Special thanks to HP for his contributions to this chapter.
If I’m being honest, what happened next was a fluke.
I had a plan for how to progress…but before I could do anything about it, our internet dropped out.
Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always been in charge of dealing with our ISP. When I was younger, it was something I was so proud of; I’m sure my parents could have dealt with it, but it made me feel important, grown-up. I’d happily spend hours on hold, doing whatever needed to be done to get the internet back up and running.
These days, it was a bit of a chore, but I didn’t mind doing it. As we’d gone from dial-up to DSL to Cable, my parents had stopped keeping up with the changes, so I was fairly sure I was the only person in the house who could handle it.
Then, all of a sudden, my slightly obnoxious responsibility became a boon.
I was asleep when it happened. For the second time in a month, I was awoken by my naked sister.
“Jacob. Jacob, wake up!”
She’d been in the middle of a show when the connection was lost. My sister, naked, pleading for my help – I swear I’ve had this literal dream before.
I stumbled out of bed and fumbled around with her computer, but nothing I did worked. After half an hour of impromptu middle-of-the-night tech support, I realized what had happened. It wasn’t just us – half the neighborhood had lost their internet.
There was nothing I could do.
Ashley’s panic levels went through the roof when I told her. I don’t blame her; aside from breathing, eating, personal safety, and trusting me, exhibiting her body and making money were her two highest priorities. The internet was her main source for fulfilling both of those needs.
My first instinct, of course, was just to fix the problem. Not by getting our home internet back up and running; there was nothing I could do about that. But I could have bought an internet dongle, or even just changed my sister’s phone plan to allow tethering.
Getting her back online would have been a piece of cake.
But it soon occurred to me…maybe this was an opportunity.
The longer my sister went without the internet, the more my sister would be deprived of outlets for her desires. She’d be desperate. Needy.
Fate had handed me a free card, and I was ready to use it.
After telling Ashley that there was nothing that could be done and instructing her to go to sleep, I crept into the small room, and readjusted my sister’s files. This time, I was sure to triple-check my every action; the internet dropping out had been a lucky break. I didn’t want to blow my chance.
‘Short-term wealth’ was restored to its former position in the middle of the drawer. I didn’t want her having a nervous breakdown about her income stream suddenly drying up.
‘Exhibitionism’ stayed where it was – opening it up and skimming through the files, I was surprised to see that things had changed. The order was different than I remembered, and it looked like new folders and subfolders had appeared.
It made sense, really. Before the iPhone, I’m sure that no one had “carry around a battery pack” as a priority. As your life shifts and changes, so must your files. Ashley spent so much time and energy on exhibitionism; her needs changed, and her priorities soon followed.
Last time I’d gone through, I’d been looking for ‘exposure to family members’ and come up short. That folder still didn’t exist – I could have added it, I suppose, but it seemed unnecessarily risky.
Especially considering some of the new discoveries I made within her folder.
‘Needing confirmation of exposure’ might have been there the last time I explored Ashley’s folder, but I certainly hadn’t noticed it. Or, if I had, I hadn’t understood what it meant.
The brain, my Dad had once told me, is extraordinarily malleable. I hadn’t really known what he was talking about (or why he was talking about it to me) but now I was starting to get it.
I’d made exhibitionism a high priority for my sister. With that need, had come insecurities, I guess. Showing off your body is all good and well, but if you don’t know that the other person has seen it, is it really exhibitionism?
I moved the sheet of paper to the front of her folder.
Getting attention is something that most people want naturally; exhibitionism is just a sexual take on the idea. Showing off your body to others fulfills a need to see oneself as attractive and desirable. Valuable.
My sister’s self-esteem folder had, I was sure, moved up since the last time I’d explored her cabinet. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that her self-esteem was any higher; it just meant that maintaining a healthy self-esteem was a higher priority.
I guess if your life revolves around your body being assessed by others, you need to take more time to ensure that your opinion of yourself isn’t altered. If strangers are sharing their opinion of you daily, you probably want to separate your self-worth from their opinions.
Opening the folder, I found a ‘Sexual Pride’ folder, front and center.
That certainly hadn’t been there when all this had started. I couldn’t help but smile to myself at the progress I’d already made.
I took the folder out and moved it higher in her priority list. She was so used to all those guys being fixated on her, heaping her with sexual praise. Without the internet, I’d be able to starve her of that, force her to find someone else to fulfill that role.
Closing the cabinet, I slowly left the room, my mind buzzing with plans.
The next morning, I was again woken up by my sister. This time, she wasn’t naked and desperate – she was fully-clothed and cranky.
