I told you that you wouldn't have to wait long. Ana, naughty thing that she can be, suggested I make you wait a whole week for the conclusion, but you all know how sweet I am. Feel free to fuss at her. You can go back here for the beginning of the story. And now you have the continuation of Kat and Cassie's afternoon visit.
Kat and Natalie meet Cassie, part 2
At the riverwalk, Cassie finds us a bench close enough to the water to enjoy the view but far enough away not to be too cold. I put on my windbreaker, glad for once that Natalie was overprotective. There are a few passersby who smile and say hello to Cassie, and each time she introduces me as “my friend, Kat”. Each time, I have to duck my head to hide my smile.
Cassie nudges the damp-crinkly leaves with her perfectly polished shoe. I can feel her wanting to ask me something but thinking how to say it. My stomach turns nervously as I wonder what it will be. Intuition tells me that she’s taken me somewhere private so we can really talk. About “it”, the subject we’ve discussed in a hundred letters over a couple of months but have never mentioned outside of our little circles. For her, it’s her husband, friends, son, and future daughter-in-law. For me, it’s just Natalie.
“I love to watch the river,” Cassie says. She takes a little stone from the ground and tosses it into the water. “It gets grey when the weather’s cold, and sometimes it shrinks during a drought. Then after the snow melts it rushes as if it’s angrily trying to discard the long hard winter.”
I watch the water, too. A little piece of driftwood bobbles along as the current carries it away.
“Our house is on the river. I’ve found sitting and watching the water helps you talk. When Allie and I first discussed spanking we were at the house watching the river—I think it helps the words flow.”
I shrink a little into the soft-lined collar of my windbreaker. Nervously dart my eyes from side to side to make sure no one is within hearing distance.
“I told her once that I felt guilty about Ryan spanking her and that I never wanted that to be part of her life. She’s a child and makes mistakes. I love my boy, but every time he raises a hand to her I want to put him over my knee.”
I giggle. To someone Cassie’s age, ten or so years can’t be that much older than Allie. I wonder if Cassie sees me as a child, too.
“I was so angry at him. Fired up and indignant and I told Allie that I didn’t want her spanked any more. I couldn’t bear it. And you know what she said?”
I make a soft noise that I’m listening, tucking my hands into the pockets of my jacket.
“She said she would take every spanking and that more than anything she wanted a marriage like mine and Tom’s. She still sticks to it, no matter how upset I get when she’s spanked. I’m old and should know better; I can take whatever spankings Tom gives me. It’s just hard for me to see her get punished.”
I nod. Cassie has mentioned this once or twice in her letters, but it feels like she’s saying something else.
“Kat,” she says, and I stiffen as my instincts are proven right. “I’m not trying to judge and it’s your life, but sometimes I worry a little. Natalie’s awfully hard on you.”
“She’s just worried about my safety—“ I begin, but Cassie gently cuts me off.
“That’s not what I mean. I understand her concerns for your safety, but isn’t the ultimate goal of her helping you through your rough patches, like your time in the hospital, to get you to the point of independence and the ability to make good decisions for yourself? You can’t begin to do that if she is making every decision for you and punishing if you deviate from her view of what you should do. Tom’s the leader of our family and that’s fine with me. But my voice is heard loudly and clearly too. And I don’t always listen to every word he says. I have a brain and the ability to make good decisions, just as you do. We can respect their role without giving up our rights.”
I sit very quietly, thinking about what she is saying. When I don’t respond or protest or jump in, Cassie continues.
“The whipping you told me about sounded horrible. Even though spankings are supposed to hurt, they don’t have to hurt enough to scare you. I think of them as guidance, not just a way of inflicting pain. Are you sure this is what you really want, honey?”
To my annoyance I find myself blinking back tears again. At anyone else I might be angry for criticizing Natalie. Or sticking her nose into my private business. But to this woman who has written loving letters almost daily and lavished me with the most wonderful day I have had in a long time, the answers are harder.
“I don’t know,” I say. “I mean she is wonderful to me. But she is so strict and the spankings are scary sometimes, like with the belt…but I know I’ve worried her a lot and gotten into so much trouble. I keep telling her I’m safe and she doesn’t have to worry and it’s been almost a year since I got out of the hospital, but she tells me that it hasn’t even been a year since I got out and she does worry. I want her to let me be more independent.”
Cassie nods. Lets my words sit in silence, neither critiquing nor expecting more. For the first time, I find myself trying to explain. It’s funny. When Natalie tries to make me talk, I hate it. With Cassie, it’s easy to say what I’m thinking without being worried that it’s wrong.
