The Quality of Mercy
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
The words had stuck in my mind for a long time, since a high school English class taught by my favorite teacher, who happened to be both brilliant and a hopeless alcoholic. He’d been banished to the backwater of our school from a prestigious University when he became unable to maintain some appearance of sobriety while he was teaching. My school was so glad to acquire someone of his caliber that such appearances weren’t deemed necessary and everyone looked the other way whenever he showed up worse for wear. You never knew what you’d learn in that class as he lost more battles with the bottle than he won but on his bad days he favored memorizing long passages of poetry and plays. I’d actually loathed ‘The Merchant of Venice’, it was my least favorite Shakespeare play but ten years later I could still recite that particular quote from memory.
It resonated deeply with me because Ben’s mercy to me was never compromised, never qualified or given grudgingly. Mercy is different things to different people; Ben’s mercy to me was in understanding what I needed to feel forgiven. And I liked the quote because it spoke of the relationship inherent between two people who chose to forgive and to be forgiven. That I had such a strong need for this kind of relationship where forgiveness was overt was something that I didn’t wholly understand. The desire for the age-old way of dealing with problems, that cycle of transgression, punishment and absolution, was so ingrained in my psyche that I had no choice but to accept it. Not that it happened with much frequency, like most submissives I wanted badly to please my Dom but when I did screw up the catharsis of a punishment made it bearable. Without it I would have tormented myself for weeks afterwards. A physical correction at his hands allowed me to let it go.
That I was now lying here on our bed, unwilling to accept my part of this arrangement was ridiculous. I knew that but as hard as I searched I just couldn’t find that acceptance. Yet. I knew I would, eventually and I knew I was just making it harder on myself in the meantime but I could be stubborn sometimes. Not very often but hidden amongst my submissive nature was an obstinate vein that ran thick and true. Ben had finally sent me to lie down after a prolonged stretch kneeling in the corner did nothing to improve my attitude. If anything it was worse to lie here in the quiet of our room without even the aching of my legs to distract me. No, it wasn’t a kindness to be allowed the comfort of our bed at this point and I tossed and turned restlessly.
So I set my jaw and determinedly tried to focus on something more pleasurable than contemplating my disobedience. It took a huge effort but I replayed my favorite fantasy in my mind repeatedly until I felt my cock stir with interest. I loosened the drawstring of my sleep pants enough that I could slip a hand in the front to stroke my hardening length. Lost in my daydream, I closed my eyes and groaned softly. My breath quickened and I could feel my toes curling in anticipation when I felt a hand close over mine, stopping my progress in its tracks. I jerked in surprise and let out a hoarse shout, my eyes flying open. I must have been in deep not to have heard Ben come into the room and my face flushed red as I looked up into his unimpressed face.
“What did I tell you to do, Kyle?” he asked.
It took me a minute to come up with an answer, my brain was still fogged with a pre-orgasmic haze and I just stared stupidly up at him. He waited, his hand still gripping mine, which was in turn, still gripping my fast-dwindling erection. Finally I managed to force out some sort of response, “Think.”
One eyebrow quirked upwards at the inadequacy of my reply but he nodded. “I don’t remember saying anything about jerking off.”
“No, sir,” I agreed, shifting uncomfortably in his grip. He let me go and I quickly removed my own hand from my pants, giving him a shame-faced grimace.
Ben sat down at the edge of the bed and reached out to re-knot the drawstring snugly around my waist. “I see that again and you’ll be lucky to have an orgasm before Christmas.”
