10.25.07

A tale of the beyond

Posted in Bush as an idiot, fiction, Political rant at 9:06 pm by angela

Beyond death, there is Heaven, and there is Hell, or so believers say.

They say that if you force yourself to believe in ‘God’, you would save yourself from ‘Hell’, just in case precisely such a vengeful god were to exist.

But how would you choose which sect to believe in? None of the thousand or more ‘Christian’ sects on earth believes that what the followers of any other are believing in or doing is good enough. So would it be good enough for the god they worship or not?

Should not a prudent person just choose the christian sect with the most terrifying hell?

meOr is that narrowing it down too far? Do we have any reason to believe that of all the millions of discrete religions that have ever existed, one is more probable to be True and Right than any of the others?

Me, I don’t believe. But imagine if each person’s own heaven and hell were not just a figment of his or her imagination, but as real as that of the person on either side, and as real as reality itself.

For believers, these will be a reality. They will not just die, they will pass on, or be raptured. When they come to the head of the line at the Pearly Gates, their misdeeds will be subtracted from their good deeds. Perhaps at that point their own judgment will coincide with that of St. Peter, or whoever or whatever is to pass judgment on them. But then again, perhaps not.

Strike a deal with the Devil? Go right ahead. If you believe in the Devil, you can do that. But he will collect…

Comes The End

There is always a beginning, of course, but we will not worry ourselves about that. There are always so many different starting points. Did my life begin with conception? With birth? Or did it begin when the unique DNA classifiable as ‘human’ first resulted from some random mutation in a single egg cell or sperm?

The end is much clearer. When things come together, we watch them happen, although we are often powerless to react, as in a dream.

Was it ever all a dream, and if so, how did any of it become reality?

The gray mist lifts up from the dank earth, rising to meet the sweet, acrid smoke drifting from the censer. It dances in the breeze, seemingly forming shapes, then as quickly dissipating, before you can say just what those shapes might be.

The flames of the candles flicker, barely lighting the scene.

On this night the dead will walk the earth again, unseen.

The chanting begins, as of old. Perhaps it is authentic, perhaps not. But it has always been good enough to wreak its magic and begin the casting of the spells, the incantation, the invocation of the unholy.

We can see them, the two men, one larger and one smaller. They are wearing dark robes. They raise their hands as they chant, wave with purpose. You can feel the energy growing as the volume of their chant increases.

There is an altar and a sacrificial knife, but you see no tribute, no offering, no victim. There are bejeweled golden goblets of wine on the altar, waiting to be…what?

We see a point of light form at the center of the altar, beginning like the dot of red light of a laser pointer, growing in size, larger, until it is a large ball hovering over the altar. Amorphous in shape, it pulsates. Finally it coalesces, shrinks, and takes the form of a being—Beelzebub himself.

The Devil looks down and speaks to the smaller man. “What is this?” he says, pointing at the wine. “Where is the virgin you were going to sacrifice to me? And what is this wine? That’s supposed to be blood in the goblets.” He points again at the goblets, and they tip over, spilling their contents.

“I think you’re not taking your part of the bargain seriously. I’ve come through with what you needed, and now you’re backing down. I think I should just take back all I gave you and leave.”

The small man starts to bluster and bluff. Satan looks down on him and laughs. “Your time is up, little man. You never did intend to follow through on your promises, did you? But then they never do,” he said, talking to no one in particular.

“Now I will collect,” he says, snapping his fingers. In a white glow, the girl, the man’s daughter, appears on the table, naked, terrified. She then disappears, dissolving into a mist. “She is mine.”

“You can’t do that!” screams the little man.

“Ah, but so I can,” hisses Satan. “You have failed to fulfill your part of the bargain. You have grown increasingly arrogant. Your hubris astounds even me.”

He puts his hands on his hips, inasmuch as a glowing red spirit in the shape of a devil can. “But I always knew you would do this. That was part of the deal, too. It was never up to you. You only deluded yourself into thinking you were able to strike a bargain, that you had free will.”

