She walks in and almost everybody looks. She’s done up nice. Her hair is fixed and her makeup is on and her clothes are clean and full of color. There’s nothing about her hair or makeup or clothes that are over the top, though. She looks just touched up enough to give off that womanly look of triumphing over the regularity of the human condition. But her look is by no means flashy. It’s light and crisp rather than heavy and thick. She’s more water-colored picture than oil painting.

She has donuts in her arms. Two boxes of them. Chocolate and glaze and they smell delicious. She sets them down on the table and tells everyone in the room they’re free to help themselves. Her smile is as clean as a glass of water purified from a heavenly glacier. Many in the room  get up and make their way to the table. A few of them can hardly wait to get back to their seats before they take a bite. Momentary flashes of pleasure sneak onto their faces as moist warm dough sinks into their taste buds.

But I’m not one of those who venture down to the table.  This is not because I don’t like donuts or don’t want one. It’s because I know this trick she plays.

They say there is a condition in which the victim of psychological abuse actually begins to empathize with their abuser. The victim, once he or she is delivered, will feel a strong desire to reunite with their accuser and resume their former state of punishment. They feel a sense of companionship with the one who had been hurting them and guilt over no longer filling the role they had in their master-slave relationship. Psychologists think this is because the victim has become emotionally connected to the attacker in an special, albiet grosteque, way.

Even if the connection is negative, any deep emotional experience with another human being wraps chains around one’s mind in some way. Over time those chains become heavy and near unbreakable, apparently.

And that is why I don’t take the donuts.

What she does is this. She comes in and brings everyone goodies and is nice and complementary and straightforward. She nods knowingly and smiles and no one ever knows the better. But then when you’re most vulernarble she destroys you. It takes a special breed of person to do such a thing. It’s almost insect or alien like. Spider like, maybe, is best of all. Because she knows that as soon as you take a donut, her first bite of venom has already made its way into your bloodstream. You won’t speak against her, surely, for she has been so kind to you. After all it was you who took the donut. She never forced you. You’ve entered into an agreement with her, and if – or rather when – she tells you to do anything, you’ll do it without questioning or asking why. Because if you don’t you’ll feel that pang of guilt and dishonesty. You’ll feel like a criminal, a moral tresspasser, a person who takes from people without giving back to them. But none of this works if you never take the donuts.

Unless of course, you’re just as much a spider yourself.

On second thought, perhaps I’ll get a donut. Why not make it two? And it would all be for nothing without the final touch. “Thanks so much for the donuts! You’re the best!”


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