Never be too ready to own up

by Jo Green

My name is Michelle Hubbard. I am 17 and in the lower sixth in a rural secondary school. I am the youngest in the year and quite small for my age, standing at just over 5 feet tall in my stockinged feet. It has just turned spring in 1980. It’s a new decade and new possibilities abound. I have an excellent academic, sporting and disciplinary record at school. Until this point, I have no black marks against my name and I will most likely become head girl when I join the upper sixth next September. However, for a time that looked less likely when events turned against me in a most unexpected way.

My school is an old manor house bequeathed to the school board during Queen Victoria’s reign. Later expanded greatly, it now caters for around 800 girls. Sitting on 55 acres of land, it has playing fields and a working farm attached to it. Mr Jenkins is the sitting tenant who is in the fortunate position to pay a peppercorn rent in return for also acting as part-time caretaker of the school. This role is stipulated clearly in the terms of the bequeathment. As his major overhead has been removed, Mr Jenkins has joined that new eco-farming revolution which began back in the late 1960s. It is becoming more trendy and his cattle and sheep attract a good price as he is now fully organic. From the school, a green lane passes one of the large farm fields and goes to the main road through the village. It is a favourite with dog walkers and kids who are welcome to use the playing fields out of school hours.

My friend Pippa and I were walking home from school on that Saturday afternoon. Mrs Betts, our history teacher, had arranged a museum trip to Buxton for us and all the class had jumped at the chance to spend an early spring day in that lovely town.

“Damn! I have left my bag in the minibus, Pippa. I’d better nip back and get it. I hope Mrs Betts hasn’t gone yet.”

“Do you want me to come with you, Michelle?” Pippa asked me.

“No Pip, it’s fine. You get off home. It is starting to get a little chilly now. See you on Monday,” I said cheerily as I headed back, quickly, in the direction of school.

Moments later, I exited the green lane and saw Mrs Betts just unlocking her car which was parked next to the minibus.

“Mrs Betts! Mrs Betts! Hello!” I waved my arms like a mad woman, and Mrs Betts soon saw and chuckled.

“I presume this is yours, Michelle?” she said holding up my bag.

“Yes, Miss. Sorry about that. Pippa and I were too busy talking and we were near the farmhouse before I noticed, so I came rushing back. Thank you, Mrs Betts. By the way, that was a fantastic trip out. Have a lovely weekend and see you on Monday,” I said sincerely.

“You too, Michelle. Mind you don’t lose anything else on the way home,” she said smiling and got into her car and drove off in the opposite direction.

Soon, I retraced my steps and was back near the big field. As I approached the top gate, I saw Mr Brown, who owns the White Hart public house in the village, along with his two boys coming in the opposite direction kicking a football down the green lane. As we approached each other, we said hello but, just at that moment, his younger son, Adam kicked the ball. It bounced off Tony, his brother’s head, and landed in the field.

“I’ll get you that, Mr Brown. You stay with the lads. Would you just hold my bag please?” I said, as I jogged to the gate some 10 yards behind me, opening and closing it quickly because Mr Betts had his prize cattle in that field.

Quickly, I retrieved the ball which had landed in a fresh cow pat and, wiping it clean on the grass, carried it back to the gate which I opened and closed. I shook the gate several times to check it was shut before rejoining Mr Brown. I put down the ball and took my bag back from Mr Brown. I opened it, took out a thin carrier bag and put the ball inside.

“Sorry, it had landed in a cow pat. I have rubbed it on the grass but it will need a wash before the boys can play with it,” I said, pinching little Adam’s cheek.

“That is extraordinarily kind of you, Michelle. I will not forget to mention this to Mrs Jackson when I next see her,” he said in gratitude.

Mrs Jackson is our headmistress, with whom I get on very well indeed. She also teaches in the sixth form and takes me for English. I said goodbye to Mr Brown and made my way home. The rest of the weekend was taken up with church on Sunday morning, a lovely lunch at gran’s, and the evening finishing my homework before bed.

