Emily still smoked cigarettes, though she knew better and wanted to stop. I praised and rewarded every smoke-free day, and I was patient while the cravings made her almost continuously angry. She got through a month without smoking, and that should have been that. But after three months she started again.
Soon after that relapse, Emily asked me to help by taking control. She suggested that I should cane her if I smelt tobacco on her breath or clothes. Not caning her for play, not for sex: a real punishment, hard enough to hurt and make her want to avoid getting another punishment like it.
She wanted to fear the consequences more than she craved the nicotine. I’d had discussions like this before, and I refused, again.
Punishing Emily for smoking probably would help her give it up, and she’d enjoy being a submissive girl who got punished if she didn’t do as she was told. I could see that. But I still didn’t think I had the right to do it. I’d managed to find a way to do bdsm without acting like a sexist bully-boy, and I didn’t want to lose the formula.
Emily called me “sir”, but only when she was naked.
This issue grumbled on in the background. My rule against assuming real power suited me. It kept me comfortable politically. Emily was finding that it didn’t really suit her. I knew she wasn’t quite satisfied, but I decided to stick with the rule.
Until Emily unstuck me.
One afternoon there was a party. I had to work, so Emily went without me. I expected it to wind up by about ten or so, and to see Emily before midnight. By early morning I was worried. Emily’s car had recently been in an accident. It hadn’t been her fault, but it made it easy for me to imagine harm.
I called police and hospitals and ambulance services. Just after two she called me. She was staying at her girlfriend’s because she’d drunk too much to drive home. I told her I loved her and went to bed.
But the next morning that girlfriend called and asked for Emily. I caught myself in time not to say, “Isn’t she with you?” Instead we chatted cheerfully, and I promised I’d get Emily to call when she got home.
So when Emily came home – she looked scared – I passed on her friend’s message.
And I waited while she understood that I knew she’d lied. We knew we were about to enact a boring cliché, but we were stuck with it.