I know he is angry: he is white-faced with it, eyes drunk with it. He is clenching his jaws and stiffening his stance as he stands in front of me.
But he is more than just angry. He is shocked, saddened...disappointed.
"Why would you delete things off the DVR without asking me first?" He whispers in a voice full of censure, focusing his eyes somewhere to my right. He doesn't even want to look at me.
"Why would you do that? It would have taken you a second to ask me if it's okay to delete these. It's not even like we need the storage space on the machine. Why would you do that?"
I am abashed, remorseful, mortified by what I have just done. But it is too late; as is the case so often, I have committed to impulsive actions that, once finished, cannot be changed.
"I...I thought you'd watched these shows already...they've been on the DVR forever..." I look down, letting my voice trail away. His inability to look at me fills me with wretchedness most of all. "I'm really sorry," I finish. It sounds pathetic, even to me.
He shakes his head slowly, then walks away. His voice cuts through the air as he disappears into the kitchen.
"We will discuss it tonight."
I remain slumped on the couch, swallowing hard, trying to control my fear.
I have been condemned.
I am doomed.
Later that night: the children are asleep in their beds. He leads me by the hand to the bedroom. He has not spoken to me for hours; now his voice is filled with controlled authority, a knowledge of what is about to be, of what must be done. And, dare I say it: anticipation.
"How many shows was it? Three? Let's say ten a show? Thirty then," he says. I don't bother answering; talking now will only get myself into further trouble, I know.
He stops me in the center of the bedroom.
"Get undressed," he orders. "Lean over the bed." As he is talking, he is unbuckling his belt, pulling it through the loops of his pants. The static hissing sound it makes as it slides against the fabric reminds me of the fleeting hissing sound it will soon make as it whips through the air, right before impact. I hesitate.
"Undress," he says again, his voice full of grit.
I strip off my clothes and lean over the bed, hips bent, legs straight, pressing my breasts into the sheet. He is not satisfied with my stance.
"Hands up," he says. Dutifully I stretch my hands, reaching over to the other side of the mattress. My fingers can barely curl around the edge, but it is enough. I will be able to hang on, keep position. I will need to.
"Every time you lift your foot, I will give you one with the rod," he notifies me. My breath becomes ragged; I am trying not to cry. It is not often I am not allowed to move my feet, shift my body the slightest bit, even during a "regular" punishment. This one, I knew, would be severe.
He rests a hand on my bottom for the briefest of seconds, setting his target, placing his aim, letting me know he's about to start.
A hiss. Then: Impact.
My head comes up off the mattress from the shock of it.
"One," he says.
I hear the hiss of the belt cutting through the air again, but it is too short, too fast; I have had no time to prepare. The belt cuts across the rise of my bottom, scalding me like a burn. He is not giving me any kind of warmup: the blows are coming strong, and will stay strong.
"Two, " he says. I can sense from behind me he is already raising his hand for the third. It will be thirty hard, thirty strong, thirty that will let me know in no uncertain terms exactly how disappointed he is in me. Thirty to ensure I don't make the same mistake again. God help me.
Three hits me across the thighs, making me suck in my breath and hold it. I squeeze the edge of the bed with all my might. It's all I can do not to move.
The belt keeps coming, whipping against my soft flesh like slick streaks of fire. By seven, I am crying into the sheets. By fifteen, I am sobbing, babbling for mercy. By twenty-two, I am screaming into the mattress, my voice muffled.
He does not stop. He does not alter his pace. He is working systematically, trying to aim his strikes against clear, unblemished flesh, but those spaces are getting harder and harder to find as my bottom and thighs become one large beacon of throbbing redness.
At twenty-four, I do the unthinkable: I shuffle my feet, hopping from one to the other in a vain attempt to escape the agony.
"Feet down," he growls.
"Please," I beg, "please, it hurts--"
"That's good. That means you'll remember. That means we won't have to go through this again. Now stop wriggling or by God I'll get the rod right now and finish the rest of your punishment with it."
"Good girl. Now where was I? Oh yes--"
The last five are a blur. My mind has shut down. I can no longer focus on his voice, or the momental pause between blows, or even the hiss of the belt through the air. All I can do is focus on the pain--as he wanted all along.
Then he stops. It's over--at least the belt part. I still have one more part of the punishment to go, one I brought upon myself, the worst one of all.
"Stay down," he says. As I try to regain some control of my breath, he goes to the closet, sliding open the door and pulling out the rod.
When he returns, he positions himself to my side, placing a hand in the small of my back to steady me. He can feel my body shaking under his hand, I know, but it doesn't halt him from what he is about to do. I squeeze my eyes shut, barely keeping myself from bolting off the bed.
The rod swings--and smacks. It hits right under the swells of my ass, slicing into my legs like sharp glass. Then the skin snaps back, and the secondary pain hits.
I arch up, straining, clenching, frozen, unable to breath. Then, like a babe, I fill my lungs, and howl.
"Quiet," he says. "Don't wake the kids."
As my body shakes on the bed, my muscles too weak to move, he puts the belt and rod back in their places safely in the closet.
Then he sits on the edge of the bed and waits. He knows not to touch me now, as I take a few moments to recover. When I tilt my head to look up at him, he is staring back at me. He looks accomplished. Satisfied. He is grinning.
I am relieved.
"I really am sorry," I say, my voice ragged and weak.
"I know," he says, gazing at my striped and blazing-red derriere. "But I don't think it will happen again. Let's put it behind us now."
"My behind is all I'll be able to think about," I say as I stand up. Even now I am unable to control my smart-assed replies. I rub my bottom, ever so gingerly. He laughs.
"Yeah, I guess you'll be thinking about your behind for quite a while." A hot predatory gleam comes into his eyes. "I can distract you from it, give you something else to focus on."
As he pushes my shoulders down and lowers me to my knees in front of him, I know what kind of distraction he's talking about. But I don't mind; he's right. It will take my mind off the pain.
And I still need to show him how sorry I really am.