A schoolgirl has a difficult choice to make

by Kenny Walters

Mr Miller had been a reforming new school principal when he arrived two thirds into the last school year. Now, a quarter into the current year, he had made me head girl, a post that previously had not existed. Old Oak School was a private all-girls school with around one hundred and fifty students from age six through eighteen.

Previously, the school, which has foundations in the local church community, had been overly strict and old-fashioned in too many ways. The uniform, which we all had to wear, was archaic; black blazer, grey pleated skirt that had to be at least three inches below the knee, white blouse, black and white striped tie, white knee length socks and black shoes.

Now, Mr Miller didn’t change things too dramatically or too hastily, but the skirt length was brought up to date by allowing a shorter length, up to two inches above the knee, and trousers were allowed as long as they were smart and grey in colour. Blazers became optionally; very much appreciated in the Alabama heat. The school day was better organised and we found ourselves with time for private study, along with classes that were less chaotic.

Discipline wasn’t greatly relaxed; the same old rules mainly applied, but the punishments were less austere. The cane, unusual for a school in this part of the world, was still used, but much more sparingly. In theory, all teachers were allowed to cane, but most used the typical American wooden paddle. Really, the caning offences were limited to absconding from school, being violent and having smoking materials on your person. In his first year, Mr Miller caned just four girls; two for having tobacco and two for fighting. It actually wasn’t much of a fight, more a pushing and shoving contest, but both accepted their punishment of four strokes across the seats of their skirts as fair and reasonable. The old Saturday morning detentions were abolished and replaced by detentions in free time, from five minutes up to thirty minutes, although you might have to serve several detentions for the one offence, maybe every day for a week. The one catch was that you had to serve your detention standing facing a wall out in the hall, which meant everyone passing by knew you were being punished. It proved to be a system that worked much better than when you had to come into school on a Saturday and spend a boring three hours just sitting there.

I guess Mr Miller, being a male principal in an all-girls school, had a few qualms about caning girls because he did allow girls to have a female teacher of their choice administer the punishment, as long as that teacher was willing to do it. He also allowed girls to consult with their parents before the punishment was carried out, and either a parent or fellow student of the girl’s choice was allowed to attend as a second witness.

My duties as head girl amounted to basically helping the staff with routine stuff like keeping order as the girls went from one location in the school to another, and some administrative work. Sometimes I had to supervise a class if a teacher was called away for some reason. I was allowed to issue certain punishments; detentions of up to thirty minutes, although I had to supervise my own issued detentions.

Now, I have to admit I enjoy the odd cigarette now and again. I don’t class myself as any kind of heavy smoker, but I find it relaxes me on the way to and from school, and being that I now drive my own car into school, well, it harms no one except for my own health. Being that I’m eighteen years old, it is still illegal for me to smoke, so I always needed to be very careful and not allow anyone to see me smoking, which wasn’t a problem in the confines of my little Volkswagen Beetle.

The problem was, several of the teaching staff also smoked and knew I liked the odd cigarette myself. So, once I’d become known as the head girl who helped the staff with odd little duties, they became more and more friendly in their attitude towards me, and when they took a little sneaky cigarette break, usually behind some bushes surrounding the staff car park, they sometimes also invited me to have one too. In fact, they did it so often I began to feel guilty about always taking their cigarettes, and so I started to carry my own packet in order that I could return the favour. That, too, wouldn’t have been a problem, except that not all staff members agreed with the practice.

One of those who didn’t was Mrs Hobtree, the ancient school secretary who had served the school for many years and wasn’t totally in support of Mr Miller’s reforming ways. Thus, when she happened to be searching for a particular member of staff, who also happened to be taking a cigarette break, and she found me present with a lit cigarette in my hand, it led to me having to visit with Mr Miller in his office.

“Come in and take a seat, Amy,” Mr Miller said as I entered. He gestured me towards a comfortable looking chair in front of his desk. “Mrs Hobtree tells me she found you smoking on the school premises. Is that true, Amy?”

“I’m afraid so, sir. Yes.” Well, I could hardly deny it, could I?

“Do you have smoking materials on your person right now, Amy?”

“Yes, sir, I have a packet of cigarettes and a lighter in my bag.”

“Look, Amy, I can’t honestly say I wasn’t aware you smoked. I suppose I’ve been turning a blind eye to some extent, and as long as you were discreet I’ve kind of not considered it my business. Unfortunately, Mrs Hobtree doesn’t have the same liberal view.”

“No, sir,” I agreed, while giving my lower lip a small bite.

“Look, you’re the head girl, for darn sake. I can’t really punish you as I would if one of the other girls had been caught out like this. Go out to your car, put the cigarettes and lighter in your glove box out of sight, and make damn sure you never actually bring smoking materials into the school building again. Okay?”

