Your Master Requires Your Perfection

by Jack Peacock

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© Copyright 2021 - Jack Peacock - Used by permission

Storycodes: M+/f+; bond; naked; prison; cuffs; training; slave; chastity; collar; hood; punish; cage; reluct; cons; XX

Continues from

Part 3

That Fateful Night

In my room that night I was reunited with Cathy and Paula. I was surprised to find Cathy still in the secure area. I asked her about it.

“I don’t know why my master chose to leave me here. He told me I wasn’t being punished; and that it was necessary for me to stay here, but he didn’t explain why. That’s all I know. Meanwhile I still teach classes. The rest of the time, here I am.” Despite her casual answer I could tell it bothered her. Even with her master’s reassurance she still believed she was being punished. I thought it best to drop the subject.

Cathy asked what I had been doing, since she hadn’t seen me in class with the new arrivals group. I hesitated, trying to think of what to say. I knew what I had to do, and I couldn’t find any way around it. I looked down at my hands in my lap.

“My master has forbidden any discussion.” I had no choice. He had dictated those exact words.

Paula and Cathy stared at me. “That sounds like a very specific order. The precise wording is the giveaway,” Paula said. She turned to Cathy. “Clearly Lenora can’t talk about it.”

Cathy was still looking at me. “Maybe you can’t discuss your master but that doesn’t stop the two of us. Paula, you’re the expert on interpreting the rules, what do you think?” she asked. I sat on the bed, prohibited from joining in, and that meant I couldn’t even ask them to stop.

Paula thought for a moment. “This would come under third party discussions, or gossip as it is better known. No, I don’t see how her restrictions apply to us. I agree, we can talk about it all day long unless we’re told to stop.” She turned back to me. “Sorry Lenora, you have to sit and listen. Don’t say a word or you’ll be in trouble.” I didn’t like this turn of events at all, even though she was right. I was sure to be reprimanded if I opened my mouth now.

Cathy started, “So what do we know? He’s secretive, but since we’re in the secure area that only narrows it down to every man at the Center. Did you notice?” she said, pointing at me, “He didn’t put his name on her collar.”

Paula added, “And she didn’t know who he was when she first arrived. That must mean he’s been after her before she got here. He proceeds carefully, which means he certainly has backup plans to handle the unexpected. That tells us he is a man who’s determined to get what he wants.”

Paula looked straight at me. “She better be very careful. Men like that have extremely high expectations and very little tolerance when you cross them.” She turned to Cathy. “You know how it is. Better let Lenora in on what’s in her future.” They were talking about me as if I were some inanimate object.

Cathy nodded. “I learned it the hard way. I suppose it’s the risk we run, careful what you wish for because you may get more than you ever imagined. Yes indeed, she better take that lecture on perfection to heart. He isn’t going to be patient or understanding when she acts up or makes mistakes. Now that she’s in here he can do something about it too.”

I was starting to worry again. These women had first-hand experience with the types of dominant men who ran the Center. From what they were saying one of these men had stalked me, tricked me into coming to the Center and now held me captive. More than that, he would be difficult to please, never satisfied unless I was perfect in every way. My initial excitement at finding out he existed was rapidly giving way to dread, that I wouldn’t be able to live up to the woman he wanted.

Paula kept going, “In her favor, she does have a certain natural aptitude. Sure, I bet that’s why he seized her. It sounds exciting, being pursued, manipulated, at every step controlled by him without even knowing it. She’s very lucky, not many women, the ones like us, get to experience that.”

I wasn’t feeling excited or lucky. And what did she mean by ‘natural aptitude’? I saw a loophole. This wasn’t part of the interview today. I could safely discuss it as long as I didn’t mention him. I interrupted with a question of my own, “Just what kind of natural aptitude am I supposed to possess?”

Cathy looked right at me, answering in a serious tone, “You don’t see it? You and Paula, you are two of a kind. No wonder they put you in with her. It’s obvious you are here for the express purpose of developing those same qualities that make Paula so unique. Wow, I just realized there are going to be two of you now.”

Now I was really confused. Even Paula seemed to be unsure about what Cathy was talking about. Did Cathy mean I was another one of those fanatics like Paula? If so I didn’t see the resemblance. I said as much. “Sorry Paula, but I’m not like you. I have a mind of my own. I make my own decisions.”

Cathy shook her head, “No you don’t. I’ve seen you. You have the same obsession with obedience; that same drive to be perfect in every way. Tell me, do you ever think about refusing when a Warden orders you around? Can you break a rule and not report yourself to a Warden? Would you defy your master’s command not to discuss him?”

I couldn’t answer. She had played the trump card. If I said anything I’d violate the order not to talk about the interview. Just a simple yes or no was enough to acknowledge it happened, and I knew that was enough. I could not bring myself to disobey his command.

I could see Cathy knew she’d won the argument. Everything she said was true. Sure, I could make my own decisions, as long as I had permission and I didn’t break any rules. I could ignore the Wardens, or my unseen master. Just like I could grow wings and fly out of here.

I stared down at the floor. In that moment I knew what was missing from all my previous relationships. It wasn’t really stability. No, it was a firm hand to make sure I kept well within the boundaries set for me. That was my version of stability, the certainty of being disciplined if I ever tried to go past those boundaries, those rules that defined my life. Not guidelines I set for myself. They had to be my master’s rules.

A Watchful Eye

He hit the remote to mute the TV audio. Lenora’s struggle to keep quiet during the conversation had to be the high point of his day. Watching her in unguarded moments, the way she reacted without a Warden present, proved to be fascinating. More than ever he was positive now he’d made the right decision in bringing her to the Center.

It had not been easy, arranging for her to be delivered to this place. Seizing women, bringing them here, subjecting them to Center discipline was not a task to be undertaken lightly. These were real people, real lives changed forever as a result. He had agonized for weeks about her, but in the end he was certain it was for the best. Between the private conversation this afternoon and the manner in which she didn’t share with her friends tonight, he had few doubts about his actions.

Accepting the email invitation, effectively tricking her into coming here, was easier than the alternative. The little drama where she was pulled over and arrested by the police would have happened with or without her knowledge. Regardless of what she thought was her decision she would still be in that cell in the secure area tonight, with the collar around her throat marking her as his personal property.

