Previous: Chapter 17 – Violet’s Weekend with Toby
Sunday I woke up with a bitter taste in my mouth, guilt-free but pessimistic about my ability to keep up with my goals. As we headed to running club, Toby noticed my mood and tried to perk me up with his annoying reminders: “Most importantly, don’t be alone when you’re triggered. There’s a group of us you can call. No way we’ll all five be busy at once.”
“I’m sure it could happen,” I grumbled to his disapproval.
“Stay positive. Find healthier hobbies. I’ll check in during our meetings to ensure you’re staying on track.”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at him because he was right. Toby wasn’t the type to micromanage me, but he’d stand true to his word. “Work will keep me busy.”
“That’s good to nourish your mind, but don’t forget your body and soul.”
“Yeah, yeah, exercise and meditation, I know.”
We’d thankfully arrived at the track, everyone in a circle on the field as Izaak led them in stretches. He seemed so different now than when I’d first met him: a sexist, military-trained guy with a stick up his ass and bossing the entire world around. Nowadays Izaak was a buff bronze-skinned deity, strict but fair, virtuous just for the sake of being a good person.
“You’ll also feel better once you pay off your debts. Get started on that immediately.”
To dodge more lectures, I jogged towards the group, waving at everybody and giving Clo a fist bump. “Missed ya yesterday,” I said, standing at her side so we could look like un-athletic losers together.
“Izaak doesn’t force me to run on the weekends, but I got in trouble last night so chose this over another… you know.”
I smirked at the way her cheeks blushed thinking about getting spanked.
Toby now joined us, finding space on the other side of Clo. The chemistry I’d noticed at our meeting a few days ago was even more apparent as his lips curved up in a smile and their eyes locked in a flirtatious gaze. I couldn’t identify how she felt about the psychiatrist, but he was totally smitten. “I have the tickets for this evening — pick you up at 5?”
“Tickets for what?” I interjected loudly, ignoring the dirty look Izaak gave me for disrupting his stretches. This was more important. “I’m not invited? You goin’ on a date??”
“Focus on the exercise and mind your own business,” Toby responded flatly.
I rolled my eyes and nudged Clo til she told me. “I’ve always wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty at sunset…”
“Whaaaat! Barf, so cheesy and touristy. Okay, thanks for not inviting me, I guess.” I laughed and winked at her. Those two were totally gonna fuck like bunnies before the end of summer.
After jogging six out of eight laps (because that’s how slow I was… fucking cigarettes), the group scattered, leaving only my friends.
“You play flag football?” Izaak asked me as Toby and Clo flirted off to the side, oblivious to everyone else.
My eyebrows raised. “Yeah, for sure, Bro. Why?”
“Stay for our game. We are always one player short.”
“So fuckin’ bossy…” I teased.
“Do you have something else to do?”
The only item on my agenda was to pay off debts, which I would happily procrastinate. “Why ain’t it regular football though… I wanna tackle you.”
He laughed. “Seriously? You could not handle me.”
“Is that a challenge?” I said with a wink.
A guy who could’ve been Izaak’s little brother interrupted us. He carried duffle bags of equipment, and Izaak ordered me to help set up the field. My gut reaction was to unleash my inner anarchist, but the submissiveness from last night had stuck, and I kinda liked him bossing me around. Ew. Where did that come from?
After setting up plastic orange cones for the boundaries and sorting the vests/flags, I looked up to see Izaak standing amid a crowd of teens.
Ugh, I didn’t realize this would be a babysitting job.
Only one adolescent was a girl, and she seemed like an outcast in her hijab amongst the sausage fest. I stood beside her as Izaak gave a pep talk. He spoke in Arabic, facial expressions animated, but I had no fucking clue what he said. Instead, I glanced over at my friends on the sidelines, laughing and being slightly more touchy than normal.
“Esperanza!” Izaak called, voice booming in a way that radiated authority. “You’re a team captain.”
All the kids stared at me, triggering memories from my first day at a new school after I’d moved in with my tia. Everyone had been bigger than me, scarier, from the projects — gangs had already recruited some of them. They poked fun at the sheltered little girl from the nicer side of the tracks, claiming I was white-washed, not a “real” Mexican like they were.
It took me a few seconds to bring myself back into the present moment (made easier thanks to Toby’s persistent meditation routine), but then I rushed to Izaak’s side as he called up the other team captain — his look-alike. There was a coin toss, and I won the pick of the first player.
“You,” I said, pointing at the female. The boy in front assumed I’d picked him, so I had to correct that. “No, her.”
An audible gasp swept over the group as she came to stand next to me. I held up my hand for a high five and she smiled, indulging and introducing herself as Yasmine. Together, we searched for other underdogs to create the most pathetic blue team ever.
