A girl needs to clear her conscience

By Tom Green

April was a bright 16-year-old who had just entered the lower sixth year of St Mary’s girls school. This was run by a mixture of regular teaching staff and nuns supervised by a priest, Father Mark, who was effectively the headteacher, assisted by Sister Jane.

As well as the normal school activities, Father Mark led two services a week in the church to which the school was attached and offered both communion on the Tuesday and confession on the Thursday. The service was at the end of school on Thursday, and any girl who wished to make confession was welcome to stay and do so. Usually, only 7 or 8 girls would do so, but some weeks there were only 1 or 2.

April had been a little down over the past week or so and no one quite knew why.  Even Sister Alice, her form teacher, was concerned.

“Whatever is the matter, my child?” Sister Alice asked in the most beautifully soft Cork Irish accent you could imagine.

“Nothing sister, honestly, there is nothing the matter,” Alice replied unconvincingly.

“I think we both know there is. If you won’t tell me, what about your mammy?” she suggested kindly.

“No, honestly, sister, can we just forget about it, please!” said April, getting emotional.

“Talk to Father Mark, after service, either in church or, if you need to speak in confidence, speak with God in the confessional,” she proffered.

“I’ll think about it, Sister.”

“No April, you will do it, if only to put my mind at ease,” she said in an almost hypnotic tone.

Smiling for the first time in days, April agreed. There was little point in fighting. “Alright Sister, have it your way.”

The day dragged by and at 3.30 pm the school decamped into church for Father Mark’s service which lasted around 25 to 30 minutes on a good day, or 45 minutes if he had a bee in his bonnet about something. Today’s was one of the shorter ones and lasted exactly 26 minutes for everyone else and 2 hours, or so it seemed for April.

“Now girls, may God be with you, bless you and watch over you. Go in peace and be careful going home. Should anyone wish me to hear their confession, please wait at the back and I will be with you presently.”

Thankfully, April sat alone at the back of the church. She was dreading there being a long line.

“Ah, April isn’t it? Welcome. I do not believe I have heard your confession before, have I?” Father Mark said kindly, gesturing her towards the confessional booth.

Father Mark was a towering six feet seven inches, was as thin as a bean pole and spoke with a Liverpool accent.

“No Father, I have not been to confession since before you joined our Church and school,” she said meekly.

“Well, you are here now and that is the important thing. Shall we?” he said kindly as he took his place in his side of the confessional box.

April hesitated with nerves before sitting in her side. She drew the outer curtain and kneeled on the felt-padded rail. Father Mark drew the curtain separating them. April gulped, her mouth as dry as tinder. She tried to remember what exactly she had to say.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been many years since my last confession. These are my sins, Father.”

“Please tell me your sins openly and honestly, and tell me how many times each sin has been committed,” Father Mike responded.

“Father, I have done a very bad thing.”

April was not a very good Catholic. She believed devoutly in God, but did not really get the whole ritualistic side of it, unlike her parents.

“Pray tell me, child, what is on your conscience? Everything you tell me will be held in the most Holy confidence and only you myself and the Lord himself will ever know. Tell me everything so that I may absolve you of your sins and worries,” he said gently, sensing April’s great reluctance to open up to him.

“Well, Father, it was the weekend before last. I was in the woods, you know, near the car park on Park Lane,” she began.

“Yes child, I know that place. It is very pretty at this time of year with all the leaves turning to an autumn gold and yellow vista. Please do continue,” he said, encouraging her on.

“Well, there is a huge old conker tree and I was trying to get some conkers off the tree so my brother Tom and I could have a game over the weekend. I found a rock the size of your fist and was using that as a projectile to get the conkers off the tree. The tree is quite close to the car park.”

“I believe it overhangs it, does it not?” he interjected, not to correct her but to show he was fully conversant with what she was saying.

“Err, yes it does. That is sort of the problem. I have a strong arm and managed to hit a branch which shook and dropped 7 or 8 conkers in one go. I threw again and the branch snapped. It must have been weak, Father. Well, it fell and hit a car parked just about underneath it,” she said glumly.

“I see, and what did you do then?” he asked, sensing she was about to close up on him if he were not careful.

“I recognised the car. It belongs to Mrs Bennett, the head dinner lady. I was petrified that she had seen me, and I have been skipping lunch since,” April confided.

“I see, but did Mrs Bennett actually see this happen?” Father Mark asked.

