Another extract for the Jane Fairweather ebook, ‘Pathways’

Pathways

A complete novel

 pathways_detail_adult

 The distinguished English composer Alice Smithson has died. Her daughter Lizzie discovers an often fragmentary journal, which reveals that Alice had a relationship with a friend from her school days, which involved a lot of spanking. Lizzie is not altogether surprised, for her Mother was always a little odd about CP and there was that incident with the hairbrush when Lizzie was all of eighteen. However, she gradually realizes that there is a real mystery about the extent to which her Mother’s old school used corporal punishment. Was Elizabeth Rowan, Alice’s friend and later lover, a frequent recipient of the dreaded cane? And Alice used to tell such strange stories about her home life. Could some of them be true? This takes place against the background of Alice writing her first important work, “Pathways”, which the CP affects rather unpredictably.

 A Second Extract

In this extract the heroine of the novel, the composer, Alice Smithson wakes up in her Father’s house,where she has found herself comforting her normally much hated step mother, Felicity after his death and finds herself reliving something that happened many years before; something which everyone else has chosen to forget.

Coincidence is very odd. I woke up in the arm chair after about four hours. I was incredibly stiff, and I suppose I got up as much to stretch as to check on Felicity, who was in fact still out like a light. I walked back towards the armchair so I approached it from the side (I wasn’t thinking straight) and I started to shake like a leaf. I knew which armchair it was, though it is like half a dozen others in the bedrooms. It was the one I bent over the side of to be punished by Felicity, and I could remember those few terrified steps so clearly. I reached down as I had thirty years before, and clenched the cushion, and I waited for her to pull my skirts up, and whack me on the seat of my tights. This happened, though nobody believes me. Anyway I pulled myself together and sat down, still shaking. Then I got very angry, and I very nearly went and got a knife from the kitchen and cut her throat. This is the only time in my life I have seriously considered killing someone.

I got as far as the hall before an inner voice said ‘Ring Alan’.

This thank God I did. He was very patient. I often feel I give him nothing, and he gives me everything. I often wonder what his secretary thinks. She is a nice demure This thank God I did. He was very patient. I often feel I give him nothing, and he gives me everything. I often wonder what his secretary thinks. She is a nice demure woman, and she always calls me ‘Mrs Smithson’, which since I am either Miss Smithson or Mrs Kershaw as the mood takes me is quite funny.

He very sensibly said: ‘Write it down. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made up some  of it. You’ll get it out of your system. Just write it down.’

So Alice for your punishment you will write an essay of about five sides of paper on the subject of why you hate your step mother.

Well, there we are. Rather flippant, moody young lady aged eighteen arrives for a week with her Father and his new wife. Everyone, even her Mother, says that she must accept the situation.  None of the adults perhaps realize that she has been in the trenches  years fighting this Jezebel, this Felicity, and she has forgiven nothing. And she hates Felicity for living in this house. This is actually very unfair. Her Mother was very glad to leave a house with such bad memories, and they have got a very nice flat in Chelsea in exchange, which is much more convenient for the Royal College of Music . If Alice had any sense she would know that she and her Mother are much better off because of the exchange, but this is her house and she hates Felicity. She notices every little change, and she hates them all. But she does not say anything except to Elizabeth who is still at St Mary’s, and in the grand heights of the Sixth Form. She goes back for a day, and almost wishes that she had not gone to the Royal College of Music, and A.M.A. says ‘If you ever wanted to come back I am sure I could get you in to Somerville for Classics. The Advanced Class is ever so slightly dull since you left’. And Miss Alice Smithson returns to her former home blaming her stepmother for the fact that she will never return to St Mary’s, or do Classics at Oxford or Cambridge. Perhaps that was it, but the reason for the row was obscure. It could easily have happened a couple of days before, in fact nearly did.

Felicity came in to Alice’s room, saw her tights, and said ‘Only prostitutes wear tights dear.’

It may even have been meant as a bad joke, but Alice exploded, said Fuck you’ and every other expletive she had acquired since she went to London.

Result: an extremely Victorian lecture in her Papa’s study, which she expected to end with a punishment, but did not. Instead she was made to feel the lowest of the low: ‘You are not a common soldier, but a young woman of some beauty and some attainment, and I expect you to behave like it.’

So what actually happened. Alice got up on the following morning in a thoroughly bad temper. She knew that she would have to go to church, and she knew that her Father did not believe in God, and she hated it. She could have put stockings and suspenders on to reverence God, but she quite wilfully put tights on. Felicity however did not notice the difference. It is just possible that Alice was hoping that Felicity would notice she was incorrectly dressed, and ban her from going to church, which would have suited her very well. Possibly she was angry at not being found out. The only sure fact is that after breakfast Alice went in to the kitchen to help with the washing up, and suddenly not only swore at Felicity with a good deal more vehemence than the previous day, but added to this a passionate and totally unreasonable list of the sins of Felicity.

