By Karen Singer
It was late in the morning by the time Steve woke up. It took him a moment to realize where he was, but when he did, the anger and reality of it pulled him out of any further thoughts of sleep. One thing he knew for sure, he had to go shopping today and get some new clothes. But to do so, meant that he was stuck going out to do it while wearing women’s clothes again. Total humiliation!
He took a shower to fully clear the leftover cobwebs from the drinks the night before. He wanted to shave, but the only razor he could find was the pink one. He picked it up and shrugged. It looked like any male razor, just pink. A search of the vanity turned up some complimentary toothpaste, toothbrush, and some shaving cream – fortunately. The pink razor worked just fine on his face, also fortunately. He was just irked at having to look into the mirror and see his long red fingernails against the absolute white of the shaving cream. But there wasn’t anything he could do about that. He realized too late that he shouldn’t have bothered shaving at all. Tomorrow, he would remember. He experienced a momentary feeling of nausea as that thought went through his head. The drinks the night before must have been stronger than he thought. But they had been good.
He dressed exactly the way he had the night before, in the tropical wrap-around skirt and pull-over blouse. Unfortunately, he was very dismayed to realize that once again he couldn’t go out without wearing everything, including the makeup. Was the witch watching him, or had she done it with some kind of evil spell? He didn’t know. But he also knew that if Monica was watching him, then she would probably have to be heading to work soon, so she couldn’t watch him much longer. Should he stay in the room a while longer and wait to see? Maybe then he could at least get rid of the makeup and bra.
But the feeling of being driven out of the room once again began to grow. It felt like a small panic attack. This time the itching on his back began sooner too. The witch was indeed watching him. He only hoped she’d go to work soon and leave him alone.
Sighing with resignation, he slipped the flip-flops with the flowers onto his feet…or he tried to. For some reason he couldn’t get the darn things on! Then the feeling that the flip-flops were all wrong seemed to slam into him. “No! No! Please!” he yelled. “Just let me be! Please!” Having no choice, he fumbled with the wedge heels that had been in the closet and buckled them securely onto his feet. Feeling more humiliated than ever, he stepped out of his room and closed the door behind him. “Please let this go easy,” he prayed.
Every step down the hallway in those shoes felt incredibly awkward and difficult. Every step reminded him more than ever of what he was wearing. He couldn’t wait to get into some pants and normal shoes again.
He went in search of the shops the hotel offered and found them in their own long hallway on the bottom level of the hotel. It was almost like a mini shopping mall. They were all obviously expensive stores, but at that point, he didn’t care. In fact, he had always prided himself on having nice clothes. He spotted a men’s wear shop and headed directly toward it. He noticed through the window that it seemed to carry just about everything from bathing suits to formal suits, and everything in between. Perfect! But the moment he tried to walk through the door, he doubled over in pain. His stomach cramped badly and he had such waves of nausea that he took a step backwards reflexively. And as soon as he did, the pain lessened a bit. He kept going backwards until he was at the far side of the hallway. The pain and nausea were gone. As he tried to catch his breath, he wondered what had hit him. After a moment, he thought he felt perfectly fine again, so he went back into the store – or tried to. Once again, he doubled over in pain before he could get through the doorway.
From across the hallway, once again trying to catch his breath, he stared at the wonderful looking store in front of him. The witch was still working on him! So near, yet so far. She wasn’t letting him go into the place. What was he supposed to do? How did she know what he was doing? Did she have some kind of crystal ball? She was a witch! That much Steve knew for sure. And obviously she had some way to see what he was up to. Why couldn’t she just leave him alone?
Knowing he couldn’t go into the men’s store, he headed back the way he had come. As he did, he noticed one of the ladies’ stores. The feeling to go in it was very strong. He decided to test it. Not only was he able to go into the store, but he felt absolute pleasure the moment he got inside. He shuddered at that realization and went quickly back toward the lobby. He’d have to find another way to get some decent “men’s” clothes.
He found out from the concierge’s desk that there was a shuttle that left every half hour to take people into town for shopping. He wasn’t too pleased with the idea because it meant much more exposure and embarrassment for him, but he didn’t know what other choice he had. He needed some men’s clothes to wear and he couldn’t seem to shop for them in the hotel. Besides, there was now a feeling of being driven to go shopping in town fueling his decision. Once again he felt like he had no choice.