His property, the phrase had a nice sound to it. On the TV screen she was still sitting on her bed, talking to her companions for the night. She knew he existed but little else at this point in time. That was all she needed to know, for now. He could still act as one of her Wardens, without her being aware it was her master locking the belt on in the morning, or releasing her from the handcuffs when she went into the cell at night.

Special Assignment

Right after our lunch, when we were being taken out one by one, I found myself singled out again. We were facing the wall in the corridor outside, as usual, while our group was being assembled. The Warden had just finished with me, locking my wrists behind my back before adding the extra cuff for the gang chain. Hooked together it was very easy for one or two Wardens to control a group of us. I was patiently studying the interesting pattern of cracks in the wall paint when another Warden came up behind us. Although no one said anything, one of the Wardens unlocked the gang cuff from my wrist. I tensed, something must be wrong. What had I done?

“Come with me,” The new Warden took hold of my arm and led me off down the corridor. I had no clue what was happening, but that was the standard operating procedure for Wardens. It took some time to get to wherever we were going. Four times we passed through barred gates. Once I was put up against the wall while someone passed us in a hallway. I could tell from the sound of the chains it was a group of women. For all I knew it might have been my group. I was busy examining the texture of the wall in front of me.

We finally stopped next to a door. As usual I stood facing the wall while he unlocked it. When he took me inside I was surprised to find what looked like a dance school practice room. There was a large mirror on one wall, handrails, and some tables with chairs. Two of the tables had cardboard boxes on top. There was another door on the far wall. Once more I was put against the wall while he closed the door.

Why was I here? I was no ballet dancer. A few lessons in grade school had proved to my parents I had no talent for dancing. The Warden was standing behind me with one hand on my back. He remained silent, declining to explain what my purpose was for the visit here.

I heard the other door open behind me. Someone came in, another woman from the sound of the leg chain on the hardwood floor. The Warden behind me took hold of my handcuffs, unlocking them from my wrists. I didn’t expect it when he knelt down to remove my leg irons. Normally those were left on unless there was a good reason. Not that I objected to my unexpected bit of freedom. Whatever was coming next it was off to a good start.

“Turn around,” he ordered. Released from the wall I turned and saw another woman with a Warden. He was removing her restraints. When she turned around I didn’t recognize her.

“You are here to learn from this instructor. You will follow her orders. There is to be no idle conversation. Discussion must be limited only to your instruction in here. This is a private assignment intended for you alone. You will make a special effort to learn. Failure will be treated as willful disobedience. You are forbidden to discuss it with anyone else. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir,” I answered. We had been taught, over and over, that willful disobedience was just about the worst crime possible. It was called a crime because it applied to every woman in the Center, even if she wasn’t in the secure area. I hadn’t even known females were allowed outside the secure area until then. If I was to make a “special effort” it meant putting everything I had into it, no matter what.

The other Warden faced his charge and started, “Your assignment has been explained to you. You will do your best to ensure she learns everything. You heard the restrictions, no idle conversation, and no discussion with anyone else. Lessons will be daily until you are satisfied. There is no time limit. When you stop for the day, press the button next to your door to notify us.”

“Yes, sir, I understand.” She was looking at me intently when she answered. The stakes were high for both of us. If she was an instructor then she had more to lose. Failure might well put her in here with the rest of us.

“You may begin after we leave.” Both Wardens went out the door near me.

As soon as the door shut, and we heard the lock, she started. “Okay, you know what we have to do. We have a lot of work ahead. Come over here to the tables.”

I followed her to the tables with the boxes. “Umm, is it okay if I speak?” I didn’t have to ask with a Warden but in this situation I wasn’t sure what rules applied.

She stopped and looked at me. She didn’t answer right away, so I waited. “Yes, you may speak freely, but don’t interrupt me. Sit down there,” she pointed to a chair. I sat down, back straight, head high, hands folded in my lap. She stared at me again.

“Okay, first, how often do you wear heels, out there in the real world?”

That was a strange question. “I wear low heels at work, high heels when out on a date.” We weren’t allowed shoes in here. Why would she ask about them?

She nodded, “Yeah, about what I expected.” She opened the box closest to me. “Now don’t freak out. These should fit you. Don’t put them on until I tell you.” She took out a pair of boots and handed them to me.

At first I didn’t see what the big deal was. They were high enough to come up a couple inches under my knees. There was a zipper on the side. Then I saw the heels. They must have been seven inches high. The boots came down to a point. I’d be standing on my toes if I stood up in them.

“They’re called ballet boots. You can see the resemblance to classic ballet shoes. The insole and tip is reinforced, so some of your weight is still taken up by your arch and heel.” She sat down next to me. “Don’t be intimidated. Let me show you how they work.”

I couldn’t see how even my “best efforts” were going to help me. I might be able to stand, eventually, but I’d never be able to walk with those things on. She took out a similar pair from her box. I watched as she unzipped each boot and slipped her leg inside.

“Make sure you have a tight fit. That’s important. You need the support.” She took hold of the top and pulled each boot up before zipping it shut. I watched in amazement as she stood up and turned to face me.

“See? It is possible. Concentrate on your balance. Don’t make any sudden moves. Avoid any kind of rough surface, like a gravel road, or a floor with some give to it, like a deep carpet.” She walked over to the mirror, turned, and walked back to me. “Keep your steps short. Move slowly. Keep your balance in mind. The purpose of these shoes is to make it very difficult, but not impossible for you to walk. Work with that.”

She sat down next to me. She didn’t take her boots off. “Now you try them on. Don’t attempt to stand up. I want you to get used to the way they hold your feet en pointe. That’s a ballet term. It means to hold your foot in a fully extended position.”

I have to do this, I told myself. I slid one foot into the boot. Copying her I grabbed the top and pulled, hard. My foot went all the way in, bent straight down from my ankle. I pulled up the zipper. The boot was snug against my calf when closed. I put on the other one the same way.

I stretched out my legs to see the results. I felt my toes at the tip. I had to admit they looked very sexy, especially with that giant heel in the back. I tried our required sitting position, legs together, feet on the floor, sit up straight, hands in lap.

Well, my feet were nowhere near the floor. Except for my toes, the tips were touching the ground. My instructor put a hand on my arm. “Very good! Don’t break position. You’ll feel some strain in your calf muscles. That’s normal. In time it will recede, as you practice.”

She stood up again. I envied the way she made it look so easy. She went behind her chair, picked it up and walked around to face me. She was right about slow and close. When she took a step she put one foot in front of the other, like the way models are taught to walk in shows. She sat down again, facing me.