“Jacob,” she hissed. “Jacob! When is the internet going to be up and running again?”
“Soon,” I grunted, but Ashley refused to let me sleep.
With a sigh, I got up and started making calls. Sure enough, the problem wasn’t going away anytime soon. When my sister was out of earshot, I told the ISP to take their time, that there was really no rush.
I’m probably the only person on earth who’s ever been grateful for the ineptitude of an internet service provider.
When I informed my family of the result, my parents didn’t really care (they mostly used the internet at work, and watched TV at home) but I could see Ashley’s face drop.
That night, Ashley dressed up to go out. She wore a black coat over the top, but her bare ankles and six-inch stilettos told me what her plans was.
She was returning to the stage.
Considering how excited I’d been when my sister had started stripping, you’d think I would have realized it would be her fallback option. She’d been fired from one club, but I’m sure there were others who would take her – especially if they were aware of her new career as a camgirl. I hadn’t yet seen any of her masturbation videos hit reddit or the torrent sites, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be long.
My sister was probably going to be internet famous before too long. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that.
As soon as my sister was out the door, I made a beeline for her cabinet. ‘Personal safety’ was still above exhibitionism, but clearly that wasn’t enough to deter her. After all, there were plenty of bouncers around – as long as she didn’t do anything stupid, she’d be able to get her thrills from the dozens of gawking eyes, in a relatively risk-free environment.
Even if I called the club and tried to get her fired or whatever, without ‘income’ as a priority, there were plenty of ways to show her body off.
I needed to do something to keep her in the house. Having the internet reconnected was an option, of course, but not one I wanted to take. No…something told me a better solution was somewhere in one of the endless folders in Ashley’s filing cabinet.
It was less than twenty minutes later that I found it. Within her ‘Socialization’ folder, there was a folder dedicated to ‘Avoiding Awkward Situations’.
Obviously no one likes awkward situations, but I guess different people prioritize avoiding them differently. I remember there was one guy in my gym class who didn’t seem to care who he offended, or how uncomfortable he made people.
Me, I’ve always hated that moment where you wave back at someone and realize they were waving at the person behind you.
Ew. Just thinking about it gave me the willies. Maybe I needed to move that folder back in my own cabinet.
Flipping through my sister’s awkward situations folder, I made a powerful discovery.
Unlike her ‘exhibitionism’ folder, this need did specify family members.
There were several subfolders: ‘avoiding socially awkward situations with friends’, ‘avoiding socially awkward situations with strangers’, avoiding socially awkward situations with colleagues’, and – to my delight – ‘avoiding socially awkward situations with family members’.
I’ve already mentioned that this filing cabinet defied all physics. Like, it controlled my sister’s priorities – that probably should have been the first hint that it didn’t follow the standard laws of the universe. As well as that, it went on forever. Like, I literally think there were infinite folders within the drawer – no matter how many I looked at, there were always more. Thin folders contained thick folders, some of them nested beyond all reason.
And all of it fit in a single drawer.
When I opened the ‘Avoiding Socially Awkward Situations with Family Members’ subfolder up, I noticed something else unusual. This folder had been inside ‘Avoiding Socially Awkward Situations’, which, in turn, was inside ‘Socialization’.
It looked like it contained a few dozen pieces of paper (though I suspect if I’d started counting them, they would have numbered in the hundreds), all of which managed to simultaneously be right next to each other…but also quite far apart.
Like, at the front of the folder was ‘Avoiding letting Mom and Dad catch me camming.’ Fair enough – that was clearly a high priority for her. The next piece of paper was titled ‘Avoiding talking to Mom and Dad about sex’, and then ‘Avoiding farting in the same room as Mom.’
But between the infinite papers specifying our parents and the first one about me, there was…a gap. Like, I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was there. And when I examined the gap, I discovered that not only did these folders sometimes nest infinite subfolders, they also contained the rest of the cabinet.
In the gap between ‘Avoiding Watching Movies with Sex Scenes while Mom and Dad are Around’ and ‘Avoiding letting Jacob find My Porn Collection’ were several folders – ‘Body Maintenance’, ‘Cleanliness’, ‘Cooking’, ‘Cleaning’.
Making a mental note that my sister was hiding her stash of porn from me, I kept exploring. The hidden gaps weren’t omnipresent, but once I knew what to look like, it wasn’t hard to find other examples: two adjacent pieces of paper, hiding entire folders between them.
