I bowed to his will. After I confessed my desire for him, for what he did to me when we slept together, something changed. I did not lose my mind and become his soulless slave. Nor did I become a weaker or a lesser woman. But I did give my body to him and allowed him to craft my performance in ways that pleased him. Because that was also what pleased me.
It occurred to me that no one had ever taken the time before to learn my physical and emotional responses so well. He came to know my reactions to being touched –or struck, or slit– in certain ways, as I came to know how he wished me to touch him. In this way, we discovered many different scenarios to please each other.
He learned, for instance, how it stirred me to be caned as I lay over his knee, wearing nothing but a shift pulled up round my waist. Each stroke of his rattan cane on my blush-red bottom made me moan as much in ecstasy as humiliation. Whenever he wished to excite me quickly and easily during the day, to induce me to take him in my mouth or between my thighs, he could always spank me this way first, since to any passing ear it simply sounded like I was getting the punishment a mad, disobedient girl warranted. But in truth, there was only the pretense of punishment between us now. We both wanted it, and knew each other’s desire. We played the roles of the intransigent patient corrected by the strict Doctor in ways that almost parodied the reality that gave them birth.
He was also the first to discover, during our games, my perverse affinity for the operating table. While these sessions began as genuine physical examinations in which he would draw my blood or measure my secretions, his hawk’s eyes could not miss the voluptuous shivers it caused me to be laid out on this metal surface before him. Guiding me to place my feet into stirrups on each side of the table, he would spread my legs so that he might insert into my quivering sex all manner of instruments to open and prod into me. All the while he would quote to me from the ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’ case studies of women such as myself who sought medical examination only to attain the highest possible degree of orgasm. His descriptions alone, sometimes, were enough to make me flush –but what he did to me excited me more.
In order to measure my reactions to his treatments, he would expose me fully, legs and lips spread wide, and then run various instruments over my entire body. He grasped my breasts in calipers, my nipples in finely-graded clamps, to record their increase. He tried to induce currents in my abdomen with magnetized bars and tuning forks. He ran long, fine blades over my skin to test its sensitivity, teasing me until I begged him to sink them in. Sometimes he cut hard and sharp enough to cause me gushes of sweet elation –but never so deep as to scar me. He wanted my flesh pure and whole for my public display.
Finally, he came to see that I needed to be stroked gently after my “hysterical paroxysms,” as he called my climaxes, or else I would fall into melancholy withdrawal for days. I needed him to bind my wounds as well as inflict them. And he did it. He did it all to me. But did he do it all for me?
I believe now that each cry I uttered, each protest and sigh, was a sign for him in a vast system of scientific meaning. He wanted to know the truth of sex, and to make me demonstrate it just so, as a proof. I only wanted him to read me deeply, so deeply that he could satisfy in me the desire that nobody else would even recognize as “sexual.” I hardly wish to call it that, even now. I certainly felt physical arousal, and sometimes it was even excited by sexual congress. But for me, arousal was simply a sensation of my body. I did not want to be defined by it, as he wished to classify me, but only to experience it as one among many pleasures. In this way, our aims were at odds, though our bodies corresponded perfectly.
Ah, well, I digress. I only meant to say that my training was intensified, and these were some of the best times I spent in the clinic at Ravenscourt. As the weeks passed, however, our sessions together became less about play and more about practice for a very real test: the formal public demonstration of my most intimate desires.
“No, no, NO!” The Doctor slammed down the baton he has been running across my abdomen, and reached under me to lift my back high off the table where I lay.
“This is how you move when you are having an attack! You are practically on your tip-toes in desperation, I have seen it a dozen times or more. It is a classic hysterical arch, Hannah. You must demonstrate this for us.”
“Oh, stop sir, you’re hurting me!” I protested.
“Fine! Maybe that will get you to perform.” He pressed my back higher, straining my neck til the bones rubbed together.
“No, no, it’s the wrong kind of pain. Oh, let me be a moment and I will try again to please you!”
He dropped me, throwing up his hands. He paced across the theatre space he had made out of the clinic’s main hall and sat down heavily in a red leather armchair. I slid from the operating table and padded over, kneeling beside him with nothing but a shawl around my shoulders. After a long silence, I dared to speak.
“Sir, please forgive my impertinence. I am trying my best to obey you. But this practice, this scenario, it is false.”
“False?” He looked at me skeptically. “How so?”
“You want me to pretend I am in the throes of desperation. But it will never be genuine unless you are in earnest in your desire to hurt me. Unless you take your pleasure from it, so that I can, too. I am…sir, I am ashamed and afraid, when I think of exposing my body this way in public. You have to make me want it with the force of your own desire.”
