"Look at me, Josephine."
She is directly in front of me, her face inches from mine, her body pinned by mine against the wall in such a manner that she cannot push me away, or even move her limbs at all. And yet still she is able to resist me, still she does not look me in the eye; she keeps her head slightly turned, her eyes cast to the side, in deliberate stubborn rebellion. Even now, even in her weakness she will not fully submit to me, and a part of me is almost as gratified as I am frustrated by her.
This one will be a challenge. This one will not be easy to break. But in the end she will realize the error of her wayward actions…in the end she will realize her true feelings towards me, the depth of her need for me. I am certain that unlike the others, this one- Josephine- is the one.
But until she comes to this realization- an occurrence I eagerly await- I will be unable to shower upon her the affection and appreciation that any man freely gives his love. Until then, she must be trained, guided. And she must be punished.
Removing one hand slowly from its firm grip around her upper arm, I slapped her across the face with enough deliberate force that the sound echoed throughout the basement's interior. She flinched, pain tensing her drawn features, and sucked in her breath, but she did not scream, and even then she did not meet my eyes. It was by the looks of it going to be yet another challenging day with my love.
With the same hand I seized her face; her chin, jaw, and cheeks were covered, small as they were, by the span of my grip, and I squeezed until her eyes opened wide, forcing her chin up until she was given no choice but to meet my eyes. With my body I pressed her more firmly against the wall, exerting enough pressure against her frail frame that I heard something pop. She was so delicate as of late…but if she could not obey, she would not eat. It was as simple as that, and of her own consequence.
"Perhaps you didn't understand me the first time…I said look at me, Josephine."
She was of course unable to do anything else, in the manner that I was restraining her, and I relished for several seconds the dull sheen of her blue eyes, the faint spark of pain and defiance that still remained in their surface…she had held on for much longer than most. It would be that much sweeter when I succeeded at last in breaking her.
I began to smile at her, to reward her. My hand gently stroked her shoulder, my thumb caressing its bony slope, and I even began to encourage her, to praise her.
"Very good, Josephine…well d-"
But then she quite purposefully closed her eyes. Not because she was tired, or scared, or had lost consciousness, or anything of the sort…no, she was closing her eyes in deliberate defiance, in deliberate rebellion against my commands.
Rage boiled within my veins, and my heart quickened in its beats. I only just restrained myself from punching her in the face as hard as was possible, from slamming her head against the concrete basement floor until it was bloodied and its insides exposed. I did not want to mar her beauty, even if she was behaving in a manner that well deserved it.
Instead I once again tightened my hands on her shoulders, and I shook her, with such force that her head snapped back and forth on the delicate stem of her neck. She gasped aloud, eyes bulging. But they were open, they could look at nothing but me, and this was my goal.
With her eyes open, I shook her once more and then stopped abruptly, still holding her shoulders, pushing her back against the wall. I could see her swallowing with difficulty, her breath rasping, and her head bowed forward as if it were too great a weight for her neck to continue supporting. I shoved her head back against the wall, my face close to hers, almost close enough to kiss, but I would not kiss her, not yet. Not until she desired me every bit as much as I required…not until she was mine in soul as well as body.
I could hear her heartbeat, weakly fluttering, and I almost smiled in spite of myself as I spoke softly.
"We have been battling each other's will, Josephine, for three days now. You have had nothing more than small amounts of water each day, little sleep, and no food, and yet you continue this futile resistance. You will die here, if you do not submit yourself to the truth, to the inevitability of your surrender."
She did not respond, but then, she never did. In the three days since I had brought her here, she had not spoken a word. I had thought at first that it was preferable to the others and their screams, to their cries for mercy and their sobs of terror. Now I know that it only shows the depth of her defiance, of her thus far intractable nature. It is not shock, fear, or physical weakness that renders her mute. It is pure stubbornness.
And I intend to stop it.
"I will ask you again, Josephine…and this time, I highly suggest you answer," I said slowly, softly, though I allowed an undercurrent of menace into my tone, just so she would realize the seriousness of her resistance. "You have only to speak, to tell the truth…that is all I require from you. Tell me, Josephine, how you feel about me."
I waited, nearly holding my breath; I was almost certain that this time, my patient diligence would be rewarded.
Again, she did not respond. Her features tightened, as if in effort to consciously prevent words from coming, and I knew, KNEW that she wanted to speak…I knew she was stopping herself from doing so.
Why was she so relentlessly stubborn? Why could she not simply give in?
My jaw tensed, and I squeezed her slowly, with increasing pressure, until I heard another popping noise in her joints, until pain spasmed across her features. I smiled, only lightly easing the pressure as I addressed her softly.
"You cannot be silent forever, Josephine. It is clear to me how very badly you wish to speak. There is no reason to deny yourself any longer…speak. SPEAK."
She was letting her eyes shift again to the small degree that they were able, and still she would not speak…still she defied me!
My anger rose further, and I seized a handful of her hair, slamming her head against the wall, not quite hard enough to draw blood. Then, still gripping her hair, I forced her face to tilt up towards me, my voice rising.
"Speak, Josephine! Tell me how you feel for me! Tell me the truth! Tell me how you feel!"
Fever bright eyes bore into mine, and her lips parted. My heart skipped a beat, so eager was I to finally hear what I had so long awaited for her to say, and unconsciously I gripped her even more tightly than before.
Her words were soft, her voice raspy from disuse, but still I heard…her words were very clear.
"I abhor you."
For several moments I stared at her, unable to reconcile the spoken words with the words I had waited to hear. For a few moments I even half decided that my ears had deceived me, and that the word she had uttered had not been abhor, but rather adore. But no…she was staring directly into my eyes, her own glistening with malice, and I knew she meant what she had said.
I envisioned the flash of a shimmery blade, the skinned knuckles of a bloody fist. I imagined her screaming, weeping at long last as she lay broken and bleeding on the cold basement floor. I envisioned her silenced not by her choice, but mine, and I was tempted…so very tempted.
Instead I released her so rapidly that she crumpled to the floor, knees buckling. Instead I strode up the steps and shut and locked the heavy door behind me, leaving her alone once more.
Not yet…not quite yet was it time to give up on her…there was still time, still hope.
But not much…and what if I was wrong again, and she was not different from the others? What if Josephine too was not the one?
There may be many fish in the sea, but I am certain that there is only one for me. I only fear that I will not find her amongst the many, when they all look so very similar.