As soon as the shuttle bus pulled up in front of the hotel, Steve got on it and headed straight to the back. Unfortunately, the seats were arranged more like a circle around the walls. He would be exposed no matter where he sat. As more and more people crowded onto the bus, he noticed that every one of them looked straight at him as they came in and sat down. Most of them continued to stare at him after they sat down. Some of them didn’t look happy at all to see him there. If he could have climbed into the straw bag on his lap and hid there he would have. He felt so embarrassed…and sooo stuck! And worse, when the bus left, it looked like most of the people were continuing to watch him instead of looking at the scenery out the windows. And did those young girls have to giggle at him? He really hated his life.
As the bus drove along the hilly road, he tried to turn his head to stare out the window behind him instead being forced to watch all the faces of the rest of the people on the bus, but he could only turn his head that way for a short while before his neck got tired.
As he sat there, the bus hit one of the many hard bumps in the road and he felt his skirt fall open at the slit, exposing his leg. One of the women on the bus giggled at him. He pulled the skirt back into place again, but a few minutes later, it happened again. This time, he just left it. It was only the one leg and the skirt wasn’t going to stay. The woman giggled again.
The bus finally stopped at the edge of a large tourist shopping area. Steve waited while everyone else left the bus first. It seemed better that way. But before one of the older women on the bus got off, she leaned close to Steve’s head and whispered, “It’s more lady-like to sit with your knees together.” Steve didn’t even get a chance to reply before she was gone. He was just shocked. Lady-like! He wasn’t the least bit interested. But as he adjusted the slit skirt back into place again he had to wonder if it wasn’t a good idea.
The shopping district where the bus dropped them off turned out to be fairly huge – blocks and blocks of tourist stores in all directions. The fact that the sidewalks and streets were so packed with people seemed to give him a small measure of anonymity since being in the middle of all those people prevented anyone from really seeing him closely…except those people who were all too close to him. But the tiny bit of anonymity he felt did help him some since he was so embarrassed about walking around in public dressed like he was. But then, what choice did he have? If only everybody else understood.
The stupid wedge heels on his feet felt odd and clunky as he walked past store after store, searching for some place that specialized in clothing. So many of the stores seemed to be selling exactly the same stuff, t-shirts and junk, yet they were all crowded and doing tons of business. He walked up another block to a different street. This one seemed to be even more crowded, but now he found himself finding more and more jewelry stores mixed in among the junk shops. He paused briefly and looked at some jewelry in a window. It all looked like really nice stuff. Expensive stuff! Something inside of him seemed to appreciate looking at it more than he normally would have. Was the witch at work on him again? He couldn’t be sure.
Finally, he found a store that seemed to specialize in clothing. Bracing himself for the pain, he walked through the door – with no problems at all. Was the witch no longer watching him? He could only hope.
He had to walk toward the back of the store to find all the men’s clothes and it looked like they had a good selection. But the moment he got into the men’s section, the cramps hit him strong again. He fought through them as best he could and put his hand on a pair of jeans hung on one of the racks. His hand began burning like it was on fire. The pain in his stomach doubled until he couldn’t breathe, and still he tried desperately to hold onto that pair of pants. But the burning and the pain only increased the longer he stood there. Then the maddening itching began all over his back again. He couldn’t stand it any longer. He had tried and tried hard. He had to let go of the jeans and back away.
He retreated desperately back toward the front of the store. The further away from the men’s clothes he got, the better he felt. He finally turned and wandered around in the women’s section. The longer he stayed there, the better he seemed to feel. Remarkably better.
He tried something else. He began actively looking through the racks of women’s clothes. He felt wonderful, better than ever. The damn witch was still at it. He knew it! Why wasn’t she at work? Did she take the day off of something? He wasn’t sure, but one thing he did know perfectly well now, she wasn’t going to let him even touch any men’s clothes. However, it did seem like she was doing everything she could to encourage him to humiliate himself further by buying more women’s clothes instead. Well, he wasn’t going to do it! Ignoring the mild pangs of need that were plaguing him, he walked out of the store and back onto the street. He couldn’t buy any men’s clothes in the hotel, and now he couldn’t buy any in town either. He’d have to find another way. Somehow, there had to be a way to outsmart that damn witch!
