Bench

The totally unextraordinary piece of furniture sat against the wall by the bottom of the staircase. It had been right there in that spot the first time she had ever visited his house, and for who knows how long before that. She’d never seen anything placed on it, nor had she ever seen it sat upon. It was just there–made of a good solid wood, sturdy, dependable. On this particular day, she actually took a moment to have a closer look at it. It was, by her estimation, about five feet long and two-and-a-half feet deep. The back of it had spindles that were thin at the ends and fatter in the middle, spaced evenly. It had an armrest at each end and today, for the first time, she noticed that there were hinges along the back edge of the seat. That probably meant there was storage space inside.

Her odd inspection was interrupted by the click of the door behind her. She turned quickly to find the man of the house coming in from work.

“Hello, my girl! What are you up to?” he asked her, moving close and embracing her.

“Oh..uh…nothing really, Master. I was just looking at your bench.”

“Were you now?” he asked, taking her hand and moving both of them closer to it. “This bench actually has an interesting story.”

“Does it?”

“Indeed,” he replied, and a faraway look whispered across his face for a moment. Then he turned to her and spoke.

“By the time I was entering high school, it was clear to my parents that I was never going to amount to anything. I’d spent my school years slipping through every crack I could find and making use of every excuse I could conjure. My behavior was unfocused and erratic, and they’d pretty much had enough. Before the new school year started, my mom went up to see the guidance counselor and had me placed in the vocational trades track at the school. I think she was praying that I would settle down enough to at least learn a trade and not end up in jail–or worse.”

“Unbeknownst to her, my father had a little private talk with me one day when we were out picking up materials for one of his construction jobs. He told me that if I didn’t straighten up and stop worrying my mom, he’d throw me out of the house with nothing but the clothes on my back. I took one look at his face and knew he meant it.”

“The first two years, I floundered, but I managed to stay out of trouble and slide into the next grade face first. Then, on the first day of my junior year, I met Mr. Morris.”

She looked up into his face. “Mr. Morris was a teacher, Master?”

“Yes, my girl, he was. He was the Wood Shop teacher and, aside from my parents, he’s probably the person most responsible for my continued presence here on earth.”

“He must have been a formidable person, Master,” she reflected.

“He was the most gentle and genteel man I’ve ever met–and the strongest,” he replied, quietly. “He was unlike any other teacher I’d ever known. He never lectured, he never raised his voice, he never even really said what his rules or expectations were. You just knew. We each had a station with the same equipment–basic hand tools at first–and he would go from student to student and give each of us a few basic instructions and let us get started. From that point on, he was in perpetual motion–always moving, always guiding, always assessing. He never pointed out your weaknesses or complained about them; he simply helped you to improve upon them.”

“One day after the midpoint of the school year, we were starting work on a furniture project–the first really large-scale project of the class. I’d decided I was going to play it safe and just make a foot locker, a basic box with a hinged top. I’d drawn my plan and had my measurements and when Mr. Morris approached, I handed it to him. He looked it over carefully, then took out a pencil and worked on it for a few minutes before handing it back to me.”

” ‘Good drawing, Tom. I think you’ll be happier and find more use from the additions I made there. Oh, and you’ll be using the electric tools for this project.’ And with that, he moved on.”

“Well, I was floored; no one had yet been allowed to move from hand tools to electric tools–and now it seemed I was to be the first. I think I broke out in a cold sweat. Then I looked down at my sketch to find…well, that bench,” he said, indicating the piece in front of them.

She was captured by his story and gave her attention to his every word. She knew this was the story of a pivotal moment in his life.

“It’s hard to really explain, my girl, but I felt such a responsibility to do everything perfectly in the building of this bench, and I threw my whole self into the task. I even started staying after school, returning to the shop in order to have extra time to work on it. I put my sweat and blood–literally and figuratively–into that bench. The day I finished it, Mr. Morris came over and stood beside me. He looked it over carefully, lifting the seat to inspect the interior, then lowering it and sitting down. He put his arm on the armrest and slouched back a bit. Then he stood up again, took his place next to me, and put his hand on my shoulder.”

” ‘It’s a fine piece, Tom…a very fine piece, indeed.’ I felt as if I’d won an Academy Award, and all of a sudden I found I had a completely different outlook about myself and about my life. Not only did I work hard at developing my woodworking and carpentry skills, I also put a lot more effort into the rest of my classes. I carried myself differently, I had a new sense of confidence and accomplishment–I felt like I could be someone.”

He paused, looking down at her and smiling. She slipped her arms around his waist and hugged him close.

“Thank you for sharing that story with me, Master; I’d never have imagined a bench having such an important place in someone’s life.”

“Oh, yes, my girl. This bench has seen some very important moments in my life…” and with that he sat down on it, leading her to stand directly in front of him.

“Really, Master?” she asked, wondering what important events might have included a lowly bench.

“Yes, it’s true. For example, I gave my very first spanking on this bench,” he said, looking up into her eyes with vague amusement.

“Oh, my…I see,” she said, feeling the blood rushing to her cheeks.

He pulled her toward him, and deftly turned her over his lap and raised her skirt. She felt his hand caressing her now-exposed bottom.

She squeaked a bit as she uttered one word: “Master?”

“Yes, my girl?”

Very timidly she asked, “What are you doing?”

He was quiet for a moment, then he said, “Did I mention that once I put my mind to it, it turned out that I was an excellent student of history?”

“No, Master, you didn’t mention that,” she replied.

“Ah, well, that was, indeed, the case, so I thought we might have a bit of a historical reenactment…”

Before she could say anything, he raised his hand and brought it down against her, quickly and lightly. He repeated this action again and again, with a little more force each time. She was breathless in his lap and moaned softly.

“Ah, yes…I do so love history,” he murmured.

~ by skyeinmoonlight on January 15, 2012.

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