Friends are not always what they seem
By Marcella Cabana
My name’s Marta. Forever in trouble at school, I was a real tearaway. Always in the headmaster’s office, and this was in the days when we still got the cane. I didn’t get it every time, of course, but more than enough. Sometimes, I kind of deserved it. Others, I got it just for being let down by idiots. Like this one time my so-called friend, Carla, was supposed to tell me when the teacher was coming down the corridor, as I’d slipped a pretty wild film in to show the class. She had one job to do, but no! Six whacks I got for that and, what was worse, my next one was only two weeks later. Imagine how that felt.
Here’s how it happened. We were in science class and the teacher had us copying direct from books, which was what we did when he couldn’t be bothered to plan anything.
“Just open your books,” he’d say. “And copy paragraphs 6 to 9.”
Unn! So, there was a procession of kids taking unnecessary toilet trips. I watched as that dumb-ass Carla put her hand up and brightly asked for permission to go. The teacher nodded her out.
So, naturally, I got bored.
I started larking around and doodling, and doing anything but my work when suddenly the teacher said, “Stop! Marta, come here.”
Unsure of what he meant, I went up to his desk.
“This is your homework?”
“Got my name on it, doesn’t it?”
“Then would you care to explain this?”
He whipped the paper around to the reverse side where there was a doodle of him, the teacher! And he was not wearing anything and was, you might say, not well endowed.
My eyes widened. I’m not often lost for words but he had me then.
I hadn’t done it. And I had no idea who could have.
He pulled a red slip of paper out, and as he filled it in he said, “When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity. Einstein said that. And you will soon be discovering that he was quite right.”
The science teacher grinned as he handed me the punishment slip.
I looked at it.
Not working. Doodling rude pictures on homework. Signed Prof Oriole.
I raised my eyes to the sky. “Sir, I didn’t do this.”
“This is your homework, is it not?”
“If it wasn’t you, then who was it?”
“I don’t know, sir. But it wasn’t me.”
“What do you take me for, Marta? An idiot? I know you too well. Now get to the director’s office.”
“Sir, I-I’ll do detention instead, ok? I’ll stay tonight.”
“No, Marta, you won’t. We’ll get through to you one day, whether it’s through here,” he tapped his head. “Or here,” And you can imagine which part of his anatomy he indicated.
The class giggled.
I rolled my eyes, determined to stay cocky in front of the others.
And I trudged out of class towards the director’s office. But once I was out in the corridor, I was alone. And then I had a few seconds to think on what was coming, and I suddenly felt bitter and angry and resentful.
I loitered a bit in the loo, but it was no good. I might as well get it over with.
I knocked on the door.
The director was at his desk, surrounded by papers.
I walked over to him, trying to look confident and assured.
“Got this, sir.”
I handed him the red slip.
“Do you mean to tell me that the effect of the last caning I gave you lasted only two weeks?”
“No, sir. I remember it well. But it wasn’t me, sir. I didn’t do it this time. It’s Professor Oriole. He’s got it in for me.”
Then he said the words I’d hoped never to hear again.
“Bend over. Four strokes for your insolent cartoon, one for poor attention in class.”
“As if I was the only one not working in that class,” I muttered.
“Right, six it is then. You need to learn to keep your mouth shut, young lady. Perhaps this will help you!”
Groaning, I bent down and touched my toes, and my long hair fell about my eyes. Through it, and through my legs, I could see the headmaster’s knees and legs and polished black shoes.
Crack! I shuddered as the cane struck where my bottom had just healed from before.
Crack! A pause. Crack! I bit my lip, determined not to give him the satisfaction of making a sound. Crack! Yes, Einstein had been right. Each pause between strokes of the cane, as the damaged nerve endings woke up angrily across my buttocks, felt like an hour.
Crack! I screamed internally, but held my tongue.
Crack! I’d done it. Not a sound. Slowly, I stood, avoiding his eyes.
“Back to class.” And he sat back down at his papers, like he’d just had a cup of tea, instead of whacking a teenage girl and giving her a really sore backside!
The cane is nothing like the slipper. It really goes right through you.
So I pushed the study door open, and who’s outside? Carla!
She was looking straight at me, her arms folded, a wide grin on her face. She’d been standing outside the door, listening to me getting caned!
Now, my mind was very much on rubbing my newly thrashed, red hot backside, so before I could react, she trotted back to class on her heels. I limped to the bathroom, my head swimming.
It wasn’t long before I worked out that she’d done the cartoon, too. Of course she had. What a friend she was, eh? Gets me thrashed, stops speaking to me, then does it again out of spite.
When I’d calmed down, I decided that my next school project would be getting Carla’s backside warmed up again. I chewed up ideas and spat them out. I plotted and schemed. And then, I decided how I would take my revenge.
© Marcella Cabana 2022