“I want you to sit like that for a while. Hold position, eyes front, do not speak unless I ask you a question.” I straightened up, staring at her in front of me. “My instructions are to first teach you how to stand, and then how to walk. You will learn to do both. Neither of us has a choice in the matter.”

All sorts of questions were rolling around inside my head. Why was I doing this? Who decided I had to learn to walk in these things? And if I did, no, make that when I learned how to walk, would the Wardens make me wear them all the time? I didn’t even want to think about that particular nightmare.

Across from me my instructor was also sitting in position, staring right back at me. The questions would have to wait. Until then I would do my best to learn to walk all over again.

Second Interview

I wasn’t sure how much time passed, maybe two or three weeks, before I was off on another mysterious solo assignment. When the Warden opened the door for me I saw the now familiar table with the monitor and the darkened window in the background. As usual the Warden hadn’t told me where I was going. Before closing the door he spoke up, “You know the rules. Wait for instructions on the screen.” I didn’t have to wait long.

You may sit in the chair. Place it in front of the monitor. You have permission to speak freely.

I pulled the chair over to the table and sat down. This time I was careful to notice where the chair was before moving it. I sat down, in position, hands in my lap.

Tell me of your progress with the ballet boots.

He didn’t waste any time. “Sir, I can now rise from a chair and stand without assistance. Yesterday I was able to walk the length of the handrail in the practice room, on my own without holding on.” I was excited about that short walk. I never thought I’d be able to do it but the instructor’s encouragement kept me going. “Will I be allowed to continue practicing?”

Your lessons will proceed. I am pleased with your progress. I expect you to continue to improve. I am satisfied that you are doing your best.

I remind you these lessons are important. For now I will not explain why. You are learning a special skill, one that will set you apart from other women. You must show me your dedication to this task.

I did put everything I had into meeting the challenge posed by those wretched shoes. My confidence rose as I met each milestone. It all came down to one goal, the day I would get up from the chair, walk all the way across the room, come back, and sit down. Without falling, I had to add that qualification. I was determined to show him I would succeed, no matter the toll on my sore feet.

I never thought of it as a skill but he was right. It was no simple matter to walk in those things. Why I had to learn it was still a mystery but now that I saw real progress I looked forward to the lessons.

Given what you know about the Center, would you still have accepted the offer to come here?

It was close to his question from the last interview but not quite the same. I was still uncertain about this place. “I do like certain aspects of the program here, sir. However, on balance I believe I would have declined.” He wanted honesty; I didn’t hold back. “The major problem I have is not being allowed to leave. I do have to add, sir, I would not have come here if I had known of the restrictions.

But since I am here I might add, sir, I would regret not knowing if I could earn my release.” Which was the truth; other women made it through the experience. If they did it then so could I.

Whether or not you accepted you would still be here at the Center today. The only difference is you would have been seized instead of being allowed to come voluntarily.

I will see to it you earn your release. For the rest of your life you will be proud you made it through Center training. Other women will envy you for your accomplishment.

I stared at the screen. Seized? I held my hands together to keep from shaking. I had to know what he meant. “Sir, may I ask if you can explain your last remark, about being taken? I’m not certain I understand.” I wasn’t sure if I could get away with asking a question like that. However, he did give me permission to speak freely, so I took a chance.

You recall your arrest by the police? You were told it was staged as part of the offer. In fact it had been arranged before you even received the email offer. If you had not accepted, or had not shown up, the police would still have come for you. Fortunately events worked out to ease your transition.

I am convinced the Center is the best place for you at this point in your life. When I decided I would own you I took all necessary steps to ensure you would be mine, one way or another. From that point on your arrival here was inevitable.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The offer was a sham. I never had a choice. This man had stalked me, manipulated me into coming here, trapping me for what purpose I still didn’t know. No, that wasn’t quite right. I did know it was for my own good, according to him.

I am aware this news will shock you. Your first reaction will be anger, to lash out at being forced to come here. You resent being tricked into choices you now regret.

Before you go further, think about this. As your master I get your evaluation reports prepared by the staff for the secure area. In every respect you have an exemplary record. You have never been seriously punished. You have not received a single reprimand or warning after the first week. You excel at every task set for you. When given an order you surpass all requirements. You learn quickly, applying what you learn to new situations. By any measure you are thriving in this environment. If I made the wrong decision in bringing you here, how do you explain the obvious fact you are doing so well?

My burst of anger drained away. He had asked another difficult question. Perhaps I had been tricked into coming here, but there was no denying his argument. I had to admit where others struggled to adapt to the secure area it came naturally to me. I could live without the harsh conditions but in most other respects life in the Center wasn’t that bad. Once I understood the rules I had no difficulties staying within my boundaries.

In the classes I saw other women make what I thought were clumsy mistakes. Why didn’t they see the obvious? Why did they test the rules, try to find ways around them? The Wardens might be strangers, but they were still the men in charge of us. It was our duty to obey, there was nothing complicated about it.

I looked at the screen, struggling to find an answer to his question. “Sir, I’m sure you are aware I have always identified as a submissive female. I look for a man who will acknowledge my lifestyle and act accordingly. But no man has ever proven to me he can take on that responsibility. I see where he falters, where he asks instead of demands, where he is accommodating when he should be uncompromising. I try to explain that I have a place; it’s where I belong but I need to be reminded. It is his job to keep me there. Either he won’t or he can’t.

“In here the men do understand me. I am ordered, not asked politely. My freedom has been taken away, replaced by rules that govern everything I say or do. That’s my place. If I am doing well it’s because I’m where I should be, whether I like it or not.”

I was coming full circle. Unintentionally I had justified his action in seizing me. He was right; it was for my own good, much as I hated to admit it.

“Sir, it frightens me, the idea that a man I don’t even know can kidnap me and hold me prisoner. I know nothing about him, whether he will treat me well or torture me to death. Part of me wants just that, to be forced to serve an unyielding, inflexible master who demands all that I have and more. Another part of me is terrified at how vulnerable, how helpless I am because of that need for a strong hand.” I stopped, unsure of what else to say.

Your fears are justified. But consider this, the Center exists to provide you with the assurances you will not be a victim of some psychotic monster. This is an institution with checks and balances, even though you don’t see them. The dangerous ones are weeded out long before they ever get here.