“I tried to stop seeing my counselor,” I say, surprising myself. I told Cassie that I was seeing one, a long time ago, but never anything more. “A while ago. He said I wasn’t ready. I was really mad, but then I realized it was right. And now that he says I’m ready to stop and maybe just have a check-in after six months or something, I see the difference.”
I’m not sure if I’m making any sense, but Cassie listens patiently. I think some more. “I guess Natalie would agree with you, actually. When she’s having a normal day and not all stressed and worried like today. But she wants to make sure I’m ready first.” This last part is especially difficult to tell. “I told her for over a year I was fine and didn’t need help, and then I got myself into the ER twice in a week. She was horrible after that. She wouldn’t even let me use scissors. Like I was two!”
Cassie chuckles, and I give a little smile. Natalie really is ridiculous, sometimes. Part of me is surprised that I am talking so much and especially about this, but telling Cassie is like telling a Mama Jane who won’t scold. Whatever she says, I somehow know that it won’t make me feel bad.
“I guess sometimes I let her be ridiculous about my safety because I’m worried, too. I promised her that I’m over it and I mean it and I really am, but sometimes I think about it. Not to do anything,” I add hastily, “but remembering what it was like to think that life wasn’t worth living and to wish it would all go away.”
Natalie would freak out if I told her this. She’d probably put me back on restrictions. Or maybe she would freak out more that I’ve never told her. Why is it so easy to tell this grandmotherly woman I’ve met in person for the first time, but I can’t say it to the woman I’ve lived with for the better part of ten years? Why can Cassie listen calmly when Natalie can’t?
Cassie thinks about it for a while. “I understand needing someone to be strict with you to feel safe with yourself. You know my story about when I went crazy with pills. But does it have to be so harsh? Can you meet each other halfway?” she asks.
I think, too. Reach down to pick up a brilliantly red leaf and twirl it in my hands.
“I guess she’d worry less and make all these silly rules less if I’d talk to her on my own more,” I admit. “Usually I only talk to her after she’s spanked me into it.” I blush just saying it.
“Lord knows being over Tom’s knee and getting spanked sure makes me quicker to answer and to listen,” Cassie says, and I laugh in agreement.
“Maybe I’ll try talking to her more,” I suggest tentatively. Cassie smiles at me.
“I think that’s a great idea. I’d love to hear that you’re getting more freedom to be your own person.”
“I hate being punished,” I admit. “And I hate it when she spanks me even when it isn’t a punishment, just to make sure that I don’t earn one. Like this morning when she…” I break off, blushing as I realize what I almost said. I can feel the smile in Cassie’s voice.
“I did notice you were having a hard time sitting down at breakfast…”
I cover my burning cheeks with my hands, and Cassie gives a chuckle.
“Getting spanked is nothing to be embarrassed about! Why, if it were then I would be embarrassed nearly every day of my life, and you know that’s not true.”
I blush some more.
“The question is, do you really want this? Is it good for you?”
I think back to my time apart from Natalie and how I slid back into every self-destructive habit and created more. Then I think about all of the laughter and silliness we’ve found recently as we have started to move on from all of the difficulties after the hospitalizations and estrangement. How the worst times of my life were when I lost her, and the best times have been with her.
“Yes,” I say. “I can’t explain why, but yes.”
Cassie puts her hand on mine again.
“Then that’s all anyone should care about. You live the lifestyle you choose, and if other people don’t understand it you just forget about them. Stand up for your choices and be proud.”
“I kind of do a lot of standing…” I mumble wryly, and Cassie laughs.
“If what you and Natalie do works, then be proud of it. And I see that we must return you to your neurotically overprotective warden. It’s nearly three o’clock.” Cassie gets to her feet, and we walk back to her car. She fills the drive with chatter about how she usually loves to bring her little convertible even though Tom doesn’t like her driving it to town, and today since he didn’t take the big car she left the little one at home. That she needs to run a few errands before getting home to greet him, but she wants to come with me to say good-bye to Natalie.
At the hotel, Cassie pulls up to the drop-off curve and hands her keys to the valet before leading me to the front of the conference-room entrance. Natalie is checking her watch as we approach, and relief washes over her face.
“I’m so glad to see you!” she says. Pulls me in for a fierce hug and kiss, despite my blushing stammers, and squeezes my hand. “Everything was okay?” She really means Cassie was okay? but I nod anyway. Both are true.
“Cassie and I talked about lots of things,” I volunteer. “Maybe we can talk about it later.” I feel, rather than see, Cassie’s approving smile.
“When are you girls heading out?” Cassie asks. Natalie checks her watch again.
“6:00 flight so we should probably catch the 4:00 airport shuttle…”
“Don’t be silly. I’ll take care of my errands while you girls pack, and I’ll come back to pick you up in a little over an hour. How’s that?”
