When he came home, I thought we would have the most perfect evening. We had said we were going to put the tree up that night, something I’d been looking forward to for weeks in this bleakest of years. I had put mulled wine to warm up on the stove, Christmas music was playing…
But the minute he passed the door, everything seemed to go wrong. Well, I say passed the door… I had left my keys in it, locked, and he had to bang on the door for five minutes before I heard him, busy as I was bellowing Christmas songs from the kitchen. Mortified, blushing and looking down, I let him take his coat and shoes off before starting to apologise as best I could. He didn’t let me finish, dismissing me with a wave, and my heart sank.
Sheepishly, I followed him to the living-room where I’d laid out the tree and the many boxes of decorations that we have accumulated over the years. I was ready to put a silly Christmas film on and forget the door incident. But he sighed.
‘Are we doing this tonight?’ he asked, clearly not up for it.
I looked down. ‘Well, we’d said we…’
‘I know, I know, fine…’ he said. My eyes were down, but I could feel his eyes rolling.
‘Did you have a bad day?’ I asked, gently.
‘No, I’m fine, just tired’ was all he said.
Suddenly, I remembered the wine on the stove. ‘Shit!’ I said and ran over there. As I’d feared, it had started to boil. Not a tragedy, in the grand scheme of things, but still… One more thing that wasn’t going right.
‘Can you grab me a beer while you’re in there?’ he called from the living-room. With a sigh, I served a single mugful of mulled wine and got him a beer.
When I came back to the living-room, the tree was up, bare as it was. He was rummaging around in one of the boxes, looking for something. I set the drinks on the table. Well, I tried to. I tripped on a bunch of lights and everything went crashing to the floor, lights, drinks and all. He jumped and took my hand, genuinely worried.
‘Are you okay?’
‘It’s not the evening I wanted…’
‘It’s all right,’ he said, ‘just pick a movie, I’ll get a mop, yeah? Then we can decorate, wrap presents, and it’ll all be okay.’
I wiped tears from my eyes and nodded. He went to get a mop, and I started browsing. Maybe things would be fine after all.
‘Honey?’ he called from the kitchen, ‘What’s in the oven?’
The oven? I thought. The oven. Fuck! The oatmeal cookies I had made were probably completely burnt… I rushed to the oven and, sure enough, smoke billowed out when I opened the door. I bit my lip, and felt tears running down my cheeks.
‘Honey?’ he asked. ‘Are you sure everything’s all right?’
‘No…’ I managed in a tearful little voice, ‘It’s really not…’
‘They’re just cookies, my love, it doesn’t matter…’
‘It’s…’ I started, hesitating, then everything came out at once, ‘It’s everything, it’s covid, it’s not seeing family this year, then the door, and you’re mad about the tree and I burnt the cookies and spilled the wine and…
He shushed me gently and took me in his big, bear arms. I cried my eyes out in his chest. His hand came up to stroke my hair and slowly, I calmed down.
‘Tell me what you need…’ he said.
‘I… I feel so bad, about everything…’
‘Honey… It’s okay…’
‘No… Will you… Will you spank me? And then we can start over…’
‘A nice, cathartic spanking?’
‘Yes… I want to be over your knees… I want to let go… Please?’
Gently, carefully, he took my hand and led me to a chair in the kitchen, where he sat down. I took my jeans down. He was smiling up at me. I blushed. Lovingly, he put me down over his knees, and I abandoned myself to his embrace, to his loving discipline. Despite the pain, I smiled as the guilt left me with each slap of his hand.
Once it was all over, and my tears were exhausted, we decorated the tree, drinking freshly made mugs of mulled wine; we watched a silly Christmas film just like I wanted, and nibbled on burnt cookies while laughing at each other’s awful Christmas pun. All the while, my bottom was burning, and I loved him all the more for it.