Now the red glow dissolves and again forms a cloud, then a cyclone. Whirling around, it touches down on the head of the larger man and vanishes within him. He speaks. “It never was up to you. Everything has always been up to me. I knew what I wanted and I had you offer it to me. I knew full well I would win in the end.”

The small man says, “But, but…”

The big man cuts him off. “You’re a fool. Did you really think you could get into heaven with the help of the Devil? I could take you now, but I don’t need to. When you wake up, you will realize that you are the fool of the Nation and the world. Your power is gone. This is your fate.”

The small man whimpers, “You are possessed by Satan.”

Cheney laughs. “You don’t get it, do you? Why would I be possessed by the Devil? I am the Devil.”

The evil laughter echoes through the forest, and the small man sinks to the ground, feeling truly impotent and alone for the first time in his life.

09.06.07

What if…? Suzanne’s story

Posted in Bad boys, Female superiority, fiction at 10:01 pm by angela

meThis is the second in an occasional series of femdom-based political satire based on those pesky scandals. Unfortunately, I find I’m staring at a huge backlog in the upcoming wave of hypocrisy. Oh, noez!

October, 2007

Every time Suzanne thought about it, her blood began to boil. Don’t think about it, she said to herself. They told you that would just make it worse. Just think about getting away from it all to some peace and quiet.

Peace and quiet? Unimaginable after all this time. But Laura and Condi had agreed that she needed some time to herself, away from everything and everyone, family and friends included.

What would she do with herself with nothing scheduled? No activities? No PR events? Sure, there was a program of some sorts at the Academy for women taking an extended leave from their lives, but it hardly seemed like that something would be anything she needed.

She looked out the airplane window. There were thick forests punctuated by small meadows and lakes below. The flight’s descent into the capital had begun.

Again she thought, how could he do this to me?

She looked at the card they had given her to read and reread.

“Your strength is within you, waiting to help you take control of your life. It has always been a part of you. You will do what needs to be done, and you will do it gladly.”

________________________________________________________________

After a long plane trip, a long ground trip to her destination always seemed to take so much out of her. This was different. The driver was waiting for her in the terminal to pick up her luggage and take it out to the vehicle. He was a very polite and attractive young man, dressed smartly in a chauffeur’s uniform. His deference to her seemed entirely genuine, not like that of so many drivers who are clearly being civil only because they’d be fired from their job if someone complained.

She stretched out her legs in the back of the limousine. From the china teacup she sipped the hot tea he had poured her. Feeling drowsy, she closed her eyes…

The bouncing of the limousine on the unpaved road awakened her. Looking around her, she saw woods and fields. It was getting late, and clearly the sun would soon be going down. The driver took a turn down a side road into a wooded area. Within minutes she saw a high wall looming ahead. The driver pulled up to the gate, which opened long enough for him to drive through, then immediately closed behind him.

Unlike the wooded area outside, the campus was open manicured lawn with stately maples and oaks. Although Suzanne could see that the walls extended both ahead of her and to her right, gently rolling hills obscured her view of the distance, so she could neither see how far the campus extended, nor whether it was walled on all four sides.

The driver pulled up in front of a stately stone mansion. As he got out, walked around to her door and opened it, offering her his hand to help her out, the front door of the building opened. Another young man in a similar uniform walked smartly down the steps, opened the trunk of the limousine, removed her luggage, and carrying it back up the steps with him, disappeared inside.

Suzanne walked up the pink marble steps with the limousine driver. As they passed through the carved wooden door into the lobby, he closed the door and said to her, “I will show you to your room now.”

She glanced around the lobby, amazed at the marble walls, the sixteen foot high windows, the gilded antique furniture, the stone columns, and the gleaming black grand piano. The two of them slowly walked up the curving marble staircase to the elevator. While waiting, she gazed down at the scene beneath her, and saw a stained glass window directly across from her, in shades of pink, rose, beige. In it there appeared to be a woman in a long, flowing dress, with a man on all fours in front of her, kissing her feet. Was that a leash in her hand going to a collar on his neck? Her eyes must be playing tricks on her after such a long, tiring trip. She shook her head a little bit, made a mental note to look at it again when she was well-rested, then got into the elevator.

