Archive for February 2012

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Of Coercion And The Cosmos



“But why do you put up with it?’ I asked. “You don’t have to take that sort of treatment. You’re so powerful and beautiful and wise. Don’t be a victim! You know what you have to do, why don’t you do it?”

She sighed. “You think you understand, but there are complexities in our relationship beyond your comprehension. The rules you play by are valid and correct for you, but they just don’t apply to my marriage.”

“Everybody says that!” I flung back heatedly. “Everyone thinks that their situation is unique and that no one understands. But I know what’s right and what isn’t. What about arete? You just can’t be all squishy with bottom-line ethics. You have to take a stand!”

She smiled, brightening the candlelit room for an instant like a passing ray of sun. “That’s one of the things I love about you. You’re so passionate, all sizzling with righteous indignation, ready to change the world and save me. You’re just so right.

“You’re mocking me. I’m not a teenager. I’m a crone, and yeah, I’ve learned a few things along the way and one of them is when to haul out my sword and draw a line in the sand. Some things are not acceptable. Infidelity is not acceptable. Rape is not acceptable. Any form of violence is abhorrent in a consensual relationship. How can it be consensual otherwise?”

She was quiet for a few moments, dark lashes lowered, long fingers playing with a white jewel that dangled on a golden chain between her deep breasts. “Okay. Let me try and put this into terms that will make sense to you. Look into the fire, please.”

We turned from each other on our couch and gazed into the smoldering flames of the banked fire. She whispered something I couldn’t quite hear, the flames leapt up, roaring and crackling fiercely, then went abruptly dark, and I was Somewhere Else, watching as a woman hurried into a cluttered room……..


The tense look she threw over her shoulder was warranted when the man strode in after her. She whirled to face him, hands raised, palms forward in front of her, not defensively but in an attitude of warding. He paid no heed, reaching her in two long strides, big arms sliding possessively around her, pulling her hard into his body.

“No…” she gasped. “Wait…..” But her voice was muffled by his lips at her throat. As his mouth came down on hers, her body melted into his for a moment, yielding longingly. Instantly he swept her up in his arms, his mouth never leaving hers, impatiently kicked aside a chair laden with boxes, sending it flying across the room. They fell together in a tangle of limbs onto the faded, lumpy couch.

But “Wait,” she gasped again, turning her face away from him and trying fruitlessly to push him off. He laughed a little, breathlessly, his arms and legs capturing her and pinning her more securely underneath him.

“Listen to me!” she insisted. But he wasn’t looking at her face; his eyes were intent on her body as he began to pull at her clothing, fingers rough with urgency. When he pulled back a little to free her blouse, she seized the opportunity, wriggling out from under him like a snake. She fell to the floor, but before he could grab her again she twisted to her feet and was across the room in an instant, putting the heaped dining room table between them.

He was on his feet and after her like a panther, breathing quickly, eyes aflame, his bare feet sliding on the worn throw rug. As she dodged around the table his brows snapped together.

“What the hell are you doing?”

She was panting, her hands fluttering in front of her. “You just- you have to listen to me. Just- wait. I need you to wait for me to say yes.”

His jaw dropped. He stood stock still for an interminably long moment. There was honest bafflement in his eyes. “Wait- for you to say yes to what?”

Her eyes pleaded with him. “You just grab me and go. Why can’t you ever- ask me? What if I don’t want to?”

He let out an incredulous bark of laughter. “Don’t want to? When the hell does that ever happen?”

“How would you know,” she flared back. “You never bother to find out if I’m in the mood or not.”

The brows came together again, slowly, ominously. “Mood? What does mood have to do with anything?” When she started to answer he cut her off with an impatient chopping gesture. “You hot little bitch. Don’t pretend to be all virginal. You want it as badly as I do. Worse! Hell, woman, you half kill me sometimes.”

“I know. I know. I’m not saying I want to stop. I’m saying that I want you stop railroading me. I mean, I should at least have the option to say no, shouldn’t I?” She straightened, facing him squarely. “This is about respect. I love you and I know you love me. But you don’t ever consider my feelings. It’s all about what you want, when you want it.”