Monday dawned with a bright and sunny sky and clouds racing through it on a stiff breeze. After registration, we had a morning assembly which went as normal, until the very end. Mrs Jackson’s face suddenly became more stony than her usual warm disposition.

“Now girls, some of you will be aware that late on Saturday afternoon there was an incident at Mr Jenkins’ farm. Three of his prize cattle escaped through an open gate and had to be rescued from the green lane. Whilst I suspect this was as a result of carelessness rather than deliberate action, if I find out who was responsible they will be severely dealt with. One witness said it was a small girl, possibly a 2nd or 3rd former. If anyone knows anything about this, see me after school this afternoon. Dismissed!” With that, she turned on her heels and stormed off the stage back to her office.

My heart sank.

“Are you OK, Michelle, you look dreadful?” Pippa said.

“Sorry Pippa, I suddenly felt very light-headed. I am fine, but thanks for asking.”

I was now very worried. It must have been me. It was getting dark when I left Mr Brown. And I closed the gate, I know I did. I checked it, I think. Yes, I did, didn’t I? Oh, hells bells, it must have been me. What should I do? I jumped.

“Michelle?” Mrs Preston, the physics teacher, said. “Are you OK? You seem miles away and just staring into space.”

“Sorry Miss, I suddenly couldn’t remember if I had done something, but it is fine, thank you for asking,” I said, trying to sound perky and, I suspect, failing badly.

“Better get along. The first bell has just sounded.”

Mrs Preston disappeared up the stairs to her laboratory, while I had English with Mrs Jackson. Oh goodness, what should I do? The lesson was never ending.

“Michelle, are you ill? You did not seem at all yourself during the lesson,” Mrs Jackson asked after the bell rang.

“Sorry Miss, just something on my mind,” I stammered, fearful I would blurt it all out.

Next was double history. Then lunch, where I just sat, muttered a few words and ate nothing of my lunch even though it was my favourite shepherd’s pie and gravy.

During the next free study period I decided I must see Mrs Jackson and explain. The final lesson was games. This week, it was badminton in the school hall. Although quite small, I am swift on my feet and have great eye/hand coordination, and can generally beat anyone in the school, with the exception of Mrs Joyce, the games mistress. Today, I lost both the games I played; the first 21 to 8 and the second 21 to 2. Even Mrs Joyce asked if I was alright.

After games, I packed my school clothes in my bag and stayed in my PE kit of white tennis shoes, white socks, white polo type shirt with the school badge on the pocket, and maroon mid-thigh-length pleated sports skirt with matching maroon panties underneath. We are allowed to go home in PE kit if the weather was warm enough. I slipped away from my friends and made my way down the dark corridor towards Mrs Jackson’s study. This is in the original part of the manor house and is narrow and lined with dark oak. Any sound echoes loudly along it. I reached the old oak door with a large engraved brass sign saying, ‘Mrs E Jackson Headmistress’.

I knocked, and Mrs Phillips, the headmistress’s secretary, opened the door.

“Err, happy birthday Mrs Phillips,” I said in reaction to the four birthday cards on her desk.

She smiled, thanked me, and showed me through to Mrs Jackson’s inner office, closing the door behind her. The headmistress was reading some papers. It took a few seconds for her to notice my presence.

Looking up eventually, she smiled warmly. “Good afternoon, Michelle. I hope you are feeling better. You did not look at all like yourself in class this morning. What can I do for you?”

“Well, Miss,” I began. “It is about what you said at the end of assembly this morning.”

“Oh, good! I presume you have some information about who was responsible. We are assuming it is one of the younger girls, but there is always the possibility it was more than one. If you are able to shed any further light on this, that would be good. I know you got back from Buxton a little later than expected, so you might have been there at about the right time,” she said, puzzled at my reaction. “Or is it something else you have come about? I may be putting 2 and 2 together and making 5?”

“No Miss, that is what I have come about. I think it may have been myself that caused that incident on Saturday,” I stammered, afraid of the consequences of my words.

