The spelling lesson

Weekends were so relaxing now that their youngest son had gone off to college. Saturdays still had too many chores, but Sundays were perfect.

Shawn woke up early to put on the roast for their dinner. He browned the meat and studded it with bacon, then soaked it in wine. Afterward, he fixed their breakfast: toast and jam, sliced peaches from the garden, and hot coffee. Jenny was already curled up with the style section on the bench at the sunny breakfast nook when he brought the food over. He laid her plate in front of her and then joined her on the bench, reaching for the front page. They languished over their coffee and newspaper until midmorning.

When Jenny rose and walked toward the bedroom, Shawn knew what she wanted. He abandoned the breakfast table with its scattered dishes and followed her. He moved to the closet, no longer locked now that James had left home, and removed the ropes. He laid them out on the bed and a stray thought crossed his mind.

“Hang on a moment,” Shawn said to Jenny and returned to the kitchen. He brought back a pencil and a pad of paper, which he laid on the bedside table.

Jenny waited obediently on the bed, nightie off.

“Good girl, Jenny,” Shawn murmured. He reached for the ropes and began tying Jenny’s arms together behind her back. He worked for a while, encasing her in rope, creating an elaborate pattern even more beautiful than the one he had tied the Sunday before.

“I want you to spell something for me, Jenny,” he announced to his wife gently.

“What?” she asked, smirking. They both knew that she was a terrible speller.

“Spell torment,” darling, Shawn replied, tightening the final knot.

Jenny winced a little and began to spell. “Torment. T-O-U-R-M-I-N-T,” she said.

“No, Jenny, that’s not correct,” Shawn told her firmly, and picked up the pencil. He moved to the closet and retrieved a large knife. He stood directly in front of his wife and began to sharpen the pencil with the knife. The wood shavings dropped onto the ropes where they held her legs spread apart.

When he had sharpened the pencil, he lifted the pad of paper and wrote on it. He tore out the page and used the knife to pin it to the wall directly in front of Jenny. Shawn loved that he could do that kind of thing now that the kids were away. He pondered a few minutes, and then used the last bit of rope to rig up a suspension device for the pencil. He set it hanging just an inch or so from her eye, so that if she shifted too much the pencil would surely poke her eye out.

“You need to study, darling,” Shawn told Jenny kindly. “When I get back I expect you to be able to spell torment for me,” and he pointed toward his note, which showed the word in large capital letters. He showered, dressed, and paused to admire his wife before straightening up the kitchen. Around lunchtime, he headed out to the movies. He always enjoyed his Sunday afternoon matinee.

After the movie, he stopped at the bakery for a pie for their dessert. He returned home, greeted by the delicious smells of red wine and roast emerging from the kitchen and happily spent the rest of the afternoon tormenting his lovely wife.

Later, as evening descended, Shawn laid the table for dinner and poured Jenny’s wine as she emerged from the bedroom, freshly showered and dressed for dinner. “You were an excellent student today,” he praised her, kissing her lightly on the head as she sat down to dinner.

“Thanks, honey,” she laughed.


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