The room was ostentatiously furnished, but cozy rather than spacious. A double bed with a gleaming silk tussah bedspread was up against the wall in one corner of the room. In the center of the exterior wall was a set of French doors. Suzanne walked up and peeked through the lace curtains. She could see a small balcony with a carved stone railing looking out onto a view of the campus. On either side of the French doors were smaller windows with matching lace curtains. In front of the left window was a small mahogany table with two chairs. In front of the other was a relaxing-looking stuffed chair beside a reading lamp.

She turned to look at the opposite wall. As she watched, the young man opened a series of doors, revealing a built-in desk with a computer on the work surface and a bookcase overhead; a small kitchen counter with a refrigerator beneath and a microwave oven above; a spacious closet already containing her suitcases; and finally the door to the bathroom. He motioned for her to go inside.

The bathroom was breathtaking. The walls were marble with pink and apricot streaks. A large tub was faced with the same marble. In one corner stood a walk-in glass block shower. Gilded fixtures sparkled in the light of a crystal chandelier.

He stepped out of the bathroom and pointed at a button on the wall by the apartment door. “If you ever find you need anything, just press that button and someone will come to help you immediately.

“What I really need is someone to draw me a bath and unpack my suitcases while I relax in the tub,” she sighed in a half-joking manner.

“Certainly,” he said, and striding over to the tub, turned on the hot water. Steam rose from the water, and the tub filled rapidly. He took a small vial from the shelf, opened it, and held it under her nose. The hypnotic scent of tropical flowers made Suzanne feel light-headed. “Will this scent be acceptable?” he queried. She gave a nod. He sprinkled a few drops in the tub and then added a handful of bath crystals. “Would you like something to drink while you are relaxing in the tub? I understand you like tea.” he said. Again she nodded and watched, speechless, as he drew some hot water from a spigot in the kitchen armoire into a china teapot, measured tea leaves into a silver strainer, and dropped the strainer in. He set a matching china cup beside the teapot on a silver tray, then a cloth napkin, a tiny box of sugar cubes, and a dish of cut lemons already in the refrigerator. She was still standing there, staring, when the timer went off. He removed the tea strainer from the pot. Carrying the tray into the bathroom, he set it on the broad expanse of marble surrounding the tub. He reached in the water, then asked if Suzanne would like to check the water to see if the temperature was satisfactory.

She walked over, put her hand in and rolled her eyes with delight. She seated herself in a wicker chair beside the tub and reached down to remove her shoes. The chauffeur immediately knelt down and removed them for her. He then stood, and pointed to a series of buttons on the wall. “These buttons control the lighting and music in this room. You should be able to find some music you like. Here are the tub controls, and of course, a call button if you realize you need anything.” He placed a pair of terrycloth slippers on the floor and hung a robe on a hook within reach of the tub. He poured her a cup of tea. “If you need anything, just call,” he said, carrying her shoes from the room and closing the door behind him.

As Suzanne slipped into the hot water, she smelled the hypnotic perfume rising around her. Glancing at the buttons on the wall, she pressed the ones labeled “AIR JETS” and “WATER JETS.” Oh, my. A cloud of bubbles rose to her chin.

She closed her eyes and relaxed, listening to the sound of the handsome young male opening her suitcase, hanging up clothing on hangers, opening and closing drawers, and placing things on shelves. What is this place? she thought to herself.

_____________________________________________________________

The note Suzanne had found on her pillow (with the chocolate mint) had been very specific, and very formal. Principal Quattrano requests the pleasure of your company at breakfast or lunch tomorrow. Please confirm your availability so that arrangements can be made. Ring the call button and give your RSVP card to the person who responds. She checked the box next to ’9:30 am’ and rang the bell. Within fifteen seconds there was a knock on the door. Another young uniformed male took the card and asked if she needed anything else. She shook her head. Bowing slightly, he backed away from her, turned, and disappeared down the hall and around the corner.

