BRIDLING HER TONGUE
Copyright © 2007 by Leah Kelley
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Mark wiped his sweaty brow and leaned against the doorframe of the kitchen while he drank from a Styrofoam cup of water. He grinned to himself when he heard the tinkle of feminine laughter drifting from the fellowship hall just beyond and his eyes lit on the pretty female heads all bent together while they worked to paint the trim for the new sanctuary.
He sighed in contentment as warmth filled with chest. He’d only accepted the pastorate at the rather small country church a little over a month ago, but already he felt he’d been there forever. He and his wife could have been born and raised amongst these folks so much did they have in common, especially those faithful members who’d turned out today to help finish the new sanctuary.
The ladies looked pretty as females ought, with their flowing skirts and long hair. Some of them even wore headcoverings, although his wife wasn’t among them. He could hear their feminine voices from where he stood, and if he listened closely enough, he could even make out snatches of their conversation filled, he was sure, with advice on how to better manage a home and accounts of their children’s antics… all those things a woman with a meek and quiet spirit would speak of.
“…thinks he is just the best preacher she has ever heard,” one of the women said, batting her eyelashes. Several giggles followed.
Realizing the women weren’t aware of his presence, Mark set his cup quietly down on a nearby table, folded his arms, and waited to hear more good things about himself.
“Oh, and he’s so handsome, too,” another of the women added with a hand on his wife’s arm. Something about her exaggerated tone made Mark cock his head to the side. Were they making fun of him?
“…how she manages to show up wherever he is? I’m surprised she’s not here today,” one of the older women with a headcovering said.
“I’ve seen her working at the drug store on Saturdays or I’m sure she would be,” another added.
“I tried to tell Mark she was flirting with him, but he wouldn’t listen,” his wife, Chasity, said. “You know how men are… so dense when it comes to these things.”
“Honey, if I were you, I’d put a stop to it,” the older woman said. “not that I think he’s tempted by her with the way she…”
She lowered her voice to a tone Mark couldn’t hear just as he realized who they were talking about. Millicent, one of the younger women in the church, a new Christian he was told, had seemed to show too much interest in him as of late, but he’d experienced the misdirected affection of young female parishioners many times in the past and knew how to deal with it. He was definitely not dense, and neither was he tempted.
“Oh my goodness, I know!” his wife said with a high pitched laugh. “And that hair!” More laughter.
Mark’s eyes narrowed. Millicent did tend to bleach her hair way too blonde, and she wore so much makeup that he doubted he’d recognize her without it, but he didn’t expect the more mature ladies in the church to castigate her about it. He expected them to take her under their wing and teach her how to behave like a proper Christian lady.
He listened with growing horror as the gossip became even more mean-spirited, spilling over into the girl’s past and current private life.
“…next time she bats her eyes at him, I’m going to…” his wife finally said, “…hands off my husband…”
“As if he’d ever give her a second look…” another woman put in, “…thinks she looks cute in those short dresses, but…”
“…ugly as sin…” he heard come from his wife’s mouth.
Enough was enough. His jaw clenched, Mark walked over to the table where the “ladies” congregated. Hearing his footsteps, the cluster quieted and turned in unison to watch his approach. Chasity couldn’t meet his eyes, perhaps realizing he’d heard the mean spirited gossip.
“Ladies,” he greeted them.
“Pastor Jennings,” a couple of the ladies said while the rest nodded to him.
His eyes shifted to his wife. “Chasity, I’d like a word with you, please.”
Chasity’s worried eyes met his. “Okay.” She rose from her chair and followed him down the hall and into one of the Sunday School rooms.
He crossed his arms in front of his chest and shook his head. “Chas…I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe what I just heard.”
Chasity seemed to pale and one hand reached out to grasp the back of a folding chair. “W…what do you mean?”
“You know what I mean.” His eyes narrowed when she started to shake her head. “I was in the kitchen the whole time.”
“Um…you mean about Millicent?”
