Posted at 01:07 on 7 May 2011 by Pandora / Blake
This week began with my betrothed and I taking a walk in the woods. It was May day morning and the bluebells were thick and vibrant underfoot. We found a secluded grove and made a mini-camp, our picnic and thermos stowed under a cloak so we could roam unhindered. We rambled through woods coppiced and untended, enjoying the bright spaces and thick spring growth in the former, and the romantic tangles and looped tendrils of dead honeysuckle in the latter.
Having worked up an appetite we returned to our picnic spot and had breakfast. Once we'd feasted Tom struck out and came back with a straight, tapered length of young sweet chestnut sapling. He used his knife to strip the knots and buds from it while I wove a garland for my hair out of honeysuckle and hazel leaves.
Tom poured mead into a wooden cup and we shared it, exchanging words of love. We needed no Beltane fires to jump over. Filled up with food and drink, with sunlight and tenderness, we undressed and gloried in the rare pleasure of being naked under the trees.
The softness, the scent, the fresh taste of bare skin bathed in sunshine. We worshipped each other with kisses. And then Tom led me over to the chestnut tree we'd spread our blanket under; hesitant steps over ivy and crackling twigs in our bare feet, watching out for spiny chestnut shells.
I leaned my weight into the tree, poised on tip toe. He whipped me with the sweet chestnut switch. The young wood was incredibly flexible, but it was somewhat thicker than most canes. Without a warm up, each stroke burned with an unbelievable intensity that made me whimper and gasp for air. My legs quaked as I tried to arch my back and present my bottom nicely. I took so much pleasure in the cool air playing over my skin, the deeply grooved, rough bark of the tree, the peaceful bird sounds and rustle of leaves, that I willed the switch to burn less intensely, to let me relax and enjoy the experience. But the deep, raw sting of it was almost unendurable. The best I could do was to rest my face against the bark and sob, submitting to the pain but unable to claim it as pleasure.
Even as I flinched away from the strokes despite myself, to the watching part of me, my fear only heightened the eroticism of the scenario. But it didn't make the pain any easier to bear.
Tom took pity on me, although I think in both our fantasies he would have thrashed me harder and longer. Back on the blanket he bent me on hands and knees for some quicker, shorter strokes, before putting down the switch and using his hand instead. I welcomed the change in sensation - but the slaps rang out sharp as gunfire in the peaceful woods, and after a few more he decided not to risk attracting curious dog walkers, and turned his attention to other matters.
Afterwards I was barely marked. It hadn't, objectively, been particularly severe - and yet how easily I'd felt overwhelmed.
I peeled the switch before we came home, delighting in how easily the bark came away from the stem and fascinated by the fresh wetness beneath. I had a sudden craving to taste the sensation of that newly uncovered wood, still damp with life. Tom said then that he'd planned to peel it after we got home, but it was done now.
We headed back. By the time we were home the peeled switch had dried stiff and inflexible, the life gone out of it. But the memory of that freshly cut switch and the startlingly strong sensations it caused has stayed with me all this week, along with a mild regret that I couldn't endure more of it. It's funny how the pain you can barely take is hottest, in retrospect.