She set the alarm for 8:30 am.

_____________________________________________________________

At 8:30 am she awoke, well-rested if a bit achy from the previous day’s travel. Soft music filled the room. Sunlight streamed in through the French doors and windows. She pulled aside the curtains and opened the doors. A gentle breeze wafted through the room. Turning toward the bathroom door, she noticed that a tray was sitting on a small table just inside the room entrance. She walked up and peered at it. A crystal carafe of ice water and an insulated tea dispenser sat on the tray with a glass, a teacup, a spoon, sugar, lemons, and cloth napkins. She poured herself a cup of tea and sat down in the upholstered chair under the window.

The Principal knocked on the door precisely at 9:30 am. Suzanne called out, “Come in,” and was surprised to see not only the Principal, but following her a young man pushing what looked like a room service cart. He opened the French doors wide and carried out the mahogany table and chairs, arranging them on the small balcony. He then quickly put a tablecloth on the table, set it with dishes and utensils, and motioned for the two women to be seated. He offered tea, coffee, milk, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and sparkling water, then put a plate of scrambled eggs, sausages, and potatoes in front of each woman. In the center of the table he set a basket of muffins and a small tray with butter, jam, cream, and sugar. He placed the beverages on a tray stand next to the table, asked if anything else was necessary, and bowing briefly, rolled the cart from the room.

Suzanne watched with very large eyes. The Principal said, “I know you came here on short notice, so you probably don’t know very much about the programs we have here. I’m here to give you a little introduction to our mission.” She split and buttered a blueberry muffin, crusty on top with a light glaze of sugar, moist and steaming within. “There are a great many women like you in our society, women who have sacrificed their own ambitions, even their own identities, in order to facilitate their husbands’ careers, only to find their husbands acting like sex-crazed amnesiacs in need of a severe kick to the behind. Ring a bell?

“The fact is that men have a need to be led. They need to be controlled. Left to their own devices, they end up following their penises, acting like delusional fools. Not only that, but they lose all productivity. Men who are controlled can achieve many things. Men who are out of control do dumb things like starting wars, stealing from the public coffers, having oral sex with interns, hiring prostitutes, and cruising public restrooms in airports looking for gay sex.

“But the most amazing thing is, it’s such a slippery slope that for their own actions they have lost any sense of morality or propriety. They convince themselves that whatever they want to do is what they deserve, and it is right. Not only that, they think that others will view their actions through this same self-serving moral filter. They want you to believe it is your fault, for being too demanding, too middle-aged, too… human. But you can hardly be blamed for not being aware of this.

“Given the opportunity, men behave like animals, the lower form of life that they are. The fact is that they will have sex with anything that moves, and a lot of things that don’t.

“One of our important missions on this campus is to take women like you, women who have denied or suppressed their inner strength while pretending that their husband is in control of his actions. We teach you to recognize your inherent female wisdom, strength and dominance, and finally, to learn to use it to control your husband. When you have completed this program, you will wish you had had these skills years ago. You will understand that not only is it possible for you to control and guide your husband, but it is your obligation to him, to your family, and to society. Men are weak. They think their sexuality is their strength, but it is their weakness. You will use your husband’s sexual weakness to control him, to make him do whatever you wish and beg for more control.”

Suzanne looked doubtful. She took a bite of sausage, savoring the rich, spicy interior and the crisp skin. She tasted a creamy nugget of scrambled egg, a piece of golden potato, and a bite of a sweet corn muffin. “This is really good,” she said, gesturing at her plate.

“Oh, yes,” agreed the Principal. “All of the work which is done on this campus is performed by males who have been trained to our exacting standards. There may be more than one way to do things right, but that’s no excuse for screwing up. When we are done training males, they become highly productive. They will do things the right way, and if they don’t know how it should be done, they ask how you want it. They know there is no excuse for doing substandard work.