He started walking back to where the shuttle bus would be coming to pick up the hotel guests. But as he was heading there, the feeling that he had to have something was growing in him more and more. Before he got half-way to the waiting point, he knew he could never get on that bus. Reluctantly, he turned around and returned to the shopping district once again. Unfortunately, the need that had been growing in him didn’t diminish at all. But what was it that he needed? And why did the witch have to make him feel so panicked over it?
He began wandering from store to store. He went into every store that sold clothing. Every time he noticed any men’s clothes, he continued to try to buy some, or even to just touch them. But every time, he was denied. The witch was just too powerful. Eventually, he spent more and more time looking through the women’s clothes, because that’s where he felt the best. Besides, if he stayed out on the streets, he was constantly in view of too many people, and it didn’t lessen the feeling that he had to buy something. Inside the stores, he could at least somewhat hide in the racks of things to buy.
Finally, in one store, the clothes on one of the manikins seemed to catch his inner interest. Why, he didn’t know. But there was just something about the way the short red skirt and the red and white blouse looked together that seemed to please something deep inside of him. He got even more pleasure as he searched the racks and actually touched the items. He gave in and purchased the skirt and blouse combination. He instantly felt much better. He still felt like he needed something, but the feeling was now far less. Now at least he knew, the witch wanted him to shop and buy women’s clothes.
He quickly picked up another skirt off of a rack and bought that too. He felt good about it, but the feeling like he still needed something didn’t diminish at all. So what else did he have to buy?
He grabbed himself a quick but still embarrassing lunch, and went back to wandering the stores again. Finally, he found himself almost drawn to the lingerie department in one of the stores he had already been in earlier. Oddly, he also found himself to be strangely very relaxed. So relaxed that it wasn’t until a few minutes later that he realized he only had partial control of his body. He could move towards some things or look at things that interested him, but more often, his body was moving and doing things by itself, and most of the time he couldn’t stop it. He had little choice but to watch as his body did the shopping for him.
A few minutes later, he found himself searching through piles of panties and bras, fondling them, touching them to see how they looked and felt. He wasn’t the least bit surprised to find himself purchasing a lacy red matching bra and panty set…even though he still had almost no control of his own body.
Back on the street again, the feeling that he needed something else had grown markedly less, but it was still there. And he still seemed to be only partially in control of himself. Ten minutes later, he was buying a pair of red canvas shoes to go with the skirt he had bought earlier. He wished desperately that he could wear the new shoes since they didn’t have a heel, but it didn’t seem like the witch was going to let him just yet.
As soon as he was out on the street again, he noticed that the feeling that he needed something was entirely gone. He also felt like he had suddenly woken up from a dream. He was finally in full control of himself again. What had happened? How had the witch been able to control him so much? He was more in awe of her power than ever. More frightened too. He was very glad to finally be able to take the bus back to the hotel again.
Once safely back in his room, with the world out of view, he breathed a big sigh of relief. The witch was remarkably powerful, far more than he had ever imagined. She had just forced him to have one of the worst days of his life. But there had to be some way he could outsmart her. Some way he could buy some men’s clothes. Some way he could get out of the predicament he was in.
He had an idea. If he couldn’t go get the clothes, then he’d have the clothes brought to him. He picked up the phone. “Operator? … Yes, hello. … Yes I’m fine thank you. Can you connect me to the Men’s Wear store in the hotel?”
The cramping pain closed in on him again forcefully. He fought through it. He could hear the phone ringing on the other end. The pain grew worse. His hand holding the phone began to burn. He wanted to scream, to let go, to end the pain, but he wasn’t going to let the witch win. The ringing on the other end continued. The itching on his back grew unbearable. He writhed against it on the bed.
He heard a voice on the other end finally pick up. “Men’s wear.”
Steve wanted to scream, he wanted to yell into the phone line what he wanted them to do. But instead, he watched as his hand slowly lowered itself to hang up the receiver – against his will. The last thing he heard was, “Hello? Anybody there?” And the line went dead.
He wanted to cry, more so for his failure than for the pain and itching that still wracked his body. But the pain and itching weren’t going away. The witch continued to punish him with it for a long time before she finally let up.
And when the pain finally ended, Steve fell mercifully asleep.
