One of my favourite songs is written in G major—a simple, serene, almost happy chord. Then suddenly it moves out of key for only one note. Against the serenity, that syllable is turned into a vitriolic piece of agony. The A minor note is very far away from the melody dictated by the chord, and it’s the longest and loudest one in the whole song. So not only is it the most chaotic note possible, but the most obvious one, too. From that point, the song keeps creating dissonance only to move back into key to resolve that dissonance, a constant shifting between the visceral and the docile, into harmony and then out again, with each move adding to the resonance of what came before.
E and I began in G major. We got involved without knowing one another’s sexual proclivities, and we got sexually involved without admitting them. The first time he wondered into degradation, it sang with the same kind of visceral beauty as that A minor key—it was louder, longer, and more affecting than any I’d ever known. I was too stricken to move.
I once consented to something thoughtlessly, wondering with him into territory that was dangerous for me. I remember little about that night beyond his moving directly out of the moment. I remember his, “What is it, sweetheart?” I remember how he spoke to me in every way I needed to be spoken to. I remember his tone. I remember being spoken to until there was no way to doubt that he could be trusted to have absolute control. Against his degradation, his compassion became a kind of resonant, long, loud note. My safety was turned into absolute safety.
It was the continuous shattering and resolution of dissonance that I
loved most about E. Before him, my relationships had had no resolving of the dissonance that was there: the A minor and the G major had coexisted constantly. Something had been out of key.
E said very early on that he was going to make sure I was always craving sex because that was the only way I’d fully understand what I was made for, and that is exactly how it ultimately worked. Because he was the only one who’d ever strung me out on that much lust, I did find out that was what I was made for. And so he turned me into his whore and his toy and his hundred other nasty ways of saying I was nothing more than a series of holes made for him to use as he saw fit. He drowned me in sex. It was like being broken in like a horse.