Fury flashed electric blue in his eyes. Then it subsided. “So. You want me to- what? Say please before we have sex? Where is this coming from?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. I guess I just want some reciprocity. I want to feel as if I’m an equal in this partnership. To have a say.”

His eyes narrowed, glinting. “Reciprocity. So, are you going to ask me pretty-please when you’re wanting my….services?”

Her chin went up. “If you like.”

His laugh had an undertone of brutality. “So, now it’s hearts and flowers, is it? Romance and roses? Long walks in the moonlight, and gazing into each other’s eyes? We should start pretending that you’re some simpering fluttery maiden, and I’m your preux chevalier? Listen, Lady. I deal in what is, and I know what we are. We don’t need some adolescent illusion of courtship, and you can’t refuse me any more than I can refuse you. When I want you, I must have you. And you don’t want it any other way. Do you?”

Her eyes dropped, wavering, but then her jaw set. “I’m not suggesting some elaborate set of rules or that we play games. I just want to know that if I ever did- if I ever DO say no, that you will respect that.”

Their eyes met, his hard, hers defiant. He said slowly, “Can you ever- realistically- think of an occasion where you would say no to me and mean it?” His gaze bored into her skull. “Be honest.”

She looked at him. And looked at him. A small sound escaped her. “No.”

Heat rose in his eyes. Abruptly he lunged towards her. In a second she had dodged behind the table, its box-strewn surface separating her from him. He looked at her incredulously. She was breathing hard, eyes brilliant, poised on her toes. His head lowered, a bull about to charge. Then he spun and stalked from the room. The door slammed.

She stood still for a moment, then let out a long, shaky breath. Her gaze softened, became pensive. Her teeth caught her soft lower lip, and she moved toward a dusty mirror. Humming, she ran her fingers through her hair, then deftly caught it up in a filet of purple wool, tendrils curling around her face. She looked thoughtfully at the door. She undid the top button of her blouse. She hurried out.


She turned back to me. “Do you see?”

I pondered. “I think I see more. But I still don’t really get why there can’t be- I dunno- more softness. More give. Why is it so wrong to strive for equality?”

She was silent for a moment. Then she gestured with a graceful white arm, and I found myself Somewhere Else, watching a tsunami. The water sucked back, retreating impossibly, unfathomably away from the shore. My mouth gaped as the wall of water rose, and rose, rushing toward me faster than horses can gallop, terrifying and unstoppable. It smashed into the land, kept rolling, broke apart, and now all I could see was water, and devastation.

I heard her voice, soft by my ear. “Did the Dark-Maned One ask politely? Did the rolling fields by the shore consider, and then give permission?”

A volcano erupted before us, spewing lava and ash high into the sky. Forest and field were choked for miles and miles around. Not one living thing remained.

“Is that consensual?”

A galaxy unfolded before my dazzled eyes, with darkness at its heart. Stars whirled around it, an immense and stately dance, stretched, streaked and fled into the chasm.

“Think, little one. What are you watching? Whom do you see? Is there a victim?”

I was silent a while, colors with no names pouring across my face. Finally I said, unable to look away, “I won’t call you ‘misunderstood’ any more.”

A beautiful forefinger brushed my cheek. “Your human customs,” she mused. “How we love you for them. It’s so unique, this fierce, quixotic, misguided quest for ‘equality.’ Outside your little reality there is balance, but ‘fairness’ just isn’t a factor. And yet how magnificent you are as a species for pushing yourselves to foist it upon each other. What you keep forgetting, though, is that your rules and conventions don’t apply to us. Gnothi seauton, dearest. It’s not a warning, or a threat, or even an admonition. It’s just a statement of Truth.”

I looked up at her. “But are you happy?”
Her fingers slid along my face, cupping my chin. “You are a good child, little crone,” she said. “I approve of your frantic flailing for understanding. I am, after all, Binah to his Chokmah.”

The wide dark eyes held mine. And then she smiled. I was transfixed. I stopped breathing. I think my heart may have stopped beating. When I returned to myself I was alone. There remained only the lingering scent of apples, and a single peacock feather.



Posted February 16, 2012 by suzmuse in Uncategorized