It's 12:05 on Monday, and my appointment with Flynn was at noon sharp. I hate being late. I'm never late. All of this e-mail sparring with Ana over this New York trip with that boss of her's has wound me tighter than a golf ball. A kickboxing session with Claude would be much more useful at this point.
"Good afternoon Christian. Good to see you."
"John." My voice is clipped, as I sulk into the couch. This is such an ugly couch. You'd think with what I pay John he could afford real leather.
"Christian, you seem very tense. I thought you would be floating in here again after seeing you and Ana together Saturday night. You two looked very happy with each other. Of course, that is from what I could see under the masks." Flynn says with a smirk.
I'd nearly forgotten that John met Ana at my parent's party. Saturday night seems so long ago. That was before Leila broke into my apartment, before I told Ana I loved her, before...my billiard table. The memory makes me smile and changes my whole mood. I hadn't realized my face was locked in a scowl the entire morning.
"We are John. It's just, things are complicated."
"When is life not complicated Christian?" Dr. Flynn says with a laugh that hints that he's speaking from experience. "Let's try to uncomplicate it bit by bit. What are some of the problems."
"Well, first: the situation with Leila has gotten much more serious. She tracked down Ana, and snuck into my apartment, and now she's apparently obtained a concealed weapons permit."
"Christian. Don't you think it's time you got the police involved." John admonishes.
"No." I say in a tone more aggressive than intended. "I'm sorry John. I didn't mean to snap."
"Christian, can I ask you a question. What is it about Leila that makes you feel you need to protect her?"
I don't know why I feel the need to protect Leila. Well, maybe I have an inkling. Leila was like looking into a mirror. Her broken soul reflected my broken soul back to me. She was always so lively, and creative, always bringing me paintings and putting songs on my ipod. She wanted more, and the truth is, I did care for Leila. But I already had so much pain, I couldn't let anymore inside. I couldn't take on someone else's fifty shades.
"I guess I just feel like there but for the grace of god. After Leila and I ended our partnership, she married this guy. And I guess she ran out on him, with someone who was killed in a car accident four weeks ago. I just, sometimes I think I could have been that broken person wandering around Seattle with a gun."
"I see." John says. "Christian, I understand your point of view. I do. I just hope you realize that there has to be a point where you alert the authorities." I let his words hang in the air. I know that this can't go on forever. "So aside from ex-submissive running loose in Seattle, how is everything else going?"
I breath a sigh of quiet relief when John changes the subject. This past weekend has been some of the best days of my life. It finally started to sink it that we're together, and the feeling is just a calm, secure, happy feeling that I've never felt before. Despite our most recent email tete-a-tete, which I know I will be able to fix once Ana gets home.
"Truthfully, John, things are wonderful. Despite all of the stress with Leila. I think before...before Ana left me, I always had this feeling that we were on shaky ground. It was like a quagmire, because I was always wondering if she'd agree to be my sub. I felt like I was auditioning. But now..."
My mind travels back to Friday night. I will remember Friday night as one of the best nights of my entire life. Of course the sex was, well...spectacular. Feeling Ana's body around me again, holding her, burying my nose in her hair.
"I don't know John. I don't know how to explain it. I have to give an example. Friday night was...well it was the happiest night I've had in a long time. And it was completely mundane. I picked Ana up from work, and we went to the grocery store, she cooked food. We had sex, which was great. But the best part was just sitting on her living room rug, eating stir-fry. It was so..."
"Intimate?" John says, finishing my sentence. It's a relief.
"And how does that make you feel?" John asks. Seriously, I hate this question.
"I feel, relaxed. In a way...how do I explain this. In my previous relationships, there was always an element of role playing. I always felt like I was putting on a costume, getting in character. Which of course, is why I had those relationships in the first place. Because it allowed me to escape into a character I had created for myself. And that was in a way its own type of stress relief. It protected me from the stress of my own mind. But in its own way, being the character, being the Dom was stressful too. Especially, when I met Ana, because I was constantly worrying if I was playing the character right. If my audience, if you will, approved."
"I think that makes perfect sense Christian."
"So Friday night, just sitting eating dinner with Ana. Well, it was the most, present I'd felt with a woman, well, ever. And I feel like I'm actually learning about Ana too."
"I was going to ask Christian. I know we talked about empathy last time. I was going to ask if you'd made any progress in learning about Ana's emotional life?" Flynn asks in a steady tone that coaxes me to reveal more.
I think back to sitting on the rug with Ana, listening her talk about her mom's many boyfriends and taking care of Ray. I know what that's like to feel like you're not the most important person in your mother's life. I want to take care of her. Make her see that she's the most important person in my life.
"It's funny John. When I met Ana, she told me she liked Thomas Hardy. So I bought her a first edition volume of Tess of the D'urbervilles. Then I come to find out that she was actually studying Tess for one of her classes in college. Anyways, I've been re-reading Tess, at night before I go to bed, just to try to get a better idea of Ana. What she likes, what speaks to her.
"How very literary of you Christian," John smirks.
"Last week after our session I remembered this quote: 'Tess was no insignificant creature to toy with and dismiss; but a woman living her precious life-a life which, to herself who endured or enjoyed it, possessed as great a dimension as the life of the mightiest to himself.' I don't know maybe that kind of sums up empathy. Recognizing that someone else is experiencing life with all the emotions and fears that you are.
"Well Christian, I think that's a very interesting quote. And a very good observation. Still I don't know if you want to model your relationship on Tess of the D'urbervilles." He laughs and so do I.
"Yeah, talk about a woman that was destroyed by sex." And then suddenly it hits me...that's the ultimate fear. Isn't that what everyone is scared of. "You know, I always kind of saw myself as Alec. And then, I started to think about if I could be Angel Clare. But I guess in the end neither one worked out so well for Tess."
"No" John laughs. "No I don't think so."
"Its funny, John. When I first read that book, I was fifteen. It was my sophomore year in high school, right around the time I started seeing Elena." I shake my head at the memory. I'm too mad at Elena at the moment, to go back to my seduction at fifteen. Right now, my anger is making me resentful of her and I don't want those feelings to cloud the memory of what we had together.
"If you were to be the author of your own story, Christian, tell me, what kind of book would you write?"
"Huh?" I don't really get this question.
"If you were to write your own story. What would it be like? What would the theme be?" John speaks slowly and loudly. But hearing him wasn't the issue.
"I don't know." I've never really thought about this before. "Well, hopefully it wouldn't be some dumb BDSM erotica." I laugh nervously.
"Well Christian, we're about out of time for today. But just to give you some things to think about over the next week. Sometimes thinking about one's life like this, like its a story that you are actively authoring, rather than passively living, it can help you focus on goals."
"I don' know John, I guess my story...it would be a story about redemption."