She kneels next the trunk full of discarded clothes. It’s an old leather steamer trunk, elegant and battered, lid opened to reveal a busy contradiction of mesh, PVC, cheap cotton, latex, lace and pleather, in black and red and a clashing cacophony of pinks. Things he bought that didn’t fit, things his other sluts left behind.
She looks up at him and he smiles, gestures towards the pile of garments. ‘Pick something’, he says, and she leans forward gingerly. She breathes in and smells a strangely familiar perfume: the rubbery, chemical tang of latex and manmade fabrics overlaid with vanilla and cigarette smoke.
‘Do you have anything in my size?’, she asks.
He laughs loudly and bends over, slips his hand down the front of her scoop- necked top and grabs at her tit, his palm warm and possessive.
‘Probably. My tastes are wide- ranging. Have a look’.
She picks up one item after another, rubbing the fabric between her fingers, examining seams with an air of expertise- anything to hide the awkwardness she feels at knowing that these clothes were bought for and worn by a train of women before her. Older, younger, slimmer, fatter, prettier, more confident, more experienced… and all of them, at some point, dressed up by him, divested of the clothes they had chosen for themselves and buttoned and zipped into outfits intended solely for his pleasure.
She lifts each piece up to the light, unfurls them to check the labels, and then holds them up against herself to try and gauge whether they might fit her. Anything too small she places in a pile by her side, anything that looks like it might be large enough she leaves in the trunk. She finds three versions of the same halterneck PVC dress, and laughs as she rejects the two versions she would definitely spill out of too obscenely.
‘What’s wrong with that one?’, he asks, watching with interest as she bundles a tube of ribbed, bubble-gum coloured fabric into a ball and drops it onto the pile of discards.
‘Oh, it’s far too short. With my tits… I wouldn’t be able to bend over’.
‘Why wouldn’t you?’
She watches him bend to pick up the tiny pink dress. It hangs limp from his fingers as he waits for her to take it from him.
‘Well, I mean…everyone would be able to see…’
‘Everyone would be able to see what kind of girl you are’, he says, as if finally understanding. There is a pause. She breathes in, nods, takes the dress and pulls herself to her feet.
‘Bathroom’, he says, turning and walking towards the kitchen. ‘The boots are in the closet’.
She stands in the bathroom, in front of the full- length mirror, tugging pointlessly at the hem of the tiny pink dress which sits what feels like millimetres below the crease of her thighs. Her hair is unbrushed, dark curls falling into her eyes over her bare, unmade up face. She should have put some makeup on: there are dark circles under her eyes from so many late nights and her mouth is swollen, her lip line blurry from rough, thoughtless kisses. She pulls off the black cotton socks she was wearing under her trainers and rubs at the red elastic marks around her ankles and the blisters forming at the back of each heel, wincing at the thought of stuffing her feet into whichever narrow, high- arched footwear he will have picked out this time.
When she leaves the bathroom she smells coffee and hears him in the front room, talking on the phone. She swings open the closet and a pair of PVC boots plops onto the carpet from the top of a pile of slutty footwear, lying sadly on their sides with the stiletto heels crossed like swords on a coat of arms. She laughs quietly, shakes her head, and bends to pick them up. These boots have never been worn by anyone else. These boots- shone to an almost hologramatic gleam with zips unforced over calves other than her own, the ones in which she has learnt not to wave her legs too carelessly in bed for fear of slashing at his skin, leaving angry red marks, although he has never said anything to suggest he minded the injury in any way- these boots are hers, the same way she is his. Or perhaps even more so: these boots will never be shared with anyone.
When she stands in front of him he smiles, the smallest smile, and stands up out of his chair. She is almost as tall as him in the boots and for a brief moment it feels strange to look him in the eye: incorrect. He steps closer and suddenly she can feel his belly against hers, his breath on her cheekbone. He lifts his hand and pushes gently on her forehead, tipping her head back, and slides two fingers into her mouth.
‘You see, Babygirl, we have a problem. While I’ve been busy you’ve gotten distracted.’ The pads of his fingers press gently against the back of her tongue and she feels saliva begin to gather.
‘Those clothes you were wearing this evening…jeans, baseball boots…’
He shakes his head, and with his other hand he pulls up the hem of the dress and thrusts a matching pair of fingers deep into her hot, bare cunt.
‘The problem is that you’ve been thinking like a person when you should be acting like a toy’.
She feels her eyes roll towards the back of her head at his words and a jagged, indelicate grunt fills her mouth. He lists the things she no longer needs to think about now she is a toy again: rent, bills, politics, vaccines, TV, intersectional feminism. Curling his hand into a claw he presses her jaw further open, and as he presses her grunts turn to gurgles; half laugh, half gag. He pulls the other hand from between her legs and wipes his fingers across her forehead like a blessing, grins and looks her in the eyes as he pushes her down, forcing her knees to bend, until she is kneeling in front of him, head thrown back, open mouth smiling.