We will end the session now. Return the chair to its original place. You will assume a standing position in front of this display. A Warden will come for you.

Defining Moment

We stood outside a door, waiting, as usual spending quality time examining how well the walls were built. Finally the door opened and we were taken inside. Unlike regular classrooms, where we had to kneel on cushions, this time chairs were laid out in rows. Another group was already seated in the front. A woman was standing at the front, face to the wall, a Warden close by her.

The Wardens placed us behind the first group. Like us they were sitting in position, staring at the front of the room. Our classes were always in small groups. It was unusual for so many of us to be in one place at the same time.

We had to hold position so I couldn’t turn around but I’m sure I heard another group being seated behind us. This was definitely something new, but I couldn’t figure out what it might be.

The Warden at the front began, “Everyone, your attention. This will be a lecture. You will remain seated during the presentation but you may relax and break position, except you will not look behind you. Do not speak unless given permission. I think you will find the instructor entertaining.” He took hold of the woman next to him and turned her around. I didn’t recognize her. He whispered something to her before walking off. Surprisingly he didn’t free her hands.

She didn’t start immediately. I saw the Warden pass by us, going to the back of the room. She must be waiting for him.

“Okay, we can start. My name is Ruth, and I’ll be the instructor for this session.” She paused for a moment, looking at us. “I’m going to talk about attitude today. No, not the usual clichés about obeying our master; you’ve heard all that before. I’m going to talk about how we see ourselves, and how others can define us if we aren’t careful.”

It sounded like an unusual topic. Most of our classes stressed the rules on how we should behave. This one promised to be different.

“A while back my master, who conveniently happens to be my husband, and I were at the supermarket for the weekly grocery run. We’re doing our shopping, and of course I’m discreetly asking for his approval when I see something I’d like to add to the cart. Out in public I’m very careful not to intrude on others, but habits are hard to break, like asking permission. Anyway, someone must have heard me.

“In the checkout line there’s this woman behind us. She keeps staring at me, and I can’t figure out why. I don’t wear a collar in public, and I’m sure my chastity belt doesn’t show under my skirt. Well, I didn’t pay too much attention to her. You meet all kinds in the supermarket.

“We go through the checkout lane. My husband’s putting the bags in the cart while I stand there, watching. The cashier finishes, tells me the total. Thing is, when I’m out with my master I usually leave my purse in the car, and I’m not allowed to wear clothes with pockets. One of my master’s control freak type guilty pleasures is that I have to depend on him for money when we’re out together. So my husband comes around the cart to pay the bill. That woman who kept staring at me is behind us, and now she’s frowning at me in disapproval. Again, I ignore it. We head out to the parking lot.

“Hubby doesn’t let me load or unload groceries. He says that’s heavy lifting work, his job. Who am I to argue with master’s orders? I can’t get in the car until he opens my door, so I’m standing there, watching him. You know that rule, no opening or closing doors on your own. He finishes and starts to push the shopping cart over to one of those parking lot corrals.

“So while I’m waiting this woman who was behind me in the checkout line comes up to me and hands me a card. I look at it, seems she is some kind of counselor at a battered women’s shelter. I have a premonition something bad is about to happen.

“There’s a safe place for you, she tells me. You don’t have to put up with the abuse, she assures me. He’ll never hit you again, I’m promised. I don’t know what to say. Problem is, I had no idea I was a battered, abused wife. Why hadn’t my master told me this? So I told her if my husband allowed it I would look at her website.”

All of us laughed. It was a common mistake, assuming because we were submissive we must be abused. I’d come across social workers who thought they had a mission to rescue women like me from a life of misery and degradation. I suppose being tied to a bed while a man enjoys my body could be considered degrading, but I still have a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure what qualified as misery.

“I know, I might have overdone it with that last part. It was her turn to be speechless. Meanwhile my husband comes back to open the car door for me. He sees this woman and looks a question at me.

“By rights I should have been punished for it but I couldn’t help myself. Sir, I ask him, may I have permission to be rescued by this woman? She is certain you are abusing me.”

I’m cracking up. I wouldn’t have been brave enough to say something like that.

“So master looks at me, looks at the woman, looks back at me. He folds his arms, leans back against the car and proceeds to ask me if I’m not getting enough abuse. Then he launches into this tale of woe about long work hours, how he tries to beat me at least once a day but sometimes he’s just too tired by the time he gets home. He promises to do better. He’ll keep me chained to the wall in the basement at least three days a week. Then he starts on who will cook his dinner and wash his clothes if I’m stuck in the basement?

“I tell him that no, sir, I’m not getting enough beatings and if the best he can do is three days then I’m going to the shelter, if it’s okay with him. But only if he agrees, since a good wife must obey her husband.

“This woman meanwhile looks like she’s about to have a heart attack. Then I ask her, don’t you agree a husband should be required to beat his wife every day? How else can he keep her in line?”

“At that point the woman loses it. She starts yelling at my husband, calling him a misogynistic Neanderthal caveman. Then she turns on me, calls me weak because I enable him to treat me that way. I’m at a loss but master comes to the rescue. He calmly informs her we have been happily married for years, we both believe in a traditional marriage, and we do not answer to politically correct social justice warriors.

“That’s when I realize we’ve drawn a crowd. People started clapping! This woman stomps off to her car, finally leaving me alone. Oh, in case you are curious, yes he does have a place in the basement where he can chain me to the wall, but it’s only used for, umm, special occasions. And I wouldn’t mind at all if there were at least three of those occasions per week.”

Her story was hilarious. Everyone was laughing, including me.

She continued, “The point behind the story is, don’t let someone else define who you are. Well, except for your master, but that’s his job. We are a minority in the outside world, and that requires some pragmatic decisions. No collars, no chains,” she held out her arms, still cuffed behind her back, “and no overt displays of submission. We don’t need to antagonize people who don’t agree with what we believe and the way we live.”

“But don’t let people like that woman intimidate you either. I was fortunate; my master was with me and easily handled the confrontation. Being submissive we have exceptional social skills, but arguing and shouting isn’t among them. Don’t be tempted, like I was, to poke the hornet’s nest with a stick to see if anyone’s home. Your first reaction may be a defensive attitude, to explain or strike back. Resist the temptation.

“That’s where you need to adjust your attitude. You won’t ever change the minds of people like that, so don’t try. All you do is irritate them. And while that may seem like a good idea it really doesn’t accomplish anything. Ignoring them is what they really hate, treating them as if they were irrelevant. Remind yourself that you only answer to your master, no one else.