It’d been years since I watched a football game, and even longer since I’d participated. But the rules came back to me quickly, along with memories of Monday night games on tv with my dad. His words came out in my voice as I instructed the players, lecturing about teamwork.
We only used half of the field, so it was relatively simple to score. Most of my crew seemed clueless, and actually, Yasmine was our best player. The opposing team was stacked with meaty mid-pubescent boys who took orders from a curly-haired, short kid named Ali. Yasmine warned me in the beginning that he was the fastest, and to monitor him because he was sneaky. But he was easy to read — within the first five minutes, I was onto a pattern in his strategy and ripped off his flag every time before he passed the goal line.
Well, the blue underdogs still lost. But at least it was a more exciting workout than jogging the track.
After the game, a group of guys approached Yasmine, Ali at the front running his mouth. Yasmine’s face dropped to a frown, and I knew whatever he said couldn’t be positive. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Izaak prepared to intervene but decided I should handle this little piece of shit on my own.
“Bro, you gotta fuckin’ problem? Why don’t you take your beef out on someone your own size?” I stepped forward, making my best effort to intimidate him even though he was almost as tall as me.
“Football is for guys. You dykes ruin the competition.” His voice cracked in nervousness. “We always gotta go easy on girls.”
“Bitch, please,” I laughed. “I could beat you in my sleep. Don’t get all butt-hurt cuz a couple of girls showed you up.”
A collective, “oooooooo” came from the boys behind him.
“Yasmine scored a touchdown, and I got three. How many did you make again? Oh, that’s right, zero.” His lips pursed, and he grumbled something, looking like he was ready to deck me or cry. I leaned in, gripping his shirt as I demanded through clenched teeth, “Go back with your tiny dick posse and leave my girl alone, or you’ll have to answer to me.”
Flushing, he pushed me away and stormed off, ignoring the laughter from his teammates.
“Let me know if that little prick harasses you again. I got you, amiga.” I gave her a wink and fist bump, wondering if Izaak had heard the exchange. Rather than risk an argument breaking out, I opted to bother my other friends. “What are you two lovebirds up to?”
Clo blushed, but Toby didn’t seem to mind. “We were discussing the mental health benefits of team sports and I just began my lecture about oxytocin.”
“What the fuck. She don’t wanna be bored with that shit.”
Toby glanced back at her. “I tortured Violeta with my lessons all weekend. She can’t comprehend that some people strive to take better care of themselves.”
I shook my head. “Did you force her to meditate, too? That shit’s tedious.”
“We should all meditate after that intense game.” Izaak’s sudden voice made me jump in startle.
“I’m sure Doctor Toby wouldn’t mind leading us in one.”
It was early afternoon when I finally arrived home, refreshed and optimistic again. Molly was out enjoying her weekly Sunday brunch with Adam, so I did a deep clean of the apartment. Like legit scrubbed everything, re-organized the storage spaces, washed and folded all the laundry, and made the floors spotless. There’s no telling when the last time someone did that was — neither my brother nor my bestie was interested in cleanliness.
Afterwards, I took a long, soothing shower with happy Spanish music in the background, and then I convinced myself to make amends with Jason. I needed to return the money I’d stolen.
Ugh, I don’t wanna.
I didn’t bother calling, knowing it’d delay the inevitable. And at least going directly over offered me a sliver of hope that he’d be out.
The air was thick and sticky as I walked to my old apartment, rejecting the uneasy rumbling in my gut. I did my best to follow Toby’s meditation instructions, focusing on observations rather than negative thoughts and feelings. Mostly I just struggled to remember his soothing voice (and Izaak’s sexy body hehe).
Jason answered and caught one glimpse of me, shaking his head in disgust. “Oh, hell no.” He tried to slam the door in my face, but I stuck my foot out, wood catching on my shoe.
“Figured you’d want this back.” I held out the money order of what I owed him, keeping a strong yet calm exterior, though inside I was ready to bash his stupid face in.
He plucked the paper from my hands, muttered, “thanks,” then almost pushed the door shut again.
“Bro, do you mind? I’m here for the rest of my shit. We don’t have to talk if that’s what you’re worried about.”
With a heavy sigh, he said, “fine,” and allowed me through. Then I realized why he hadn’t wanted me coming in — a perky white chick sat on his couch. That stung, but I didn’t let it phase me, continuing to walk to our… his room.
“Babe, who’s that?” Her squeaky voice reminded me of that bitch, Vanessa.
“Nobody important. I’ll be right back.”
Now my anger was increasing. It was getting harder to contain myself from losing my shit on him. Did our relationship mean nothing? How could he move on so fast?
Jason stood silently in the doorway as I filled my backpack with everything I wanted: implements (a tawse, a bathbrush from my self-spanking days, and an assortment of thick leather belts that my friend made), a stack of sheet music for guitar, my high school yearbook, and just to be petty, a pair of sneakers I’d bought him. It was so quiet I could hear his bitch giggle at the tv every so often, which further grated at my nerves.
