Bondage Sam. My first session with him was a special occasion, although I don’t remember the specifics of it because he came to the dungeon so often—I’d noticed him sessioning with other girls a few times a week, and soon after we first played together, he started seeing me a few times a week too. All those sessions blurred together in my mind, after a few months. Sam himself was blurry too: a shortish, middle-aged, brown-haired white man. I can’t recall another physical detail about him. Most of my clients I never looked in the eye, but with Sam, it went further—it was as if I never truly saw him at all. He was like one of those goblins in the folktales, the ones with the power to make your gaze slip past their shape till you weren’t sure whether you’d seen man or creature, or if you’d even witnessed anything beyond your imagination.
We weren’t allowed to do real rope bondage till we’d been at the dungeon at least a month. The same rule went for gags and blindfolds, and the desk mistresses recommended we not use them at all till we’d seen a client a few times and trusted them. The staff tried to keep us as safe as possible, but ultimately, once we were upstairs in those rooms with their dim lighting, their plush fabrics and slick leather, the responsibility was on us.
And I wasn’t always as careful or concerned as I should have been.
As a child, scenes of bondage and entrapment filled my earliest fantasies, years before I began to romanticize pain. So it’s strange that I don’t remember the first moment the ropes wrapped around my wrists at the dungeon, not the way I remember the first time a man’s hand connected with my bare ass. Restriction, apparently, was not as powerful a mental trigger as physical discomfort. At least not in the same way.
What do I remember? I remember Sam hunched over lengths of rope, wrapping and unwrapping, coiling and uncoiling, transforming ordinary cords into instruments capable of changing me, of making my limbs immobile as metal while my veins ran gold. Rumpelstiltskin.
Sinister, though I didn’t see it that way at first.
Sam tied the ropes tight—too tight, most of the girls said, though Amanda told me she’d always liked his sessions—binding my wrists and ankles, elbows and knees, enclosing my limbs in layers that made it clear how imprisoned I was. Sometimes he asked me to struggle, to prove I couldn’t escape, as though I were a miller’s daughter locked in a room full of straw, trapped with an impossible task. He tied my arms above my head or behind my back, attached them to my legs in a hogtie that wound me up like a thread around a spool. But the tighter Sam secured my limbs, the more I felt, in some strange way, free.
This, more than being spanked or ordered around, this was what I’d been dreaming of since I was five years old, when I’d imagined myself a prisoner in a golden gilded birdcage. A part of me had always felt trapped, but I didn’t want someone to help me escape; I wanted someone to make the prison real.
I loved my sessions with Sam because I loved what he did to me, but I hated them for the same reason. In one corner of the Athena room, Sam would attach the rope binding my wrists to a bar hanging from the ceiling, he would raise the bar on its pulleys till I had to stand on tiptoe, he would smack my ass with a paddle till my breath turned short and shaky. He would yank off my thigh-high stockings, my garters, my top pair of panties—this was why we were told to wear two pairs—and he would tell me to open my mouth.
I opened my mouth. I opened my mouth, and he stuffed them all in, one after another, thigh-highs, garters, panties, lace and nylon clogging my throat, and then over that he pressed the ball gag, fastening it tight behind my head, my teeth clenching, jaw aching, my throat so full the only sound I had any hope of making was a moan.
I wonder if Bondage Sam dreamed of cutting out women’s vocal cords.
And then, every time, once I was incapable of speech, once he’d rendered me incapable of speech, he would grab my pussy over my remaining pair of underwear. An act that was unquestionably against the dungeon rules. I would squirm and shake my head, and he would take his hand away to slap my bottom, and then the hand would go back between my legs. It never stayed there too long, never ventured past my underwear, never a true invasion. I could barely feel his fingers, really, over my lacy underwear. There were the competing sensations of fabric scratching my tongue and the roof of my mouth, rubber prying open my lips, rope digging against my wrists. Still, I would think: As soon as he takes the gag out, I’m going to end the session, I’m going to stop playing with him from now on.
But every time, when, finally, he unclasped the leather strap of the ball gag, when I stretched my lips, tender teeth wide, and the stockings and panties fell out, it seemed my mouth had temporarily forgotten how to form words. How to transform them into sounds that had meaning.
Without acknowledging what had just taken place, in the rushing businesslike way he always worked (was he the same at the office where I imagined him as an accountant or lawyer, I wondered?), Sam would untie and then retie me, some way that suited me better. Lying on the floor in a hogtie, or with the ropes themselves wrapped around my underwear, invading but protecting at the same time. The binds would cocoon me and comfort me, cloudlike, smoke-like. They took me to a sub-space, an under-space. A world where I had no decisions to make and no thoughts to turn over and over in my mind. Maybe I was floating on clouds, above the ground; maybe I was below it in the smoky underworld, like Persephone with Hades. But there was none of Hades’ fire left inside me, no pain, no worries, only the certainty that I was exactly where I should be.
That certainty didn’t last long, no longer than the clogged-throat discomfort that preceded it. The session always ended, Sam always untied me, and I had to get up and put on clothes and clean and become a real live human girl again. My blood had turned slow and viscous by that point, like liquid metal moving through my veins. But it did move. I said goodbye to Sam, I told him “thank you;” I knew that when he came back, I’d play with him again, I’d open my mouth and let him close it. But I’d never look in his eyes, never learn him the way, I imagined, he learned me.
S.C. Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC. She lives and writes in Los Angeles.