“That’s the other part of my theme for this lecture. We are one half of a whole, two parts that are made to fit together. The buzzword today is gender equality, no differences between the sexes. Well, we have our own version of that, gender synergy. We have our strengths, men have theirs. Instead of competing we choose to merge those two strengths together, a synergy greater than the sum of its parts.”

I had never thought about it that way, but it made sense.

“My own background is what you might call traditional Judaism. We have a very strict set of rules called halakhah, or Jewish law. It won’t come as a surprise there are rules just for women. We have to cover our hair in public, just like good Muslim women, but we have more choices in how it’s done. Some wear a wig, yeah that counts, or for the rest of us a tischa, a scarf, is sufficient. My husband lets me use a scarf. I’m only allowed a skirt, and it has to be below the knee. Same for my arms, the sleeves on my blouse have to cover my elbows. That’s about the same as liberal Muslim countries, like Indonesia. I think it might have been the reason I was targeted by that woman.

“Anyway, we believe women and men each have specific roles. Both are equally important, but a woman’s role is more equal.” That got some laughs. “You can only be born Jewish if your mother is Jewish. Fathers don’t count. Even better, we are exempt from many of the religious laws. If you’re a man, tough luck.

“But what I really want to talk about is what we call shalom bayit, literally ‘peace of the home’ in Hebrew. The highest praise is for the woman who fulfils the wishes of her husband, and in return the husband is expected to love and honor her more than he honors himself. This is the synergy I mentioned, where each of us helps the other to live in harmony, combining our roles into something greater than each of us alone.

“That’s how I like to think of myself. I do honor his wishes in my obedience, and in turn he loves and cares for me.” I liked what I was hearing.

“See where I’m going here? Your opinion of yourself, being submissive, depending on your man to take care of you, it isn’t a weakness of character. It’s the way people have lived for thousands of years. Is it for everyone?

“Of course not, progress has reached the point where a traditional lifestyle isn’t necessary for survival, but that doesn’t mean it has to be replaced by a way of life we don’t want. Necessity has been replaced by choice, but we can still choose to let our men be in charge. We are not weak because we follow that path.”

I’d never heard anyone define the choice of submission so well. I agreed with everything she said. Her message was very specific to my own dilemma. I had a master, whoever he was, that seemed to be everything I could hope for. The question I had to answer, to myself, was if I could accept him.

No, that wasn’t really the question. Whether I agreed to the current situation or not he effectively owned me now, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it as long as I was here. The real question, the one I couldn’t answer, was how I felt about the way he had taken control of me without any regard for my feelings about it.

A Night at the Movies

Our unpredictable schedule made it difficult to live in the secure area. I never knew from one moment to the next what was coming. I had lost track of how long I’d been at the Center. Without a clock or calendar, and not even a window to see if it was day or night, all I had to keep track of time were meals and sleep periods. I wondered if those were deliberately manipulated as well. For all I knew we ate lunch at three in the morning and went to bed at noon.

The Wardens never let up, constantly watching us, ordering us around, and they never failed to utilize their favorite activity, putting us up against a wall. In spite of all that there were pleasant breaks on rare occasions. I thought of them as days off, although we never forgot our rules.

One evening after supper, a Warden announced we would be shown a movie. We were allowed to remain at our dining room tables while a screen and projector were set up. We were told to move our chairs around the table so we could all see the screen.

The real treat came before the movie started. Wardens brought carts filled with all those great concession stand snacks. We were allowed to go to a cart, one table at a time, and each pick out a snack and something to drink. I opted for popcorn and a cup of iced tea.

Once the movie started we weren’t allowed to talk. That was nice in a way, no irritating loudmouth in the back row on a cell phone to ruin the show. The Wardens, several of them, sat behind us. We weren’t allowed to turn around to look at them.

The movie was very recent, a romantic comedy. I remembered seeing the coming attractions before I came to the Center. After I finished my popcorn and tea I watched the rest of the movie sitting in position. I didn’t even notice until the movie ended. I suppose it was a habit now.

When the lights came back on everyone was ordered to stand. A Warden went to the front of the room and ordered us to spread, meaning we had to stand with our legs apart, to the limit of our ankle chains. A Warden came up behind me and told me to put my hands behind my back. On went the handcuffs, then out the door to a waiting gang chain. Life was back to normal. I hoped we were being taken to our cells for the night.

That’s not what happened. The Wardens had assembled us into our groups and had just started moving our line down a hallway when the lead Warden suddenly stopped us. Once more he put us against the wall. I heard the two Wardens in charge of us going back and forth but I had no idea what was happening.

I heard more Wardens arrive. Something unusual must be happening. I felt the presence of Wardens stopped, directly behind me. To my surprise I felt the gang cuff being unlocked from my wrist. Wardens on either side took hold of my arms. Then a hood went over my head.

I was dragged away. The two Wardens walked so fast I couldn’t get my feet under me. I tried to keep up but kept tripping on my leg chains. Something was terribly wrong. This is what happened to women who were punished. But I was sure I had behaved properly all day long. Why was this happening to me?

The Chance Encounter

One of the Wardens held me firmly against the wall with his hand pressing on my back. I didn’t know where I was or what they intended for me next. The hood over my head blinded me. All I knew for sure was that I wasn’t going to like whatever came next.

“Here, double up on her. Do her waist too.” That was one of the two Wardens that had come for me. I remembered him from that incident on the first day. Of course I didn’t know his name but he had a distinctive voice. The other one, holding me, took his hand off my back just long enough to lock another pair of handcuffs on my wrists. I didn’t understand that, one pair was sufficient to control me. Did they expect me to somehow escape from them?

He wasn’t finished. Next he wrapped a chain around my waist, just above the chastity belt. I felt it being pulled tight, with the loose ends behind me. A padlock snapped shut. The reason for the chain became obvious when he put some kind of covers over the cuff hinges, ran the free end of the chain through them and pulled my wrists up toward my waist. Thankfully he didn’t pull it tight, that would have been painful, but now the cuffs and my wrists were closely anchored to the small of my back. But wait, there’s more, as the TV commercials say.

As bad as the hinged handcuffs are there was one little tool in the restraint catalog that was even worse. My introduction began with the thumbcuffs clicking shut around my thumbs. They’re like tiny, rigid handcuffs with an opening just big enough for a finger. It felt like a lobster had hold of both my thumbs and would not let go.