“You? You!” she shouted, not in anger, but in disbelief. “It couldn’t have been you. Why would you go into the field? And you certainly are not silly enough, even by accident, to leave a gate open.”

“I met Mr Brown, from the pub, and his sons. One of them kicked his football over the wall. So that Mr Brown didn’t have to leave the boys, I fetched the ball back for him. I closed that gate. I am sure I did, and I checked it. But, the catch must not have engaged properly. I presume a cow rubbed against it, and it came open, hence the cows escaped. Miss, I am so, so sorry. That is why I have been off all day, Miss. When you said what had happened, that was bad enough, but when you said it was likely to have been a 2nd or 3rd former, well I put 2 and 2 together and made a very positive 4! I couldn’t live with it and not own up. So, here I am, Miss. I realise you are going to have to punish me. I knew that from assembly this morning, and I have been dreading this moment all day, Miss.”

“Oh, Michelle! You of all people. That said, I did not expect anyone to come forward and own up, so that is greatly in your favour at this point. But yes, I am afraid, as I said in assembly, the culprit, if found, will be punished.”

“Sorry Miss, I really don’t know how it happened. I have run through it in my head all day, but I just can’t make sense of it. I realised you would have to take action when I came forwards. That is why I left my PE kit on, Miss. I thought it might help to, err, get things over more quickly and easily,” I mumbled, playing with the hem of my PE skirt.

“You are as considerate as ever, even at this time.” Mrs Jackson smiled affectionately, then a more sober expression set in. “My intention, depending on what was found out regarding Saturday’s event, was to punish the culprit severely. However, your explanation, contrition and honesty has made me think differently now.”

“Please Miss, I do not want any, er, special treatment,” I butted in.

“Nor will you get it either. However, all those factors taken into the calculation, I have decided your actions do not merit the cane, even across your hand. Nor does it deserve the plimsoll. Instead, I will simply put you across my knee and spank you,” she decreed.

A cold shiver went down my spine when the cane was mentioned, and that was what I was expecting, but on the bottom, not the hands. The slipper would have been richly deserved, I thought. Her suggestion of a spanking was at the lower end of the spectrum. Never did I believe that the headmistress saying she was only going to spank me with her hand across her lap would sound such a relief.

“Thank you, Miss,” was about all I could muster.

“Very well,” she said as she walked around her desk and turned the chair in front of her desk to face out from it rather than in.

Gently patting her right thigh, she quietly but with authority said, “Alright, Michelle, neither of us really want to be doing this, but please come here.”

She motioned to her right hand side.

“Bend across my lap.”

I, of course, obeyed. Standing by her side, I could feel the warmth of her leg against mine. As I leaned forward and lay over her, the effect became more noticeable, and was almost comforting. Being short, I was now left dangling in mid-air, my feet and hands hanging an inch or so off the ground and my entire weight was upon Mrs Jackson’s thighs. I felt so, so exposed.

“I am sorry to have to do this, but hold still and it will soon be over, Michelle,” she said.

I felt my sports skirt being pulled up, exposing my maroon panty-covered bottom. Could the humiliation get any worse?

“I know, Miss. I knew when I knocked on the door I would be getting some kind of punishment.”

And then, right then, the humiliation just got a whole lot worse.

A rap on the door was followed by the sound of it opening. There stood Mrs Phillips with a cup of tea in her hand and a shocked expression on her face. We both looked at her. Mrs Jackson froze, hand perched a foot or so above my bottom mid-spank, and I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.

“Oh, I, er, I’m so sorry,” and with that the door closed. Clearly, Mrs Phillips also did not expect the outcome of my seeing the headmistress to be this one.

“I am so sorry, Michelle. I should have told her to hold my calls,” Mrs Jackson said with real feeling. “Now, let’s get this over with.”

I felt her exhale, and her hand came down smartly on my bottom. The sudden pain made me jump. A second spank followed and the pain spread further across my bottom. I felt my head and breasts bobbing with each impact of her hand on my tight, muscular buttocks. More smacks soon followed. I had feared the slipper, or even the cane, so I was counting my blessings all the same.