“Our other main mission on this campus is to take young males who have botched their chance of graduating from high school. They are uneducated, lazy slackers, incapable of following directions. Basically, they have no potential to succeed in society without our help. Given the choice, they have chosen to do things wrong in an effort to get people to stop making demands on them.

“Unfortunately, these bad habits are so ingrained in them that we must remove all options. They can follow our orders, attend classes, begin to catch up on their academic work, learn social graces and treat women with respect, or they will be punished. Eventually they realize that the choice is theirs, and they grow to accept their fate. Only then can they begin to make progress. We provide them with the remedial education they will need to attend college or career training despite previous failures. We also give them the training they will need to follow orders from a woman and serve her well. When our mission is complete, these young males realize that they can never behave responsibly without a woman’s control. They know that they need it, and they crave this control. They cannot live without it.

“Of course, this is not a vocational school. So we also help these young men to set career goals for themselves, so that through their future employment they will be able to support a superior woman in the style she deserves. This will, of course, greatly improve their chances of finding a woman who is willing to put in the effort needed to keep them on the straight and narrow.”

The Principal reached for the tray. “More tea, Suzanne?”

_____________________________________________________________

In the next week, Suzanne became accustomed to the campus routine – or at least, in her little corner of the campus. Every day she had a visitor or two who spoke of various aspects of Academy life and training – instructors, young women in the domme track, a slave or two speaking of their early days in training at the Academy, and how they came to their calling. Even Laura came by to speak with her, Laura, who had come so long ago and never left, who had become a role model for the young women. The transformation was amazing to behold. Laura was now proud and assertive. She would never play second fiddle to a man again – or as she joked, an inferior man. If Laura could do it, she could do it. Not only that, but Suzanne realized that she had a husband in desperate need of her loving control, and an obligation to control him. “Tough love” was the keyword here.

By the end of that week she was ready to slip into campus activities. Males assigned to provide services in her section now wore the standard campus uniform – a white loincloth with the Academy logo on it. They bowed slightly as she approached them in passing on campus, or knelt in front of her if she chose to address one of them.

As she progressed in her program, she began to meet some of the young males in the main program. They were clearly works in progress. They were sullen at times. A woman needed to keep on top of their behavior at all times to make sure they never got away with anything. Otherwise they would always be trying to get away with something.

Boys who had violated rules during their class time were brought before the Punishment classes to serve as a sort of cross between bad examples and volunteers for the demos. In this way, the women learned to mete out punishment, to react swiftly to words and not let males get away with anything. She noticed that sometimes the same males would show up repeatedly. As each male carried around his chart with him on a flash drive worn on a chain around his neck, she could check to see on how much progress he had made, or how often he received what sorts of punishment just by plugging it into the small laptop she carried with her. The teacher would demonstrate this by plugging a hapless male’s flash drive into the computer at the front of the class, projecting the data and analyzing it through the applications on the computer. It was clear that most of the males that were brought before her class were still fighting the system, while many others she ran into on campus offered up their flash drives gladly, proud to show that they had had no recent violations.

The better a male’s cumulative behavior, the better work assignments he received, the more freedom he was allowed, and the faster he was able to progress through his program. It was simply a matter of punishment and reward. But oddly enough, they soon began to find comfort in the restrictions and the affirmations. They wanted to be told what to do, and they wanted to be kept in line. They needed it.

_____________________________________________________________

Amazingly enough, Larry showed up. “It’s time to come home now, Suzanne,” he said. “People are starting to ask questions about you. You belong by my side.”

She laughed. “People have finally stopped asking questions about you, haven’t they? You know why? Because they think you’re gay. You have convinced them that you’re not only gay, but a delusional liar.”

He stared at her in shock. She had never spoken to him like this before. Not only that, but she had always supported him, always taken his side.

She continued, “I’m going to give you two choices. It’s up to you. Choice 1: I get a divorce and tell the world what a lying, cheating idiot you are, how you used me as a screen for your sleazy cruising behavior. How you’ve had zero concern for family values all this time. That the only things that mattered to you were power and gay sex. ‘Idahomosexual!’” She laughed. I have nothing whatever to be ashamed of. You are the one who’s been humiliating yourself all this time.”

