"What happened to your morning break?" asked Abel, standing over me.
I blinked at him. I was going through one of my productive spells, typing away, as though the whole thesis had always been a breeze. A morning break? I wasn’t aware it was time to have one, no more than I could tell what time it was, or what day it was, or for how long I’d been typing.
Sometimes I go through dry spells in my work, where I stare at the screen for hours, studying every fleck of dust, waiting for the moment it’s finally time to make coffee, or an excuse to forget about the whole thing altogether. And then there are times when I sink my teeth into a piece of work, and not let go until it goes so dark that I can’t see my longhand notes. For some reason, Abel isn’t happy about either of these methods of research: he has drawn up a timetable for me, which includes breaks.
I love breaks. Really. But sometimes breaking up is a nuissance, and up until that morning last week I’d thought it was optional, too.
"The break? Uhm. I forgot about it," I said. I mean, I was working. The text was adding up. That was good. Right?
Not if you’re Abel.
"Upstairs," he said.
"Wha… Why?" I’d never been in trouble for working too much. This was too weird for words, and I even pinched myself on the thigh, to check whether I was having one of my frequent spanking dreams.
"You’ve been given a timetable," lectured my husband, pushing me up the stairs with a palm between my shoulder blades. "It’s there to be observed."
Well, yes, but wasn’t it there to keep me chained to the keyboard, rather than to make sure I’d had enough cups of coffee?
Not according to Abel. In reality – according to Abel’s version of reality – it was there to help me pace myself. To keep me from burning out. To make sure I was still at my desk the next day, instead of being so tired that I head out for lunch with a girlfriend and turn it into afternoon tea, after which I’d get invited to stay for dinner and sleep over.
The timetable was binding, you see, and that included the breaks.
In our bedroom he told me to bend down with my elbows on the bed, and picked up a frat paddle that had stayed there from when we’d last played with it. (Note to self: in future, tidy away implements after playing. Like, immediately.)
"That’s so unfair!" I protested. "I didn’t know I had to take breaks! Hey, put that thing down!" I babbled my protestations. This has been known to get me into further trouble, but Abel must have been feeling generous, or maybe lazy. (Hi, Abel – do you like this entry? Good.)
He gently advised me to shut up, and then swung the paddle back, and landed it on my jean-clad behind with a good crack.
"Oooooh," I said appreciatevely. I didn’t cry it out – this wasn’t a hard enough stroke to yelp – but sort of breathed it, as tingling spread over my cheeks.
"Alright, stand up," said Abel.
And that was it. One swat, and he gave me a hug, and told me to go downstairs and have a break.
I didn’t even have a heart to mumble anything rude, because he’d hardly been too harsh. But now I set up reminders for when I’m due to break for coffee.