I spoke quietly, with my eyes downcast. Then for the briefest moment, I glanced up to him. I whispered:
“Please, my Doctor. Make me want it.”
I let the shawl drop, baring myself. The Doctor’s eyes narrowed for an instant and I feared a mis-step. But then his wicked gleam returned.
“Are you trying to provoke me, my cunning actress? You know what happens when you do that.”
He reached for my left breast. I closed my eyes as he pinched my softest tissues, bringing my nipple to attention. He caught the right with his other hand and drew my bowed body up. I made a tiny sound in the back of my throat, nestling up to his knees to place my hands on them in supplication. But still, we had to come to an agreement over practice and presentation.
“Sir,” I said softly. “When I perform in public, why don’t you do it to me for real? Not a script. A live performance. Improvised.”
“Mmm,” he murmured in agreement, his mouth buried in the side of my throat. Then suddenly, he shook his head as if coming to his senses.
“No. It’s impossible. If I do it to you in reality, they will see me for what I am in reality as well.”
“What are you?”
His lips twisted as he deliberated over what to tell me.
“Do you believe,” he asked finally, “that I am as mad as yourself?”
“No, certainly not!” I protested.
“Ah, but if it is a perversion to find sexual pleasure in receiving pain, is it not a perversion to be aroused by giving pain as well?”
“Why, logically, yes. I suppose.”
“The term for this is sadism. After yet another wretched fantasist, a Frenchman, no less.” He looked uncomfortable as he said this –perhaps the first time I had seen him look so.
“I see.” I sat back on my heels for a time and thought about this. I did not see him as mad or criminal. I did not see myself as mad either, for that matter. I simply saw us exploring a new experience, as one does when opening a new novel.
“Perhaps there are no ‘terms’ or categories in truth.” I suggested. “Perhaps I am not a ‘masochist’ and you are not a ‘sadist.’ Rather, we are people doing things together. In so doing, we are becoming something else than what we were, each in relation to the other. We are becoming…otherwise.”
The Doctor laughed.
“‘Becoming otherwise’? You are frankly incoherent! But you are correct on one matter.”
“If I cannot enjoy this demonstration, it will be hollow because it will lack the strength of conviction. Therefore, this is how it will be conducted. Listen well.”
I sat up straight at his tone of authority.
“I am your Doctor. You are my patient. We will play this scene perfectly. It will be the perfect imitation of a formal demonstration. But during the entire display, I will be fucking you in public, in ways the public does not even recognize. You will not know in advance what I am going to do to you. You will do whatever I please, and you may not stop me nor contest my methods. You must trust me unconditionally. If you perform well, you will have the option to accompany me to my new clinic or seek your pleasure elsewhere, as you will. Understood?”
I bowed my head to hide the tremor of my lips as I replied “Yes, sir.”
“Very well. There will be no more empty rehearsal. There will be only the final performance.”
My hand trembles as I write these next recollections. I cannot say whether it is anger or passion that shakes me. It is surely some combination of both. Because he did fulfill my request, my desire: he made me want what he did to me, before all of those people. And yet, he betrayed my trust, he took me against my will even as I wanted it. How to explain such a paradox?
It was a chill autumn evening, much like the night he came to see me in my sickbed, such a long year ago. I waited in an antechamber just outside the theatre. I could already smell the smoke of cigars from the room just beyond the door, a thick, masculine scent. The Doctor was already out there, lecturing in authoritative tones that rose and fell as he emphasized now one point, now another. The words “feminine masochism” and “hysteria” surfaced early on; the phrases “strict discipline” and “new procedure of induction, release, and restraint” followed. He was describing my treatment in detail. They would know it all, what I had been through, when they saw me. My shameful desires would be written upon my skin for all to read. Suddenly I could hardly fathom how I had agreed to this, much less asked for it. I turned, seeking a way out of the room. If I could just get into the hallway, it would be easy to pull a man’s long overcoat over my shift, tuck my hair into a hat, and slip away into the night. I lay my hand upon the door-knob—
In that very instant, the room’s other door, the one leading to the theatre, was opened. An intern came in and took me by the arm. I resisted for but a split-second; there was truly no escaping now. I took a deep breath, then allowed myself to be lead to my fate.
The front of the theatre where the Doctor stood was lit brightly with many reflective lamps. They could all see me plainly, while I had only a hazy impression of a room packed with men, their eyes catching the glint of the light as they turned to look upon me. I tried to walk proudly, but under the weight of their gaze my step wavered, as if they were physically driving me to and fro.
“And here we have the subject.” The Doctor pronounced, stepping forward to take me from the intern. He gave my arm a severe squeeze, and at his firm touch I straightened obediently.
“You will note, first of all, that the patient’s body displays some of the dysmorphic features that mark her condition. There is, for instance, some asymmetry in her figure, particularly of the buttocks.”
