Outwardly I maintain a measured scowl, but inside my heart thuds faster in my chest and I wonder whether I’ll be able to do this.
My ears remain steadfastly closed to the cries of the prisoner in front of me, enjoying the show (as ever) as the guards take their positions on either side, spread-eagling the struggling form, as the crowds shout their ebullient derision, eagerly awaiting the spectacle to follow.
I curl fingers around the rod and find that sweet spot where I can hold firm without harm (to myself) and I stoke the embers, watching sparks fly as the end glows a vivid, throbbing orange. I know intimately what will happen next – the screaming and bucking and me trying to keep moving alongside the prisoner’s body as they writhe, desperate to escape that pain, so that I don’t fuck up the crisp edges of the brand.
My eyes flick to the terrified, whimpering convict before me, and a lazy grin escapes me as I remember with glee the last time I saw this one; heard those gasping breaths and felt that body jerking beneath mine – every nerve on fire, but for such a different reason…then I know I can do this.
She’s earned her ‘A’, and I’m going to enjoy giving it to her.