Actually I was lucky that he didn’t spank me right then for such blatant disrespect instead of making vague threats. I could see that he didn’t want to add to the punishment that I had coming even if I did deserve it. But instead of feeling grateful, as I should have, it only seemed to solidify my obstinacy. The trouble was I ‘had’ broken a rule, categorically and unquestionable broken it and I didn’t have a leg to stand on when it came to a defense. Every time my mind skirted near that fact I could feel a wave of stubbornness well up and drown my common sense. Sometimes it was hard for me to admit a failing; sometimes it was very hard, like now. To say that I didn’t like disobeying Ben was an understatement, admitting that I had was a struggle. It wasn’t about the spanking I knew I had coming, it wasn’t that correction that I struggled against but the admittance that I had failed, that I hadn’t been perfect in my submission to him. Most of the time I could overcome it, accept that I wasn’t perfect, that no one was but that it didn’t mean that I was a failure as a submissive. I could accept his punishment and more importantly his forgiveness without this absurd song and dance beforehand.
For me rules are like boundaries, they essentially make things easier. It’s easier to remain submissive when there were rules reminding you of your place. And I know some people hate that saying, ‘your place’ but for me it was a place I actively sought and reveled in. A correction was the same, break the rules, pay the price and move on. A punishment wasn’t something to be resented, it was a tool to be used in reinforcing a willing submission and it was to be accepted as such. I sighed; I was sucking all around today in accepting anything, my initial disobedience and my punishment.
Ben studied my face carefully; I’m sure noting that I was no where near acknowledging what had happened. His warm hand stroked my leg from my knee to my hip in a gesture that was meant to soothe but only added to my irritation and my muscles stiffened in protest. Now it was his turn to sigh, “So stubborn,” I heard him murmur, his voice soft with regret as he stood.
I turned my face away so I didn’t have to see his disappointment.
His voice was firm when he spoke again, “I’ll check on you in an hour Kyle. I hope you’ll make an effort to think this time.”
“Ben! No!” I protested through gritted teeth, my hand smacking down on the bed in annoyance. I hated lying here, trying my hardest ‘not’ to think.
His patience was used up and he bent to hook a hand under my knee, turning me quickly onto my side. His broad palm swatted hard twice against my thinly covered backside and I hissed and twisted like an angry cat, hardly the picture of a good submissive. But it didn’t put off Ben, who using his leverage, rolled me onto my front, and his palm found the whole of my backside. I kicked and struggled but his hand pressed on the small of my back kept me in place and I was sweating and red-faced when he stopped. Ben patted me softly on my seared backside, “An hour, Kyle. Use it wisely.”
I waited until I was sure he left the room before I lifted up to undo the string of my pajamas again. This time I ignored the front and slid my hand down the back of my pants to try to soothe the hot ache emanating from my bottom. Whether it was the spanking or if I was just exhausted from fighting against the truth, I finally began to think rationally for the first time that day.
My guilt galloped hot on the heels of the truth and even though the clock on the bedside table said it had been less than half an hour I got out of bed, unable to stand the thought of another minute lying there. I opened the bedroom door and padded out into the living room where I knew I’d find Ben, reading. He didn’t look up from his book when I knelt at his feet and lay my head against his knee. His hand did reach out to cup the back of my head though. His fingers carded through my hair for a moment before trailing down to touch my cheek. Feeling the wetness of my tears he nevertheless said, “I thought you were told to stay in bed.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied. “Please don’t send me back.”
I must have sounded sufficiently pitiful because he let me stay where I was while he continued to gently stroke the side of my face and neck. He finished the page of his book and set it aside before he turned his full attention to me. I blushed fiercely under his gaze, remembering every willful thing I’d said to him that day.
“I want to know why you disobeyed me. I warned you when you broke that rule before that it would be a spanking if it happened again. Do you remember?”
My eyes slipped downwards to study the fabric of the sofa but Ben reached out and lifted my chin, making me meet his eyes. “Yes, sir,” I said reluctantly.
“I think I was pretty clear, both about the rule and the consequences.”
I nodded, he had been abundantly clear, I had no excuse. That I had decided to defy the rule and consequently, him, was an active choice on my part. It had been a rare and stupid act of rebellion that I was now thoroughly regretting.
“Why Kyle?” he asked again.
I shifted uncomfortably on my knees, trying to come up with at least something that would lessen my offense. It’s human nature to try! But I couldn’t come up with a single reason that made any sense at all and finally I just shrugged a little.
