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A short story

The painting captivated me from the moment I glimpsed it, like a black hole in the gallery wall, capturing wandering eyes with its irresistible gravitational pull.

It had been mounted in one of the little L-shaped alcoves off the main concourse, a gap easy to overlook as one scurried between the artist’s better known works. Two brass posts and a red velvet rope had blocked the way, but curiosity got the better of me and I mischievously stepped over it, peering around the corner, just to see what lay beyond.

I was rewarded by the sight of this little treat. A golden torso, impressionistically rendered, and behind, a figure in a sheer black mermaid dress, her lines sharper, somehow edgier. A straight line cut through the centre, seemingly a stick of some sort. My imagination stirred. It could easily be a cane. And if it was, the radiant figure was about to be whacked.

I could feel my cock now, stirring and slightly heavier between my legs. Now I was glad of my solitude, of this chance to admire this alluring image alone, the bustle and chat of the invited patrons a reassuringly distant murmur.

I stood staring, trying to unravel its strange meaning. The caption card seemed to offer few hints, merely stating its title, “Three Heartbeats.”

“I do have other paintings here you know.”

I recoiled from my reverie, I hadn’t noticed her approach, but now a stylishly dressed lady was standing beside me. I took me a while to understand her comment, to recognise who she was. She was the exhibitor, the one whose works we’d all come here to admire.

“A captivating work” I admitted. “Inspired by personal experience?”

“Perhaps.” she said coyly.

“Tell me.”

The artist drew closer, reducing her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. Her scent was fresh and sweet, like a walk through a midsummer garden after rain.

“I once visited my headmistress’s office, I was going on a field trip, to paint mountains, and I needed her to sign a form. Her secretary smiled slyly as she told me she was busy. She invited me to wait, I took a seat near the door. I could hear her voice, scolding somebody. Then I heard that they were going to be caned. Her secretary was scribbling on a page, but I saw a faint smile on her face. I was seized by curiosity.”

“Then, fate intervened. The secretary’s phone rang, and she was suddenly called away. I was left in the room alone, there was a keyhole in the door, so obviously I couldn’t resist peeping through it.”

“So I knelt, heart thumping, beside the headmistress’s door. Knowing at any moment I might be discovered, and surely be caned myself.”

“That’s when I peered into the room, and saw everything.”

“A tall young lady was standing facing the back of the door, her arms folded across her back. Her naked torso dominated my field of view, I could see her mound was shaved exquisitely bare. Behind her, the headmistress had plucked a cane from the wall. She stood impassively in her tight black dress, looking like she was wrapped in a shard of night.”

“When she summoned the girl to bend over in front of her, I could see she was naked apart from her shoes and socks, her school uniform neatly folded on a nearby chair.”

“Suddenly, I was aware of approaching footsteps. I hurried stood and dashed to my seat, just as the secretary returned to the room. My face burned pink, I could feel my palms slick with sweat.”

“Through the door I heard the first faint swick, and the poor girl moan. Then 9 more whacks.”

“The secretary must have seen the shock on my face. She fixed me with her wide, sparkling eyes, and told me in no uncertain terms: That’s what happens to naughty girls.”

“A few minutes later, the door opened, and a quite contrite looking young lady emerged. I knew her, not well, but she was part of my year. I never discovered why she was punished. And I never mentioned what I’d seen to anyone. Until now.“

I looked back at the figure in the painting, and the delicate cleft below her smooth mound. I found myself scrutinising her body language, was that trepidation I could sense or excitement?

I could see the artist’s anxiety in her quick, urgent brushstrokes. As if she was trying to commit to canvas that fleeting memory before she was discovered. Perhaps the surrounding gray haze represented the stolen glance dissipating from memory, yet the central figures remained vivid.

I found myself wondering who the model was, and whether this was really a self-portrait, that I was looking at the naked form of the woman standing beside me. Whether the painting was really the artist imagining herself about to pay the penalty for her peeking, literally and figuratively undressed, and about to bend over for the headmistress’s cane.

“And what about the title?” I asked.

“A double meaning. One is there are three hearts beating in that picture, the headmistress, the girl about to be caned, and the viewer’s own.”

I nodded. The scene certainly had set my pulse racing. And my cock swelling.

“And the other?”

“It really was only the most fleeting glimpse, it must only have lasted 3 heartbeats. But what I saw has lingered with me a lifetime.”

I looked deeper into her eyes, and began to recognise a kindred spirit.

I handed her my card, telling her I hoped she’d visit my office sometime.

She ran her fingers along mine as she plucked my card from my hand. She read my details salaciously, almost teasingly. My name. My gallery. Then my profession.

“Oh, a Dealer? I’m always happy to meet those who deal with naughty girls…”

Then, before my tongue could untie itself, the enigmatic artist took a step backwards without even bidding me goodbye, and melted back into her appreciative crowd.

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@spankingtheatre 2017

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