“Don’t put me on a pedestal,” she advised and, though she meant well, initially all I felt was the burn of the cut left by that remark. For the first few days after that comment, I wasn’t sure why it hurt so much, but I knew something about it was wrong. Not only because the idea of putting her on any pedestal never occurred to me, but because it didn’t feel right to be told not to do it. It was like telling someone to not fall in love with them. You couldn’t control that shit not matter how hard you tried (and believe me, I had tried), so it was nothing but infuriating to be given an impossible order like that. Maybe that was another thing: that it wasn’t a request, but an order. It wasn’t “Try not to put me on a pedestal” which would have been so much better because sure I could till I’m blue in the face and when if I fail … well, at least I tried.
I don’t even know how the idea got into her head. We’d only been dating for a couple of months and though I liked her, I hadn’t yet fallen hard enough to think of her in any context beyond fucking and hanging out — in that order. She offered no explanation and when I asked her to clarify her statement she only said, “Just, please don’t.”
So I walked around with this cut on my face which I felt like the world world could see. It was a cut that made me walk with my head down low and the inability to crack a smile because it hurt too much. My friends asked what had happened and my mortification kept my mouth shut. The only person who didn’t seem fazed by my mutilation was, ironically, the one who was responsible for it. She would come over and we would drink and fuck and talk as usual, as if she hadn’t tried to dictate the notions of my heart. As if I wasn’t left confused and humiliated and unsure of everything I’d felt for her.
At least the sex was always good. In the bedroom I seemed to be able to forget her poisonous words and let myself be free. We always enjoyed sex that was a little rougher and I noticed myself getting increasingly brutal with her. It was as if I wanted to punish her not only for her enjoyment, but as revenge for my wounded ego. She noticed nothing and would lay beside me afterwards, smoking and chatting away about how much fun she’d had and how I was probably the best lover she’d had. For some reason those words frustrated me more and I would lay in silence, smoking and listening to her talking make things worse.
I became obsessed with it. “Don’t put her on a pedestal,” I kept repeating partially to remind myself, but more to try to understand what possessed her to even bring it up. Anger started replacing the mortification the more I tried to decipher her reasoning and only increased when she would respond to my questions about the comment with nonchalance. “Don’t put me on a pedestal,” I kept reciting her words and one day the fury took over and I shouted, “Fuck you!” to my empty apartment, my fists clenched and tears of anger welling in my eyes.
The next time I saw her I spoke very little and this time she started noticing the change in my behaviour. She asked if I was okay and I said I was, and I meant it for the first time. That night when we started fooling around I was more aggressive than usual. She pushed me away to ask again if I was okay and I replied, “I’m fucking fantastic,” before grabbing a fistful of her hair, pulling back her head and biting her neck. She whimpered with pleasure and her nails dug into my nape.
“Stand up,” I ordered suddenly releasing my hold on her. She looked only mildly surprised and did as she was told. I told her to take off every piece if her clothing and turn around, and then I tied her wrists together behind her back. She remained quiet until I brought out a wooden soapbox and put it down in front of her.
“Climb on,” I directed and she looked at me with furrowed brows.
“You heard me.” When she still didn’t move, I took hold of her upper arm and pushed her onto the box.
“So, you don’t want me to put you on a pedestal, huh?” I grabbed her chin and forced her to look me in the eyes. “I respect you and everything, but fuck you. I’m not going to be patronized like that,” I told her. “This relationship is never going to work if that’s the dynamic you’re going to create.”
She stared at me with wide eyes before her face relaxed into a smile.