As Mrs Jackson spanked me, the smacks sounding quite loudly, I worried how much Mrs Phillips could hear, especially as she had seen me perched on Mrs Jackson’s lap with my skirt pulled up. Although the pain was bearable, the whole situation had become too much and I broke down sobbing, not quiet tears, almost a howl. Soon, however, I felt her hand hit home and stay there.

“There, Michelle, your spanking is done,” she said gently.

She pulled my skirt back down, probably to symbolically mark the end of the punishment. I laid there sobbing for a few seconds before wriggling, with her help, back to my feet. I could not resist the urge to rub my bottom and did so, gently at first, and then more vigorously.

“Thank you, Miss, for being lenient with me. I I cannot imagine how the cane would have felt, Miss.”

“Here,” she handed me a tissue. “Dry your eyes and get yourself off home. A line is drawn under this and will not be mentioned again.

“Thank you, Miss. Goodnight.”

As I opened the office door, Mrs Phillips sheepishly stood and said, “Michelle, I am so sorry I burst in like that.”

“Good night, Mrs Phillips. Happy Birthday, what remains of it,” I said, still unconsciously holding one hand against my sore bottom.

“Elizabeth,” I heard Mrs Phillips say as I dropped out of sight in the corridor. “I am so sorry. I never thought Michelle would be in that position.”

“That makes two of us, Monica. I have one more thing to do. Are we still on for a quick birthday drink at the White Hart on the way home? I can only have one as I am driving.”

****

Half an hour later, Mrs Phillips and Mrs Jackson entered the White Hart with Mr Brown standing behind the bar.

“What can I get you, Monica? My treat.”

“I will have a rum and black, please,” Mrs Phillips replied cheerily.

“Good evening, Malcolm. A double rum and black for the birthday girl,” she said smiling back at her secretary. “And a half of lager and lime for me, please. And get one for yourself as well.”

“Why, thank you, Monica.” Whilst he served the drinks, Mr Brown said, “Did you catch the girls that left the gate open?”

“Actually, she admitted it herself, and in fact I have just spanked her soundly for it,” Mrs Jackson said.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth? The girl? There were two of them; the Tomsett twins,” Mr Brown said, confused. “You know, the postmaster’s daughters.

“No, Malcolm, it was Michelle Hubbard. She came to confess after school. The poor sweet thing was petrified, but she even wore her PE kit to make things easier for me,” Mrs Jackson explained.

Taking the drinks to the table where Mrs Phillips was seated, Mr Brown pulled out a chair as sat with the two ladies.

“I’m sorry, but begging your pardon, Elizabeth, you were not there. I was.”

“Yes. Michelle said she went in to retrieve your little boy’s ball,” Elizabeth added.

“That is correct, Elizabeth. She brought it back, and even put it in a carrier bag as it had landed in some cow mess. That girl has a heart of gold, no doubt. She closed the gate, and she even checked it. I saw her, so it was not her.”

“So why did she confess?” Mrs Jackson asked.

“After she left, we walked down the lane and I could see the Thomsett girls playing with a frisbee or something at the bottom of the field. I let the lads run about for a bit and in the gathering darkness we raced each other home. The girls were still in the field as we went by. It was the bottom gate, not the top one, that was later left open. Michelle never went near that gate.”

“Oh damn!” exclaimed Mrs Jackson. “What have I just done?”

“You acted on the evidence,” Mrs Phillips said, by way of comfort. “And Michelle did confess.”

“No one mentioned which gate. We all assumed it was the same one.” Mrs Jackson was visibly upset. “I am out most of tomorrow, but I will make sure I am back before the final bell. Get a note to Michelle to come to my office after school. Also, get a note for the Thomsett twins to be there first, Monica. I will deal with them and apologise to Michelle, in that order.”