“Sort of, yes. She was just returning to her car after walking her dog. She shouted something along the lines of, ‘Oy you, don’t run off, you little rascal. Come back here!’ as I legged it into the woods. I could not see what damage had been caused, but there must have been some, Father.

“I see, and what if anything have you done about it since?” Father Mark asked, keeping a kind tone.

“Well, Father, that is just it; nothing. I have kind of hidden away and it is getting me very down, Father. It was Sister Alice who suggested I come today.

“As it happens, I have heard the other side of your story from Mrs Bennett’s side,” Father Mark said in a more sombre tone.

“Really Father? In confession?”

Father Mark stopped her. “No, she spoke to me in the dining hall last week, saying a girl she thought was from this school had knocked a branch onto her car. She was angry that she had run away. It was, as far as she could see, an innocent accident with no malice intended. The branch had put a slight dent on the rear wing of her car. Mrs Bennett said it joined several more she had picked up over the years. If you had said sorry, she would have forgiven you. She was cross, but more about you running away rather than facing the consequences.”

“So what should I do, Father?”

“Well, I will absolve you of your sin and you can go and apologise to Mrs Bennett for what happened and your actions afterwards,” Father Mark said kindly.

Thank you, Father. That is such a weight off my shoulders.” April felt a huge sense of relief at confessing.

“I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. You may go in peace with God and make peace also with Mrs Bennett.”

With that, the curtain closed and April heard Father Mark leave the booth. She did the same.

“What is that?” asked April, looking at the Father’s hand.

“It is Mrs Bennett’s address. She lives within a 5 minute walk from school. I assumed you would not wish to make amends in the dining hall?”

“No, indeed. That is very kind, Father. Thank you, and have a good evening, Father.”

“You too, April. Go in peace and under God’s grace,” he said as he walked down to the front of the church.

April looked at the address. Her mother would be out until at least 7 o’clock and dad even later, so she thought if she went around now she could get it out of the way and her parents would be none the wiser. April knew where the address was and set off, feeling good again and eager to make amends. By the time she got to Mrs Bennett’s home, it was a little after 4.30 pm and the smell of cooking was evident. April made sure she looked smart in her blue knee-length skirt, white blouse, and matching blue cardigan with the school emblem on the breast pocket. She knocked quietly at first, then, after a few seconds, more robustly.

April heard footsteps as a figure growing larger in the frosted glass front door as Mrs Bennett approached.

“Hello, my dear. Can I help you? Amber, isn’t it?” Mrs Bennett said in a tiny, high-pitched squeak as she opened the door.

“Begging your pardon, Mrs Bennett. No, it’s April, April Brown, Mrs Bennett,” April said nervously.

“Ah, yes. Don’t stand in the chill air, come on in. Can you pop your shoes off, please. There’s a good girl. Come on through to the kitchen, it is nice and warm in there. What can I do for you? You look as though you have the troubles of the world on your shoulders.”

April always liked Mrs Bennett. She had no children of her own, but occasionally took in foster children before her husband passed away.

“Sorry, if this is a bad time. I can see you are busy, Mrs Bennett.”

“Not at all, April. I have just put a cottage pie in the oven. Now, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Mrs Bennett asked.

April, looked down at the carpet and then back up at Mrs Bennett.

“Speak up, girl.”

“Sorry, Mrs Bennett. I am struggling to find the words. I have been in confession with Father Mark. I wanted to tell you what I confessed.”

“Stop there, April. That is between you, the Father and the Lord himself,” she said seriously.

“Only for the Father. I can tell anyone I choose, and Father Mark suggested I do just that. He gave me your address.” April showed her the piece of white paper with her address beautifully written on it.

“So I assume, April, it was you in the woods?”

“Yes, Mrs Bennett. I panicked and ran off,” April said, sounding very contrite.

“If you think about it, doing what you did was silly that close to a car. Luckily, I suppose, mine is an old banger and, truth be told, if it was not for the fact that belonged to my husband, well, it probably would have been in the scrap yard a year or so ago. Yes, I was cross at the time, but if you had just come and said sorry I would have forgiven you and offered you a lift home. I mentioned it to Father Mark because I thought I recognised the face, but I wasn’t sure. I have been keeping an eye out at school ever since.”

“I have been missing lunch, Mrs Bennett, as I feared that was the case. I am very sorry, Mrs Bennett.

“Well, I appreciate your honesty, even if it is a bit late. However, I cannot forgive you for running away and hiding. Now I know who it was, I will contact your mother. and let her deal with you as she sees fit,” she said gruffly.

