There are 31 steps from platform to street. She’ll count them, now: he knows that. She’ll giggle if he got the number wrong; smile if he didn’t, knowing he’ll permit himself a happily-smug grin.

And tonight, after work? She’ll scamper her way up, as best she can in the rush-hour crowd. For she’s a good girl. An obedient girl. A girl who’ll be hurt, used, abused. Dealt with however harshly he feels fit. And submitting to him will make her feel cared for. Safe. Before the hugs.

But it won’t always be like this, that walk up those steps. There’ll be the time she wends her way slowly: each carefully-counted step bringing her fractionally nearer to the punishment she dreads. She’ll be early, then, so as not to exacerbate her predicament. Will walk around the block, the minute hand – checked oh-so-regularly – creeping closer to the hour of her appointment.

For girls sometimes need help to be good. Need to know there’ll be consequences should they let themselves down. Need to know that those will be severe, humiliating, unbearable.

His words will cut through her, even before he picks up the slipper. His reprimand, his disappointment, will force her to acknowledge yet again – as she has done so many shameful times since her nervous email of confession – that she had crossed that line which could only lead to one outcome.

For she’s a good girl. Usually.

She’ll be dealt with him as harshly as she deserves. As harshly as he feels fit. And being punished by him will make her feel cared for. Safe. Before the hugs.