It was 7:00 on Saturday night, and I was terrified. I had 90 minutes to prepare, and I was trying to keep from breaking down.
Wipe down. Clean feet. Moisturize face. Paint nails. Apply makeup.
Kit helped me best he could. He stayed with me, talked to me.
Underwear on. Kit laced me into my corset. Robe on. Hair out of braids.
Kit took pictures, just for us. I saw them later; the fear is so apparent.
We talked, we cried, and then I picked up my things and went.
I was early. I hesitated outside the space, close enough to hear voices, far enough away that I don’t think I was seen. I stood for a moment, removed my shoes, rearranged my basket, felt my heart pounding.
I stepped forward a little bit, and was met by N, who would be standing guard. We talked until it was time.
D and J, my aftercare team, met me and took my things, including my eyeglasses. They guided me to where I needed to be, and I stood next to my OM.
He faced the people ringed around us, spoke of why we were there. The exact words I can’t recall, but they were perfect. I was asked if I had anything to say, and I thanked everyone who was there, those who knew me and didn’t, those who changed plans to be there for me. I turned to my OM, who asked me three times if I consented.
I was instructed to go next to the fire, to pray and to meditate. I spoke to Cernunnos, to help, to love, to see me through, to accept me and my submission.
I felt someone behind me, took a breath, and it began.
My hair was pulled; a knife was drawn over my flesh. It awakened the fight in me immediately.
From there it was terror and pain.
Darkness before me, with only the eyes of my Master glittering at me. Strikes across my face with a heavy hand, one I have felt before. Sharp strikes with a paddle I did not provide. A near-fisting in front of all witnesses. Kissing the ground, licking boots. The sjambok.
I can’t remember everything I said, everything said to me. I can’t remember every fight or insult. I know I hit the person holding me a few times; I know my head connected with his and my nails dug in.
All the while, E (who held me down and moved me as commanded by my Master), stroked my hair, whispered encouragement. E kept me standing when I would have fallen. All the while, the people in the ring around us shouted encouragement, asked questions in response to my words, drove me further.
“You are loved.”
“There is strength in submission.”
“You can do this.”
“We are with you.”
“Are you only pain?”
Two voices I recognized. The rest were strangers, calling encouragement, calling love, calling strength. All the while, my Lover stood, silhouetted by fire, waiting for me to submit.
I learned my safe word. I had not asked Him for it, for fear that I would use it. I almost did. I stopped myself just in time.
I screamed in E’s ear. I sobbed. I fought, and I finally, finally, finally opened. I ripped at my own chest, opening the gaping hole He has worked with all this time. I gasped, “Open! Open! I am open.” And I lay on the ground, splayed and spent.
My Master held. He instructed that I be brought to my knees. My Lover stood before me, holding out His hand. I reached up, but dared not touch – to touch Him would mean failure.
He took my hand.
I collapsed into sobs as my Lover pulled me close. My Master said, “She is a beautiful woman. She is a good girl.”
My Lover sat me back. Someone moved my hair. There was a click, the feeling of metal, the prick of antlers.
I had passed.
My Lover held me for a time, lying there in the grass, pain and relief and wonder and tears. He spoke to me, stroked my hair, told me He loved me, that I was beautiful, that my submission was beautiful. He kissed me then, brought D and J to me, and left.
Before leaving, I remembered the whiskey He had asked for. I offered it to the fire – half the bottle. It flared, burning my marks. A sip was offered to my Master, then to my Lover.
It was over. I had done it. D and J wrapped me in a blanket, made sure I had my shoes and glasses, and guided me out of the circle.