39: History Lessons

on July 26, 2007 in 02: Love In The Time Of Magic

In Which Mackenzie Spreads For Her Teacher

 I skipped my basic knife class. I figured “Coach” probably wasn’t expecting me back so soon, if at all, and I didn’t want to show up exhausted and ready to fall asleep… it would just give him an excuse to kick me out again. I did not want to end another class period in total and abject humiliation any time soon… especially not a stupid weapon proficiency class that didn’t even teach proficiency with a weapon… which I did not need.

Instead, I went to the ball room in the student union and did a little quick research on emancipated golems. I learned the basic advice for dealing with them… all of which seemed to be written for golems with more fully realized personalities than Two had been given, and none of which seemed to apply for somebody with a powerful intrinsic desire to be told what to do.

The number one rule, according to formergolems.orb, was to give open-ended suggestions rather than direct commands, in order to avoid reinforcing old habits. It was little wonder that Two was having such a hard time adjusting, if her case workers or whatever had been following such strategies.

There was a small section at the bottom of the page about golems created with deliberately deficient personality types, and their prospects for survival if turned loose into the wider world. The page was not optimistic, to say the least… but reading it only hardened my resolve to help Two, and increased my dislike of whoever had created someone with such a lousy, useless outlook and then turned her loose in the world.

Before I knew it, I’d piddled away almost the entire class period… I scribed off copies of the more helpful pages and hurried to my elven history class. I wanted to make sure to get a seat by Steff, but at the same time, I didn’t… I knew I needed to talk to her eventually, but maybe the few minutes just before class started wouldn’t be the best time and place for it.

The fates evidently disagreed. I made it to class ahead of the half-elf. She grabbed the seat right next to me, and launched into the subject without preamble.

“Hey,” Steff said. “Amaranth said you needed to talk to me, about… well, she told me about Barley.”

“What did she tell you?” I asked.

“She said it was everything you told her,” Steff said. “Which wasn’t much.”

I couldn’t argue with that, but I also couldn’t expand on it without casting aspersions on my best friend, so I just sort of nodded.

“I was in high school,” Steff said quietly. “One day, a bunch of the squad fighters cornered me out behind the locker rooms, out where everybody went to smoke, you now? And the one who was kind of the leader, he says to me, ‘I hear you like to suck dick.’ So I go, ‘Yeah, what if I do?'”

“You don’t have to tell me,” I said. It sounded nicer than “I don’t want to hear this.”

“No, I want to,” Steff said. “So he says, ‘Show us.’, and they all kind of got in a circle around me, and I got down on my knees and… well, that was actually the first time I ever tasted dick. It wasn’t how I would’ve chosen for my first time.”

At that point, Professor Ariadne swept into the room, in her gown of flowing violet. Absolute silence fell the second she entered. When she reached the front of the room, she launched immediately into her recitation of elven historical poetry, right where she had left off on Monday. I waited until she got going, until her strangely carrying whispering cadence had enraptured most of the room before I pressed Steff for more details.

“So, after that… was that when they… when you got raped?” I asked quietly. I hadn’t wanted to hear the story, but having listened to the beginning, I felt like I needed to know now.

“Weren’t you listening?” Steff asked. Evidently, she had a touch of Professor Ariadne’s vocal trickery; though she was facing straight ahead and barely moving her jaw, much less her lips, I could hear her just as if she were whispering in my ear.

“Yeah,” I said. “But you said you…”

“Half a dozen heavily muscled, armed human guys… one scrawny little half-elf,” Steff said in the same odd fashion. “What was I going to do?”

“Okay, so they didn’t give you a lot of choice,” I said, as quietly as I could. “But, that doesn’t make it…”

“They didn’t give me any choice,” Steff’s voice said. “Rape isn’t just about taking a person’s body, Mack… it’s taking away their choice.”

I whispered back, “Yeah, but…”

“Ms. Blaise!” Professor Ariadne said. “If Steffain’s account of our shared ancestors’ deeds is somehow more edifying than my own, perhaps you should think about reapportioning your tuition money.”

“Sorry,” I said, face flushing as I dropped my eyes to my desk.

The instructor resumed her poetic narrative. I did my best to focus on it, but Steff had more to say on the subject.

“Rape isn’t always by force,” she subvocalized. “It can be done through fear of force, or another form of coercion. It might literally be a ‘fate worse than death’ in some ways, but that doesn’t mean the only possibilities are fighting to the death to save yourself, or consenting.”

“I’m not saying you have to fight to the death… but if you give in, that’s consent,” I whispered back. That seemed pretty obvious to me. That was like, the definition of consent, right?

“No, it isn’t,” Steff said, in the same quiet way. “It’s only consent if you want it. What happened to me was rape because I only chose not to get my ass beat. It would be the same thing if somebody agreed but didn’t understand to what, like a child… or had no choice to agree, like Two. You wouldn’t call that consent, would you?”

