Roped In - Roped In
Roped In
Jim Carnicelli
6/8/2021   |   6/8/2021   |   7/12/2024   |   1,753

1,753 words
FNASR offered
Kira Carnicelli

Roped In

by Kira Carnicelli

6/8/2021    6/8/21    1,753    7:47
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Gabby hadn’t gone outside in over two years. She sat at her tiny desk in their bedroom, staring out the window at the grey outdoors. Her job with the call center was done for the day. She heard her girlfriend come home earlier from her shift at the bakery. Gabby knew what was coming next. She braced herself and went to greet her.

Aura was on the couch texting when Gabby emerged. Aura smiled and rose from the couch to hug her. The two kissed passionately. They still had passion between them, even if the guilt and fear were wearing Gabby down. They had to be taking their toll on Aura, too, but if they were, it didn’t show – most of the time.

“Welcome home, gorgeous,” Aura murmured against her mouth.

“You, too, beautiful.” They adopted their joke shortly after moving in together, only a few months before the incident. Gabby had a different call center job at the time, but one that still allowed her to work from home. She used to love skipping the commute, putting in her eight hours, and having the rest of the evening to go out and love life.

The first time Aura welcomed her home, Gabby laughed. “You’ve been off way longer than I have, and you actually had to leave the apartment.”

Aura grinned and shrugged. “You were still working, so it’s like you just walked through the door.”

Gabby wondered often if she should leave, but the idea seemed silly when there was still so much good to them. Surely the bad would pass. At least, some of it had to. And the rest … was it really so bad to ruin the good? Maybe for Aura. Life had to be worse for her after the incident. Gabby wanted to fix it, though she hadn't succeeded yet. She also kind of hoped Aura would accept their impasse and relent. Life would definitely be better then. If she didn’t, she could leave. Gabby couldn’t stop her. It would be wrong to try, even though she was increasingly aware that every day, that decision could be closer and closer. But she needed Aura. They needed each other.

“How was your day?” Aura asked, guiding her to the couch. They snuggled in and took turns massaging each other, sharing their funny and frustrating experiences with customers and managers.

When they reached a comfortable lull, Aura spoke again. “I was thinking about going to this poetry reading at Bill’s Club. I’d love it if you came along.”

Gabby smiled sadly. “You know the answer to that.”

Aura gave her a stern stare. “Bill’s Club is the safest place anyone can be in the city. It’s small and crowded enough that if anything happened – which it won’t, because it’s so incredibly safe – everyone would notice and try to help. And you’d be with me. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

Gabby glared at her. “You can’t promise that.”

“Please, Gabby,” she insisted. “I miss you. I miss going out with you.”

“I’m sorry. I know I’m disappointing you. I just can’t risk it.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

She sighed and shook her head – not in answer, but to show she wouldn’t indulge it.

“I would never put you in danger.”

“I know. But it’s not your job to protect me. I know it hasn’t been easy for you, and it’s not fun for me, either. I didn’t ask that fucker to jump me, but I still let it happen. Do you think I’m proud of that?”

“He’s in jail,” Aura said. “You couldn’t have stopped him, but he’s, like, one in a million. And now he can never hurt you again.”

“Exactly. He was one in a million, and yet … The chances of it happening again are too high.”

“Listen to me, Gabby: it’s been over two years. I was fine with giving you time when this all began, but it’s been so long. I feel like I’m the only one in this relationship who’s living. It feels horrible. I miss sharing life with you.”

“But we do share. What have we been doing the last hour?”

“We used to hang out with our friends – without squeezing them all in here. We used to go to restaurants and movies. State fairs and summer festivals. Don’t you miss any of that?”

Gabby leaned over, resting her chin on her hands. “It doesn’t matter. This is just what I need right now.”

“But this isn’t even good for me. Don’t you realize that?”

“I’m sorry.” She felt it each time she said it, but apologizing was now a knee-jerk response. A way of saying, “You won’t change my mind.”

