Her eyes burned.
Whether it was more from the column of smoke rising from the cauldron or the pain burning out of her heart, it was hard to tell by looking. Though once her body began to shudder in silent convulsions, the true source of the rapidly flowing tears was clear.
When she had asked Him for assistance in gaining freedom from the grip of her prior connection, He solemnly agreed. He recognized immediately the need for a ritual, to cleanse and exorcise the demon-tight hold the prior dominant’s words and actions still held over her, even all these months later.
At His command, she delivered to Him the collar, red and black, hand mended, retro-fit with the former’s eye to perfection. With it, came the flood of memories…
Naturally, her immediate thoughts flew backwards to the day the collar was purchased. Shopped for and selected together, she and the prior dominant found and chose what felt perfect. The discomfort began nearly immediately, however when she used her own money to pay for what she thought of his. After all, in her experience and knowledge, the collar always belonged to the Dominant.
When she was finally able to put aside her awkwardness of the situation’s protocol, fueled by her discomfort speaking about financial matters, she asked what made this circumstance different. It was then he spoke of the collar being hers, so she could finally have a talisman she could keep with her, an encouraging souvenir and reminder to make up for the lack she felt in a prior relationship.
The criticisms he made of the collar came quickly. The lead ring was silver, not the black of his preference. The fabric’s girth, held in place was quickly stretched taut by her size. What would have been manageable in stillness was easily shaken off from activity. Even though he knew these things when the neck piece was purchased, they became verbalized once the transaction was complete.
At each visit, the collar was to be presented in a ritualized fashion, worn and removed at his discretion. However, he informed her it would never, ever be worn publicly. Suddenly, a cherished symbol became double edged, reflecting her convoluted private and public roles, adding to the shame of the parts of their relationship kept hidden.
Although he often reassured her, even when things changed between them, when her role and duties seemed more unclear, he would never deny her. However, she found a great, painful divide between not being denied and actually being acknowledged. He made clear that if she attended any groups where he was with his girl, she would not be welcome by his side or at his feet. Often, when others around, she was not introduced, even as a friend, and was left feeling adrift, unsure of an appropriate level of focus to a man with such divided attention.
The contentment he had with her also faded quickly. When they first connected, she was delighted to be allowed to serve him, particular in club or party settings. Once that privilege was redistributed, she struggled to figure out her place. She fumbled in vain with vague protocols she picked up from her reading and watching others, with and without experience. When she was allowed to devote her energy to him, she floundered, desperate for every action to be worthy, to measure up to what he had experienced previously and raved about often. She obsessed so much on how and what she did, she lost sight of what she was and what she was to do.
Yet, her inner resolve and awareness grew, chasing away ghosts of her past, especially her childhood. She finally believed many secrets were unhealthy, particularly when sexuality was involved. She was beginning to embrace herself as a vibrant woman, sensual and intelligent, yet struggled to contrast the possibilities of her desirability against the gloom that now haunted her present connection.
Finally, on one painful Monday night, he released her. Her cheeks flamed scarlet from the public venue he chose. Despite the pain from the finality of his choice, she realized that the decision had been imminent for many weeks. He often touted the motto, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”; as if to prove it, she was now cut loose from a relationship she couldn’t mourn or acknowledge publicly.
The few friends that knew her situation reminded her with nearly zealous glee they had told her so, warning her it had been inevitable. She was told he was too much dominant for her, a point often reiterated whenever his name came up in conversation.
With the dissolution of their relationship, she was urged to make a significant change in who she was – and she did, this time, carrying forward a new strength and surety. It was time to start over, to make a sharp break with her old ways of thinking and doing.
Blinking back her tears, her mind returned from the cauldron of memories to the present ritual. Her current connection brought her to this point, wisely knowing that sometimes and some things can’t be just thrown away, or left with an endless wound, gaping and easily ripped wide. They needed to be singed shut, scalding the opening, painful and healing at once.
He knelt beside her, the bend of their legs pressed into the harsh concrete. Even with the layer of cardboard, her knees wailed their discomfort, until His calming presence shushed them and her racing thoughts. Just beyond them, rain showers thrummed rapidly, leaving their rhythmic patter in the gutter tins.
He dropped in the collar, drenching it in a thin reed of lighter fluid. Not with the claim of a Dominant presence, but the calm of a priest, He spoke, letting the universe, as well as her aching spirit know with certainty their intentions. She watched Him, mesmerized by His rhythmic delivery and soothing tone.
The fiery fabric continued to dart its tongue, whispering its last memories into her ear. With each crackle, however, the hypnotizing hiss further lost its hold. The initial blazing flames retreating into the confines of the ceremonial dish, dissolving as they watched.
He gave her the chance to speak. She struggled at the thought, feeling all had been said, completed by His consecration. Without intending or expecting to, her mouth opened, words spilling, swirling with the gusts of gray surrounding them.
“You released me, now i, at last, fully release you. May you have everything you need, most of what you want. You have no place with me any longer.” Her voice strengthened, reclaiming more of herself with every syllable until she stopped, almost abruptly.
The two continued to kneel, watching the once fast blaze crumble into ash. Once the glow flickered, then failed, He stood, lifting the nearly empty metal bowl and carried it into the open rain. Almost immediately, the remnants became diluted by the downpour, erasing the signs of what once had been searing hot.
At last, nearly as quickly as it began, the final bit of her was free, free to submit more fully, no longer in limbo between past and present. She knew where she belonged.
Fully in the moment, fully His, no longer held back, she breathed the virgin phrase, “Thank You Master.”