Natalie and I both exclaim that we couldn’t possibly impose, but this time it’s Cassie who prevails.
“Maybe we shouldn’t,” I say to Natalie. “You never know about those people you meet on the internet…they might be axe murders. Or stalkers who call everywhere you go during the day asking the staff to call you when you’ve arrived.”
Natalie recovers from her shock to launch into a lecture, but Cassie’s laughter is so big that after a moment first I and then Natalie join in.
“You girls have a lot to talk about,” Cassie says. She ignores Natalie’s offered hand and squeezes her into a hug. Squashes me into a breathless hug, whispering into my ear.
“You talk to her, honey, and let me know how it goes.”
I nod to show that I understand, and Cassie is off. I look up at Natalie. She shakes her head.
“Looks like you’ve made a new ally,” she says.
“What’re you going to do about it? Spank me?”
I dance off to the gilded elevator, and despite her fancy new suit Natalie breaks into what might be called a rather undignified run.
“You know I will,” she whispers, and just before the elevator doors close behind us she gives my bottom a swat.
It takes not even fifteen minutes to pack because we organized everything the night before, and as soon as Natalie has changed into more comfortable clothes for the flight she sits down on the bed. Normally we would have had to check out at noon, but thanks to Cassie’s influence we’ve been told to stay as long as we need before our flight home.
I giggle as I go over Natalie’s lap. I’m still a little bit tender from the morning spanking, but I haven’t actually thought about it since Cassie mentioned it.
“Did you like meeting Cassie?” Natalie asks. I nod. I’d love to see Cassie talk to Natalie the way she did to me this afternoon. Except maybe when Natalie is less stressed.
“I think you went overboard worrying about my safety today,” I say. Boldly. Clearly and calmly. Natalie’s hand pauses on my bottom.
“Yeah. I mean I know you have to be careful and stuff, but taking down her license plate number? And calling every place?”
“Are you sassing me?” Natalie asks. It’s hard to get a read on her response because I can’t see her face and she is carefully keeping her voice neutral. My stomach quivers a bit, but I answer honestly and directly and simply the way she always tells me to do.
“No,” I say. “But it’s time I started being more responsible for myself. You know Dr. Mitchell said I needed more space to become independent.”
Natalie rubs my bottom thoughtfully. “Is that what you wanted to talk about?” she asks. I nod. “And you’re going to talk without getting upset and me having to drag everything out of you?” I gulp. There’s no backing out now. But Cassie is right that it is time.
There is another pause. “Yes,” I say, and my voice shakes only a little.
“Well then,” Natalie says, and this time her voice is light. “Well, Miss Independent, may I please spank your adorable bottom so I can enjoy watching you squirm on the flight home? And then we will have a long talk?”
I giggle. And as she makes my bottom sting and tingle, I wriggle contentedly in her lap.
“It’ll cost you tonight,” I say.
“Cheeky,” she answers. Gives me a kiss and then spanks away.
“You’ve got my address, so you come down again for another visit soon, you hear? Next time we’ll have you over at our house…”
“I’d love that!” I exclaim, eyes shining as I clutch my carry-on bag in my lap. Natalie laughs and thanks Cassie for the invitation while offering one of her own.
“We’d love to have you and Tom if you ever come our way…I don’t know what you did with Kat, but I haven’t seen her this happy in ages.”
“Would love to. We travel all the time.”
After giving hugs all around, Cassie hops back into her car and sends us off with a wave.
“Have a safe trip!” she calls. “Be sure to write to me as soon as you get home, okay Kat?”
“Do you want Natalie’s license plate number so you can run her fingerprints to make sure I’m safe?” I ask.
I feel Natalie’s hand on my bottom even as Cassie answers just loud enough for Natalie to hear, “I haven’t killed anyone with my axe in years, so I reckon Natalie’s about the same.” She blows a kiss and drives away.
“Well, well…who’s cheeky all of a sudden?” Natalie says. I look up quickly wondering if I am in trouble. She is trying to look stern. It would be more effective if her shoulders didn’t shake a bit and she didn’t give a little snort in between her words.
“Come on,” I say. “Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll let you give me a swat in the handicapped stall of the restroom.”
In full view of all the travelers getting out of their cars and lining up for the check-in, Natalie swats my bottom. Then takes my hand, laughing, and chases me to the gate.
Ana, thank you so much. Both for participating in Fantasy Friday and for including one of my best friends in the story! I also want to thank Ana for inviting me to participate her Fika series at Governingana, that will be up tomorrow. Once again Ana, thank you, this has been so much fun!
Come on everyone, send those stories in! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org