Right, all that aside, lets jump into finishing off this blight on literature!
Oh yessss. We start the chapter with Ana waking up at 5AM with no Grey beside her. She wakes up because it's time to take her pill (she set her time for 8AM*? Really? Does she never ever sleep in or plan to?) and realizes that Grey is playing piano in his bubble of isolation again!!
Shrouded in darkness, Christian sits in a bubble of light as he plays, and his hair glints with burnished copper highlights. He looks naked, though I know he’s wearing his PJ bottoms. He’s concentrating, playing beautifully, lost in the melancholy of the music. I hesitate, watching from the shadows, not wanting to interrupt him. I want to hold him. He looks lost, sad even, and achingly lonely – or maybe it’s just the music that’s so full of poignant sorrow.
Awww look at him over there being an emo little teenager. He thinks he's people! Silly warlock! So Ana snuggles up to him and he keeps playing piano and being Obviously Upset. Ana is at least aware of the fact that he is capable of being upset at things that are not her.
“Well, I can’t sleep.” He frowns once more as a trace of irritation or anger flashes across his face. With me? Surely not.
I ignore his facial expression and very bravely sit down beside him on the piano stool, placing my head on his bare shoulder to watch his deft, agile fingers caress the keys.
However the act of sitting next to him is "very brave". She asks him to play the song he was playing last time and remains snuggled against his shoulder. That seems like a sub-optimal place to be when the other person is playing piano.
It is a hauntingly beautiful piece, sadder even than the Chopin, and I lose myself to the beauty of the lament. To a certain extent, it reflects how I feel.
Ana is like a teenager who just discovered Simple Plan. It's like they totally get her! So Ana, being Ana, naturally starts to pry about why he started to learn the piano (To please his new Mother. That shit is in the text) and Ana rather than thinking "This seems like a terse subject" goes "OH SO YOU COULD FIT INTO HER PERFECT FAMILY" and thankfully the topic is changed to Ana's birth control and how she was so stupid and silly to start it in another time zone!
Grey suggests they bang, Ana is all "NO LETS TALK!" and once again wants to talk about their relationship and where it stands and DIDN'T YOU DO THIS TWO CHAPTERS AGO?!
“So, let me be clear. You just want me to follow the Rules element of the contract all the time but not the rest of the contract?”
“Except in the playroom. I want you to follow the spirit of the contract in the playroom, and yes, I want you to follow the rules – all the time. Then I know you’ll be safe, and I’ll be able to have you anytime I wish.”
I'm actually confused about what this meant. The thing was almost all rules. So saying "just the rules count" isn't saying much.
Whoa. This has gotten serious so quickly. He rises from the piano and walks lithely to his study. My scalp prickles. Jeez, I need some tea. The future of our so-called relationship is being discussed at 5:45 in the morning when he’s pre-occupied with something else – is this wise?
NO IT IS NOT! Listen, I'm not saying all important conversations need to wait for an ideal time and place to happen. There is no such thing. You definitely need to make Important Conversations happen sometimes, even though the timing sucks and one or both or you is stressed. However, Ana doesn't know what's up with Grey. He isn't trusting her enough to let her in on that. It's his choice, and one she is being surprisingly respectful of (I'd be on him about The Situation not his Tragic Past myself) but she needs to consider he's going to be in a strange place right now. She has no idea where he is emotionally or mentally because she doesn't know what's going on, so she can't consider the factors that might be affecting him at all. You know, aside from the sleep deprivation.
So we get to see The Rules. Again. I don't begrudge it this time. I mean, we saw it six times in three chapters, but it makes sense that EL James would go over it again. The whole "Must be shaven/clean/made up/wear what he says/do her hair like he says/exercise/act modestly/can't drink or have fun" is all still there. The only one that got cut is food. So he still wants her to be super controlled by him. Her response is to roll her eyes. SPANKING TIME!
“You want to spank me now.”
“Yes. And I will.”
“Oh, really, Mr. Grey?” I challenge, grinning back at him. Two can play this game.