He turned me around, and to my horror he raised my skirt, under which I wore no linens at his command, to bare my bottom to the crowd. There was a great murmur of interest among the men as the Doctor pressed something cold and sharp-edged in under my curves: a metal rule, I thought. He gave each cheek a deliberate tap with the rule, triggering memories of the times he had caned me, and what had followed. He was saying something else, but the rush of blood in my ears drowned it out.
My skirt dropped. He turned me around again. By this time my eyes were firmly fixed on the floor. I could not bear to look at that crowd in my humiliation. The Doctor, however, had other ideas. He lifted my chin with the rule, ostensibly to make some remark about my throat as an aberrant erogenous zone. But in tilting my head up, he forced me to look at the men. When I saw them staring at me, it was as if they could touch me with their eyes. I felt each steady, incisive gaze as a hand violating my body. The Doctor pulled down my collar to display my breasts, but it was the many fingers of the assembled crowd that stroked me there.
My breath began to come faster, and my heart was pounding. Sensing this, the Doctor pressed his body imperceptibly against mine from behind so that I could feel between his legs a modest hardness growing. He was signaling his desire to me. He was making me want it. Suddenly, my own sex blossomed open, aching to be touched. I was at once elated and terrified of what would happen were he to expose me there, revealing the wetness glistening on my thighs. And that only made me pulse harder.
But apparently, even a scientific demonstration knows some bounds of propriety. The Doctor did not (or could not) strip me completely before them. Instead, he drew me to the operating table and had me lie down upon it.
“Gentlemen,” he announced “I will now demonstrate for you the new cure for this condition being developed in my clinic, namely, the course of induction, release and restraint. Gone are the times when we must think only of the suppression of base instinct. In cases which are themselves aggravated by the suppression of animal energies, expression, followed by its management, is the only effective cure.”
He walked around behind the low table, leaving the room a clear view of my figure. Then he took up a baton. He told the room that it was an instrument used in my training to induce hysterical attacks. When he touched it to my mouth, I knew why. It was made of ginger. Soon my sensitive lips began to burn. I parted them to lick when I could not bear it any longer, and he slid the root in, penetrating my mouth for just long enough to make me feel the heat. The taste was pungent, overwhelming. Already aroused, I squirmed in fresh desperation. He pointed out my “spasms” to the crowd, who noted with interest my strong reaction to being touched with what looked to them like an ordinary wooden stick.
“Now, I will induce her to release her energies through a hysterical paroxysm.” He said. “Please take careful note of the stages of progression here.”
At this, he reached down and pulled up my skirts again. Since I was in profile to the crowd, some semblance of modesty remained. However, the Doctor could see me perfectly from his vantage above me, and a small, wicked smile played over his lips to see the moisture that trailed between my thighs.
“As the ovaries and uterus are the seat of this subject’s hysteria, it is often necessary to manipulate them to induce an attack,” he explained. He pressed the ginger against my belly, and kneading my flesh in rhythmic circles as he moved down from just under my navel to stroke each side of my abdomen. Then he pressed lower, to the base of my mound, the cusp of my lips just where I furrow and divide. Unable to help myself, I thrust my hips up spasmodically and drove my clitoris against the ginger-baton.
“Aah!” I gasped. My back arched hard.
“Yes, yes!” the Doctor said. “We see here the beginning of the hysterical arch or ‘arc-de-cercle.’ My fellow, you may want to take this one, it is of great scientific interest.”
I had no idea what he was speaking of, until a loud “crack!” sounded, and I was blinded and overcome by the scent of black powder. I jumped and twisted towards the sound. Through the spots in my eyes I could see a device mounted to a tripod, a figure shrouded in black –yes, it was a photography camera. My image, taken. My shame, preserved and perpetuated. I was paralyzed in my half-sitting posture at the thought of my image-body printed and pored over, rifled and touched by innumerable strangers.
“Hannah, lie back,” the Doctor whispered to me. But I only trembled with tension. Seeing this, the Doctor quickly gestured to an intern, who scurried to fetch something. He strolled out from behind the table, apparently fully in control of himself.
“In order to calm the patient and induce a further attack, we will now administer inhalations of amyl nitrate.”
“Inhalations of what?” I hissed through my clenched jaw.
He reached a hand behind his back and held up a warning finger.
“This chemical compound is known to increase blood circulation and induce relaxation of the smooth muscles, particularly in the anus and vulva. It thus has profound effects on the hysteric.”