Most adults even then would have laughed it off, or reasoned with her.  However Felicity and her Father were distinctly old fashioned in such  matters, and she was sentenced to be punished with extreme rapidity. If she had had any sense, she would have run out of the house, or  refused to submit to the punishment before her mother had been consulted. Her mother as she kept telling them through her tears had said only a few weeks before that she was now too old for corporal punishment.

However this was ignored, and one very frightened eighteen year old found herself standing in her Father’s study, staring at the long very swishy cane in her step mother’s hand, which she had just been sentenced to six lashes with. The only choice she was given was whether to have it on her hand or her bottom. She chose her bottom because she knew she would not be able to play the piano if she had it on her hands, then went in to paroxysms of embarrassment at the thought of her Father watching her being caned on her behind. This was actually perfectly genuine, for Alice was very sensitive about her bottom at that age. It was however treated with a certain scepticism by the adults.

‘I really ought to stay and hold her ‘ said my Father, remembering no doubt  my last caning at home had turned into somewhat of a wrestling match.

 ‘I really will accept my punishment,’ I said: ‘but I don’t want you to watch.’

In the end my Father did go out, muttering if I made the slightest fuss he would come in and hold me down. As soon as he’d gone I felt terribly in the power of Felicity, and rather wished  he’d stayed.

Then Felicity said ‘I suppose you’ve got that awful panty girdle on. Take it off please.’

This was ridiculously complicated, for the tight rubbery girdle was under my tights. I was quite determined she wasn’t going to see my panties, so I pulled my tights down below my knee, and then my girdle over  them, and then found at the last minute I had to remove my shoes, which I did,   practically falling over myself, and with my heart going like a hammer. Then  I pulled my tights back up as decently as I could, and put my shoes back on. I had to do the laces up, and I kept wondering if she was going to take advantage  of my being in the right position to whack me, but she didn’t. When I stood up,  she gripped my arm very hard, and walked me over to the chair, before bending me  over it. Those few steps to the armchair seemed to take about five years, and then  a wait, which I never really knew the reason for and was probably less time than it seemed. Then the first of six tremendous whacks, and the sound of my  own voice screaming. I had considerable difficulty standing up after it, let alone sitting down.

 ‘You really should go to the police.’ Said Elizabeth the following evening: ‘You shouldn’t have let them do it to you.  It’s just not fair.’

This was I  think before A.M.A. had heard I was in the school again and summoned me to her study again for a chat (and quite possibly in the hope I would succumb to her hints about Greek at Oxford), which of course ended in E and she  having their contretemps and E quite possibly  being caned on the seat of her tights. I remember thinking she had no girdle on to interfere with the process like I had done the previous day. But was she caned or not. I really am very confused about that. I really am very confused about that. I certainly assumed she had and there were red lines on her bottom. Had she sat down on something? Or did I fantasise the whole thing? Certainly she denies it and I believe it.

But I wasn’t half confused about my own very real punishment. Half of me thought that my Father was  normally terribly fair, and that if he thought such a punishment was deserved it probably was. The other half of me thought it  was all Felicity’s fault, and it was terribly unfair. The second half on the whole won. At any rate I hated Felicity for it, even more ferociously than before.

I never told anyone. Possibly Mother guessed, or was told. Not  impossibly her dislike of nudity meant she never glimpsed the  multicoloured bruises that covered my thighs and bottom for weeks. Certainly she asked very pointedly how things had been with Felicity, but  possibly I was embarrassed by my feelings of guilt, and read too much in to Mother’s question.  Why did I feel so guilty? I really felt I deserved it, which is quite crazy – even when I was lying on the floor crying my eyes out, and Felicity was mocking me, which she did quite horribly. I really do not understand my younger self!

Well that seems a reasonably creditable essay Alice. Let us hope we do not have to repeat this little lesson.  But in heaven’s name Alice, why did you start in the second person, and end in the first. You are so careless Alice!

 It’s so hard to reconcile the white-haired woman in the bed with the raven  haired young thing who put me in my place so efficiently. She used to play  tennis and golf a lot, and her timing was rather good, even with the assistance of a three foot cane.

I thought it was never going to stop hurting.  I just lay on my bed face down all afternoon and wept, and it still hurts in a way. I quite often have a tight skirt on, and I always remember the way that particular white mini skirt stretched. If only I had had something thicker or looser on. I could not have been worse dressed for the cane. I wish I had asked to put thicker knickers on, but they would probably have laughed and anyway I was too stupid to ask.

Dare I talk about this to Felicity? Would she deny the lot?   Wonder if she had any idea how much she hurt me?  Did she just put on an act, or did she really  enjoy it?    God knows I was rude enough. Questions Alice, questions.  And I will never know the answers.

Why has Elizabeth forgotten that this happened? She saw the  great purple welts my step mother inflicted, and they were still  pretty impressive the day after. Perhaps it is simply that Elizabeth hates to admit that she herself had that very painful and humiliating punishment herself. But perhaps she is right and I just fantasise about these things.

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