Comfort Food

By: Kitty Thomas


He and I never talked about the incident after that, and he never directly forced me again. He never had to. I didn't give him the opportunity because it was too confusing. In his mind, I'm sure he believed he hadn't done anything wrong, since he'd successfully changed my mind by turning my body against me. In the end I'd liked it. The entire sordid event from start to finish.

The juxtaposition of fear and helplessness, set up next to complete pleasure and eventual surrender. I'd masturbated for months afterward to the memory of the event. It was several years before I mentioned it to a friend.


She'd insisted it was no different than rape. I suppose she was right, but I'd never seen it that way. I'd for some reason never had the normal emotional response. I'd gotten off on it. Something was different in the way I was wired and that, perhaps, was the only thing that had saved me. Over time I developed an intense shame about it, not because I'd been violated, but because I wasn't properly traumatized by what had been done to me. Because I sometimes still touched myself thinking about it.





***





I thought he'd left me alone again, but then I heard another metal chair scrape against the floor. His heavy weight fell into it, and he placed something on a table. My breath hitched.

Moments later, a spoon was prodding at my lips. I opened my mouth, and warm chicken noodle soup slid down my throat. Comfort food. Oh, sweet irony. I wasn't worried he'd drug me. Why would he?

Drugging had been a convenience of transport. He had me where he wanted me, no doubt in some eerie sound-proofed basement cell. I heard him crumble crackers into the soup before feeding me another bite. I hadn't realized how hungry I was. Intense fear tends to shut down the hunger response.

After the second bite, his hand gently fondled one of my breasts through my clothing. I stiffened and flinched away. He didn't yell or hit me. He simply placed the bowl back on the table and got up. Then his footsteps started to recede in the direction they'd come from.

So this was the game he was playing? Either I would accept his touch, or he'd starve me to death? I hear it's a horrible way to die, second only to drowning or suffocation. Those things could still be on the menu. It was early yet.

“Please . . . wait.” I hated myself for saying it. Hated myself enough that had my hands been free and a razor been nearby, I might have pressed the blade into my skin and bled out right there in front of him.

I was already bargaining, doing the appease the captor and maybe he won't hurt you too bad thing. In turn, he would show a small kindness here or there to gain my total dependence on him And voila . . . instant Stockholm Syndrome.

His footsteps stopped, and I heard him turn, still as silent as ever. After a moment, he returned and sat back down in the chair.

I was trying not to hyperventilate. I wasn't sure what I'd have to allow him to do to let me breathe into a paper bag. This was how our agreement began. He never said a word, never made any kind of verbal threat. He didn't need to.

It was a tacit agreement. I would give him what he wanted, or else. Right now the bargaining chip on the table was food. I was still arguing with myself over that one, berating myself for not being stronger, not holding out longer. He hadn't tried to fuck me yet. Having my breast fondled was a small price to pay to eat.

The spoon prodded at my mouth again and I opened up for the warm liquid. He'd gotten the good crackers. The oval-shaped Townhouse kind. The kind I liked. I had a moment of almost hysteria wondering how long he'd watched me, how much he knew about me. Did he know this particular food somehow idiotically made me feel safe?

I tensed as I heard the spoon clank into the bowl again. I knew what that meant. Every cell in my body felt poised, on edge, trying to inch away as his hand closed over my breast once again. He hadn't moved to take any of my clothes off. He seemed to want me to agree to every step of my desecration.

I didn't want to respond, but his thumb caressed over my nipple through the layers of clothing so gently, so enticingly that I found myself arching toward him. I wanted to jerk away, but if I did he'd leave and take the food with him. This time my begging might not bring him back.


This pattern repeated itself over and over. First a bite, then a fondle, until the soup was gone. He wanted to make sure the conditions were clear to me, that nothing would be given to me freely. I would pay for it all.

I kept rewinding the day in my head. What if I'd done something differently? What if I'd never left the table? Had it been necessary to reapply my lipstick that close to the end of the day? Had a tube of waxy color called Sassy Vixen really been the catalyst to take my freedom from me?

I knew it was crazy to think that way. He would have gotten me sooner or later if he was determined enough. That moment in time wasn't the definitive moment. I would have had another unguarded moment later and would have paid for it then.

We'd gotten through the bowl of soup and an awkwardness descended. It was as if he'd only planned this far and had no idea what his next step should be. Maybe he was waiting for me.

Okay.

“Please tell me why you're doing this.” My voice was stronger now. Maybe it was the captive/captor alliance we seemed to have formed. He didn't seem the kind to lash out with no planning. He instead seemed the type who could wait multiple eternities for everything to work to his desire.