The Care and Maintenance of Bonsai by Laura Roberts

“Kneel.”

The submissive I’m training bows her head and does exactly as I say. She is young enough to think this is sexy, yet not old enough to realize this is not something she will want forever. Someday, she will want to be the dominant one. But it will be too late for that. I will have broken her, and she will be submissive for life.

"Betty Page in fishnets" (photo by Flickr user David Clow)

“Betty Page in fishnets” (photo by Flickr user David Clow)

She looks at the floor, or maybe her thighs, and all I can see is the top of her head, the part down the exact centre of her scalp. It’s like a Bettie Page wig, a black bob with ruler-straight bangs. I wonder if it is real. I take a step back so I can see her face. Even with her eyes downcast, she is pretty. Her lips are a dark maroon that is almost brown, and her nose is small. There is a mole above the left side of her mouth. Or maybe that’s fake, too. Hard to tell what’s real these days.

Her tits, at least, are real. No over-inflated balloons, no watermelons. They are small but perfect, and the nipples jut out towards me. She stares intently at the floor, awaiting my command.

I have seen so many of these dedicated young things, all wanting to be bossed around by a big strong man, and it makes me tired. There is an art to this, but all they really want is to be fucked hard by a guy with a monstrous cock. Where’s the poetry in that? Any man can give you what you want, if you tell him what that is. S&M is supposed to be more than just soft porn, but do these girls care?

It’s like bonsai. I have a thing for those little trees. They take a lot of work. Training a bonsai requires dedication, discipline. You need the right tools and you need decent material to work with. I’ve been reading up on it. This book I have says that the care and maintenance of bonsai is a delicate art. I’m kind of paraphrasing, but it basically says that young bonsai need a lot of time and energy, and they have to be pruned regularly in order to direct their growth over the years.

The thing I remember most is the part that tells you that bonsai are not just little trees, that they require the same skill and attention as any full-sized tree. Bonsai fall prey to the same problems as big trees: insect infestations, over- or under-watering, poor soil conditions, root damage. And they have their own special challenges, including their miniature size, the pots in which they live, and the wires that mould them into a more perfect shape. That’s domination all over. You have to have skill and you have to have understanding. This girl, Raven… does she have what it takes?

“Suck on my toes,” I say. They hate this. God knows where my toes have been, right? In some sweaty sock inside a gym shoe I’ve worn for how many years. Yech! I’d recoil, too, if I were her. But a good sub shows no signs of disgust. She takes it all in stride. Raven is trying hard, but I can see the look in her eyes as she flicks them up at me. “Sick motherfucker,” they say.

“Don’t look at me. I am your master, and you are my slave. You have no right to make eye contact,” I command, flicking my whip across her shoulders. She flinches, but doesn’t look up again. And then she leans over to gingerly lick the big toe on my right foot.

“I said suck my toes, not lick the dirt off them. Pretend that’s a cock. Make love to my toes.” She puts my toe into her mouth all the way, even my crusty yellow nail with the fungus that my doctor isn’t sure about. She sucks on the callous that has grown there for thirty years. She gives my toe a blowjob, and I feel she’s making progress. I bend down and massage her scalp as she works to let her know she’s doing a good job.

The bonsai book has a lot of handy advice. It points out that the skills required for bonsai maintenance are the same for both beginners and great masters. Pruning, pinching and wire training aren’t necessarily easy, but they’re skills that are in constant use once you get started with bonsai. I’ve got a bougainvillea at home. I liked the sound of it: bougainvillea. It’s my second tree. I started with an Ulmus parvifolia, a Chinese elm. You basically can’t kill the damn thing unless you put it down in the street and back over it a couple of times with a car. The book actually said it was perfect for beginners, so I went straight to Chinatown and asked around until I found one. It looks exactly like the full-sized elm outside my apartment, but it’s about one-hundredth the size.

But as I was saying, even bonsai masters make mistakes. We’re fallible, we’re human beings. The trick is to learn it the first time, to build on what you’ve got. I started off a little too enthusiastically, watering the elm every single day. Then I bought a few books and realised I was gonna kill the thing if I kept on that way. It’s not fussy, you can water it once a week or something, but every day and you’ll have root rot. And once you’ve got rotten roots, the whole tree’s fucked. Nope, you’ve got to keep track of these things, back off a bit, take it slow. That’s what I’m doing with Raven. A firm hand, but not too hard or too fast. Give her a taste for it, let her settle in.

“Stop,” I say.

She stops, resumes her kneeling posture, eyes down.

“I want you to give me a back massage. I hear you’re training to be a masseuse, so it’d better be good.” Put the fear of god into them. I love those “… or else” kinds of statements.

“Master?” She has a question. I watch to make sure she doesn’t look up at me again.

“Yes, slave?”

“If I may… do you prefer Swedish or Shiatsu?” Her eyes are still on the floor. She’s learning.

“Whichever hurts more.” What do I know about the art of massage? I’m just a guy who dominates women for a living. Let her take that toe-sucking thing out on me if she wants. I mean, she did suck the sketchy toenail; I’ve gotta give her credit for that.

I take off my shirt and lay face down across the bed. My feet dangle over the edge, and I rest my head on my arms. She climbs on top of me, positions herself over my ass and starts thumping my back like she’s got a rolling pin in each hand. I grin to myself. She really hates me. At least I didn’t go straight for anal sex and water play. She probably would’ve thrown on her coat and left in a huff. I don’t know what girls think a dungeon’s supposed to be like, but apparently urine doesn’t factor into their dark fantasies.

It’s not about forcing her to do things that are disgusting, though. It’s about limits. Where is she willing to go? How far is she willing to take this? What’s she here for, anyway? Does this turn her on? Is she just giving it a whirl? Is this some kind of thrill for her to report to her boyfriend, or is she getting into this for good? I’m not into scarring chicks for life. I just want them to experience something outside their comfort zones, something a little less vanilla. And, in the end, I think they want that, too. Why else would a girl come to a place like this to be alone with some beefcake and his sex toys?

It all comes back to what this bonsai guy’s book is saying. It’s becoming crystal clear as Raven pinches and pounds my flesh like pizza dough. Bonsai aren’t stunted by wire-training, and they’re not maintained through malice. Some would argue that restricting the tree’s natural growth is about the same as foot-binding, but that doesn’t jive with me. How do they explain that, when properly done, the so-called “stunted” bonsai often outlive their regular-sized cousins?

I’m not tying Raven up tonight, but sooner or later I will. And she’ll love it. The wires that train a bonsai to grow in the right direction will be like the handcuffs that keep her in check. Eventually, all I’ll have to do is take them out of the closet to get her wet. I picture her long, narrow limbs clamped to the headboard, and she is beautiful as a Serissa foetida, a Tree of a Thousand Stars, bent at just the right angle. Perfect.

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Roberts_LauraLaura Roberts is the Founding Editor of Black Heart Magazine. Read more of her work, including her serial novel, Naked Montreal, over at Buttontapper Press.