= 8 =

"Tighter,"

I jumped about a mile high when the lady pulled the ribbon tighter than precedently. Was this how women felt when they were forced to put on corsets? If that were the case, I never wished to travel back in time. Laces, frills, bonnets, and bows were like a feminine version of medieval torture devices, if torture devices had a gender, and I didn't doubt they did, but I was positive they had their own animalistic classifications. The cat's claw! How bestial could that get?

This was despicable, and it was the 21st century, yet I was choking down the pain because a certain someone, currently devouring the newspaper, was threatening to kill me, and he wasn't joking based on the serious tone he conveyed. If it had been, I would have been out of here faster than a roadrunner in a canyon.

"Tighter," he grimaced.

I could only send him a half-a-second glare before I let out an oof that amounted more to a cat dying than a human being practically tortured to extinction by a fashion device of the 18th century, or similar to that!

"Any tighter and it'll kill me," I gritted through my teeth, wincing as corruption's administrator worked on the ribbons of the loaned vest. Apparently, he didn't like the idea of my absolute acceptance to the Natallis' invitation, which in reality, was really Heoffer's intimidation talking, so I was being tortured in a manner  that involved several cases of pinching and pruning, and it wasn't referring to a person's brain.

It was a peculiar design really. I hadn't taken a full look at it yet, but the pain I was going through couldn't have been more heavily embossed. It might have very well been orchestrated to house a dozen holes and, no kidding, lace to punish me for the sins I've conducted in my life, but I've never sinned! I've only been punished. Well, except for that one time when I lied in middle school. Then, that other time when I tried tripping Mioun out of boredom. Also, that other time when I tried pushing him down the stairwell because it felt incredibly enticing to, and that one time when I threw away a gum wrapper with spent gum in his boxer shorts.

I laughed maniacally inside my head. 

He jumped higher than Kangaroo Jack when he sensed the minute amount of salivated goodness. It was parfait!

Contemplating all my wrongdoings now, it was an unmistakable fact that I was acting as a terrible friend. Who could forget that time when I nearly drown-

Okay. Okay. Maybe, I did deserve the punishment, but wasn't this getting a tad bit overboard? If I were to be punished, I should have been locked in the highest tower, in the highest cellar, by myself like some wacko Rapunzel story. It'll be like those Lifetime movies where everything would start off like hell and dramatically conclude to a happy ending. Wait, was that right? There was a reason why I didn't watch Lifetime, but seriously, there were too many tying and tugging. I didn't know how long I could take it anymore without collapsing!

I blew hot air out of my nostrils and glanced over my shoulder where King Phillip, the divine harasser,  continued to be conspicuous on his tush, whilst prominently repressing his will to act on my pleas for help, as he turned the last page of his newspaper, muttering an almost inaudible, "I intend to,"

That was the last straw.

I hopped forward and broke free from the lady's desperate fingers. Any longer and I'd literally become octopus stew with hands like that, or worse, devoured oatmeal, so I was eternally grateful that my body was taking proper control and stomping its way to the arrogant figure, even if he was both evils in life.

He closed the paper, neatly folding it into a perfect rectangle as if the object of affection was his handkerchief, not a New York Times issue. It was unbelievable, even as I took my last step and placed my hands on my hips, awaiting his apology like my life depended on it because, from an insider's objectional perspectiVe, I needed it.

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