She pushed a piece of hair back from her face. “I guess it might have gone a bit far, but you have to admit she does flirt with you a lot.”
“We talked about this, and I told you I’d handle it. I didn’t expect you to be gossiping about it with the other women. You know better than that.”
Her gaze flickered and lowered to the ground when he said the word, “gossiping”. “I…I’m sorry. I guess it got out of hand a bit.” Her eyes met his in a silent plea. “I promise I won’t do it again.”
“We’ve been through this before,” he reminded her. “You promised then it wouldn’t happen again.”
She blinked rapidly several times. “Yes, sir, but that was a long time ago.”
“That was only a few months ago, and you know my feelings have not changed about gossip, especially in the church.”
She nodded in a jerky motion. “Yes, sir. I’m so sorry. It won’t happen again.”
He shook his head. “You’re not going to get by with it this time.”
She took a step back and tears popped into her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“I mean I’m going to punish you as soon as we get home.” He saw her blink to clear her tears and swallow hard several times. “As a matter of fact, I think I’ll give you a little sample now to let you know what you can look forward to.”
Her head snapped up at that. “Mark…”
“Give me your panties,” he ordered. Her face puckered, but she removed and handed him the skimpy pink bundle, which he tucked into his pocket. “Now raise your skirt.”
“Mark, please… don’t whip me here,” she begged.
“I’m just going to give you a little something to think about,” he said as he lifted his paint-spattered t-shirt and unbuckled his belt.
More tears popped into her eyes, but she gathered the fabric of her skirt and pulled it above her waist. “Please, not hard,” she begged, her wide green eyes fastened on the belt.
He walked her to the Sunday School podium and pulled it toward them. “Lean over that.”
Her breaths rapid, she slowly lowered her upper body against the podium, leaving her little white bottom protruding. Mark grasped the buckle of his belt in one hand to keep it from jingling, and held the belt’s end in the other hand, applying the last six inches or so of the leather to the lower edge of his wife’s hind cheeks, just where they met her thighs.
She whimpered and wiggled around while he snapped underneath one cheek and then the other in rapid succession for several seconds, certain that the little snap of the belt’s end could not be heard down the hall. She dropped her skirt, bounced up and down, and blew through her teeth when he’d finished, her eyes glassy with unshed tears.
“I didn’t tell you to let your skirt down,” he said.
“Mark, please…” she begged.
“Raise it,” he ordered. Slowly, she again gathered the fabric above her waist. “Turn around.”
She whimpered and begged while she turned her bottom to him. He nodded. Her nether cheeks were underlined with crimson streaks. She’d not be able to easily forget what she had coming that night. Just in case, he buckled his belt around her lower hips, making sure the heavy leather rested against her bottom, and pulled her skirt down over it so that it was hidden against her bare flesh. Now she’d sit on the leather for the remainder of the day and dread the coming night.
Chasity stopped by the bathroom to check her appearance. Her eyes were a bit reddened, but unless one looked closely, there was no indication she’d cried a bit. Her breath shuddered when she took a deep breath in an effort to will away her tremors. Her lower lip trembled as she rubbed the lower cheeks he’d whipped, her stomach clenched in dread. Soon her whole bottom and a good area of her thighs would feel scalded as well. She nearly cried again. If she thought it would do any good, she’d go into that sanctuary and beg him on her knees not to punish her tonight, but she knew it wouldn’t. Barring a miracle, Chasity was in for an awful whipping when they got home.
The belt felt heavy buckled around her hips. She moved carefully, fearing it would fall off of her and the other ladies would see it, but it stayed in place. Once seated again in her chair, she found herself acutely aware of the thick leather underneath her buttocks.
“Is everything okay?” one of the ladies asked.
Chasity nodded and offered a tentative smile. “Just something he wanted to tell me.”
