I open the door; she’s standing there in the afternoon sun, all smiles.
“Hey! It’s so nice to see you!”
She steps into the apartment. I’m not much of a touchy-feely guy normally, but I gladly accept her hug. Somehow it feels okay. This has been a long time coming, and I am so thrilled.
We step into the living room, chatting along the way.
“Travel wasn’t too bad? Thanks for making the trip by the way.”
“It was okay! And I’m used to it, you know.”
She stops for a moment, taking in her surroundings.
“Nice place by the way.” She sounds sincere, not just making small talk.
I shrug the compliment off, old habits still showing. “Oh, it’s nothing special, really…but it’s home. I’m glad you like it.” I hope she knows I mean it too.
She’s going through my bookcase, curious. I feel self-conscious, of course. She takes out a particular book.
“I have this one! Great read.”
I laugh nervously. “Yeah, I gotta get around to that one…I’ve been reading mostly, um, online stuff lately. You know. Stories from the archive and such.”
“Well, that’s understandable,” she says, putting the book back. "I guess you could call it research, eh?"
I chuckle at her joke. “Yeah, probably!”
I sit down on the couch, and I gesture towards the armchair, inviting her to do the same. She sets her bag down on the armchair, then takes a seat next to me. The closeness feels intense to me, and I find myself hoping she can’t tell.
I try to keep up the small talk. “How are you finding the city so far? Is it like you pictured it?”
She seems to ponder my question briefly before answering. “I don’t know that I really had a mental picture of it, actually. The neighborhood seems nice.”
“Yeah, I like it. Small shops, you know, coffee and beer and all that. A bit gentrified I guess.”
“It’s certainly quieter than I thought it would be.”
I nod, not knowing what to say.
“So…got any plans for the weekend, any spots you’d like to see?”
She smiles. We exchange a look. I laugh nervously.
“Well, I hope I’m worth the trip! But hey, we can totally go and see a few places tomorrow or Sunday. There’s a nice view from the mountain, if you feel like a short hike.”
“Sure, that sounds fun!” She’s smiling again.
There’s a small lull in the conversation. She’s the one to break the silence this time.
“You seem a bit nervous. Are you still up for what we discussed? The scene and all?” Her face is all concern, no judgement.
“Yeah, yeah, totally!” I hastily reply. “No, it’s just, it still feels like it happened so fast. My brain’s trying to keep up, haha.”
“Because I just want you to know, I’m fine with not doing it, if you have any second thoughts. We can just hang out.”
“No, no, it’s fine, really.”
She looks at me intently, scrutinizing my expression. “It’s fine?”
Right. She needs me to say it. Enthusiastic consent.
“I mean…it’s more than fine. It’s…it’s a dream come true, really. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
Her warm smile returns. “Okay good! Just as long as we’re clear.”
“Yeah. It’s just nerves, I swear,” I add with a little laugh.
I take a moment to center myself, slap myself on the thighs. “So, should we go over negotiations?”
I reach for the notebook on the end table. She laughs a bit, good-naturedly.
“Oh my god, you actually have a notebook?” she says with a raised eyebrow.
“Hey, you know what they say about the difference between science and fucking around! Plus it helps to have something I can refer to later if I’m not sure.”
She's still very amused. “Trancey notebook. Bet you hide that when all your vanilla friends come over…”
“Oh, shut up!” I shoot back. The banter is starting to come back, puts me a bit more at ease.
“Alright, alright. So, first off, consent. We’re doing a hypnosis scene, me as the ’tist, you as the subject. For that particular scene, at least. Cool?”
“So there’ll be general themes of control, obedience, all that good D/s stuff, but nothing permanent, like we discussed. Right?”
“Right. Like, I wanna to be able to go home on Monday remembering who I am, with all my things, my whole intact brain, without having embarrassed myself in front of people I know.”
“Right. And probably no people in general, right, unless we make it subtle? Bystander consent and all that.”