I wanted to protest, but his gesture silenced me. The intern returned holding a leather mask designed to cover my mouth and nose, with a sort of rubber breathing bladder attached at the front. The Doctor took it from him, and walked back around behind the table. I shook my head as he moved to put it on me, but it was no use: he held me down and forced it over my face. I tried not to breathe for long moments, holding my breath until my chest felt like bursting. But finally, I had to give in. With a great gasp, I drew in a deep, bitter breath, and then another and another, inhaling the noxious compound.
The effects of the drug were immediate and indescribable. It was as if I were being flooded from deep inside my womb with hot currents that radiated outwards, filling and coursing through me. My already-slick vagina seemed to melt and expand at once. The sensation spread through my anus, my abdomen, and flickered into every limb, making my toes curl and my fingers grip the sheets, yet with a tingling, enervated weakness. My head spun in free-fall as my body soared, buffeted in turn by gusts of fury and euphoria. Muffled inside the mask, my night-voice broke from me wildly.
“I never wanted this, Theo, but I need it so badly, so hurt me! I’m always alone, but I need you to be with me! You can’t own me, but rule me! You can’t love me, but fuck me! Do it, do it, do it now!”
The Doctor talked over me continuously, masking my confession with his voice. But he heard it. As I begged for it, the Doctor pressed his baton down onto my clitoris, taking full advantage of my helplessly compliant body. At his will, my back arched high, as high as the perfect arc of the moon, so that I felt split open wide and completely exposed inside-out to the world. I was shocked with chemical electric current into the shape of a new age, a new sexuality I could see before me for a hundred years and more. His hands were on and inside me, the crowd was on and inside me, I felt the entire assemblage as if they stood up shocked by my erotic panic and pressed around me to penetrate every inch of my surface. All the men and women of that country and beyond, they all wanted me like this bared under their eyes, their hands, and I flowed in pleasure and thrashed in agony as this sexual torment was forced onto to me by the world. The Doctor was opening me out in public –and it was the public that fucked me, hard. The lights of the camera were flashing around me like bomb-blasts, burning their will to desire onto my skin.
“No! No! Ahh, please, aaah!” I screamed, words failing into animal sounds. At that moment I swore the Doctor thrust something massive into the fissure that was my body and pounded me so hard I convulsed, gushing with a force that tore through me until lost myself in eternity.
Unfortunately, it was a short eternity. I came to again with another sharp scent in my nostrils: the scent of smelling salts waking me from a faint. I opened my eyes to find myself still on the table. The mask was gone. To all appearance, I had not been violated by the watching crowd, nor even by the Doctor, whose hands and clothing were as clean as ever. The rush of the drug had passed. Though I still felt a kind of twitching tingle in the muscles of my thighs, even that was fading.
“As you can see, the subject is now in full possession of her faculties. Having experienced release, she is capable of restraint. Hannah, please stand up and introduce yourself.”
It was the first time he had spoken my name or given me a direct order. This, I realized, was my test, my public examination. Having experienced such intense physical and emotional sensations, could I still stand before a room of respectable men of medicine and conduct myself like a proper woman?
Slowly, I sat up on the table. My skirts had already been arranged. I slipped down off the edge carefully, stood, and curtseyed.
“Welcome to all our honored and esteemed guests.” I said in my mildest tones. “My name is Hannah. I was once a maid-servant at Ravenscourt Manor. I had difficulties there with speaking and acting out in my sleep, which disturbed the household staff. Now, I am a grateful patient of the Doctor—” (here I sought and obtained his permission with a glance) “—Theophilus of Ravenscourt. Under his care, I have improved a great deal. I ask that you please support his continued efforts. I wish you all a good evening.”
I curtseyed again. I nearly fell. Seeing this, the Doctor motioned to one of the younger, stronger interns, who took me from the theatre back into the antechamber. The Doctor did not touch me, nor guide me out of the room himself. He had not even a glance at me. It was clear: he was finished with me.
The instant I was out, my tears began to flow.
“How could he be so cold?” I whispered. Then, more loudly, “How could he?!” I lashed out at a table, upsetting it. The intern stepped forward to grip my shoulder.
“The Doctor requires you to lie down and calm yourself now. Come with me.”
“No! I must see him, now!”
“He has ordered it. I don’t wish to call the night-watchman, but I will.”
I struggled half-heartedly, knowing there was no way for me to resist the intern’s strength but still trying to make things difficult. He lock-stepped me to a ward room with many empty identical beds and strapped me down to the one nearest the door. I heard his footsteps echo as he left me.
Then, against all expectation, he paused and returned.
“He will come for you after the reception, miss. I swear it.”
There was a surprising compassion in his voice. I looked up and saw before me the horrified face of a young country man, not much out of his boyhood. But I didn’t want a country boy. I wanted my Doctor.
“Send for him now. Please. Please.”
“He will come. You must wait.”
What choice did I have? It was always my part to wait.
– The End –