The handcuffs hurt. Maybe he put them on too tight, or maybe your wrists are chafing, or maybe they've actually swollen from the stress and heat, or maybe it's just your imagination. They're the hinged kind, carbon steel with a nonreflective nickel finish, ball-and-joint links. Fourteen ounces, he told you, but they feel heavier as the night sinks on.
They felt cold when he put them on, but they're hot now, hot against your wrists and scrabbling fingertips and the naked hollow above your ass where the open back of the chair lets your buckled-together hands rest against your skin. Hot and slick and you don't know because you can't see, you don't know what color that slick is, if it's red, if your twisting against the metal has finally rubbed your skin open, or if it's just the sweat trickling down your back.
What you know is you have to hurry because he'll be back. You don't know how long. He told you but you don't know. He told you five o'clock, five in the morning, but there aren't any windows in this room and there's no clock and he took your watch off when he put the cuffs on. It was midnight then ... wasn't it?
You have to hurry.
It couldn't have been midnight because at midnight he was still fucking your mouth, his hands on the chairback to keep you from being pushed over by the force of his hips, his crotch sweaty against your face, your throat gulping against him. At midnight he was still deep in your mouth and pushing into you, and the bruises his fingers had left on your shoulders and neck had purpled but hadn't yellowed yet. You don't know if they have now. There are no mirrors. Looking down, you can see the marks of teeth on your breasts, valleys of broken Morse code skin between welts. His teeth. His welts.
You're not tired, but that doesn't mean anything. You're dazed, hazed, in a muddle, and it could be 4:45 for all you know, it could be 4:57 and you're not free yet and he could be right outside the door and your back is to it so you wouldn't even see him, you might not hear him, not until his hand came around to take you by the throat and pull you backwards, your fingers still scrabbling at nonreflective nickel-plating on carbon steel.
And the thing is, you have the key.
You can feel it.
You just can't get to it.
It's a simple key for simple cuffs and all it'll take is one turn and your hands will be free. He told you this while he was slitting the skin open in your arm, pocketing the key beneath it, one little bit sticking out. He did this before cuffing you, so you could see: that sliver of bloody metal on your skin, the thin key hidden in your flesh, right there for you. All you have to do is get it.
All you have to do is get it before he comes back.
You've tested your reach. Once you get the key, it's an easy thing to unlock the cuffs. It might take a few tries: you're working backwards, like in a mirror, with things you can't see. But you can do it. If you get the key.
You can't quite seem to reach, but you know you can, you know how close it is, you saw. What if it fell out? Wouldn't you have felt it? Wouldn't more blood be slicking your wrists now? Maybe not. Maybe it fell out, and it's right there on the floor, and when he sees it, when he comes back and sees it he'll laugh at you. Or maybe he'll grab you by the throat first.
You stroke fingers along your wrist again, and you can feel warm wet, but what color is it? Is it sweat or blood? All you can feel is smooth, the fine hairs along your arm, the small bump of a mole, nothing hard, nothing edged, no metal. You can't --
Was that it?
It's gone, but for a moment, your fingers craned as far as they could go, your hands twisted so you could feel the muscles in your upper arms tensed and protesting, your breasts pushed forward like you were offering them to be bitten again, you felt something, something hard, something cooler. You had it. Almost.
Keep reaching. Find it again. He's coming back. He'll be here soon.
It must be almost time. It could be 4:45, it could be 4:57, and that key card the hotel uses, you won't hear it in the lock, you won't hear the edge of the door against the carpeting, you won't hear his soft footsteps approaching, he could be behind you right now and it could be too late.
He told you. You have until five o'clock and then he'll be back. If you're not free, if he has to free you himself, he won't fuck you. He'll just send you home.
Hurry. He's coming.