“Yes, sir. I mean, I only brought them into school because some staff members offered me cigarettes and I felt awkward always taking them and never offering them in return. Otherwise, I would have left them in my car, like you say, sir.”

“Of course, it would be far better all round if you simply didn’t smoke, Amy.”

“Yes, sir,” I conceded.

“Maybe you need to not accept if any member of staff offers you a cigarette, Amy. Then you won’t feel beholden to them.”

“No, sir. I’ll do that in future, sir.”

“Okay, well, go put your cigarettes and stuff in your car and then get on with your classes. Okay, Amy?”

“Yes, sir.”

I left Mr Miller’s office feeling relieved that I’d come through what could have been a difficult interview relatively unscathed. I noticed Mrs Hobtree looking up at me as I passed through her office out into the hall.

“You okay, Amy?” Maggie Summers, asked as we crossed paths. I guess I must have seemed deep in my thoughts or something for her to question my appearance. Maggie was a year younger than me, but we both shared an interest in playing soccer for the school team.

“Me? Yes, fine, thanks Maggie.”

I continued out of the main entrance door as I headed for where my car was parked. I’d struggled to find a parking space that morning, so it was a good five minute walk away, and that gave me time to think. Would Maggie have got the same treatment from Mr Miller, I wondered. Would being a year younger and with no special status mean she’d have been treated differently? Or would he have applied the automatic caning rule for her having cigarettes in school? I guessed the latter would almost certainly have been the case.

When I reached my car, I put the cigarettes and lighter in the glove box so they were out of sight. My cellphone was already there. That was another rule; no cellphones in class. See, I was a good girl in that respect.

I didn’t have a class for another half hour, so I sat in my car and thought about things. I already knew it wasn’t exactly right that a lovely girl like Maggie Summers would have had to suffer a painful chastisement, had she been stupid enough to do what I had done, where simply because I was head girl I got away with it. I did what I always do when I’m worried about something; I phoned my mother.

Now, my mother is a good listener and she quickly cottoned on to my quandary as I explained what had happened to her.

“Why not be grateful you got away with it on this occasion? Then, just make sure you don’t get caught again.” She, too, knew I smoked, although she didn’t approve. In her eyes, she didn’t feel there was much of a problem.

“Yes, but it’s not really fair, is it, mom? If I wasn’t head girl then I would be punished for what I did.”

“No,” she responded thoughtfully. “It isn’t exactly fair. But then the staff only offered you cigarettes because you’re the head girl and your duties mean they’ve come to regard you as almost a fellow member of staff. If you were just another student, the problem wouldn’t have arisen and you wouldn’t have felt the need to reciprocate. Look, it’s your choice. Go get your backside whipped and you can have a clear conscience. How about that?”

I didn’t reply immediately. I kind of knew it was what I should do, but I didn’t want to do it. When I didn’t speak, mom decided to.

“Another thought you maybe need to consider; if it gets out you were caught smoking and yet weren’t punished for it, how is that going to look? I think you’d lose a lot of respect.”

What respect would I have if everyone knew I’d had my bum caned?” I replied.

“More than if they knew you were let off, darling.”

“I really don’t want to do that, mom. Get myself caned, I mean.”

“I realise that, darling. But then, sometimes we have to make painful choices.”

I thought again. Mom was making sense, but then she usually did. I really didn’t want to do it, but I knew I really should go back to Mr Miller and ask for my due punishment.

“Look Amy,” mom continued. “Why don’t I come into school and we’ll do this together. Okay?”

“Are you going to ask Mr Miller to cane your butt too, mom?” I teased. At least I hadn’t lost my sense of humour.

“Funny! But I’d like to be there for you, darling,” she added.

“Mother! You sound like you want to see me get my bottom whacked!”

“What? No, of course not, darling.”

“Are you sure, mom?”

“Darling, if I wanted to tan your backside I’d do it myself!”

“Yes, mom.” I kind of thought it best to stop that line of discussion right there. “No, there’s no need for you to come into school, mom. I can handle this perfectly well.”

“Are you sure, darling?”

“Yes, mom, I’m sure.”

I was soon back in the school building, standing in front of Mrs Hobtree’s desk.

“What can I do for you, Amy?” The good lady looked up from her computer. Her expression conveyed a certain sense of distaste.

“I was wondering, could I have another word with Mr Miller, please?”

She was clearly surprised by my request.

“Um, yes, just one moment.”

Mrs Hobtree stood up and went across to the door to Mr Miller’s office, knocked and peeled open the door halfway. I heard Mr Miller readily agree to see me again.

