Comfort Food

By: Kitty Thomas

When I stepped out, I noticed he'd taken my old clothes away from me. Of course, I couldn't keep those. Those clothes would make me feel too much like a person. I slipped into the sweats and shirt, buttoning it quickly, and picked up my towel.

The towel was warm, fresh from the dryer, and it smelled like a spring meadow. Well, not really. It smelled like what we're told by the dryer sheet people that a spring meadow smells like. But I believed it right then. I resisted the urge to put the towel against my nose and inhale.

“Okay, I'm finished.”

He stood and turned, giving me a once-over before replacing the blindfold. This time I was less afraid because it had become part of a routine, a natural continuation of actions before. He led me back to my cell and then was gone. That was the second day.

This pattern went on for seven days. I knew the time that passed because I used my fingernail to scratch a mark every day into the concrete behind the toilet. Three meals and a shower equaled a day.

He never tried to stop me from dancing. He must have known I'd eventually break anyway. There's only so much pleasure one can derive from even a well-loved activity when it's the only thing to do.

On the seventh day after my shower, he returned me to my cell. He removed the blindfold and stared at me, as if he could read my thoughts, or was trying to gauge his progress. He reached out and started to unbutton my shirt.

I pushed him away, but he didn't try to force me. He didn't start yelling; he did nothing but shrug and then turned toward the door. I panicked. I couldn't be left alone like this, in this endless routine of nothing.

“Wait. Please don't go.” It had been a week. He showed no signs of releasing me. On the first day I'd been willing to trade groping for food. I needed to be touched now.

Dancing wasn't enough sensation, hot showers weren't enough. I had started to crave the gentle caresses that accompanied meals. I knew it was sick, twisted, but I needed to connect, to feel some sort of communication with him.

He stopped next to the door and turned toward me. There was something almost like pity in his expression. It was the closest thing I'd ever seen in those black eyes, and I wished suddenly that I could read his thoughts, so I'd know what to do. He pressed his thumb up to the fingerprint scanner.

“Please! Please don't leave me here. I'll do anything you want.” I moved to him and reached out and touched him for the first time of my own volition. My hand gripped his arm; I couldn't let him leave me alone again. I couldn't keep up this maddening pattern forever. It had to stop, anything to make it stop.

My mind was going down trails I wished it wouldn't. His soul was ugly, but physically, he was beautiful. I could give in to that. I could let that touch me without feeling the need to vomit. And I wouldn't be blamed for it. I was the victim here.

He firmly, but gently removed my hand from his arm and walked me to the other side of the room to my corner. He shook his head at me, his eyes serious.

He turned again, and this time I didn't follow him. He left me alone in the cell, and I slid to the floor and cried.


Another week. That's what pulling away cost me. He didn't beat me or throw me down and force me; he just gave me another week. This time it was worse. It was worse because he denied me his physical closeness, touch.

For the next seven days he fed me three meals a day, chicken noodle soup, no deviation. I wanted real food and I was willing to do just about anything to get it. Soup is great, but three meals a day and it becomes less filling, you start to feel full but hungry at the same time.

He didn't come into the cell at all. He just opened the door and slid the tray in at regular intervals. He didn't touch me or physically feed me. I felt completely bereft. I couldn't believe I'd become so attached to my captor's presence until I experienced the absence of it.

The hot showers became a distant memory. Instead, once a day he'd send in a large pail of tepid water, a sponge, soap, and shampoo. And of course a clean towel and a new set of the exact same boring clothes he'd been dressing me in for a week. And a comb as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Now the drain across from the toilet made sense. When I dragged the heavy pail to the corner to bathe, I was aware of how completely exposed I was. If he wanted, he could watch me clean myself, and he probably did. I was careful to ration out the water so I had enough to bathe, and also to wash and rinse my hair.

I'd stopped dancing. I didn't want to hold out anymore. I didn't want to hold onto whatever I could because I knew he was breaking me and succeeding. Dancing just made it take longer. I wanted to be done with it so I could move on to the next thing I would have to endure in his care.

Only in my dreams did I feel anything. I'd started dreaming about him, his hand on my face, feeding me. Even my subconscious mind had turned against me. Instead of dreaming in vivid bright colors and loud noises and vibrant tastes, I had begun to dream about the cell with him inside it.

My desires had shifted from wanting the outside world to just wanting him to come back into my cell and for my punishment to be over. I wanted to prove I could be better. I could obey and do what he wanted.

Finally, on the seventh day he stepped inside. He sat across from me as if nothing had happened, as if we hadn't had a period of non-communication for days, and he started to feed me. When he touched my face, I leaned desperately into his hand. I wanted him to be pleased with me, to know he could trust me now.