When I finished, I wished him a shitty life and stormed out, proud of myself for not starting a fight. But jealousy burned in my chest. Already has another hoe sleeping at his place. They were prolly talking while we were still together. Fuck him! My nose tingled, begging me to go to Dominic’s, but I knew I shouldn’t. My “retreat” weekend had given me the wisdom to recognize that I was triggered.
I dropped off my backpack at home, then headed back out, messaging my friends. Part of me felt skeptical that any of them would help, but I’d promised to try.
Toby and Clo were on their date or whatever, so neither answered my message.
Molly was still with Adam but called me for a minute to ask about my weekend. She wasn’t enthusiastic about my foul mood, and I definitely brought her down. So I turned the conversation positive, telling her my plan to change and asking for advice on who I should hang out with.
Izaak. Of course. Even Toby had suggested he help me use exercise/sports to deal with my anger. And seeing him earlier in the morning had produced more pros than cons. So I went for it.
Thirty minutes later, we met at the basketball courts between my apartment and his, near the hood I grew up in. I recognized him immediately because he towered over everyone, neat beard and sharp facial bone structure causing him to stand out amongst the rest. He wore a sleeveless navy shirt that made me admire his powerfully built body. The basketball was tucked under his right arm, smushed against his hip.
“It probably isn’t the best day for a one-on-one. Looks like rain is coming.”
Giving him a fist bump, I said, “I ain’t scared of a little water. I won’t melt.”
He smiled as we entered through the gate and he passed me the ball. “You play much?”
“Nope.” I dribbled, failing at making the ball bounce between my legs like the “pros” do. Laughing as it rolled away, I glanced up at Izaak. Thunder boomed in the distance and wind rustled the leaves. “First to 21 points wins. Loser gets spanked!” I bolted towards the ball, feeling the bubbly rubber against my fingertips as I slammed it to the ground and it soared back up to my hand. No way I’d win, but I needed to get out my aggression.
Izaak’s chief advantage was his height, and though he was fairly quick, speed was the only asset I had. His gigantic body was able to knock the ball out of my hands when I wasn’t paying close attention and block my throws towards the hoop. But I made enough baskets that he didn’t feel sorry for me and clearly didn’t hold back.
Halfway through our game, big raindrops burst out of the heavy clouds, soaking us within seconds. Izaak didn’t bat an eyelash. Our shoes splashed in the puddles and we almost slid a few times (I ran into his solid chest and it would’ve knocked me down if he hadn’t grabbed me by the shirt). The rain was still pouring when Izaak threw the winning point through the hoop.
“21 to 13, Esperanza. Pathetic.”
“Fuck off!” I said jokingly. “But you’re right. I guess that’s eight swats, yeah?” We shouted to hear each other over the storm. The streets were deserted… it almost didn’t feel like city life.
Before Izaak could respond, I turned around and bent over to (sorta) touch my toes, providing him with a full view of my soaked ass, shorts pasted to my skin.
“Right here, huh?” For a second I feared he wouldn’t spank me, but then the first swat landed on the middle of my wet bottom, so forceful that I almost fell over. “Count,” he commanded.
He gave me another swat, this time harder, and said, “without attitude, and add Sir at the end.”
“Are you fucking kidding me??” I looked up at him with a glare and he was smiling, which just made me angrier, but then his muscles flexed and I knew I wouldn’t be able to fight or outrun him at all. “Fine, whatever.”
I bent back over and the next slap landed. “Three, Sir,” I mumbled.
“Louder!” he ordered with a harder swat.
Each smack was harsher than the previous, with the eighth knocking me out of position. Then I stood rubbing my bottom, and he said, “good game,” slapping me on the butt again.
The rain poured steadily as we exited the park, turning onto the empty sidewalk. We didn’t speak to each other until we reached the corner where we would go our separate ways. “I saw what you did for Yasmine today. Thank you.”
I beamed with pride. “That kid Ali is a fuckin’ douche.”
“He has caused problems for many weeks and maybe you finally ended it.” Izaak hesitated, which seemed abnormal for an authority figure. “I prefer if you do not talk to the children with such language.”
“Bro, they’ve heard worse.”
“Not from me or anyone who represents me. Please respect this boundary.”
There was a weird internal battle as I debated whether to keep pushing. For some reason, I chose not to. “Okay. He deserved it though.”
“Maybe. But do not do it again or there will be consequences.”
The rest of my walk home, I imagined various scenarios of getting punished by Izaak. The hand spanking had been so intense it piqued my morbid curiosity of how severe he could get with implements. What did his collection even look like? Would he use interrogation tactics on me? How was he different from Gabe and Toby? So many questions to ask Molly later…