A shared love of literature leads two girls to a life-changing moment
By Charlie Gardner
It wasn’t obvious why Deborah Clarke and Emily Ferguson had become the closest of friends. The two girls had sat next to each other by chance on their first day at senior school in 1975 and remained inseparable ever since. By the end of their lower sixth year Debbie, who had always shown a passion for music, had developed into an exceptional cellist. A willowy form and delicate face, topped with a mass of chestnut curls, made her a graceful, attractive figure on the concert stage and she was expected to go on to music college and possibly to an international career.
Emily, on the other hand, was tone-deaf, banned from the school choir because she couldn’t sing the simplest tune without wandering off-key. Her life revolved around sports. The previous year, Emily had smashed the under-17 county record for 800 metres, taking a full three seconds off the previous best time. Her coach hoped she would be selected to run for England before too long. Nearly five inches shorter than her best friend, Emily was slim and athletic. Her short, blond hair and her habitual jeans and t-shirt gave her a tomboyish appearance.
On the face of it, the two 17-year-olds had nothing in common beyond their dedicated, even obsessive, pursuit of excellence in their fields. Their only shared interest was a love of literature, and the two had been rivals for the top place in English since they first came to the school. One or the other had won the English prize in five out of the last six years, and it came as no surprise to Mr Bannister, their English teacher, that the two girls chose to cooperate on their Summer holiday project.
Their choice of subject was less expected. “John Betjeman?” he queried. “I would have expected you two to choose a younger author to study, someone more topical and gritty.”
“It’s our final Summer holiday project,” replied Emily. “So, Debbie wanted something nostalgic for our swan song.”
Mr Bannister nodded. “That’s okay, but Betjeman is a more complex poet than most people realise. If you want a good grade you’ll have to look deeper than the well-known, sentimental verse to the harder core beneath. You know, it might be a good idea to start by reading Summoned by Bells. It’s an autobiography of his early years, but in verse instead of prose, and it’ll help you to place the rest of his work in context. I’m sure you’ll find a copy in the school library.”
So, on the first Saturday of the holidays, the two friends settled down to read through Mr Bannister’s recommendation. With her feet tucked underneath her, Debbie sat on her favourite armchair in the bay window that overlooked her parents’ garden. Emily curled up on the bed opposite. As usual, they read aloud to each other, taking alternate sections and going slowly to savour the unfamiliar verses. Every so often they would take a few moments to talk about Betjeman’s style and use of language or to reflect on the poignant description of his early life.
Emily was reading when they came to a few lines about Maud, the hateful nurse, and the punishments she inflicted on the young Betjeman. “That awful feeling, fear confused with thrill,” she read. “As I would be unbuttoned, bent across her starchy apron.”
Hesitating, Emily looked over at her friend. “I don’t get that, Debbie. How could it be a thrill? It sounds so dreadful.”
Debbie sat up. “Weren’t you ever punished when you were little?”
Emily shook her head. “My parents didn’t believe in corporal punishment so they never smacked me. Sometimes I was sent to bed early for being naughty but mostly they just went on and on at me until I was crying too much to listen.”
Debbie thought for a moment. “Come over here, Em. I want to show you something.”
Emily uncurled herself and stepped over to the bay window. As she came closer, she felt Debbie’s fingers hooking into the waistband of her jeans.
“Whoa, Debbie. What’s happening?” she began.
“You want to understand the confusion of fear and thrill? You need to know what it feels like to be spanked,” Debbie replied as she undid her friend’s jeans. “Imagine I’m Maud unbuttoning you. I don’t have a starchy apron to bend you across, so my summer dress will have to do.”
By now, Emily’s jeans were around her ankles. Timidly, she asked if it was going to hurt.
“Duh! Of course it will, you silly thing. That’s the point of a spanking. It stings a bit and your bum will be red and sore for an hour or two afterwards. But it’s nothing compared with the pain you put yourself through every day in sprint training, so stop being a baby and bend yourself over my knee.”
Stepping out of her jeans, Emily hesitantly did as she was told. Debbie’s hand rested lightly on her bottom for a moment and then started a series of gentle smacks, alternating from cheek to cheek.
“This is how Mum used to spank me,” she said between slaps. “She would tell me how much she loved me and how sorry she was that I needed to be punished. Not quite like Betjeman’s experience because Mum was always quite gentle at first. I felt safe and cared for, but I was always pretty sore by the time she’d finished.”
Debbie went on with the gentle spanking for a couple of minutes and then paused. “It’s going to start stinging a bit now, Em. Are you all right?”
“So far,” came the quiet reply, followed by a little gasp as Debbie’s hand landed firmly on her bottom. The crisp smacks came at regular five-second intervals. Emily began to wriggle and squirm on her friend’s lap, with the occasional “oh” and “ouch” showing the spanking was beginning to have its effect.
After a couple of minutes, Debbie paused again. “Mum always finished with some hard ones. She said it was to make sure I remembered her lesson. I’m just going to give you six and I want you to count them out loud. Now, lift your hips a little before I start.”
Emily gasped as Debbie quickly pulled down her cotton panties revealing a cute bottom, already as pink as a summer rose.
“Yee-ouch!” squealed Emily, shocked by the vigour and resonance of the first hard slap. Her foot came up and her hand instinctively went back to cover her bottom.
“None of that!” said Debbie sternly. “Mum would give me extra if I tried to protect my bum, or if I forgot to count the strokes.”
“Sorry, Debbie. That’s one,” said Emily hurriedly. “Ouch! Two.” She bucked and twisted as three more slaps landed and there was a sob in her voice as she counted them out.
Debbie stopped before the sixth to admire the bright red bottom draped over her knee.
“Just one to go,” but the last is always the hardest. Don’t forget to count it and stay in position until I say you can get up.”
“Understood,” panted Emily, yelping in pain when the final slap crashed into her bottom. “Six,” she sobbed as Debbie’s hand started to rub her bottom soothingly. They stayed like that for a moment or two before Debbie let her friend get up.
Emily’s eyes were watering as she pulled up her panties. “Oh God. Debbie! That was so intense.” Stepping forward, she wrapped her best friend in a hug and held her tightly for several minutes. They eventually parted when Emily suggested they needed to get back to work.
As Emily gingerly pulled her jeans over her smarting bottom, Debbie commented on her nice legs.
“You always wear trousers. You should wear a skirt more often, Em. You look totally great in skirts.”
Emily considered her limited options. “Mum always wears trousers and I guess I’ve just copied her. I’ve got skirts for school, of course, and a couple of party dresses, but that’s it really.”
“I’ve got just the thing for you,” said Debbie, picking a creamy yellow mini-dress out of her wardrobe. “This is quite pretty, but I’m so tall that it’s too short for comfort. You should have it. It would look stellar on you.”
Emily took the dress and held it at arm’s length for a better look. “Thank you. It’s lovely.”
“Why don’t you wear it when you come next Wednesday?” Debbie paused and smiled at her friend. “It would save all that fuss of unbuttoning.”
Emily looked coy and blushed a little. “Okay,” she murmured.
© Charlie Gardner 2020