I heard a cell door open. “Okay, let’s get her inside.” That was the first Warden again. He must be the one supervising my punishment. The two of them turned me around and maneuvered me inside some kind of enclosure. I felt bars brush against my arms. There was something around my head too.

When I felt the leg cuffs being removed I was surprised. They were loading up on the handcuffs but leaving my legs free? No, my little taste of freedom was short-lived. I felt new cuffs going around my ankles, larger and heavier. They were connected close together, not hinged but solid. They seemed to be attached to the floor too. I could still stand, but the cuffs held my ankles so close together it was impossible to move my legs.

The ankles weren’t enough. The next restraint was a wide leather belt above my knees. It wasn’t tight but snug enough to keep my legs together. There must be some attachment to the enclosure I was in, because it didn’t slip down my legs.

Now that I was securely immobilized the second Warden pulled off the hood. I did not like what I saw. I was in a kind of narrow cage, just big enough to stand in. My shoulders were within an inch of the sides. To either side of my face was some kind of enclosure, attached to the top of the cage. It was open but I could tell it was designed to fit around my head.

The first Warden stood directly in front of me. “You need some quiet time to reflect on your behavior today.” I saw a large and uncomfortable looking gag in his hand. He stared at me, thinking about something. Finally he continued. “As long as you remain silent we’ll leave the gag off. If you need help to keep quiet,” he held up the gag, “we can show you how.”

I did not want that gag on my head. Quiet as a mouse, that was my motto. It was huge, a wide leather front with a foam covered insert that would completely fill my mouth. There were straps coming off it everywhere, across and over the head, and under the chin. He didn’t add anything to his helpful offer but he did stand there, looking me right in the eyes. I was sure he was going to gag me anyway,

But for some reason he didn’t. Nervously I watched him hang it on a hook on the wall opposite where I stood. I got the message, it was ready and waiting. When he turned back around he reached in and closed the steel fixture around my head. There was a narrow slot to see, and a grill of small holes in front of my mouth, so I could breathe and talk, or more importantly not talk after seeing that gag. It fit under my chin and around my neck, stopping just above the collar. I found out the position was adjustable when he started to raise it.

The pressure on my chin and head forced me to stretch, trying my best to stand as straight as possible, but he didn’t stop. When I was on tiptoes, the best I could do with those shackles on my ankles, he stopped and let it down just enough for me to get my feet back on the floor. The rigid, tight fit prevented me from moving my head.

Both Wardens stepped back so the first one could close the front. Those bars were inches from my face. I couldn’t see but I heard the lock click shut. I couldn’t move.

At that moment a buzzer went off in the outer office. Both the Wardens left, shutting the door behind them. I was left alone to meditate about my quiet time.

I decided to explore my tiny prison, starting with my hands. I could jerk against the waist chain but I didn’t accomplish anything. Why they had to double up on those handcuffs I had no idea. Well, that wasn’t strictly true. I think they did it because they could, and I had no way to stop them. I found out the combination of hinged cuffs and thumbcuffs made my hands useless. I did try to slip a thumb out, without success. The Wardens wouldn’t be that careless.

That left my legs. I tried to lift one leg up a little, no luck. Those shackles on my ankles didn’t have any play at all, especially since they were chained to the floor. The belt around my knees didn’t help either. The way he had stretched me out with that thing on my head was putting a strain on my legs. I could feel it in my calf muscles.

I had an ominous feeling about what was coming. The massive overkill in restraining me didn’t seem to have a point. Not at first, but the longer I stood there the more I realized from the ache growing in my legs that they knew exactly what they were doing. All I had to do was yell out, beg them to release me…and give him an excuse to use that gag. I was determined not to let that happen.

I couldn’t see much. The gag hanging on the wall in front of me was clearly visible, no doubt intentionally. There was some kind of ridge around my view slit which resulted in tunnel vision. I could just make out the door. It was solid, and no way to open it on this side that I could see from my vantage point. It must be soundproof too. I couldn’t hear anything from the other side.

I wondered how long they would leave me like this. There were no clocks on the wall. As far as I knew there were no clocks anywhere in the Center, or at least in the secure area. None of the Wardens had a wristwatch either. I had the clever idea I could sneak a look to see the time that way, until I found out not one Warden wore a watch.

Time slowed to a crawl. I still didn’t know why I was being punished. Had I done something while the movie was playing? I was always very careful when a Warden was in the room. I must have missed an order or inadvertently broken position at some point during the day.

I tried to shift around in my cage. I didn’t make any progress but I figured there would be enough noise so anyone else in the room could hear, and maybe answer. I listened but heard nothing. That meant I was alone in here.

The helmet enclosing my head was a nasty piece of work. It had a rigid mount somewhere on the outside, since I couldn’t budge it. Nor could I turn my head inside since the fit was too close.

The door swung open without warning. I caught a glimpse of the outer office again, what looked like a desk with papers on it. The first Warden walked in and stopped in front of me. He studied me intently, looking up and down. He reached through the bars, grabbed the chain around my waist and gave it a good tug. It didn’t come off. Kneeling down, and out of my sight, he reached in to run his hands down my lower legs, stopping at the cuffs. He took his time caressing my ankle, running his hand over and around the steel encircling it.

This was something new. His “inspection” was nothing of the kind. It was clear to me exactly what he was thinking. When he stood up he reached in between the bars again, this time slipping his fingers under the chastity belt. He gave it a quick tug. “You know I have the key for this,” he whispered, so low I could barely hear him. He leaned down to look into my eye slot, only inches away. I stared at his brown eyes, unable to look away.

I think this was the first time I really understood what it meant not to be in control. This man clearly wanted me and there was nothing I could do to stop him. I was terrified and aroused at the same time. I had to please this man or he might leave me here indefinitely.

He backed up, arms folded, watching me. “You’ve been a good girl. Keep it up; it will go easier for you. I was sure we’d need the gag by now.”

He walked over to the open door. “Alright, bring her in.” That must have been directed to someone in the outer office. I took it to mean he was finished with me, for the moment. I wanted to clench my fists in frustration, but those thumbcuffs didn’t even allow me that small relief.