It’s hard to know exactly what was happening, but I think the top-level folders showed how concepts as a whole were ranked in Ashley’s life. ‘Socialization’ above ‘Body Maintenance’ above ‘Cleanliness’ above ‘Cooking’. But as the needs got more specific, some of them were less important than others – hiding her porn collection from me, despite being nested under ‘Socialization’, was apparently less of a priority than cooking or cleaning.
Like, if she’d ever had to (for some reason) make a choice between me finding her porn and ‘ever getting to cook again’, she would have chosen the latter.
After a few more minutes of noodling around, trying to wrap my head around the impossible physics, I managed to figure out how it worked. I took Ashley’s ‘Avoiding awkward situations with strangers’ folder and – without taking it out of ‘Socialization’ – moved it to the front, just ahead of ‘Exhibitionism’.
The bouncers, I was sure, wouldn’t be able to protect her from the awkward interactions that I was certain would be a part of stripping.
After a few more moments of thought, I moved her ‘friends’, ‘colleagues’, and ‘ex-boyfriends’ folders as well. My goal was to build up Ashley’s frustration until she was ready to pop; if she could relieve her tension by just calling an ex or flashing a friend, I’d be left high and dry.
And if everything went to plan, this would just be temporary.
After a few minutes of flipping through ‘avoiding awkward situations with family’, I grabbed some of the key pieces of paper and moved them to the back, where I’d stashed her all of modesty-related priorities.
It was less than twenty minutes later when my sister returned home, a terrified look on her face.
“What’s up?” I asked casually, biting into an apple.
For a moment, I could see my sister’s struggle, but ‘Trust in Jacob’ clearly won out, and she told me.
Ashley had been onstage when it hit her.
It had only been a day since the internet had gone down, but she was already feeling the itch. That need to be seen. To be admired.
To be wanted.
She was used to the attention of thousands. Watching her shows, showering her in tips, in praise.
Each and every time she got off for the camera, she did so knowing that there were hundreds of eyes on her, feasting on her form. It turned her on more than anything, knowing that her naked body was the object of so much attention.
Her brother had told her that it was difficult to record a camshow, but a part of her knew that someone must be doing it. It wasn’t just the people watching her live – somewhere, her shows were being stored, rewatched again and again and again and again.
Every one of her shows, recorded for posterity. Potentially to be used as jerk-off material for years to come.
Nothing turned her on more.
And so when it had been suddenly cut off, she was already feeling the need. Less than twenty-four hours later, she was on the phone to her old job, begging for one more chance, for a spot on the stage.
She’d been refused, but the manager had thrown her a bone, and hooked her up with the contact details for a club he’d worked at in the past.
Within an hour, she had a spot on the main stage that night.
Ashley hadn’t stripped onstage for months, but her nervousness was overpowered by her desire to show off her body, to be lusted after.
It was more than a fetish. It was a need.
When she’d stepped onstage, a burst of adrenaline had rushed through her body. A performative smile had crossed her face, and she’d begun her old stage routine, the one she’d been practicing all day.
That was when it happened. She made eye-contact with one of the patrons: typically a highlight of performing live, getting to see the faces of the men you’re turning on, getting to see their reactions in person.
But the man she glanced at…he reminded her of one of her teachers.
It wasn’t him, she immediately established. It was just a random face in the crowd.
Ashley tried to continue dancing, but just the idea of it being her teacher was enough to throw off her rhythm. Sure, it wasn’t, but it could have been. And that was just the one face she’d looked at.
What if one of her teachers was there, at the strip club? A part of her wanted to find the idea sexy, but more than anything, she was overwhelmed by anxiety.
What if someone she knew was there? And the next time she saw them, she’d have to…they’d…
As the thoughts overwhelmed her, Ashley stumbled, setting off a new wave of panic. God, she’d missed a step. Everyone was staring at her, wondering what was wrong. What if someone asked? What if someone shouted something out, and she was expected to respond?
The manager had taken a chance on her, and she was blowing it. What if he confronted her?
The thoughts multiplied in her head as she tried to get back into her rhythm, but she couldn’t. She wanted to throw up.
God, what if she threw up? That would be…it would be…
Tears running down her red face, Ashley left the stage as quickly as she could. She hadn’t even unveiled her tits. All she’d done was get up on stage, start swaying, screwed it up, and then left in a flurry.
The crowd began to boo, frustrated at her sudden exit. The desire to go back on stage and strip for them briefly battled against her fear of the interactions that would follow if she turned around, and lost out.
Before long, Ashley was driving home, shaking with fear.
To Be Continued…
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Perhaps even the next chapter to this story.