“You want another word, Amy?” Mr Miller asked. I was again offered the large comfortable chair in front of his desk.

“I’ve been thinking, sir.” I responded as I settled myself into the deep padded upholstery.

“Uh-huh,” he responded like he wasn’t sure he’d like what I was about to say.

“Well, I met Maggie Summers, just after our previous, um, meeting here, sir, and as I went to my car I got to thinking, what if she had been the one caught with cigarettes on her person? Would you have let her off like you did me?”

I looked at the school principal, a tall, rather good-looking man in his early fifties, with silver-grey hair.

“Oh, that was a question, Amy?” He answered after a bit. “Well, she’s not head girl and anyway, isn’t she a year younger than you?”

“I believe so, sir.”

“Well, then she’d have had to be caned. That’s the rules.”

“And rules don’t apply to the head girl?”

“Hold on here, Amy.” Mr Miller gave me an odd look. “Are you working your way around to asking me to cane you?”

“Not exactly, sir.” I fidgeted in my chair, my comfortable chair that was soft and nice against my butt. “I was just struggling with the fairness of it all, sir.”

“I see your point, Amy.” Mr Miller kneaded his fingers as he entwined his hands together. “I suppose it isn’t exactly fair, Amy. Not now you bring it to my attention. I suppose I’ve got used to treating you as halfway to being a member of staff, and although I definitely disapprove of members of staff smoking on the premises, well, I can hardly punish them, can I?”

I chuckled at the thought.

“I guess not, sir.”

“So, does that answer your question, Amy?”

“Actually, it didn’t. I was even more confused.

“So, are you saying I should be let off because I’m in a sense halfway to being a member of staff, or should I be bending over your desk?”

Mr Miller chuckled. “I don’t know, Amy. What do you think?”

I wasn’t going to tell Mr Miller what I really thought; that I should most certainly be bent across that desk with my butt making a good target for him to aim his cane at.

“I have a number of different thoughts, sir. One thought is what would the other girls think if they found out I’d been let off?”

“That’s a fair point, Amy.” Mr Miller twiddled his fingers thoughtfully. “I think we could justify it by taking account of your special relationship with the school as our head girl. And that’s always supposing anyone found out, which shouldn’t happen by rights.”

I frowned. I wasn’t at all sure too many of the girls would see it that way.

“I don’t know, sir. These things have a way of getting out.” I thought of Mrs Hobtree as I spoke, not always the most discreet of ladies.

“Unfortunately, I have to agree.”

I took a deep breath.

“I think we have to do it, sir. That way there can be no come-backs.”

“Wow! Did I really say that?

“If you’re sure, Amy?” Mr Miller didn’t move, he just looked quizzically at me.

My heart pounding, suddenly breathless, I uttered: “Yes, sir. It has to be done.”

“Okay,” Mr Miller spoke quietly and slowly. “So, how do you want to do this, Amy?”

He was asking me?

“Um, I don’t know, sir. Should I bend over your desk? That’s what I supposed would happen.”

“Okay, that’s good with me. I suppose we’d better have a witness. Do you want to give your mother a call, Amy? Would you like a particular teacher? Maybe you’d like a fellow student? Maggie Summers, perhaps?”

“Oh no, sir. She’s just someone I happened to meet. And I don’t think it’s necessary to drag my mother in. How about Mrs Hobtree? Could we use her?”

“She has certainly witnessed two canings, Amy. I can ask her.”

“Okay, sir.”

Mr Miller got up and poked his head through the door.

“Mrs Hobtree, could you come in, please?”

Our beloved (!) school secretary couldn’t get herself in fast enough. I wondered if she’d been eavesdropping. She distanced herself both from me, now standing to one side of the desk, and Mr Miller who was back sitting down.

“Mrs Hobtree, Amy is concerned she shouldn’t be seen to be getting away unpunished after having been caught by you, smoking on the school campus.”

“Yes, I see that.” Mrs Hobtree nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, that could prove very awkward to explain away. If the incident became common knowledge, I mean.”

Did I see her lick her lips? Was it her heart I could hear pounding away, or was it just mine?

“I guess it’s kind of brave of Amy to come and request a punishment that she didn’t really have to take.” Mr Miller continued.

“And what punishment would that be, Mr Miller?” The secretary asked. And did I detect nervous tension in her voice?

Mr Miller thought for a moment. “I don’t see any purpose in applying anything more than the standard punishment for this type of offence. Amy? Mrs Hobtree?”

The principal looked to each of us for agreement.

“Unless, you feel that because of her position as head girl she should have been even more rigorous in keeping to the school rules, Mr Miller?” Mrs Hobtree blurted out before I even had a chance to reply.