“Your only other option is to accept that you are unable to use your penis responsibly. I will take control. I will tell you what to do and when to do it. I will tell you where to be and when to be there, and if you are not there, I will punish you like the mental and emotional twelve year old that you are. Outwardly you will show the world that you are capable of being all the things you pretended you were. But I will be the boss. You will behave inside and outside the home. You will never be in charge again.”

“What’s it gonna be, boy?” She impatiently tapped her long red fingernails against the tabletop. Red fingernails? When did Suzanne start wearing blood red nail polish?

He started to whine something about her being a proper wife. She slapped him across the face, and he recoiled. “I don’t want to hear any crap from you. I guess you made your decision, eh? I’ll call the press for a conference in the morning to make my announcement.”

“No, wait,” he sputtered. “I need some time to think about this. I can tell you…in a few days.”

“Oh, so you can have one last fling cruising public restrooms looking for sex with other guys who aren’t gay, either? You cocksucker! It’s now or never, fucktard!” She saw hesitation in his face, a glimmer of rational thought. “Get on your knees in front of Me, NOW, or get out of my life!”

He looked down at the floor and sank to his knees. Suzanne smiled and reached for the handcuffs.

05.04.07

Slave 23 and the renovations in room 8G

Posted in fiction at 8:15 pm by angela

Slave number 23 stepped back to survey his work, admiring it discreetly. Even though he knew that pride is one of the Deadly Sins which slaves must never permit themselves to feel, he was fully aware that he and his crew had done a damned fine job. The design and construction work they had put into making the classroom modifications functional, attractive, and durable had paid off. Not only that, but they had finished on schedule, even though it had been necessary to work extra shifts to do so.The Principal would be very pleased.

The classroom had been long and narrow, with entrance doors at the front and rear. The designer had intended it to hold six or more rows of desks, with blackboards on the front and rear walls. Of course, it would have been challenging to actually run a class full of that many slacktards of the sort of males who attend the Academy. That many hormonally-challenged males in so close a proximity did not make for a learning environment, and the best that the instructors had been able to do was to space the desks far apart. That way there was enough room between the desks so that the students could not distract each other quite so readily. Also, the instructor could walk easily between the desks during class, watching for bad behavior and swiftly correcting it. So it still was an effective classroom, as far as learning and discipline was concerned, but the number of students in that big room had had to be kept small. The teacher was often exhausted after a class.

Finally someone got the bright idea of dividing the classroom into two smaller rooms and building in custom desks Thus the project was launched.

How cozy and secure the cubies looked. How very confining. It made him wish he was a student again, so he could be restrained against his will and then humiliated in front of the entire class for opening his mouth at the wrong time. Those were the days…

Perhaps he could get his Mistress to schedule a private session in the cubies. If the Goddesses thought he had done as good a job as he and his crew thought, the room was probably going to be very popular in the off-hours.

Looking at his watch, Slave 23 realized that class was starting. He knew he was not required to stay, but he wanted to see the first class use his new creation. He took the class assistant slave position by the door. Momentarily the door opened, and the teacher entered, followed by the same 12 boys who had occupied the class before the renovation. Slave 23 could see the look of surprise in their eyes as they gazed on the new room setup.

The room was now only half as deep. A new wall had divided it into two rooms with separate entrances. The new rear wall had what looked like two rows of six large wooden boxes mounted on it, facing toward the front of the room. Getting closer, the boys could see that each box contained a chair. The first six boys ducked slightly to enter the bottom row of boxes and sit in the desks. The remaining six boys stepped up to the top row on a step that was mounted on the dividing walls of the boxes.

