June 22, 2017:

In late adolescence the majority of my female doctor's patients were of the lesbian BDSM subculture. The waiting room was taken by strong-looking, very beautiful young women with welts. I'd see them red and new, or brown and old, below the hems of long skirts, on lovely pure skin now defiled.

I remember some of them watching me watch them. Some responded, reasonably, as though their privacy were invaded. Others stared challengingly. Silently saying, Yes, this is what my life is. What is your interest?

I'm not sure now what I felt then. Curiosity, certainly. Pity, perhaps. An amorphous wish for them to find other avenues for exploring their sexuality. Which under the circumstances is one of the more conflictedly empathetic absences of empathy you're likely to encounter.

I think of them, sometimes, when I see women with injuries. Or movies which include scenes of torture. I find either of these things all but impossible to look at.