I tap the play button on my iPad and Turin Brakes starts playing over my stereo as I walk the judo mats to the middle of the living room.
Alice picks up the Petzl swivel. “Doesn’t anybody ever wonder why you have these things lying around?”
“Maybe they do.” I take the swivel from her hand and click it to the locking carabiner suspended from my ceiling by hemp rope. “But if they ask, I just tell them I’m into technical climbing.”
“Right.” She looks up at me as I use more hemp rope to tie a wooden Crossfit ring to the swivel, then points at my sword rack. “And what excuse do you give for all that rope?”
Five bundles of hemp rope hang down from the short jō staff on the lowest hook of the wooden rack. Each bundle is carefully bound into the shape of a shrimp that allows the rope to be stored without tangling.
“Hojojutsu,” I say. “The martial art of tying captives. You see, in the Japanese feudal era the police often had to arrest samurai when they got drunk and started trashing a gambling establishment. The problem was that most samurai were higher in rank, so the police had to be careful not to offend them by tying them up like common criminals. So they were taught how to bind each captive samurai according to their rank, and without making knots, just winding them in the rope in specific figures.”
Her eyes twinkle merrily. “Like you’re going to do to me?”
“Kinbaku is grounded in the honnawa long rope techniques of hojojutsu.”
I pull down on the Crossfit ring, then spin it to see if the Petzl turns smoothly and the ropes won’t twist.
“Do you need to tie over my clothes?” Alice plucks at her thin silk shirt. “Or can you do it on the skin??”
“I prefer skin,” I say. “If you’re comfortable being tied in the nude.”
Moloko comes on, Róisín Murphy singing “Fun For Me” as I watch her undress. Her cheeks flush as she unbuttons her shirt. Her breasts are the size of grapefruits with small pink areolae, her nipples stiffening as she shrugs out of the shirt that drops from her arms to the judo mats. I take down three bundles of rope as she pushes her loose pants over her buttocks, the silk trousers then sliding down her long legs and pooling at her feet.
A shy smile blossoms on her face as she clasps her hands behind her back and cocks her head to the side, smiling impishly. “I’m ready when you are.”
I give a slight tug at the ends of the bundled rope, which unfurls and drops onto the mats in front of her. Without unclasping her hands she sinks down to her knees, puts her feet flat behind her and sits with her buttocks on her heels. With the bight of the long rope in my right hand I kneel behind her, take her small wrists and pull them up until they are just under her shoulder blades, wind the doubled-up rope three times around them, run the bight underneath the ropes, and twist the long end and pull the bight through. I tug on the long end to fasten the bight and hear Alice sigh softly as I lean closer and pass the ropes twice over her biceps and around her upper body above her breasts.
While my hands tie the rope off behind her back, I kiss the right side of her neck. She sighs again and tilts her head to the left to expose even more of her neck, then moans as I gently bite her neck. She shivers and her eyelids flutter.
The percussion intro to “Happiness Is Easy” by Talk Talk fills the background as I continue. The second rope, tied to the stem of the first one behind her back, passes over her arms and she leans back against my chest as I gently lift her breasts to pass the ropes underneath.
I love her sweet surrender, the flush on her cheeks as the ropes embrace her and restrict her movements more and more with each winding. When I’m satisfied with the takate kote that holds her arms firmly behind her back I run a rope through the wooden Crossfit ring, hoist her up until only her knees support her. Suspended by the rope, she lilts forward as I swiftly tie a fresh rope around her ankle and fold her leg, the windings keeping her heel pressed against her buttock as I cinch the rope and lead the rope to up to the wooden ring. Another fresh rope and her other leg gets the same treatment. I hoist both of her legs from the floor until her whole body is suspended horizontally, swinging a foot above the judo mats.
I lie down on my back and shift my body until I’m directly below her. Her eyes are closed. I reach up and touch her cheek.
Her eyes open, her pupils large and shiny as if she’s drugged. And in a way she is, as the endorphins suffuse her body.
“How do you feel?”
Her mouth opens and closes, then she smiles and says, “Lovely.”
She moans softly as I run my fingers over her body, suspended in rope above me. Her breasts are soft in my hands and a shiver runs through her body as I gently squeeze her pert nipples. Her eyes close again and she smiles dreamily. I reach up and fold my palms around her neck like a collar made of fingers. Her long hair hangs down and tickles my face.
Alice seems to go deeper in relaxation, her features slack. I take my hands from her neck and run my fingers over her body. Although I cannot feel cooler spots that would indicate inhibited blood flow, I decide that she has been hanging long enough and I untie her legs. She’s too out of it to sit on her knees, so I untie the ropes that suspend her upper body and slowly lower her unto the judo mats, where she slumps amid the tangles of rope. Although it isn’t cold in the room, I take an old airline blanket and wrap it around her as I cradle her in my arms. I don’t untie her upper body yet, I know she likes the tight embrace of the rope.
As she leans against my chest, she mumbles something. I pull her a bit more upright. “What did you say, Alice?”
She drowsily opens her eyes and gives me a dreamy smile.
“Happy Ascension Day, my love.”