fingers to cover your mouth. Red tremulous flesh you trade for pleasures you can no longer breathe without. He offers no mercy with this last bow. It cuts your spirit in two, but both of you know it is worth it when he pushes inside. Moan into his chest as a new pain sanctifies each hole which he enters as you suffer true.
To think you once paraded in kitten heeled shoes before boys who would breed you when daddy will choose. Felt a silent power gestating inside you each one you peruse, deny the upturn corners of lips you would not smile or part — glowering with pride. Yet for this stranger you would tear them apart if he would be satisfied. Split the tight corners of a stunted child’s smile, you should have long since outgrown becoming fertile. Widen it hopelessly around his vicious cock, your hair in his hands, down your throat a shock of something unexpected that makes you shudder and choke.
He carries you after to a plush rug by the fire. Your eyes strain to stay open while he retires to his chair to smoke, speak of demons who float in the powder blue air, beasts he fought in this forest while you nod off somewhere to your first ever peace – released by his hand.
When you wake, he will bathe you and dress you for return, to avoid your father’s reprimand, in a once favorite frock for which, now, you care not the least. Only the powder blue velvet ribbon he straightens brings any relief. “Wear it as long as you belong to me.”
“May I come tomorrow? I will find a way.”
He says in a powder blue velvet ribbon you can come everyday.
Wake the next morning in a canopy bed, same curtained monstrosity where you have laid your head each naive night of your Lilliputian life, hidden in orgiastic dreams until you become wife. It seems, now, only a prison of satin and lace scratching your welts, holding you in place. The only comfort here is the bow, powder blue, on the top of your head, slightly askew from tortured sleep in your childhood bed — the girl it once belonged to only yesterday dead.
Your immodest corpse foregoes a petticoat, settles upon a pastel red dress, easy to unbutton, flesh to express – you aspire always to be a considerate guest. Make hurried excuses to the staff on the stairs. Scurry to the woods before father’s aware. Run through the forest, your skirt balled up in each hand.
When you reach his cabin, there is no sign of the man. Still unbutton your dress as soon as your spy the open door. Strip on the porch. Throw clothes on the floor. Hurry towards the fire where he sits, near, in his tufted gentleman’s chair. He smiles as you realize he is not alone there.
The clink of a teacup alerts you to her violet stare. Fingertips attempt to cover pert nipples,
the pubic hair no other human but the stranger has seen. Before you realize your error, you hear in your ear, mean, the order for you to drop your hands.
“You can leave right now. If you stay, understand, anyone here is our invited guest.”
He squeezes your neck. You move your trembling head yes.
“You’ve come just in time to serve us more tea.”
You refill each cup conscientiously — first the stranger’s, then his violet-eyed company. Her strokes of your welts on your ass are an anodyne. Tells you to put down the teapot. Turn off your mind. Lean over the settee. Do it as quick as you can and as stoically. Your head to one side, angled to him. Feel her cool lips tracing your well-wounded skin, then a wet tongue disappearing into a place that makes you whimper and writhe. Her fingers he tastes. She turns you over and opens you wide while he scoots closer to see.
“Make her beg you for more.”
She makes you crawl on the ground and into a small saucer pours you some tea with a dollop of cream.
“Lick it up like a kitty and we will make you scream.”
Breathless and restless for what will be done, you lap it gracelessly down with a desperate pink tongue. Then the mistress beseeches, rubbing circles with her fingertips. Crawl quickly towards her though midway you slip. Hear both their lewd laughter that makes you blush.
“Do not scare her, Paul. She’s feeling the rush.”
Though it’s hard to move, you reach the sanctuary of her spread lap. Could crawl on top, curl up for a nap, but she pushes your goosebumped form low on his parquet floor. By the nape of your neck, she trains you, slow, to adore her with your small kitten mouth — tongue deep in her holes until she is prone on the couch. No longer the mentor but only maiden who moans.
The commands you receive now come from the master alone – a drone of demands in a deep baritone that quiver your bones even when they grow faint. When he covers your eyes, you risk no complaint – a fabric in pitch through which you can’t see. He lifts you from the floor almost reverently. Plants a kiss on your forehead as he carries you, like a bride, to the sunshine outside. Heat on your skin makes you wetter inside.
Beneath the blindfold the world rocks to and fro. Lays you down upon flannel and enters you slow near the pink muhly grass that tickles your flailing toe — the sounds of your pleasure echoing surrounding sparrows. Fingers push into your mouth, more clutch at your breasts. Gasp at the knowledge there are too many hands and a chorus of breaths. He removes the blindfold so you can see how many strangers have come to his licentious party. Through the tea party haze, at first it seems a half dozen — those it is only three, two women, one men, all touching and tasting what the master has brought.