“Right, yeah. And…yeah, that’s basically it. I’d hate to do anything too messy either, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem. I know it’s not your style.”
“Yeah, probably not.” I scribble down some notes. “So, anything else you don’t wanna do? Stuff I should avoid?”
“Not really…maybe no falling imagery, or like, any scary stuff.”
I write it down. “Noted. What about stuff you do wanna do? Any special requests?”
She considers my question for a bit. “No…I think I’d rather be surprised, since I do trust you to know what I like. And, like, it doesn’t matter that much what you make me do, specifically, you know within limits. What I want is to feel out of control.”
'Out of control'. Yeah, things are getting real. I try to play it cool.
“Absolutely, yeah. We can do that. I mean, I have several ideas for things I want to try…”
I stand up and start to pace. I’m nervous, but I wanna get into it.
“Okay, so general 'control and obedience' theme, within limits. And we’re still using the traffic light system for safewords, right?"
She nods. I hand her the notebook.
“Does this all make sense so far?”
She looks it over, nodding. “Yep, looks good.”
I know she’s humoring me a bit, that it’s all a bit formal. But I wanna make sure I get it right. This isn’t the first time, but it’s also kind of the first time.
I push on. “Good. So as we said, we’ll be going off the trigger we set up over the ’net, reinforced by that file I made you. Right?”
“Right. It works super well, by the way,” she replies, looking at me.
I can tell she means it, too. It’s so good to hear her say that.
“Yeah, maybe we could do an induction later, but I know you wanted to do the whole tropey thing of ‘activating the trigger’. Which, I’m super into it, bee tee dubs.”
“Yeah! It’s just fun. And it’s been fun preparing for it.” She flashes me a cheeky smile.
I decide to go a bit clinical, playing it off. “Yeah, how many times have you listened to it so far? Just out of curiosity?”
“I think it was…eighty three. Yeah, eighty three.”
Hold on, what–
“Ei– eighty three? Damn, that’s a lot!”
She blushes a bit; I see I’m not the only one who feels self-conscious here. “Yeah, I dunno, I just…got into a groove with it. I wanted to be ready for today.”
My brain switches for a moment, I get curious. “So…what’s it been like? You said it worked well? How did it feel?”
“It’s difficult to say…” she begins. “I don’t remember a lot of it.”
“Oh, right…supes jealous of that spontaneous amnesia, by the way.”
“Aw, I’m sure you’ll get there! But yeah, I’m pretty sure I just…go with it. Like at this point I’m just going blank and following along. It’s great.”
“Jeez, yeah. I mean you dropped pretty hard last time we played, but…”
“Oh yeah. We’re on another level here.”
The way she looks at me when she says that...
“That’s um…not gonna lie, that’s getting me going. Haha.”
“Well we can start whenever you’d like!” she says, eager. She stands. I can tell she wants this.
“But wait,” I say. “If you get amnesia during the file…aren’t you afraid you won’t remember the session? That’d be a bummer!”
She seems to close up a bit at that suggestion. “Maybe…we’ll see.”
“If you want, I could try and put in suggestions to have you remember...”
She seems to consider this for a bit, but then shuffles uncomfortably. “I’d rather not, actually. I think it kinda…helps me get into the mindset. Like knowing it’ll be a fuzzy memory afterwards helps me let go and just go with it.”
“Really? Like, you’d be embarrassed to know about it?”
She shakes her head. “No, no, it’s more…like, it’s almost when I get to that place, I’m not really myself anymore. Like when I’m in ‘doll mode’ or ‘toy mode’” – she’s making air quotes, and I love that about her – “or whatever, I can just let go and focus on doing what the other person says. Like I don’t think about my life or my worries or anything. I think maybe the memory thing helps with that.”
I nod, trying to take it all in. “Yeah…I think I get it.”
“Plus, I mean we have phones! You could totally take a few videos. I’m sure it’ll make for a fun watch afterwards.”
“Ha, well, I’ll try to pick good moments.”