The second Warden wheeled in what looked like a spindly wheelchair. In it was Laura, the woman they had taken away that first day. She was strapped down tight. I realized it wasn’t a wheelchair but one of those restraint chairs used to transport violent and dangerous prisoners. Close-fitting straps held her elbows, wrists, knees and ankles against the chair frame. More straps down her shoulders, across her waist and over her thighs secured her torso.

I had seen one of those chairs on a reality TV show. It was like a portable jail cell. I noticed there were some embellishments too. Her hands were covered with some kind of stiff nylon tubes. Worst of all she had on the same type of gag as the one hanging on the wall. It looked like a giant spider covered her face, with straps going around her nose and over her head. There was a wide chin strap to prevent it slipping, and more straps going to the back of her head. Over it all was a harness around her head, pinning her against the chair back.

She didn’t look too good. From what I could see there was a fearful, haunted expression on her face. It was obvious her time in the Center had been far more difficult than my own.

The second Warden wheeled her over to a spot in front of me. She sat there, facing me. “We’ll put her in number two,” the first Warden said. It sounded like she would be joining me. “I don’t think we’ll need the gag, will we, Laura?”

I saw her trying to shake her head in a no. The head straps holding her to the chair made it difficult. He released the harness and started unbuckling the gag. When he pulled it out of her mouth I saw her working her jaw. It must have been painful wearing it.

Just then I heard the phone ringing through the open door. Both Wardens looked annoyed at the interruption. “I’ll finish here, you go ahead,” the first Warden said. The other one nodded and left. There was some indistinct conversation from the other room, followed by the sound of another door opening and closing.

The remaining Warden started talking to Laura, “You get an unexpected reprieve. You were supposed to join our other guest in one of our popular ‘standing room only’ accommodations but for reasons you don’t need to know that will be postponed.” He turned to look at me. “Since the two of you will be alone for some time I’m going to allow you to talk to each other, with a few restrictions.”

There were always restrictions, on everything we did. I expected that. The “some time” comment was more worrisome. My legs were complaining loudly, and my shoulders were joining in.

“You,” he was looking into my eye slot, “are not permitted to discuss why you are here now, or anything that has happened since you and Laura parted company.” He turned back to Laura, “and you…” He stopped. I had no idea what he intended for her.

He stood directly in front of Laura’s chair, towering over her. “Perhaps it’s better if everyone knows about you. You have permission to discuss your arrival here and what happened afterwards. You will not discuss how you failed your master, or the reason why you were sent to the Center.”

He walked over to the open door. Before leaving he added one last word, “Both of you are already in trouble. Remember your instructions. Don’t make a serious matter worse.” He left, shutting the door. I heard the click of the lock.

We were alone, and from the sound of it for quite a while. I looked down at Laura. “So, think it’ll rain today?” He hadn’t left me with much to start a conversation.

She looked up at me, a rueful smile on her face. “If it does we’ll never know.” She stared at me. “Sorry, I don’t recognize you behind that thing on your head. Your voice sounds familiar.”

“I was in your group on arrival. Lenora, I was the last one to be seated.” It seemed like years ago, but it couldn’t be more than a few weeks. Or maybe it was months, I wasn’t sure. Was it deliberate, making us lose track of time? It must be; the Wardens never did anything that wasn’t planned in advance.

“I remember you. You said you came here voluntarily.”

“Yeah, I was the one who asked when I could leave the Center.” My question at that first orientation sounded incredibly naïve now. I’d settle for knowing how to get out of my current situation, but I wouldn’t dare ask that question.

“Why on earth did you ask to come here? Didn’t you know what this place was like?”

If I had known, would I still have come? The sane answer would have been no, but despite all that had been done to me I wasn’t sure how I would choose. “No, I didn’t know anything about the Center. I’d never heard of it. I was offered a chance to find myself, what was called a ‘life changing’ experience. Those were the exact words.”

I could see her looking me up and down with her eyes. “Since you’re in there something must have happened. I won’t ask; I know you can’t tell me.” I saw her strain against the strap on her body as she tried to rise up. “I can’t see your feet or hands. What did they do? I’m asking because there’s another cage next to you. From what he said when they return I’ll be in it soon.”

That explained why she was here. I couldn’t see the cage next to mine. Between the hood when they brought me in, and now this thing around my head I had no idea what was in our cell, except the little I could see in front. “My ankles are chained to the floor, with a belt around my knees so I can’t move my legs. They put two pairs of handcuffs on my wrists, behind my back, plus they locked the cuffs to a chain around my waist. Oh yeah, just to make sure I wouldn’t escape they hooked my thumbs together with miniature handcuffs.” Those had moved to the top of my hate list.

I could see she didn’t like what she heard. “Not much to look forward to. In a way I guess I should be glad they left me in this chair. At least I get to sit down.”

I’d give anything to sit down. I was curious about her chair. “Those things on your hands, what are they?”

“It’s some kind of stiff nylon bag.” She struggled with the restraints on her wrists. I could see a slight movement inside the tubes. “If you can see, I can’t even bend my fingers. The best I can manage is to move them back and forth a little. Most of the time they won’t let me use my hands. Even when the Wardens let me get some sleep I have to wear them.”

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without hands. In a sense when I had the handcuffs on, behind my back, I couldn’t do much but the rest of the time my wrists and hands weren’t restrained. And the Wardens didn’t make us sleep with cuffs on. I wasn’t sure which would be worse, those tubes over my hands or my thumbs locked together.

“No one has seen you since…” I hesitated. How to put it in a tactful way?

“Since I had a melt down? I’m not really that stupid. I did know better, but too many things happened too close together. They grabbed me right off the street, did you know that? One moment I’m walking out of a store in the mall, the next the police surround me, announcing to everyone I’m under arrest for shoplifting. While they handcuff and search me I’m tearfully pleading my innocence. They haul me out to a waiting van. It wasn’t until we were out of the city that I realized I wasn’t going to jail.” She stopped, closing her eyes.

I had been taken the same way. The only difference was I knew it would happen. I’d have been petrified with fear if taken her way. I knew what to expect and it had still been difficult. In public, with a crowd watching, that would have been too much.

I thought about the Warden’s instructions. I didn’t recall any prohibition against asking Laura questions about what had happened to her. I did hesitate; I was concerned she might not want to talk about it. Curiosity got the better of me.

“Laura, can I ask about that day?” I paused to think on how to word it. “What happened when you were taken away?”

She didn’t answer immediately. “I suppose so; the Warden did give his permission. You saw them drag me out of the holding cell?”