“No, but… there has to be more to it than that,” I said. The logical part of my brain was screaming towards a conclusion that couldn’t be true. “I mean, a blowjob isn’t even real sex. How can that be rape?”

“Rape doesn’t have to be ‘real sex’, whatever that is,” Steff replied.

“Yes, it does!” I hissed, surprised at the vehemence in my voice… but it was there for a reason.

Among Barley’s more ridiculous claims had been the assertion that Puddy had “raped” me in the dining hall. I say it was ridiculous because one, it had just been a little touching… and two, I hadn’t done anything to stop her. That wasn’t rape by any stretch of the imagination… except by Steff’s definition, it seemed.

Puddy was aggressive… maybe even predatory… but she wasn’t a rapist, and she was my friend.

Ms. Blaise!!” Professor Ariadne said, in the loudest and sharpest tone of voice I’d yet heard her use. “You will please come to the front of the class.”

“Wha… me?” I asked, looking up, confused. I’d been so focused on my conversation with Steff that I’d actually managed to forget where we were.

“Yes… while we’re still young, if you please,” the professor said, to scattered tittering. I banged my knees on the underside of my desk as I scrambled to obey, which only heightened my embarrassment. I was thinking of my dream again, of course… but I knew perfectly well that wasn’t what was coming.

So what did the professor have in mind?

“Turn and face the class, please,” she said when I reached her desk, and I did. “Raise your arms,” she said. I lifted them to about shoulder height, but she said, “Higher. Higher still,” until I had my hands stretched out over my head as far as I could go. “Now, spread them wide… and legs together.” I did, forming my body into the shape of a Y.

“Congratulations,” she said. “You are now a visual aid.” Pretty much the entire class laughed.

“But…” I started to protest.

“Visual aids don’t talk,” she said. “Or move.”

She pointed a finger at me and said a word or two in what sounded like old elvish, and instantly my body went rigid. Every joint was locked in place, including my jaw. I couldn’t even move my eyes… they simply stared fixedly ahead in the direction they’d been facing. Unfortunately, this kept a certain amount of my classmates in my view, so I couldn’t even pretend that they weren’t all staring right at me. The red-scaled mermaid Iona, in particular, was in my field of vision… the mixture of avid interest and disdain could have been lifted right off one of the faces from my dream.

I could only see the upper half of her body. I found myself imagining where exactly her hands would be, beneath her desk… wondering if she had, for some reason, shifted out of her scaly legged form.

But that was utterly ridiculous…

…after all, this wasn’t a dream…

…but it was still a weirdly compelling idea.

As I was thinking that, Professor Ariadne then picked me up and stood me up on a corner of her broad oak desk, then laid down upon it and began reciting her epic again, acting out the story of Aelas and Erithne. She played both parts… while I, evidently, played a tree.

“‘Neath the slope of snow-capped mountain,” she recited,
“Under bough of gold-leafed tree,
By the shining silver water,
Sleeps the maiden Erithne.

Up the shining silver water,
At the helm of vessel bold,
Comes the noble Captain Aelas
To the forest hung with gold.

Of the noble Captain Aelas,
Sleeping maiden dreams a dream,
Knowing not that he approaches
Up the shining silver stream.

Knowing not that he approaches,
Erithne awakes alone,
Takes her shining silver dagger.
Cleaves her flesh unto the bone.

With her shining silver dagger,
Captain Aelas ends his life,
Beneath the bough of gold-leafed tree,
By the maid who’d be his wife.

‘Neath the boughs of gold-leafed forest,
At the foot of silver tree,
Lies forever Captain Aelas
and the maiden Erithne.”

The professor ended her little play where she’d begun, lying in repose on her desk with her eyes closed, as still and silent as if she really had been dead. She lay like that for over two minutes, during which absolute silence reigned. Then, either the spell wore off, or she was able to cancel it without outward effort, because suddenly I could move… and found myself overbalancing slightly to one side. I hopped down heavily before I could fall down. 

Professor Ariadne spoke without breaking her pose of death, with only slightly more lip movement than Steff had used in whispering to me.

“For homework… think,” she said, as she had at the end of our first class. “In particular, some of you may wish to think on how your powers of concentration would improve if you spent every class as a tree.”

“That was sooo fucking hot,” Steff said as we left the class… me, moving as fast as I could away from anybody who’d seen my “command performance.” Steff didn’t seem to notice my discomfort. “I wonder what I have to do to get that kind of attention?” she said.

“Yeah, well, you’re welcome to it,” I said. I was still red-faced and a little short of breath. The way all those eyes had been on me…

“Oh, come on… if you had a dick, it could serve as a polearm haft right now,” Steff said. “I bet your nipples are like adamantine arrowheads, anyway.”