“I trust you. I’d wonder what it’ll feel like, to not recognize myself doing weird and devious things.”
“Jeez, yeah. That’d a be a trip. I got some ideas…”
“Just don’t make me clean your bathroom or anything. Though I guess I can’t stop you.”
“No promises!” I grin. We both chuckle at the joke.
Another small beat; I guess we’re just taking it all in.
I slap my hands together. “So…is that everything? Should we get started?”
“I think so…but speaking of bathrooms, I should probably use it before we start.”
As she goes, I start pacing again, psyching myself up. This’ll go great. This’ll be amazing. You can do this.
As she comes back, a thing occurs to me.
“Oh hey, should we timebox this? How long do you want this to go for?”
“I dunno…I always wonder how long I could stay in that headspace. Like, as long as you want, basically. We got the whole weekend.”
“Yeah. I mean I’ll probably bring you out after a while to check on you, but we can keep going as long as we’re having fun and basic needs are met.”
“Ooh, and I’m sure that’ll make me super fuzzy, too! Bonus.”
“Haha! Yeah. Anyway, I’ll make sure to give your brain back before Monday. Wouldn’t want your coworkers thinking I’ve kidnapped you.”
“Oh, you know, there’s ways around that…”
Her expression takes me aback. She’s joking, but also…not?
“I mean,” she continues, “you could always tell me to call in sick. Or tell me to go back and fake a personality, but I’d still be under. I’d still be your puppet. Deeply asleep.”
I need to make myself clear.
“Lis…you have to know, I would never do that.”
She looks at me intensely. “I know. That’s why I’m here.”
I catch myself wondering if that could really happen. If it could go that far. This is suddenly all so real, so dangerous.
A moment passes. I steel myself.
“Okay, so are you ready? You wanna do it standing?”
“Yeah, I think it’s cooler that way. And I won’t flop, we made sure of that.”
I motion her to look at me, and she steps in front of me, in the middle of the living room, clasping her hands on her chest. I look her in the eyes. They look into mine, searching.
“Em…I can trust you, right?”
Final test. I can see it's a real question, and she needs a real answer.
“Yes. You can, I swear.” I do.
“Good. Thank you.”
I breathe in, breathe out.
“Okay. Elise, activate.”
The change is so instant, so profound. Her eyes unfocus, crossing a little. Her arms flop down at her sides. Her mouth falls open, before voicing the familiar words. I’ve heard them before, but they’ve never sounded to true.
“I am ready to obey.”
“…and 10, wide awake, alert and refreshed.”
She blinks, shakes her head. She looks disoriented for a moment.
I immediately go to make sure she’s okay. “How are you doing? Are you back to yourself?”
She shuts her eyes for a moment. Her voice hesitates a bit. “Yeah…yeah, I think I am.”
I hand her a glass of water, she takes a sip.
I push a bit more. “So…just making sure, can you tell me who you are, who I am, what you’re doing here?”
She nods, smiling slighly. “I’m Elise, I’m your friend, I’m not a hypnotized toy. You’re my friend Em, we’ve known each other for a year now, I came here of my own free will…and there’s probably a few incriminating videos on your phone.”
I laugh a bit. “Good, seems like it deactivated okay. Welcome back!”
“So what do you remember?”
She scrunches her face, searching her memories. “Not a whole lot…it’s all fuzzy. That last bit just before you brought me back, I think.”
She looks down at her clothes.
“I have no idea why I’m wearing that, or where you found it.”
I chuckle, grinning. “I’ll tell you all about it. Couldn’t help myself.”
She looks out the window, stretching a bit and yawning.
“How long did this last, anyway?”
“It’s almost eleven. I mean I brought you out a few times like we said, but it just…kept making sense to go on. You seemed to be having fun. But yeah, I thought we should make some time for normal hangouts.”
“And to check out the videos!”
She plops down on the couch, smiling at me expectantly.
“You sure you don’t wanna change first?”
“It can wait.”