Lena loved Eric the most and because of this she spanked him the most. She spanked all of us, and sometimes she pulled our hair, and Benjamin she kicked when she got really angry, but Eric she seemed to want to caress with discipline.
I stand in a doorway and watch as she pulls him over her knee, his blondish head of curls dangling. I hold my breath when she pulls down his underpants and exposes his round, little boy's buttocks. They are smooth, small enough to cup in a hand.
"I told you I'd spank your bottom," she says. "Fresh boy."
Is Eric whimpering? Crying? Is he silent? Memory is a kind of condemnation, forgetfulness a kind of reprieve.
I stand in the doorway and titter. Am I nervous? Excited? Scared?
Lena brings her hand down - once, twice - on my brother's bottom, reddening it slightly.
"You won't talk back to me anymore. Any of you. Benjamin either."
The door behind which I am standing is only slightly ajar. I don't think Lena knows I'm there, but I'm sure Eric does. My bottom pulsates with his, yet by watching, it is I who administer the spanking to him.
"What about Benjamin?",
"He'll get his next," Lena says.
Where is my mother? Does she condone this? Does she know? Would she think Lena was bad if she knew?
Now Lena takes up a brush that lies next to her on the bed. Another KENT OF LONDON appears on its handle. The brush is oval-shaped, of sturdy, light-colored wood; it is meant to brush hair with. She slaps the back of the Kent brush across the middle of Eric's orbed exposedness: once, twice, many times. Eric begins to bawl, and I am so excited, I feel a wetness in my underpants.
At some point Lena lets Eric up. "There," she says. And next time it'll be all of you, down the line."
Before Eric pulls up his underpants, I get a glimpse of him - red-assed, like a baboon.
I don't claim to understand the intricate process whereby the unbearable is made bearable, whereby imagination runs off with reality, like the dish running away with the spoon. The easiest way to be a victim is to align yourself with the victimizer, to create pleasure out of the pain. I do know that by the time I was ten, my imagination had thrown up its defenses, had successfully intervened between me and Lena's spankings. I was spanked, too, but the role I cast myself in was a voyeuristic one, a witness at the scene of humiliation.
At some point, I must have been nine or ten, I began looking up the verb spank in the dictionary because the act of seeing the word in print and the details of its definition gave me great excitement. At around the same time I also began having a recurring dream in which I spanked a little boy, my son, and then threw him out the window. As an adult I can't see a brush lying harmlessly on a chest of drawers without immediately flashing back; like a cut in a movie, to this scene; I am Lena, and I am Eric. It is all in slow motion, almost lyrical, the way it surely wasn't then: Eric, his underpants in a white puddle around his ankles, lies across Lena's lap; the softness of his bottom is almost palpable, and it is about to feel the flat blow of her hand or the more neutral sting of a brush. Does Lena rub his bottom between spanks, caressing it before the assault? I strain forward to see, but somewhere my urge to transform intercedes - pain and humiliation converted, by who knows what manner of ingenuity, to a wetness in my pants.
(to be continued)