It seemed unlikely that this was what the elvish phrase the professor had used to paralyze me would have translated to, but it seemed to have the exact same effect: I lost all power of movement and articulation for several seconds.

“What the fuck does that have to do with anything?” I said when I regained control. I’d become acutely aware that yes, there was some kind of reaction in that area of my body, but that was just a perfectly normal reaction to… well, there wasn’t really a perfectly normal reaction to being hauled up in front of the class and being turned into a prop, because it wasn’t a normal situation.

“Oh, honey, can’t you even tell when you’re turned on?” Steff asked. As usual, she seemed to be enjoying my perceived naiveté a little bit too much. It made me a bit angrier than usual, because this time I knew she was the one who was lacking in clues… not me.

“I’m not turned on. Why would I be?” I asked. “Embarrassed, maybe… pissed off, a little… but turned on?”

“Oh, come on,” Steff said. “Singled out by the beautiful, ethereal, elven teacher… mystically bound and physically manhandled…”

“…humiliated in front of the whole class,” I said.

“Yeah, that, too,” Steff said. “I’m so not a humiliation slut like you are, but even I would have been turned on a little.”

“I’m a what now?” I asked heatedly.

“Wow, I really need to get permission from Amaranth to mute you, if we’re going to keep having these conversations,” Steff said. “A humiliation slut. You like being humiliated. It, you know… gets you going.”

“Where do you get that idea from?” I asked.

“Watching you,” Steff said. “And from Amaranth. She still talks about you all the time, you know… she’s very excited about exploring that part of your sexuality some more.”

“Well, she can explore it on her own… nobody likes being humiliated,” I said. “It’s… humiliating. That’s why they call it ‘humiliation’.”

“Sometimes, if you can’t separate sex from shame in your head, you have to find a way to make shame sexy,” Steff said. “Anyway, think about it: your body heat rises, your pulse pounds, your mouth dries out, your cheeks flush… am I describing lust, or embarrassment? It’s a pretty fine line.”

“What, it works this way for everybody, then?” I asked.

“No, pretty much just you,” Steff said. “But it’s just another way in which you’re absolutely precious… anyway, think about that stuff I said… we’ll talk more about it later, after you’ve had a chance to absorb it a bit… when you’re ready to listen again, and when we can talk a bit more freely.”

With that, she kissed the tips of her own fingers and pressed it to my still-hot cheek, then darted off down the hall, leaving me once again speechless and stunned. It took me a good half a minute to remember what we had been talking about.

Steff meant well, I was sure, but I figured that maybe she needed more counseling than I did. Her definitions were badly skewed… I knew what rape looked like. Barley had pushed me down on a bed and started taking my clothes off. That was rape. Touching was just touching… between friends, like Puddy had said… but somehow I knew that if I told Steff how I’d been feeling when that had happened, she wouldn’t have seen it that way.


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7 Responses to “39: History Lessons”

  1. pedestrian says:

    Perception is relativistic?

    Though, now that i think about it,the opportunity to actually see a starbow would be the apex experience.

    Current score: 0
  2. Psi-Ko says:

    They both have very valid points on the subject of rape.
    The difference between consent and just going along because you don’t want the shit kicked out of you is a very fine line and it really takes some mental effort to separate the two. From the outside looking into a situation, how would you tell the difference?

    Current score: 0
    • tordirycgoyust says:

      Informed consent (it is a peeve of mine when people forget the “informed”, as it is critical) is an active thing. One must give some signal indicating “yes”– a passive lack of a “no” signal is definitely not consent. Certain fetishes (like Mack’s), and the concept of mutual information (look it up, its fascinating in its own right) DO muddy things considerably, but that doesn’t change the conditions, only the difficulty of satisfying them. Objectification also plays a role here, as being objectified is both one of the sexiest and most demeaning things that can happen to a person, and so a combination of the effects of subjectification and mutual information in, say, getting explicit consent, makes that one of the fastest and most reliable ways to kill the mood.

      Current score: 6
  3. Lunchbox says:

    You can tell. The fear is a pretty good indicator.

    Current score: 4
  4. Arakano says:

    Yeah… the fear, and the presence of a THREAT. You know, if someone says “Let me touch you or I’ll kick your ass”, and the other person allowed the first to touch her, most neutral observers would NOT really think “Oh, that second person must really enjoy getting touched by the first one to allow that! Hooray for consent!”

    Don’t be part of the problem that is rape culture, Psi-Ko. :-/

    Current score: 3
  5. goldersten stallone says:

    Thats the thing, some people get off on fear, like being intimidated or threatened into sex.
    People like that live on implied consent and would be massively turned off if their partner asked permission.

    Current score: 0
    • Shrikethrush says:

      Which is why, in cases like that, it’s really important to have agreed ahead of time on what is okay without asking, and in what situations, and on a safeword, etc.

      Excuses don’t heal trauma.

      Current score: 8