The following afternoon, a note went out to the twins to go directly to the headmistress’s office when the last bell went. They knew the game was up! Mrs Phillips also popped her head into Michelle’s class 5 minutes before the bell. Having glanced in Michelle’s direction, she whispered something to Mrs Martin and disappeared.

As the bell sounded, Mrs Martin dismissed the class.

“Michelle, can you just hang on one moment, please? I have a message for you from Mrs Jackson. She would like you to pop into her office. Don’t rush, it is not urgent,” said Mrs Martin.

I gathered up my bags and made my way to the office, thinking I’d rather get this done with. Unusually, the outer office door was open and Mrs Phillips invited me in and offered me a seat. I could hear voices from the inner sanctum. Mrs Jackson sounded cross, very cross indeed. I struggled to grasp what was happening, but soon my ears turned in.

“It was stupid and careless! Anything could have happened.”

Then I heard a drawer slamming shut.

“I want you both to bend over my desk and pull up your skirts. You will both receive 6 whacks with my plimsoll on your knickers.” There was silence for a moment. “Come on, Carol, I haven’t got all day!” Mrs Jackson barked. “Now stay there until I tell you that you may stand. If you move, that stroke of the slipper will be repeated.”

Bang! What I assume to be the sound of plimsoll on knickers made both myself and Mrs Phillips jump. Strangely, Mrs Phillips smiled at me. There was an audible screech from within and a second bang. I heard a ‘yow’ sort of sound accompanied by what sounded like crying, but not from the same person. Whack, the third hit home followed by the fourth and now it sounded like two people crying, one sounding more pitiful than the other. Two more wallops hit home.

“Very well, Matilda. Stay where you are and think about your actions. Now, Carol, your turn. Stay still, you are about to have something to really cry about.”

Boom. The plimsoll made it’s acquaintance with a fresh target. – Carol screeched in pain. Whack number two was greeted with an equally strong reaction.

“Stay still or you will get an extra smack, Carol,” Mrs Phillips warned.

“Ahh!” was the reaction to slipper stroker number 3. After that, the remaining three were quieter in reaction from Carol. She sobbed loudly, but other than a slight high-pitched noise, she was largely silent.

“Right, you are done, Carol. What a song and dance you made of that! Now both of you stand up and straighten your skirts. Get out of my sight and get off home. I will be having a word with your father regarding your conduct and for not coming forward. Indeed, someone else thought they were guilty, owned up and had a sore bottom last evening as a result. I rather hope your father puts you across his knee as well. Now get out,” Mrs Jackson told them.

Mrs Phillips gave me a knowing look just before the door opened and two red-faced fifth formers, the Tomsett twins, filed out, tears streaming down their faces.

Mrs Jackson appeared in the doorway, smiled warmly, and asked me to come in. I stood, slightly confused and slightly shocked by the sight of the plimsoll left out menacingly on the desktop.

‘Surely not,’ I thought.

“Good! I am pleased you heard that,” Mrs Jackson said as she offered me a seat. “It was those two that left the bottom gate open, not you and the top one. Mr Brown had seen them and he told Mrs Phillips and myself last evening.”

Mrs Jackson saw me looking at the plimsoll and put it out of sight in her drawer.

“That is such a relief to hear. I genuinely thought it was me.”

I could have hugged her.

“Unfortunately, I cannot un-spank you for yesterday’s mistake. So, I thought the next best thing would be to at least let you hear justice being finally done. Hopefully, after I telephone their father and tell him what has happened, they will get a second spanking before bedtime,” she said, grinning at the prospect.

“Personally, I think getting the slipper from you was enough, but I will not shed a tear if they are turned over their father’s knee as well. After yesterday, I wouldn’t have minded putting them across my knee,” I said with unusual venom.

“Believe me, Michelle, if I could have, I would have let you do that,” Mrs Jackson said, smiling warmly. “Maybe, as head girl, with all the duties that involves, which includes the light spanking of the lower forms, you just might get your revenge. Good night, Michelle.”

“Good night, Miss,” I said.

I grinned all the way home at that very prospect.

The End

© Jo Green 2022