“Are you going to stop me?”
“You’re going to have to catch me first.”
Ana then makes a mad dash to the floor to ceiling window and free-falls- Sorry writing fan-fiction in my head again. No, they just circle the breakfast bar taunting each other. They're only being kind of obnoxious here. So they chase each other around the apartment.
I’m a child again, though that’s not right.
Cue the pigtails? So the whole scene is very playful. Fun even. Then Ana makes a bad.
“Anyone would think you didn’t want me to catch you.”
“I don’t. That’s the point. I feel about punishment the way you feel about me touching you.”
OH SHIT JUST GOT REAL!
His entire demeanor changes in a nanosecond. Gone is playful Christian, and he stands staring at me as if I’d slapped him. He’s ashen.
“That’s how you feel?” he whispers.
Ana realizes that maybe she isn't that opposed to being spanked. You know, with the whole naked horror at the thought of making anyone feel that way ever. She tells him "Well, not quite" and realizes that Grey is actually really serious about the not wanting to be touched thing. I'm curious if she'll keep pouting and demanding to touch him now that she can grasp how upset he is by it.
“You hate it that much?” he breathes, his eyes filled with horror.
“Well… no,” I reassure him. Jeez – that’s how he feels about people touching him? “No. I feel ambivalent about it. I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it.”
“But last night, in the playroom, you… ” he trails off.
Yes, funny how "playing" and "punishment" are seen differently Grey. Funny that. Ana explains that in the playroom, it's fun. As punishment, it's scary and she's afraid he'll hurt her. His response is to tell her he wants to hurt her, and she's all "Dude, seriously, what the HELL?" and he confesses that he actually knows EXACTLY why he wants to hurt her, but doesn't want to tell her because then she will get scared and run away and he doesn't want that.
Ana is too busy being all "HE WANTS ME!" to stop and consider that he doesn't trust her to make her own choice about if his issues are ones she wants to deal with and is withholding vital information for his own sake. Seriously, he's distracting her from the issue at hand with INTENSE FEELINGS! This is classic abuser type stuff guys. Scared now. Is the book going to end with him about to beat the shit out of her with a TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO! ?
“Don’t leave me. You said you wouldn’t leave me, and you begged me not to leave you, in your sleep,” he murmurs against my lips.
Oh… my nocturnal confessions
This is after the panicked passionate kiss. I get that this is being aggravated by The Situation but how emotionally manipulative is this? ALL OF THE EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION!
This is a man in need. His fear is naked and obvious, but he’s lost… somewhere in his darkness. His eyes wide and bleak and tortured. I can soothe him. Join him briefly in the darkness and bring him into the light.
So, let me get this straight. Ana is going into this saying "I CAN FIX HIM!"Ana thinks she can fix the manipulative, abusive, controlling man in her life. I may have a rage-stroke yet. Ana's theory on how to do this is to get him to beat her to her limit. Grey is confused. Mostly because she just pulled the "I LIKE BEING PUNISHED ABOUT AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE BEING TOUCHED" and that caused him to go into BSOD of horror and is now offering to do it on her own.
“You would try?”
“Yes. I said I would.” But I have an ulterior motive. If I do this for him, maybe he will let me touch him.
OH MY GOD ANA YOU ARE THE WORST PERSON EVER! Ana doesn't say this out loud, she just stops short of saying it, but Grey gets the point. Ana has said "Well, okay, I don't hate it that much, but I don't like it because I'm freaked out" and is now using this as leverage to get him to do something that makes him look like he's about to faint and/or vomit at the mere thought of making someone else feel the way he does about it. FUUUUUUUUUU
“I’ll show you how bad it can be, and you can make your own mind up.” He pauses by the door. “Are you ready for this?”
So he puts her over the bench, grabs a belt and goes into "Dom mode" and demands she counts as he hits her six times. The spanking is reading much like her first one. But worse. Kind of disturbing.
