A Short Story –
Porter Green dropped a stack of paper on Lyndsey Wayne’s lap as she lounged nearly naked on his bed, watching cartoons.
She picked it up. The checklist.
A week earlier, a girl she knew from her human sexuality course had asked her after class how two people who’ve never done kink should start a BDSM relationship. Being a diligent, bookworm nerd, Lyndsey had compiled a list of helpful books, blogs, articles, and podcasts to study, along with her own personal friendly advice after having had some experience with kink and play. She’d also included helpful links to checklists and workbook exercises to help Lacy and her new partner start negotiations and get the ideas and communication flowing.
But, when she’d sent it off, she’d realized something. For the two years that she'd been practicing kink—and the many, many, many years of fantasizing about it before that—she’d never actually filled out a checklist. She’d always had partners with rich and specific fantasy lives who knew what they wanted and were vocal about going after it, much like herself, so she’d never had much of a reason.
But Porter was—or at least historically had been—vanilla and, despite how much they’d talked about it, he’d had a hard time pinpointing and expressing his own fantasies.
Mostly, they’d been enjoying the hell out of vanilla and slowly exploring and incorporating some of her desires. And, while she was far from complaining, her curiosity had been piqued.
So she’d sent him a copy of the most comprehensive checklist she could find, wondering if his more analytical, autistic mind would find the numerical scoring and laid-out list format easier to process than their broad, open-ended discussions.
Sitting on his bed now, she clutched the checklist in her hand, worrying and wondering over his answers. She bit her lip. “I haven’t finished filling out mine,” she told him.
Truth be told, she’d barely even looked at it yet, only having rather idly answered the first page or so of questions.
This really was more for him than it was for her, anyway.
He shrugged and undressed. She watched his soft cotton shirt slip over and off broad, but still slim shoulders, revealing his smooth, cream-colored, vulnerable belly, and wondered why she suddenly felt so exposed.
He climbed into bed with her. “This was your homework assignment;” he said, careful to arrange the blankets to fit his not-too-hot and her not-too-cold preferences, “not mine. What you do with it…” He shrugged, his shaggy molasses-toned hair falling into his perpetually sleepy-looking eyes.
“Did you get something out of it, at least?” She nervously tugged at her short blond hair and peeked up at him from over the papers.
He tilted his head one way and then the other thoughtfully. “It was interesting.”
Whatever that meant.
She looked down and began to shuffle through the sheets.
The list broke down each activity by whether you’ve done them before, whether they’ve been done to you, and on a scale from 1 to 5—1 being not ever! not even once and 5 meaning hell yeah! right now—whether you’d want to do them and whether you’d want to do them to someone else.
She wasn’t surprised to see that most of his answers about his past experiences were no’s. She wasn’t even terribly surprised by the fact that many of his answers were a solid, midline 3 on the numerical scale.
What did surprise her was that there were quite a few options—like rope and exhibitionism and roleplay—where he’d circled multiple numbers. Rope bondage was a 5 4 3. So was exhibitionism and sexual servitude roleplay. Sense deprivation, age-play, and consensual non-consent were 4 3 2 1.
She shook her head. What?
Here she was trying to decode her partner’s desires and none of the numbers were adding up to actual answers. They either hovered in the I could go either way middle or they spanned the entire scale. This was supposed to be her map to help navigate a path for where they could go and what they could explore.
But this...the vagueness and ambiguity of it all left her nowhere.
“You can’t do that.”
“Do what?” he asked.
She hadn’t meant to actually say that aloud.
From the beginning, knowing the radical differences in their past experiences—with her coming out of a serious and intense long-term BDSM relationship built on exploration and pushing boundaries, sometimes past the point of comfort and consent, and with him having ended an even longer-term, sexually shut-down and unsatisfying engagement—she’d been doing her best to never shame either of their experiences and to encourage open, even baldly frank discussions about them. She never wanted him to feel awkward or afraid to talk to her about his desires.
But, with her own rule-centric, anal-retentive mind balking at his numerically nonsensical answers, she’d just been sputtering in indignant shock.
“For some of these answers, you’ve circled a bunch of numbers.” She pointed to the offending pages. “Hell, for recorded sex and group sex, you’ve circled the whole scale.” How could something be both a 5 and a 1 at the same time, not to mention all the numbers in-between?
He shrugged. “Well,” he said, still watching the brightly animated characters on the screen, “a lot of that depends on how much my partner is into it. If they love it, then I’m a 5; if not, it’d be more of a 1.”
And all the numbers in-between.
That made sense. Perfect sense.
