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Experiment #43

by Brenna Kischuk

I've been bound for sixty minutes.
In those sixty minutes I have spilled coffee, struggled to use the bathroom and fallen hard to the floor, twice. My forearms ache, muscle fibers scratch like sandpaper. My hands continue to pull away from each other long after I stop trying to escape. The feet are easy, most of the time. Sitting is better and having my feet tied, left over right, improves my posture.


This isn’t how I thought it would be the first time I let him tie me up.
We’ve talked about it, only half-serious after three bottles of wine. I say I wouldn’t mind, he says it’s not his thing. But this thing, this experiment, was his idea.


If my hands were tied behind my back I might feel more deviant, more likely to have just committed a crime; in front, I am a sacrifice.


In Japan, this would be beautiful. Kinbaku, sokubaku, shibari. Strict aesthetics, design and the angle of one’s left arm placed just


Two more hours until he comes home.


Steps prove difficult. I sit down and scooch like an inchworm. It’s not so bad. I even imagine I look graceful. Up is harder than down, more physical. The legs are engaged. Quadriceps and hamstrings work against each other, yet toward the same purpose.


Better to do things one handed and let the other follow. These things include but are not limited to: texting, typing, pouring a glass of grapefruit juice, taking out the trash, calling an ex lover, going to the bathroom, writing a song, smoking a joint, mourning and forgetting.


I examine the scars on my fingers closer than I have in years. I count the stitches and find thirteen, but know there were twenty-two. This isn’t sexual, this thing. I am here and he is not.


Maybe we should do this again sometime. Experiment. It wouldn’t be that different from when I’m on top and pin his wrists against the pillow.


Statistics tell us approximately one thousand deaths occur each year from autoerotic asphyxiation.


These statistics are unreliable.


One more hour.


Time slows down. I turn the television on. Finally. A man is buried up to his neck in the sand, struggling to free himself before high tide. I’m reminded of JeanDominique Bauby, feel a fraction of what he must have felt, and fall asleep. I must have dreamed, but don’t remember. It must be the stress because usually, I remember. Salvador Dali slept holding a spoon over a plate. He achieved seconds of dreaming, of paramnesia, before the spoon dropped. He woke up and went to the canvas.


Anagnorisis, n: Oedipus realizes he married his mother. Othello realizes the truth about the handkerchief.


It’s five o’clock. I hear the sound of keys and hope it’s not him. As if I’ve done something wrong, something he can’t know about. I look around the room for evidence before carefully arranging my limbs on the couch in a natural, casual way. He unties me, feet first, then hands. Not how I would have done it.


We don’t speak.


I walk upstairs, unbound, and sit in the chair. My back straighter now than it was before.

Author's Note

I was in a car, in a driveway, in another city. It would be four days before any sort of experiment. Longer before it became words on a page.


To be in conversation with our bodies is to alter them, to discover the tension of a body in motion and the tension of a body's emotions.


The conversation is difficult. It's the noise you hear underwater.

Brenna Kischuk recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is currently a teaching fellow. Find out more about her and her work

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