The lightning lit the nightscape in a flash as bright as the sun. For an instant, she saw the shades of her past punishments looking back at her from the window. She was naked. Behind her back she held the rattan cane in both hands - no chance to cover any part of herself. Of course, the chance of anyone accidentally seeing her on a night like tonight was remote. The window faced a dense forest. There had been occasions in the past when she thought a passing hunter had glanced at her exposed body, but anyone who hunted this land had her husband's permission. Most of their friends had lifestyles similar to theirs. Still the thought of being displayed was a source of submission for her - even if the only living creatures likely to see her were a passing squirrel or robin.
Finally the clap of thunder signaled the distance of the lightning strike. He had taught her how to judge the distance by counting off seconds. Still the thunder scared her, it always did. This one was loud and rolled across the sky. She flinched, almost dropping the cane. Shaking, she fought to regain her composure. Long training and experience had taught her to remain on her spot in front of the window. He had explained years ago that this was to give her time to think about her infractions and anticipate her punishment.
She had few real rules by the usual definition of rules. Punishments had lessened over the years in frequency. Sometimes she wondered if her husband cared anymore, then she would pull a stunt like what landed her in front of the window. For what seemed like hours, she had stood there waiting. Finally, the door opened and the light came on. She heard her husband in the bathroom. Straining to hear, not daring to turn and glance, she still jumped when he took the cane from her hands and gently guided her over to the bench. She knelt on her knees and elbows hoping he would buckle the straps on her. Instead, he left the straps hanging and stepped back.
The actual punishment was quick and simple. No lecturing, no counting strokes, no warm up. She received as many or as few strokes as he deemed necessary. She had asked for more once years ago and didn't sit down for two days. After that she figured that he didn't need her help in making these decisions. Gently, he helped her from the bench. Neither were young and limber anymore. She stood up and straightened her back. Then she went to use the bathroom. The routine hadn't changed in 20 years. In a world that seemed to be in constant flux, she took comfort in this simple routine. Before leaving the bedroom, he had told her to put on a shirt and her ankle cuffs.
She found him in the den working on a manuscript. Her bare feet and the chain connecting her ankles made no noise on the thick carpet as she approached him. She stopped behind him and stroked his hair. He handed her his coffee cup. Silently, she went to do his bidding. After she had placed his cup on the desk, she retreated to her easy chair, far enough away to not disturb him, but close enough to answer his bidding. He had placed a soft fluffy towel on the seat so her bruised bottom would be more comfortable.
Outside the summer storm had spent its fury and moved on. In the quiet, love remained. Her welted bottom removed any doubt she might have had. He still cared.