The teacher barked orders. “Hands on your head! Feet in!” Seeing that all the boys were still, she raised the remote control and began securing procedures. Manacles encircled the boys’ ankles. Waist restraints secured their waists, as in a carnival ride. Desktops came down from the top panel of the boxes and locked securely in place. The notches cut out for the boys’ waists fitted securely. There would be no way for the boys to distract themselves by playing with their male members.

“Lower your hands!” shouted the teacher. The boys gingerly lowered their hands and looked around, but there was nothing to see but the teacher and the blackboard in front of them. Well, that and slave number 23 with a silly smirk on his face, that is.

Everything was clearly under control. Slave number 23 left the room to file his report with the Principal, take a nap, and dream of the new cubies in Room 8G.

02.13.07

What if? Part 1

Posted in fiction at 11:42 pm by angela

I’ve long thought that somebody should do a novel based on what might have happened if dubya had not survived the pretzel-choking incident. I still think somebody should, and it’s still not likely to be me. But I will occasionally feel the urge to write a short story or two set in that alternate reality…

January 31, 2002

A tear ran down from the corner of Laura’s right eye. Her lower lip began to tremble. Condi realized Laura was about to break down, and put her arms around her, pulling her in close and patting her back. “It’s okay to cry,” she said softly, brushing her hand across Laura’s cheek to wipe away the tears and running it through her hair. “It’s all for the best. You knew it was just a matter of time.”

Laura nodded, but started to cry softly. “Why didn’t he chew his food better? I feel like if I’d been with him it would never have happened.”

Condi sighed, thinking, “Undoubtedly that’s true, but it was hardly your responsibility to make sure he chewed his pretzels instead of inhaling them whole while transfixed as little objects moved across the television screen.” Instead she said, “You know it’s not possible to be everywhere. When guys are watching football, well, you know they have trouble multi-tasking…”

Laura nodded slightly, distracted, and started to cry. “I have to move out now,” she sobbed. “Lynne and Dick told me they want me out within the week. What will I do? I don’t really want to live in the middle of nowhere in that hellish wasteland… It’s like a fortress there, a spy center. I want to live out in the world again.” She started sobbing now. Condi pulled back and looked Laura straight in the eyes.

“I’m going to be honest with you, Laura,” she said. “I understand you were married for a long time, but you’re going to have to start being independent now. You really don’t have any choice. I’ve found a place in the country where you can stay for a while, get away from the politics thing, recharge your batteries, and start to get used to making your own decisions and living for yourself. It’s a school with a variety of programs, including a residential retreat for adults. They have women’s leadership workshops there that may be just what you need to give yourself something else to occupy your mind. You made lots of sacrifices for his career, and now you need to start living for yourself. You know it’s true.”

Laura sniffed, “Have I heard of this school?”

Condi responded, “I don’t think you would have. It’s a different sort of private school. It’s called The Gold Star Academy of Discipline because one of its main programs provides discipline to young men who weren’t able to graduate from high school because they didn’t have proper motivation. I’m sure a mature woman like you could help by giving them…guidance.”

Laura stifled another sob, sighed, and began to get herself under control as Condi continued. “We can have your things shipped to the ranch for storage while you’re away. I’ve contacted the people at the retreat and I can make all the arrangements in a phone call.”

“Should I do this?” Laura asked. “Barbara was telling me that -”

“Forget what Barbara says. She doesn’t matter right now. What’s important is that you take care of yourself.” Condi gave Laura another hug, Releasing her, she leaned forward. Their cheeks touched, and each turned to face the other. This time Laura’s fingers brushed across Condi’s cheek. They gazed for a moment into each other’s eyes, then Condi brought her forefinger up to touch Laura’s lips. It traced around. Then pulling it away, she brought her own lips to Laura’s. They kissed briefly, parted, then kissed again, longer and harder.

Laura stepped back, confused. Two weekends ago she would have been terrified at the idea of ignoring Barbara, but suddenly, hearing those words come from Condi’s mouth made her feel liberated. The passion felt welling up within her was unlike any she had ever felt before. Condi put her hands on Laura’s hips and pulled her in close. They sank together to the sofa and fell into each other’s embrace…