The ladies went back to their conversation, which thankfully, had veered away from Millicent. Chasity listened as they discussed everything from the unseemliness of the newest Hollywood movie to the Middle East’s latest squabble, but she rarely joined in. Instead, she squirmed in her seat and tried not to think about the belt around her bottom that would soon be applied in a much more painful fashion.
It was dinnertime by the time they finished painting the sanctuary and reapplying the trim, so the men pooled their money and ordered pizza for them all. Only two couples remained by that time, plus an older man and his grown daughter. All three of the men remaining besides Mark were on the Board of Elders and their wives were active in church functions. It was a good group of people. Chasity bowed her head in shame when she thought of how she’d allowed herself to join in the petty gossip earlier in the day. She shifted in her chair, her bottom still terribly sensitive to the belt underneath. The sting of her nether cheeks had lessened, but they still felt a bit raw. She met Mark’s eyes across the table, searching for some sign of softening, but found none. Her stomach clenched in dread, stealing her appetite. In less than an hour, it would be time for her whipping.
Chasity sipped at her Coke to sooth her dry throat, and nibbled half-heartedly at her pizza. She noted that Mark had no problem putting away at least half a pizza. His appetite hadn’t suffered in the least. Her teeth clenched and she turned her attention to the other women. She bet none of them had to worry about painful chastisement when they got home. It just didn’t seem fair.
All too soon the meal ended and the women pitched in to clean up. Chasity felt bit guilty that she didn’t help as much as she normally would, but she still feared the belt would slip from around her hips and she’d have to explain its presence.
Finally all the goodbyes were said and no one was left at the church except Chasity and her husband. Feeling as if she were walking to her execution, she followed her husband from the building and across the church yard to the parsonage where they lived. He flipped on the living room light, but kept right on walking down the hall and into their bedroom. Of course, Chasity didn’t dare fail to follow.
Her heart pounded when he closed the door behind them and removed his paint-stained shirt, revealing a well-muscled chest and arms. Taking several deep breaths, she fought the urge to run, knowing he’d only catch her and punish her even more. She’d been Mark’s wife for only three years, but she’d learned a lot during that time, one being never to run from him. It simply wasn’t worth it.
He nodded toward the bed. “Have a seat, Chas.”
“Have you thought about what you have coming and why?”
Her eyes filled with tears. “All day.”
He nodded. “Good. I want you to learn this lesson well so we never have to repeat it.”
“Mark,” she pleaded in a quiet voice, “I have learned my lesson. I promise. You whipped me earlier and I’ve been scared all day long. Can’t that be enough punishment? Please?”
He sighed and fisted his hands on his hips before he slowly shook his head. “Sorry, Sweetheart. Maybe if we hadn’t already talked about this a few months ago. Maybe if the gossip hadn’t been so…mean spirited. Maybe if it hadn’t taken place in the church building.” He shook his head again. “I just don’t see how I can let you off the hook this time.” His hands dropped to his sides. “I’m going to need my belt now.”
Chasity’s heart picked up in rhythm. Her head felt a bit dizzy and her skin seemed to shrink while she stood to remove the belt from around her hips and hand it to her husband with a trembling hand. The buckle jingled when he doubled the leather in his hand and slapped it lightly against his leg.
“Take off your skirt. We’ll start your lesson with you holding on to the bedpost, eyes to the front.”
Chasity felt she would surely vomit, knowing she had a long night ahead of her. A lesson took much longer than a simple chastisement.
Tears already streaming down her face, she let her skirt fall to the floor. He gestured toward the end of the bed and she made herself move to the post and grab hold. Hearing a jingle, she closed her eyes tightly while her bottom clenched of its own accord. The leather wrapped around the sore area just under her butt cheeks, causing her to yelp and come up on her toes.
“Why are you being punished?” he asked.
“For gossip!” she cried.
She heard the jingle of the belt as he paced behind her. Her breaths came in short gasps, knowing at any time he would strap her again, but she knew better than to look behind her.
“That’s right. You are learning how to bridle your tongue. What does the Bible say about the tongue?”