“I know you’re sorry, but I don’t need you to say it. I need you to try something. Talk to a therapist if going out is too scary. I just …” she trailed off. “I don’t want to live like this forever.”

Gabby nodded without looking at her. “I know.”

Aura stroked her hair. “So you’ll come out with me tonight?”

She shook her head. “Not tonight, Aura. Please just drop it.”

Aura dropped her hand. “Fine.” She stood up. Went for the bedroom. Came back with Gabby’s  shibari rope.

Gabby used to love the feel of the soft rope restraining her. But only at the right time, with a trusted friend or partner. She even learned how to tie some of the knots herself and studied rope safety, which she then taught to friends who were interested in the kink.

Aura wasn’t interested, and Gabby didn’t need her to be. As life got busier before the attack, she stepped away from the practice but still kept the rope. Even if she never tied or got tied again, it served as a fun souvenir.

That said, in the time they’d lived together, she discovered Aura had a dark side. A side that didn’t care about pleasure or consent. Fighting her did no good. If she could protect her body, Aura would take her heart. She was a formidable force. The only way out was to submit to her demands and leave the apartment, risking her safety.

All things considered, Gabby would rather take her chances with Aura, who already possessed so much of her soul, than allow a stranger to violate her again.

And in a strange way, it was the only source of control she had. The strongest statement she could make. That she would rather be nonconsensually bound and left for hours in her locked apartment than go face another dangerous idiot.

Because her protests and demands for Aura to stop always fell on deaf ears, she no longer uttered them. She let Aura command her, manipulate her. She even offered up her wrists and followed every order until she lay on the floor, limbs bound and useless. No more fighting. No more resisting.

“You’re not sick of this yet?” Aura asked, standing over her. “This is still preferable to facing your fears? Having your freedom back?”


“God, that’s so pathetic.”

Gabby managed to shrug in the rope.

“I hope you change your mind soon. In the meantime … I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll see you later.”

With that, she left. Gabby was alone on the floor. She always told herself, before she knew she liked women, that she would never let a man treat her this way. Then, once she came out, she swore she would never let a woman treat her this way.

But that was also before she kind of wondered if she deserved it. The guy who jumped her was a bad person. There was no excuse for what he did. But Aura was a good person.

Before the attack, Gabby pulled her weight in a relationship. She did anything for the person she loved, no matter the cost, and it made her proud. She wanted to be that fountain of strength.

Now, she learned she was not. And so soon after moving in together, too. The attack changed her. She hoped against hope that if she gave herself time, thought herself through the terror, that she would overcome it. She knew trauma recovery could take years. She believed at first that she could fix herself in a matter of months, but that hadn’t proved true. Maybe it would take years, but she was doing her best.

But her best wasn’t good enough for Aura. And that was a problem because this was Gabby’s fault. Not the attack, but her inability to recover from it. Gabby was not the person she used to be. The person Aura expected. The honorable thing to do would be to let her go. Let her find someone whole, healthy, and strong.

But she didn’t want to do that. She loved Aura, and she needed her now. She hadn’t told her family or friends about the attack. She was embarrassed. Embarrassed that it happened. Embarrassed that it shook her so much. Embarrassed that she was letting her girlfriend punish her for her weakness. Especially when she swore she’d never allow anyone to abuse her. How would she explain herself? She couldn’t afford an apartment on her own. She couldn’t face the humiliation, either. She had enough already.

So she lay on the floor in her rope. Aura never left on a light, a show, or music. Gabby would spend the next two, four, six hours in the same position, in the pitch black silence, feeling her body get sore and cramped, struggle against its needs, and listen to her thoughts.

Thank God Aura never bound her tight enough to do nerve damage. Just enough that she couldn’t move beyond shifting and wiggling to keep circulation flowing.

And she only had to endure it once a week. It would get worse. It used to be only once a month. But for now, it was part of their battle. And if this was what Gabby had to do to remain safe, she would do it.