“Five.” My voice is more a choked, strangled sob, and in this moment, I think I hate him. One more, I can do one more. My backside feels as if it’s on fire.
“Six,” I whisper as the blistering pain cuts across me again, and I hear him drop the belt behind me, and he’s pulling me into his arms, all breathless and compassionate… and I want none of him.
“Don’t touch me!” I hiss. I straighten and stare at him, and he’s watching me as if I might bolt, gray eyes wide, bemused. I dash the tears angrily out of my eyes with the backs of my hands, glaring at him.
“This is what you really like? Me, like this?” I use the sleeve of the bathrobe to wipe my nose.
He gazes at me warily.
“Well, you are one fucked-up son of a bitch.”
“Ana,” he pleads, shocked.
“Don’t you dare, Ana me! You need to sort your shit out, Grey!”
Whaaaaat? Okay. So, 1) Doing BDSM wrong. 2) Ana had safe-words. 3) lolwhat? I honestly do not know what the hell just happened here. Ana first volunteers for this- at its most extreme, because she wants to touch him. Grey had said that he would probably stick to spanking as she learned to like it. He does what she asks him to. She screams and cries that he has issues and just shits all over his kink- and the book does play it as Issues, not kink. As in he needs to have issues to be into it. I just... I don't even have words.
So Ana leaves, betrayed that it hurts, and goes to hide in her room. She could go home. She could leave, but she decides to go to her room for space. So she goes to her room, in his condo, to sob.
I think of the couple of times he has hit me, and how easy he was on me by comparison. Is that enough for him? I sob harder into the pillow. I am going to lose him. He won’t want to be with me if I can’t give him this. Why, why, why have I fallen in love with Fifty Shades?
Know what? I'm going to treat Ana's angst like a sex scene.
My subconscious is shaking her head sadly, and my inner goddess is nowhere to be seen. Oh, this is a dark morning of the soul for me. I’m so alone.
Ana then remembers her Mother's Wise Words and thinks
I did follow my heart, and I have a sore ass and an anguished, broken spirit to show for it. I have to go.
And the thought of not seeing him again practically chokes me… my Fifty Shades.
"My Fifty Shades" is her pet name for him? Naturally Grey then comes into the room, because it is appropriate for the narrative.
“Hush,” he breathes, and I want to pull away from him, move to the other side of the bed, but I’m paralyzed. I cannot move and lie stiffly, not yielding at all.
“Don’t fight me, Ana, please,” he whispers. Gently, he pulls me into his arms, burying his nose in my hair, kissing my neck.
“Don’t hate me,” he breathes softly against my skin, his voice achingly sad. My heart clenches anew and releases a fresh wave of silent sobbing.
Wow. Just, wow. I don't even have words to tear apart how FUCKED UP this is. "I'm sorry I beat you please don't be mad." so then they just lay there for ages and he timidly tells her he brought advil and something for butt rubbing.
“I don’t want to go,” I whisper. Fuck – this is it. Pay or play. Tears swim in my eyes once more.
“I don’t want you to go either,” he whispers, his voice raw. He reaches up and gently strokes my cheek and wipes away a falling tear with his thumb. “I’ve come alive since I met you.” His thumb traces the contours of my lower lip.
“Me too,” I whisper, “I’ve fallen in love with you, Christian.”
His eyes widen again, but this time, with pure, undiluted fear.
Is it wrong that I laughed at this? His response is terror. I kind of love it. Alright, get your popcorn kids, it's time to watch this shit go DOWN!
“No,” he breathes as if I’ve knocked the wind out of him.
“You can’t love me, Ana. No… that’s wrong.” He’s horrified.
He then bops her with a rolled up newspaper.
Holy fuck. This really is it. This is what it boils down to – incompatibility - and all those poor subs come to mind.
“We’ll never get past that, will we?” I whisper, my scalp prickling in fear.
He shakes his head bleakly. I close my eyes. I cannot bear to look at him.
“Well… I’d better go, then,” I murmur, wincing as I sit up.