When she’d first scanned the checklist, she’d thought only about her own experiences and desires. About the fantasies and curiosities that flickered like film in her head. Her answers had been formed in the abstract, concerned more with the activity—the kink—than who she might be engaged in it with.
Which had made sense to her. After all, if the point of a checklist was to see what each partner was into and see how the sets of answers lined-up, it made sense to do so independently and without thinking too much on what the other might want or how they would answer.
Otherwise, instead of being an honest peek into the private spaces of your partner’s sexuality, you both were just playing a guessing game of what you thought the other might want to hear.
Except this was about more than just some theoretical concept in her head. At the end of this checklist, along every step of the path it forged, she wouldn’t be alone.
Porter would be there with her.
Why shouldn’t she consider him in this process too?
It was the basic tenant of BDSM. Consent—enthusiastic and exuberant consent—was the magical ingredient that made everything sexy and fun. From spanking to rape-play, of course, your level of interest would inevitably change depending on your partner’s. The more excited they were by it, the better the experience was for you.
And, if they weren’t interested, even your most favored activities reflexively lost their appeal. Who wanted to play with someone who didn’t enjoy the game?
And, to be fair, the reverse applied too.
Suddenly, she was looking at the checklist with a new eye. Answers that had seemed so definite—like rope bondage, which she had limited experience with and had never really been her thing—now seemed more flexible. Did her 2 change, if her partner’s answer were a 4 or a 5? Would she be more willing, even eager, to make one of Porter’s fantasies—that he rarely talked about or admitted to easily—come true, even if they didn’t perfectly match her own? Would she be willing to do research and learn skills, that had never seemed quite worth the work before, for him? Would she be willing to go places for him, that she might not have had the urge to go on her own?
If those things gave him pleasure, it was her pleasure to do them. His desire alone, often regardless of the act, fueled her own. So long as nothing he asked was a hard-limit of hers, so long as it didn’t cross any of her personal boundaries, she’d be more than happy to indulge him.
Just as, so it seemed from his answers, he would be for her.
She let the pages lay flat on her lap and smiled.
Now she’d have to go over her own checklist again; too many of her answers had changed since her brief look before. It was probably for the best that she wasn’t too far along in it.
Setting aside Porter’s checklist for the moment—at least until she had more time to pour over it and compare it with her own soon-to-be revised one—she curled up close to him on the bed to pay more attention to the episode’s plot.
But, even though she’d left the stack of paper on his nightstand, she couldn’t put it out of her mind. She stroked his thighs and hips and belly and watched the brightly colored program in comfortable, intimate silence, but his answers still churned in her brain. A mad mix of words, numbers, images, and his voice.
She snuggled closer and tried to mentally map it all, overlaying it with her own thoughts and answers.
It was such strange but exciting math. After all, his answers might not have had the precision and exactness she was looking for, but it gave them a place to begin and plenty of space to explore.
Such as the rope and bondage gear she was already planning to look into getting. For next time. She grinned and let her hand drift south; she couldn’t wait.
Porter sat down on Lyndsey’s bed and stared at the bundles of ties—brightly dyed rope, well-worn leather belts, and various strips of satin, cotton, and silk—laid out on her bed. He swallowed.
It was one thing to wonder—to fantasize—about all this stuff.
It was another to actually do it.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want it.
But what if he tried it and didn’t like it? What if he didn’t like it half-way through it?
He knew that.
They’d talked about using the precaution before, when they’d tried out some more challenging positions or when they’d used some of her toys.
But they’d never actually used them. They just hadn’t needed to.
He hoped he wouldn’t need them tonight either.
It was strange; he was significantly less worried about what was or wasn’t going to happen tonight—whether he would like it or not—than he was about what Lyndsey would think of him. How she’d feel—about this, about him—if he had to stop.
“Don’t do or put up with or just go along with things because you think that’s what I want. Please.”
It’d been her first rule.
Because she’d been with people—bottoms—who’d done that before. Who’d been hurt, either physically or emotionally—sometimes both—by silently crossed boundaries she hadn’t known about until the damage had been done.
And, at the time, when she’d told him about it, he hadn’t understood why anyone would do that. Why anyone would just quietly take something that hurt them.
But, sitting on her bed across from her, while she watched him with carefully contained—if not well-hidden—excitement that pooled shiny and thick in her big maple-shaded eyes, yeah, he understood.
Who wanted to be the one who turned off that light in her eyes? Who wanted to dim it into disappointment?
The thought of that, at least at this moment, scared him far more than the idea of pain or discomfort.
“I want to do this—of course—but only if you want this too. You do want this, right?”
Read Part Two Here