On the living-room table was an incredible bouquet of roses. She thought back to the lesson about the meanings of each. Purple— enchantment and majesty; blue— mysterious beginnings, new things; black— beginning of a new journey, death of the old— she was surprised how much she remembered. Red— the color of love, respect and— the seal of the Bishop!Kitten, how could you ever forget? You wore the rose thorn welts for weeks until you learned them all.
Markus’ voice was sharper— the bustle of the city had always been an energy source— and it was crystal clear. There was no way she’d forgotten, she was only surprised by his memory and the thoughtful gift.
When she was closer, she could see tangled with the roses were sprigs of baby’s breath and some special Bishop finishing touches. Reaching tentatively toward the arrangement she felt a surge of electricity pass through her body.
Am I afraid, or was that excitement?
The sweetness of the flowers was tempered by stinging memories. Rulers, the Bishop’s favorite tools of torment, jutted out like porcupine quills. Everything came rushing to back to present.
With a soft touch she fingered the edges— some wood— others metal— of the sadistic sticks. The rulers weren’t the only memorable additions. The Bishop had been expert in keeping her off kilter— guiding her to the edge and making her quiver nervously— until he brought her back. He’d added a pack of gum and little mesh baggies of rice.
Memories— good Lord— I bet he remembers everything! I haven’t chewed gum since!
Thinking back to her first day of lessons, she recalled her last piece of gum. Without thinking, she showed up— Carissa showed up— with a wad of watermelon bubble-gum in her mouth. Of course, at the time, she hadn’t given it a thought. She had no frame of reference that could’ve told her otherwise. Markus could have warned her, but she needed to learn the lesson so he chose to let it go.
She opened the gum and breathed deeply. Wow, it could be yesterday! Her stomach churned with the smell. It was the smell of failure.
Quietly, she sat in the chair in the makeshift classroom, uncertain what would happen or who this Bishop person would be. Anxiously, she shifted around the chair and popped her gum. It seemed like forever waiting for her “teacher” to arrive— so— she shifted, smacked and blew bubbles with the disgustingly sweet gum. Each time a bubble popped, the air would be filled with the acrid, artificial, fruit scent— rising up like a toxic, sugar cloud around her. Each bubble grew larger, its smell stronger until a different kind of pop grabbed her attention. The sound, behind her, was louder and spun her around in the seat. Then again— smack— the thick yardstick met the wooden table harder— signaling the entrance of his Excellency— the Bishop.
Calico smelled the gum again. Maybe I am a masochist. It was also the scent of the beginning of something beautiful. Her first impression of the Bishop was the loud crack of the yardstick and his lightening quick fingers as they grabbed the gum from her still blowing mouth.
“Young lady— and I use the term loosely— you will not chew, smack, blow or pop that vile epoxy in my presence. I don’t think your owner would approve do you?” His breath— like a dragon’s— blew hot on her nose.
“No, I don’t think so.” She replied quietly, fidgeting in the chair. “Hey, what kinda nun are you anyway?” Carissa had never been to church, Catholic or otherwise— the question was sincere.
Without another word, his breath was replaced by the sticky, hot-pink offender. For the remainder of the week she’d worn the gum on her nose. It was a sickeningly sweet reminder— to never chew gum in his presence again.
The nun remark also earned her introduction to the yardstick— and the power of the rice.
Seeing the little baggies reminded her of the countless hours she’d spent kneeling on the painful little grains— phantom pains flicked through her knees just being so close.
The Bishop was not clergy— probably not even Catholic— but being trained by him was always spoken of as an almost religious experience.
Blaque, B.B.. Not Even Death Always Your Master (Kindle Locations 81-118).Kindle Edition.