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While Steve slept and recovered from the punishment that had been inflicted on him, Karen took over their body again and got out of bed. She logged into Steve’s computer and opened up the email program.
I know it’s earlier than I usually write, but I had to tell you about Steve. He’s been fighting me really hard all day. There were times when I almost couldn’t control him. He’s not only being his usual stubborn self, he’s being extra difficult. He’s weakening, but it still hasn’t been easy. I don’t want him to win. Any suggestions?
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Steve woke up from his nap feeling like he’d been beat-up. In a way, he realized that he had. He had to do something, the punishment he had just taken from that witch had been awful. He picked up the phone again and placed a call to the company where they worked. A minute later, he was talking to one of the guys down in the Shipping Department. “Hey, this is Steve,” he said. “Is Monica there?”
“Hi Steve. Monica? No, she’s not here. Haven’t you heard? Her place got busted into and they really tore it up bad. She’s taking a few days off to get it back together again.”
Steve didn’t even bother to answer. He hung up the phone. The witch had taken some days off. That was how she could watch him all day. Was she taking the whole week off as well? He had no way of knowing. Once again, he felt stuck.
And then that panicking need hit him again, only it didn’t build slowly, it hit him all at once, nearly knocking the breath out of him. He had to leave the room again. He had to go somewhere. He caught a view of the beach out his window and knew with a certainty that he had to go to the beach again. Oh no! He tried fighting it for a few minutes, but he soon realized that there was no fighting it. The witch could not be defied. He had learned that lesson now. He was still a bit sunburned from the day before, but he was forced to undress and put the bikini bathing suit on again. A short while later, he was exposing himself in his all too humiliating bikini as he spread suntan lotion all over himself on the beach.
He was back where it had all started. If only he could fall asleep and wake up to find that it had all been a bad dream. If only he could wake up and find himself safely back in the mountains where he could go fishing again. If only… If only….
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Monica picked up some silverware and put it into the dishwasher. It would all have to be washed before she would put it back into the drawer again. She looked around her apartment. She had been there all day and still she had made no progress. She almost couldn’t. She’d spent the day mostly just looking at everything, picking up something here and there, and then just throwing it back on the pile again. She still felt numb. She still felt depressed. She still wanted to just break down and cry.
Diane was supposed to come by with some guy she knew a little later. Her friend was supposed to fix the doorframe and install another lock for her. She wouldn’t stay there without it. She wasn’t even sure if she could stay there – even then. Certainly not tonight at least. She had no doubt she would be back on Diane’s couch for at least one more night.
He father had always told her she was too strong and independent. Her brothers had always said she was too stubborn and head-strong. Her whole life growing up, she had always been self-willed, independent, and able to take care of herself.
She didn’t feel strong now. She didn’t feel independent now. She didn’t feel able to take care of herself at all now. The more she looked at her apartment, the more she felt violated and depressed.
There were no thoughts of anger against who had done it. There were no thoughts of wanting revenge. There were only visions of the past, and sadness.
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Steve didn’t fall asleep on the beach. He didn’t wake up to find it had been a bad dream. He had merely rolled over once in a while on the big beach towel he was laying on and let the sun soak into him, relaxing him. It felt good. He would have enjoyed it much more under different circumstances. He closed his eyes and pretended that everything was fine.
Later, when he took his shower, he stared at his reflection in the mirror. His skin was beginning to darken from the sun. Only the places where his bikini bathing suit had been remained ghostly white. What choice did he have?
He had a few extra-strong drinks in the bar with his dinner again that night, then spent the evening wondering how he was going to get out of the mess he was in. He went to bed that night worried about what new humiliations the witch would have in store for him in the morning.
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It was late in the evening before Susan checked for any emails from Karen. By then, she was surprised to find two, one that had been mailed earlier and a second one that had only just arrived. She read the second one first. It contained the account of everything that Steve had been through for the day. All the details that Susan thrilled to every evening.
Then she got to the first email. She was both surprised and not surprised at what she read. Steve fighting it was only natural, she had expected it. It meant that Steve was getting the punishment that he deserved. She was glad that Karen was strong enough to be up to the task. She had done her job well with that part. She was sure that Karen was strong enough, but still, Karen was worried about it. What was needed now was something totally different. It was time for the carrot and stick approach. Time to give Steve a little incentive.
She wrote her instructions back to Karen