“Please, Mrs Bennett, please don’t do that. We are having, er, issues at home; teenager/parent stuff. I am sure you know what I mean,” April pleaded.

“Sadly, the Lord did not grant me that blessing.”

April’s face dropped.

Mrs Bennett continued, “but yes, I understand what you mean. You have confessed to Father Mark, which I admire, but you still deserve to be punished.”

April was looking at the carpet again, wringing her hands. Swallowing hard, April looked up once more.

“Then would you punish me? Mum is at the end of her tether at present, what with my idiot brother and father working away most of the time. It’s all getting her down and this would just be one more thing she has to deal with. I am not sure how much more she can take.” April sounded most sincere. “She is working far too many hours so that dad does not have to do even more hours driving his lorry.”

“I have never punished anyone your age before. A couple of smacked legs when our foster children needed it, but nothing else. Are you sure about this? I can ask Father Mark or one of the nuns perhaps?” Mrs Bennett asked.

“No, Mrs Bennett. You were the injured party. It is only right that you should exact punishment,” April said.

Secretly, she did not want either the Father or a nun punishing her. The nuns had a tendency to cane, whilst Father Mark had a slipper. April did not fancy any of those on her bottom.

“Very well. If you would please take off your cardigan so I can see my target. Pop it on the back of the chair by the door,” Mrs Bennett said as she placed an armless chair in front of her couch and sat her ample bottom upon it. “I think I will have you over my knee, April.”

April dutifully bent herself across the waiting lap, making herself as comfortable as possible for the spanking to come. April could feel her pleated skirt pulling slightly more tightly across her bottom.

“I am going to spank you now. Don’t struggle,” Mrs Bennett requested as she raised her hand and smacked it down with surprising vigour.

April felt her bottom wobble and almost vibrate as the spank took hold. A second and equally strong spank soon followed. It was already beginning to sting more than April had expected. Three more spanks followed swiftly.

“Hold still,” said Mrs Bennett. “I think we need to pull this up.”

With that, she grasped and raised the hem of April’s pleated skirt and drew it back across her already sore bottom. Pink blotches were already visible on the parts of April’s bottom not covered by her panties. Mrs Bennett began spanking again. A more effective ‘slap’ sound was now evident with only a very thin piece of cotton protecting April’s bottom.

However, weak elastic in April’s panties took its toll, and they began creeping down as the spanking continued. Mrs Bennett had to unceremoniously pull them back up a couple of times in an attempt to preserve poor April’s modesty, or what was left of it as she was perched in this most undignified of positions.

Mrs Bennett realised she was probably spanking April harder than maybe was appropriate. However, as Mrs Bennett wanted to teaching the girl a good lesson, she decided to continue for a little longer yet. She did, however, begin to talk to April as a prelude to finishing the punishment.

“I am bitterly disappointed you could not own up to your actions. I hope this spanking helps you to see that. All I would have done, had you owned up at the time, would have been to accepted your apology and give you a bit of a telling-off. That would have been the end of it. You have brought this punishment on yourself. Now, up you get, dry your eyes and sort out your clothing, April.”

“I am sorry, Mrs Bennett, and you are 100% correct. I have no one else to blame,” said April, accepting the offer of a tissue from the box on the table. “I can honestly say that was a most painful hand spanking. I certainly won’t be looking to repeat that error any time soon.” April tried to smile, but failed for the most part.

“May I offer you a cup of tea or anything whilst you gather yourself together?”

“No, thank you, Mrs Bennett, but that is really kind of you to offer. I had better get home as mum will be back in a short while and I would like to make myself presentable before then. Thank you!”

“For what?” asked Mrs Bennett.

“For doing what needed doing.”

“Get yourself home safely, April.”

“Good night, Mrs Bennett. I will see you at lunch tomorrow.”

Next day at registration, Sister Jane asked April if she had spoken to Father Mark.

“Yes Sister, he heard my confession and directed me to find a solution to my inner conflict,” April told her.

“And did it help?”

“Yes sister, it did,” April said, before explaining what had happened and that Father Mark had suggested visiting Mrs Bennett.

“And what did Mrs Bennett say?” Sister Jane asked kindly.

“She told me that she forgave the accident, but couldn’t forgive me for running away. She gave me a good spanked bottom, Sister.”

“Let’s hope I don’t have to do the same. Now get off to your lesson,” she said, planting her hand firmly on April’s bottom and sending her scooting out of the room.

The End

© Tom Green 2022