He strokes your powder blue bow, absent all thoughts, while he cums on your chest, a treat quickly devoured by his most rapacious guests who take their time and their pleasure with the master’s new toy. Stay until dusk, exhausted with joy your privileged life never offered before. Delay, as long as you may, your return to your father’s door. But the master says you must — if you might come again.
As he helps you into your dress, you stroke the powder blue ribbon. You walk arm in arm to the edge of woods while he redefines, for you, the meaning of “good.” Watches while you walk the rest of the way dressed like the unhappy girl you were only yesterday. Sneak in a back door hoping no one will see how late you have been gone, how much you changed, the new powder blue bow, always so meticulously arranged.
Run into your father on the way up the stairs.
“Will you not join us for dinner?”
You cannot meet his inquisitive stare.
“Not feeling well I’m afraid. Better just sleep.”
Hurry past him towards your room to hide in carnation pink sheets. Touch every used part . Count each rabid heartbeat until blood moonbeams deliver your enslaved spirit to him in his log cabin again. Even your unconscious young mind waits in attendance to service his feral whims.
You wake the next morning to the odor of smoke from a dream in which a Burmese python inched its pale yellow girth down your widening throat — not at all where you hoped to be led prone and hypnotic in your canopy bed. Dread so real you shudder, until, by curiosity, you are lead toward the scent and descent of a thin trail of smoke to the open window. Surely noon by the breadth of the sunbeams followed. Is it any wonder you slept late after yesterday’s extremes? Pull on a quilted mint cloak to find out what the smoldering means.
As you walk to the window, your skeleton shakes though its openings tingle with promise of a season of enchanting new aches. Pull the powder blue ribbon to make sure it lies straight. Look towards the woods where you cannot wait to be. See a dark cloud above that makes your eyes overflow with a bottomless grief your brief little life never bequeathed before. Run in only the cloak your through your father’s door all the way to the edge of the woods, promising demons you will never be good one damned day of a life, not that long, if today you could only be wrong. But each step closer to the cabin, the smell of smolder becomes ever more strong.
Arrive to the place where the log cabin stood when you left at dusk — now some smoldering ash in a clearing of mauve-colored brush, woods where your lust was laid bare. Some pieces of burnished rubble remain that might be the sette or the chair. Fall to your knees wondering is he somewhere in there? Would he burn it down with the switches, the paintings of dolls? You gave him everything — maybe things you do not even recall through the haze of the tea you happily sipped to become finally alive. Would he have just burned it all down? Or did he not survive?
Could it have been your father who recognized it in you — your eyes on the floor, the bow, powder blue? Did he send men, maybe the would-be fiance, to burn down this peculiar joy while you slept yesterday?
You run to the center of the smoldering dirt. Throw yourself onto embers craving something to hurt on the outside as much this loss does within — rubbing any remainders into your useless young skin. Could it be part of him this ash you press into your pores — a piece of the switch which transformed you, one perfect day, into one of his powder blue whores?
No more will you be — but neither a provincial girl. Belong more to this dirt than any faux civilized world of your father who maybe murdered you here. Scream for a sign until you see through dirty tears a glint of silver near the stump by the magnolia tree. It is the axe he once held, the way he did you, with such authority and a silver shovel that looks like an answer to you.
Throw off the mint cloak before you begin. Stand inside what once was the log cabin with your exposed skin the way he demanded and you would learn, so soon, to comply. Does your skin glisten as pink as his when you watched nearby as he used the axe for years before he used you? Dare not think of the reason you dig throughout the afternoon. Only stop when it’s deep enough for you forever to hide. Drop yourself in with the shovel — the accepted procedure for everything that has died. Use it to pour enough dirt to knock you on your back. A powder blue sky goes, for you, forever black. But you know, one way or the other, you will remain surrounded by him. Push the ashes and dirt of this sacred place everywhere he has been. Open your mouth, though it hurts to breathe. Soil and the ash are the last tortures he leaves. Hurts more to go on outside of this cabin you grieve. Every breath that you take contains a piece of wood he carved, the rug where he placed you, sated, once starved, to rest — in peace, for the first time. Rather lie down in his shrine than die dispossessed.
Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of many books of poetry including The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and a short story collection You Don’t Want This. She is the editor of seven anthologies and the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com