Chasity’s mind groped for the scriptures she knew by heart, but could not remember a single one. “I… I can’t remember,” she cried. “Please, I’m sorry…”
Another streak of fire lashed her bottom, causing her to scream. “The tongue is a fire; a world of iniquity…”
“For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil.”
“He that has a perverse tongue falls into mischief…”
“Whoso keeps his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble.”
“And what does it say about gossip, wife?”
Chasity drew several deep breaths to calm her violent sobs. “It’s in the same verse as murder and stealing and evil doing…” she sniffled, then tensed for the next streak of fire.
“Go on,” he said, without strapping her.
“Um… a Titus 2 woman is not supposed to be a slanderer…”
She whimpered. “And… um… I don’t know anymore!”
“The words of a talebearer are as wounds…”
She nodded and whimpered as she tensed again. The buckle jingled, but the expected fire didn’t land.
“A church leader’s WIFE must be grave, not a slanderer…”
“Yes, sir,” she sniffled.
She heard a swish and yelped when another stroke landed full on her bottom, causing her to dance on her toes.
“You know how I feel about gossip, don’t you?”
“And you know why I find it so repulsive?”
He strapped her.
“Yet today there you sat in the church gossiping…” CRACK “…with the elders’ wives…” CRACK “…and not only gossiping…” CRACK “…but doing it in such a mean-spirited way…” CRACK
He fell silent while she jumped and wiggled around, not speaking again until she’d regained control of her body and her emotions.
“It’s called ‘backbiting’,” he told her without the accompanying fire.
She nodded and continued to sob.
“How do you think Millicent will feel should she learn of your conversation today?”
Chasity didn’t particularly care how the girl would feel, but she tried to act contrite. “Not good…” she said.
CRACK “OOOHHHH, MARK! PLEASE!”
“She is a new Christian…” CRACK “How do you think she’d feel knowing the pastor’s wife cut her down in front of everyone?” CRACK “ANSWER ME!” CRACK
“AAIIII! IT’S TOO HARD! MARK… I CAN’T STAND IT!”
“Do you think that will help her grow in her Christian walk?” CRACK “Was your speech edifying?” CRACK “Was it uplifting?” CRACK
“I’M SORRY! PLEEEAASSE, MARK! I’M SOORRRYYY!”
“Lie across the bed, Chasity.”
“WHY?” she cried.
“Because I don’t believe you’re truly sorry.”
“I am! Mark… I am sorry!”
“You’re sorry you got caught. You’re sorry you’re butt’s on fire. But you’re not sorry for what you said about your sister in Christ.” He grasped her arm and propelled her down on the bed. “I’m going to make you sorry.”
It was the worse whipping he’d ever given her, each furious stroke causing her breath to leave. She screamed and pleaded, her feet kicking and her bottom writhing until the covers on the bed lay in disarray, yet still he whipped her. Gradually her heart softened and she accepted how very wrong she’d been to speak such harsh words against another, no matter what the girl had done. With the realization came surrender, and she sobbed into her pillow, no longer fighting the horrible pain of the belt.
Finally she felt her husband’s hand on her back and realized the whipping was over. Her bottom and thighs felt as if they were on fire. It would be quite some time before the pain receded, but when his hand moved down to rub her scalded cheeks, she cried in relief.
“I don’t like having to do that to you,” he said quietly.
“I know,” she sniffled. “I’m sorry… truly… about what I said. I shouldn’t have… have…” She broke into sobs again.
“Shhh. I know you’re sorry. God forgives you and I do too. We’ll put it behind us now.”
“But I’m the preacher’s wife. I’m supposed to set a good example, not…”
He continued to gently rub her bottom while she cried some more. “You’re human, and you’ve learned your lesson. You need to forgive yourself.”
She nodded and sniffled some more.
Finally he removed his clothing and comforted her in the way only a husband can, holding her tenderly against his heart while he loved her with his body.