“Like six strokes instead of the usual four? Is that what you’re suggesting, Mrs Hobtree?”

“That does sound about right, Mr Miller.”

The damn bitch! At least, that’s what I thought to myself. I couldn’t think of an easy and quick answer.

“Amy?”

Crafty! Mr Miller diverted the suggestion in my direction. What could I say?

With an unfriendly look at Mrs Hobtree, I said the only thing I could say.

“I see the merit in what Mrs Hobtree is saying, sir.” I was beginning to shake with something; nerves, or anger with Mrs Hobtree?

“Okay, ladies, six it shall be.”

Mr Miller got up and went over to a tall metal cabinet at the back of the room. Mrs Hobtree and I exchanged glances. She was enjoying this, I just knew it.

In next to no time, Mr Miller was back and standing in front of his desk with a length of pale yellow rattan in his hand, straight, about two and a half feet long, and with blue tape wound around one end to form an easy-grip handle.

“Okay, Amy, I guess we just need you to bend over my desk. If you’d prefer, you can bend over the back of the chair. It’s up to you.”

I looked at the two options. There was really nothing in it. If I went for the chair, then we wouldn’t need to drag it out of the way, and the upholstery wrapped over the back which would make it more comfortable for my stomach than the hard edge of the desk.

“Let’s go with the chair, sir.”

“Okay. You want to step round and bend yourself over the back?”

I nervously sauntered round to the back of the chair, exchanging looks with Mrs Hobtree as I went. It was only when I got to placing both hands on the top rail of the chair that I considered what I was wearing; a white blouse over tight-fitting light grey leggings that would mould around my butt and give Mr Miller the perfect target, and probably an awe-inspiring view for Mrs Hobtree too.

‘Well, they aren’t going to let you go home and change,’ I thought to myself. ‘Better get over the chair before they think I’m chickening out.’

I bent over and made as perfect a target as I could. I was signed up now for six swings of the cane, so might as well get on with it.

“Okay, here we go,” I heard Mr Miller say.

Then a loud crack seemed to reverberate off the far wall as a sharp pain shot across my bottom. I grunted. Within maybe ten seconds, a second loud bang echoed off the wall and my butt experienced another dose of the sharpest pain I ever experienced. I gave another whimpering little grunt.

“You okay, Amy?” I heard Mr Miller’s voice.

“Yes, sir,” I replied instinctively.

No, I wasn’t okay. I was close to tears with my butt feeling as sore as anything. But this had to be done.

“Yes, sir, I’m fine,” I reiterated, knowing I would be signalling for him to carry on whipping my butt. He soon took the hint.

“Oww!” I cried without thinking.

The caned had cracked across my bottom for a third time, and I’d experienced another dose of seriously acute pain.

There was a bit of a delay; I guess Mr Miller was allowing me time to deal with the pain and prepare myself for the next stroke. If he was, I was very grateful.

“Unnh!” I grunted again as the fourth slammed into my backside. It really hurt!

I couldn’t help thinking how that would have been the end of my punishment, but for Mrs Hobtree’s intervention. Bless our school secretary!

“Aaah!” I gasped as that slender little cane thrashed my butt yet again. It was really hurting now, and feeling very sore.

With just one stroke to go, I decided to give Mrs Hobtree a treat. I wriggled my butt from side to side as though trying to dissipate the agony. Then I bent even further over the chair and gave her a real treat. That wasn’t the best idea I ever had.

“Yeow!” I cried as the cane did its work on the stretched material of my light grey leggings. It hit me really low down where I instantly knew it would make sitting down especially painful. And I’d raised my butt just so this could happen!

“Okay, guess we’re all done.”

“Thank you, sir,” I answered as I pushed myself up from the chair.

It was instinctive to give my backside a rub with one hand while the other hand gripped the top of the chair for support. My legs were quite shaky for some reason.

“Hopefully, that puts this matter to rest,” Mr Miller said from somewhere behind me.

I looked round and saw him returning the cane to its metal cabinet.

“Yes,” I replied, more concerned with my very sore bottom.

“Oh yes sir!” Mrs Hobtree sounded more enthusiastic.

As I kind of expected, news of my caning did get out and become common knowledge around the school. Of course, many girls sniggered, joked and made remarks about it, but more girls than I’d supposed were sympathetic and even in admiration about the way I’d taken my punishment like they would have had to.

Back home, mom teased me a bit too, and even pulled my leggings down when I wasn’t expecting it so she could see the marks across my bottom. At least she held a mirror so I could also see. My bottom was quite heavily bruised, more than I’d supposed, and it wasn’t hard to see just where those six strokes had landed.

The End

© Kenny Walters 2019

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