"Out of the Sea"
by Eric Carwardine'You okay?' I asked sharply, as a single shuddering sob shook her shoulders. I tried to catch her eye, but she pushed back her chair and slumped onto the bed next to her computer desk. Her face was away from me.
She had been without her computer for nearly two weeks, as I tried to find parts for it. Students don't have much money to spend on repairs, so I'd told her I would do what I could with second-hand parts. And I'd chuck in my time for free. The transistorectomy should see it through to her graduation.
I had no idea what had upset her, so it didn't seem right to leave her now. As far as I knew, she had no other friends. Perhaps I could get her some food. We'd been out all day, and she'd eaten nothing since breakfast. She must be hungry.
'Can I get you something to eat?' I asked softly, and thought I detected a nod. There was a pantry cupboard in the tiny room she used as a study, but no cooking facilities. But I could use the communal kitchen at the end of the building. A packet of instant noodles, some sliced bread, a tin of fish-paste, and some almost-black bananas. Not much of a meal, but it might cheer her up. While the water was boiling in a pot on the stove, I wandered back to her computer and cleared the screen-saver. She had been reading an email, so I diverted my gaze, but not before I had taken in '... Mum and Dad killed ...'. I glanced swiftly at the dejected figure on the bed, before returning to the email. There had been a terrible traffic crash. I read a bit more, but the screen was blurring-over by then. I shut down the machine and switched it off. The email had been sent ten days ago. Her parents were being buried as I was opening her computer on my work-bench.
It was a week before I heard from her. She wanted to come around to my place. She was continuing her studies, but feeling pretty lonely. That was the first of many visits in the months that followed. She liked reading, and soon discovered my large collection of erotic novels. I was in my workshop one afternoon when I sensed her at my side.
'Could I be like that?' she asked timidly.
'Like what?' I asked, looking at the book in her hands 'Oh, you mean walk around the house with no clothes on, and chains on your feet, and have your bare bottom smacked when you are naughty? Like that, you mean?' I said, grinning.
'Yes' she smiled 'I think I'd like that'
'Suits me. You can help with the business when you're not studying. Answer the phone, and stuff like that. I don't pay anything, but I'll feed you and look after you. You better be a good girl, though.'
She lived with me until her final exams that year. We never did become lovers, but she liked being put across my knee to have her cheeks reddened. Afterwards, she would lay on her bed with her fingers between her thighs. The release of orgasm came easily to her.
The death of her parents seemed to strengthen her desire to graduate. When I expressed my admiration at this she just smiled and said 'Have to. Mum and Dad have already paid the fees. Can't let them down.'
We had agreed that when the time came we would part at the airport terminal door, with neither of us looking back as we walked away from each other. But I still sat in my car for a long time, staring into the haze which had swallowed her flight. God, I was going to miss her.
I lifted the hand-piece of my workshop phone on that cold and wet July day. Having identified myself to the caller, I listened in amazement as my life changed forever.
'We have a young woman here who gave us your name and phone number. She's been very sick in hospital. We've flown her down here, now she's better. She nearly drowned. She was in a boat that got sunk miles off. Will you come in today?'
I don't recall much more about that day. I got a taxi to the airport. I didn't trust myself to drive. They were holding her in a cubicle no bigger than the tiny room she had used as a student. When I entered she was sitting with her back to me. 'Hallo ... ' I began, but got no further. The chair crashed to the floor as she leapt to her feet. The salt of her tears seemed to come straight from the ocean she had been rescued from.
We had a battle to keep her in the country. But we won. A change of government probably helped. And she still loves having her bare bottom spanked. Late at night, when the kids are fast asleep, she will take off all her clothes while I rummage in the dressing-table drawer for her cuffs and chains. And she will kneel on the carpet while I boil some noodles, and spread fish-paste on stale bread. And in a dish on the side-board I keep bananas, until they are almost black.