Gogogogogogogo don't stop to linger and stare at things keep going!
I have had my eyes opened and glimpsed the extent of his depravity, and I now know he’s not capable of love – of giving or receiving love. My worst fears have been realized. And strangely, it’s very liberating.
The pain is such that I refuse to acknowledge it. I feel numb. I have somehow escaped from my body and am now a casual observer to this unfolding tragedy. I shower quickly and methodically, thinking only of each second in front of me. Now squeeze body wash bottle. Put body wash bottle back in rack. Rub cloth on face, on shoulders… on and on, all simple, mechanical actions, requiring simple mechanical thoughts.
So. Dramatic. Ana must have sucked as a teenager.
My subconscious nods with approval. Even she knows not to be snarky right now. I cannot believe that my world is crumbling around me into a sterile pile of ashes, all my hopes and dreams cruelly dashed.
All of her hopes and dreams. All of them. They all revolved around Grey and his octo-cock. When Ana walks out into the living room Grey is screaming into the phone about a fuck up and to find someone. Ana quietly puts the laptop, blackberry, and car keys on the counter and Grey accuses her of trying to wound him by not wanting to keep them. She makes the decent argument of "I don't want any reminders" but just left the gift (a model plane) that she bought for him before with the note "A reminder of happier times" on his pillow. She's basically booby-trapped his bed. I suppose she's at least giving him the chance to hurl it out the window when she's not around.
“I don’t want you to go,” he murmurs, his voice full of longing.
“I can’t stay. I know what I want and you can’t give it to me, and I can’t give you what you need.”
He takes another step forward, and I hold up my hands.
“Don’t, please.” I recoil from him. There’s no way I can tolerate his touch now, it will slay me. “I can’t do this.”
YAAAAY! Ana is NOW asserting her boundaries and backbone! I get that leaving a relationship when nothing is "wrong"** is really, really fucking hard and painful. I've been there, I've done that. Ana also has to deal with "I'm in love with you and you're not in love with me" which is another layer of suck. In this exchange, despite the hamfisted writing, Ana is being reasonable.
I fall onto my bed, shoes and all, and howl. The pain is indescribable… physical, mental… metaphysical… it is everywhere, seeping into the marrow of my bones. Grief. This is grief – and I’ve brought it on myself. Deep down, a nasty, unbidden thought comes from my inner goddess, her lip curled in a snarl… the physical pain from the bite of a belt is nothing, nothing compared to this devastation. I curl up, desperately clutching the flat foil balloon and Taylor’s handkerchief, and surrender myself to my grief.
Ana has all the feelings. And this is it. That is the end of book 1. I am tempted not to do book two so I can imagine this is the ending. Ana leaves Grey because she realizes that a relationship with him is ultimately impossible, and despite the pain and agony is causes her, starts her new job and new life and after a lot of bad RomComs and wine with Kate moves on with her life. I would shit my pants in glee if this were the real ending. It takes a long time but eventually she meets some bookish, sweet guy. He doesn't do things like take her to lavish restaurants and extravagant helicopter rides, but he is constantly buying her books that he think she'll love, who is compassionate and sensitive. They spend many a sleepy Sunday curled up together reading, a quiet, comfortable sort of relationship. That is how this story ends in my head if I don't read book two. This book on its own becomes not about a HUGE ROMANCE but a woman who realizes that you can't fix or change people and sometimes relationships just don't work, no matter how badly you want them to. If this was the real end to the book, I might take back all the mean things I've said. Sadly, it isn't, and it was never meant to be. To quote the final line in the book:
End of Part One
Till 50 Shades Darker dear readers! Let me know what you think of the book now that we've seen it as a whole. I mean, EL James doesn't really "get" contained stories, or the concept of a story ark or plot, and the three books I'm certain just sort of meander into each other, but let's pretend that this book is a stand alone, and not just terribly edited.
*Time difference from Georgia to Seattle is alluded to here.
**I mean, I think there was lots wrong with it, but Ana didn't