“Is the rule unfair? Is it impossible to follow?”
“No, sir,” I whispered, ashamed that I had put so little effort into obeying at all.
Ben gave a short nod, “All right then,” he said. “Go and get the hairbrush.”
I stood up and made my way back towards our bedroom without much enthusiasm. I was expecting a significant punishment, disobedience with a major attitude following it up was something that needed to be dealt with and while I knew I thoroughly deserved it, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Punishment was just that, as much as I savored erotic pain, I dreaded a simple punishment spanking from Ben. So I confess I drug my heels as much as I dared and I stood in front of the dresser for a good few minutes working up the courage to open the drawer where the hairbrush lived. Impatiently I wiped the tears from my face and took a few deep breaths, trying to get control of myself. I’m not a crier by nature, sad movies, Hallmark commercials and funerals for elderly relatives all find me dry-eyed but knowing I had done something worthy of a spanking left me spouting tears like a leaky boat.
Finally I managed to retrieve the despised implement from its resting place and make my way back to Ben. He took a long look at me as I stood there, sniffling back tears and trembling and he sighed in exasperation as he pulled me down to sit in his lap.
“Calm down, Kyle, for God’s sake. You’d think I was going to shoot you, not spank you.”
“I know,” I gulped, feeling ridiculous at how I could work myself up. Since he was uncharacteristically offering comfort before punishment, I wasn’t going to refuse it. I leaned against his chest, breathing in his scent and soaking up his warmth. His strong arm wound around my waist, pulling me close and we sat in silence for a few moments until my panicked breathing slowed.
“Now I’m going to give you one hell of a spanking and then this is going to be over and done with, understand?”
“Yes, sir,” agreed readily. “I’m sorry, about everything.”
Ben nodded and released me with a firm kiss to my forehead. He reached for the string of my pajamas when I stood, untying it and pulling my pants down around my knees. Bare and vulnerable I bent across his knees and passively let him adjust my position until he was satisfied. Some of earlier anxiety surfaced again but I was now focused on what was about to happen to my exposed backside, not on how I’d failed. I clenched and unclenched the muscles of my bottom in nervous anticipation when I felt him shift to pick up the hairbrush from the low table in front of the couch.
“You obey my rules, Kyle. You remain mindful of my will.”
His voice was forceful but soothing, devoid of anger. A punishment was another way of supporting me, of supporting our relationship and I relaxed as much as I could over his lap, accepting his correction in my mind.
It was always a shock, how much different a punishment spanking was to a pleasurable one. No slow warm up of my ass to ease the sting, no fondling or caresses to arouse and distract me. Just the solid smack of the back of that brush against my butt until despite my acceptance of the punishment I couldn’t hold still and began to jerk and twist, trying to avoid the wicked sting. Ben paused for a moment to get a better grip on me and I couldn’t stifle my tears when he resumed the spanking. It was over in a few minutes although it seemed far longer to me, an intense but mercifully short session.
I covered my face with my hands and wept, silently and hard, when he finished. He allowed this only for a moment before he moved me to kneel at his feet and pried away my hands. He held them firmly in his so I couldn’t hide from him and bent to kiss my tear-stained cheeks. I gasped, taking in a long shuddering breath and unable to remain silent, I cried aloud. I lay with my head on his lap, groaning and sobbing until the burning pain in my backside lessened enough that I didn’t feel like it was going to catch fire anymore. My pants were half-way across the room where I’d kicked them and I left them there. I was often naked while Ben was fully clothed and it didn’t make me self-conscious. And God knows there was no use pretending I hadn’t just been thoroughly punished.
“Come up here,” Ben ordered softly, patting the couch beside him. I settled myself carefully on my side, lying with my head on his lap again and he picked up his book. No more than twenty minutes had passed since he’d laid it down but now I could breath freely again, my guilt released. I sighed heavily, drowsy now and Ben’s hand moved soothingly over my back and neck, encouraging me to sleep.