Blancmange

If she could safeword her way out of choosing a safeword, she would. She has a thing about words, about giving them too much weight – has never found it easy to name pets, pub quiz teams or characters in stories – and she cannot imagine any word that she could blurt out with no context and not feel a complete idiot for saying.

‘Let’s go with ‘Stop’ then,’ he says. ‘It’s not ideal, but if you’d rather keep things straightforward…’

But she rolls ‘Stop’ around in her mouth for a bit, silently, imagines saying it, and it loses all meaning, the way you can suck the colour off a Smartie or look too hard at the word ‘When,’ until it no longer looks like a real word at all.

No. ‘Stop’ is not the one.

In a way, she feels like having a safeword at all is like public speaking – she never wants to say anything that brings the focus directly onto her – and yet here she is having to choose a word that will literally have the power to change the whole course of events.

‘Red’ is another option it would be sensible to go with, but it feels too movie like, too Fifty Shades of Grey. Perhaps she could use ‘grey,’ instead? But she knows better than to pick a word based on her own batshit sense of what might be funny the first time she uses it. And although ‘red’ is not something she feels drawn to, it is closer.

She knows that people use ‘red’ because it carries the meaning of ‘stop’ in more every day, prosaic contexts. And yet, red is the colour that comes to mind when she thinks of kind – skin inflamed by flogging, by whipping, by shame.

But she is not there yet. She has not yet ventured into anything that turns her skin scarlet, hasn’t chosen to be humiliated to the point that it makes her blush.

No, the colour she most associates with her own kinks is pink. Her face flushed with excited, her nipples rock hard and rose-coloured. And then, afterwards, the sense of being limp, boneless, pleasantly weak and wobbly. That is how she finally settles on it.

Blancmange.

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