Diane kissed my fingers goodbye, and turned away to search for the right kind of ash switches for her birch. She left the shirt tied at the back, so that apart from her shoes she was still naked from the waist down.
She had her own power in this situation, and she was going to use it. Any sort of movement seemed to require wiggling, and when she picked up a piece of branch from the ground, she kept her legs parted and straight and bent from the waist. I watched her pick her first piece, looking at the thin end, checking for whippiness and for buds.
She was about to swing it, to test it for whippiness and bite. Then she stopped herself suddenly, and glanced at me.
She didn’t want to hear it whistling through the air: that would be too much complicity in her own birching. She was discovering some of the complicated psychological pleasures that came with collecting the switches for her own birch.
But the switch she’d found passed her inspection and she kept it, tucking it under her arm. She turned away again to resume the search. “No,” I said. “Not like that. Bring it here.”