I had been too scared to break position and watch. “I didn’t see too much. Paula told me to hold still, so I couldn’t see what happened.”

“Ahh, yes, our dear, beloved Paula. I know her, Miss Perfection, a model guest we can all admire. Did you know the Wardens refer to us as guests? But I’m sure you did the right thing. Anyway, they got a gag in my mouth right away, before they unhooked me from the floor. They already had me in chains so it wasn’t hard to manhandle me out the door.”

There was a note of bitterness in her voice. I didn’t know about being a ‘guest’ but in one sense it was accurate. We received room and board, and there wasn’t even a bill. It did sound better than ‘prisoner’ or ‘inmate’.

“That’s the last any of us saw or heard about you. We weren’t allowed to discuss it.” I had watched for her, so I’d know if she was all right. Even if I didn’t approve of what she had done I didn’t want her to suffer for it. Well, not suffer too much.

“So I disappeared? They put a bag over my head so I couldn’t see where they took me. When the hood came off I was in a small cage on a bare floor, still in chains and that gag. I couldn’t sit up or lay down because it was too cramped. They left me there, I don’t know how long. Once in a while a Warden would come in and hose me down to keep me and the cage clean. Once they took off the gag I got a little water that way. They didn’t feed me.”

The Wardens must have been very angry at her for a severe punishment like that. I’d never experienced anything like it. In my visits to bondage parties I’d been tied up with rope, even restrained with chains, but never for long periods of time, and I’d never been put in a small cage.

“While I was in there Wardens would come in and lecture me at all hours. They wouldn’t let me sleep. If I couldn’t stay awake they hosed me down to make sure I paid attention.

“At some point they let me go. I vaguely remember being pulled out of the cage. They took off the cuffs and gave me a pad on the floor so I could sleep. I thought the worst was over.”

She stopped again. I waited, giving her time to gather her thoughts. Meanwhile I had problems of my own. My thumbs were throbbing. I tried to twist them around but it didn’t help. I closed my eyes, telling myself I could manage. I knew if I begged the Warden to take them off it would be the excuse he needed to use that gag. And chances are I’d still have the thumbcuffs on afterwards.

“I was kept in isolation. They made me get in that cage again and locked me in all day long. I was let out to sleep and eat one meal. I think it was the third day my master showed up. He brought in a chair and sat down in front of me. I was so ashamed I couldn’t even look at him.”

Ashamed? I suppose I’d be ashamed too if I ever acted that way. She should have thought about the consequences before throwing a tantrum.

Laura was beginning to irritate me. Standing in this cage was beginning to irritate me. The thumbcuffs were long past irritating me. My patience ran out. She made foolish choices and then whined about it, looking for sympathy.

“I regret what you had to go through, Laura, but you have to face the fact you did it to yourself. Right from the beginning you knew, we all knew who is in charge here. There’s no excuse for defying them. And you knew that too, that’s why you waited until the Wardens were gone and poor Cathy had to take the blame for your disobedience. Did anyone tell you she had to stay in the secure area as punishment?”

Laura looked genuinely surprised at the news about Cathy. “I never meant for her to be blamed. I just wanted out of here…”

I interrupted her, all but shouting. “You wanted? What the Wardens want is all you should care about! That’s why we are here. Sure, I want out of this cage. I really want these horrid little thumbcuffs off my hands.

“But that’s not what the Wardens want from me. I don’t know why I’m being punished. They didn’t tell me, which means I don’t need to know. They have a reason for putting me in here. I have no idea what it is, but I accept they have the right to discipline me. They ordered me in here, I obeyed. I will stand here as long as I’m able. I hope it won’t be until my thumbs fall off. It’s that simple. If you can’t understand, well, enjoy your easy chair. I hope they do put you in the cage next to me. I hope you get two of these dreadful thumbcuffs for good measure. And I hope they put that gag back in so I won’t have to listen…”

Without warning the door swung open. I stopped talking mid-sentence. In came the same two Wardens. Both went over to Laura, ignoring me. “Time for your new accommodations. I’m sure you’d like to stand up after sitting for so long.”

It didn’t take them long to transfer her. I watched them free her from the chair straps. They did let her stand up for a moment to stretch. After that I couldn’t see what happened but I did hear the cage door next to mine open and shut.

The first Warden turned to me. “You were not brought here to be punished. Your master ordered you to be confined in that cage. The purpose is to demonstrate to you he will treat his property as he sees fit. He has asked me to inform you that he is pleased with the way you cooperated. You have done well.”

I was so relieved! While standing in the cage I had rerun the day over and over in my head, trying to figure out where I made a mistake. I still wasn’t too pleased about being put in here but I was thankful it was my master’s wishes and not my own blunder that earned me a trip to the punishment room.

“However, you were told to speak quietly. That’s not what happened.” I cringed. He heard me after all. I was sure to get the gag now. “You will spend some more time in your cage, to think about how you will make sure it doesn’t happen again.” He leaned in, reached through the bars around my back. I felt his hand on mine. Suddenly he grabbed the thumbcuffs and yanked. I let out a yelp in pain. “I’m not pleased you failed to follow my orders. Do not test me again.”

My little window suddenly went dark. He had slid a cover over my eye slot, a very effective blindfold. I was in total darkness.

“Both of you will remain silent. If I hear one sound, from either of you, you’ll both be gagged and your punishment time will be doubled.” The Wardens left, closing the door behind them.

I felt terrible. Here I had been lecturing Laura while being disobedient myself. I took a deep breath. I can do this, I told myself. Whatever it takes, I was determined to make it through my punishment without begging to be released. This time I was being disciplined for cause. I deserved it; I knew what I was doing. Not that I had a choice but I did accept his judgement.

Time passes very slowly in those cages. I felt cut off from the outside world. No sight, no sound, I was all alone and helpless. All I could do is wait, and hope the Wardens would come back to release me. Once I heard Laura try to move around in her cage. I don’t think she got any further than my own efforts. I worried the Wardens might hear her but I had no way to ask her to stop. I tried to keep as still as possible.

The real punishment wasn’t being confined. It was boredom. Hour after hour I stood in that tiny cage, unable to move, forbidden to talk, and nothing to do except collect a few more aches and pains with every passing minute. It would end at some point in the future. That I knew from the Warden’s comment about doubling our punishment time. How long I had to stay in the cage wasn’t arbitrary, I just didn’t know how long it would be.

07.08.2021

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