The moments of a girl’s school paddling. By a new writer to us.
By Kelly DiMarco
My head snapped up and I knew I was doomed. Ms Radley had stopped the class and had her hand outstretched. It was waiting for my phone. As my heart pounded, I got up and walked towards the front of the room and gave her my phone. Ms Radley then continued the lesson as though nothing had happened. But it wasn’t over. Not for me.
The next 45 minutes dragged by. How could I have been so stupid, I wondered. I should have waited. Telling Sally about Marc finally calling would have been even more exciting in person. I began to sweat despite the cold January winds running through the poorly ventilated building. Finally the class came to an end. The volume in the room began to rise as eager adolescents began to chat about weekend plans. Ordinarily my voice would have been among them. But not today.
“Kayla, come see me in the hallway,” said Ms Radley.
I reluctantly dragged my feet towards the door, wishing I could switch places with any one of my classmates. A few of them snickered as I walked by. They all knew what was about to happen.
“What happens when students text in my class?” she asked.
I stared silently at the floor, unable to look at her, unable to seal my fate, wishing the ground would swallow me up. Couldn’t she just tell me what I already knew?
“Kayla, look at me.”
I slowly looked up and into her eyes. They were full of disappointment. I was a good student, never in trouble. How had I let this happen?
“Kayla, what happens when students text in my class?” she asked again.
“They, they get paddled.” I stammered.
“Yes. You chose to text during class, so that is what’s going to happen. Do you want to do it now or at the end of the day?” asked Ms Radley.
Want? Did she just say want? Never would be nice, that’s what I want. But that’s not an option. Waiting until the end of the day would mean my classmates wouldn’t hear. That would make things a little less embarrassing. But waiting would be torture, the last 45 minutes was bad enough. They already know I’m going to get paddled, and waiting through 4 more classes will drive me insane. I should probably just get it over. Wait. One of those classes is gym. If I get paddled now, playing dodgeball will suck even more than usual. And people might see in the locker room. Including Abby, Marc’s ex. That would be humiliating. I guess I’ll just have to wait. No way can I get paddled now. The metallic clanging noise of the bell rattled through the hallway, interrupting my thoughts.
“Kayla, should we do this now or at the end of the day? You need to make a decision,” said Ms Radley.
“I’ll do it at the end of the day.” I sighed.
“Okay. Come back here at the end of the day. You can have your phone back after,” said Ms Radley. She then started to walk back into the classroom.
“How, how many am I going to get?”
Ms Radley slowly turned around and looked at me. She looked a little surprised. Maybe she thought I wasn’t brave enough to ask. Maybe she thought that I didn’t want to know. But the only thing worse than knowing was not knowing.
We both walked away. The rest of the day dragged on. And on. And on. Three isn’t so bad, I tried to convince myself. Plenty of people got five. There was even a rumor that those guys who started the food fight before Christmas got ten. But mostly I was just terrified.
Finally it was the end of the day. As the school emptied out, I walked towards the execution chamber. Oops, I meant classroom. I opened the door and walked inside. Ms Radley was sitting at her desk. There was a wooden paddle sitting on top of it.
“Hi Kayla. Let’s get this over with,” said Ms Radley.
Sure, I thought sarcastically. Sounds great. But really, is there anything I’m supposed to say to that? I stared at her blankly.
“Do you want a witness?”
Huh? In what universe would I ever want another living soul to see what is about to happen?
“You’re entitled to a witness. It’s a safety precaution, for your protection. To make sure you don’t get hurt.”
Well, at least I had something to say this time. “Um, isn’t me getting hurt kind of the point of this?”
Ms Radley chuckled. “Well, you have a point. I suppose that was a poor choice of words. So, do you want a witness? They would just be there to observe your paddling, and to make sure there is no lasting damage and it happens according to school policy.”
“No thanks.” I said.
“Okay. Do you have anything in your back pockets?” she asked.
Well, ordinarily my phone would be there, but then if it was I’d be enjoying the start of my weekend instead of dreading a paddling.
“No.” I said.
“Good. Then go lean over one of the desks up front. Make sure your feet are apart.”
I walked towards the far corner of the room, the one furthest away from the door. I moved the chair out of the way and draped myself over the desk and grabbed hold of the legs. When I was a little kid and got hurt, my mom always told me to squeeze her hands, to squeeze the pain away. Maybe it would help now too.
Then I heard footsteps walking towards me. Why are teacher’s shoes always so loud? In the quiet of a classroom on a Friday after school, they sounded like claps of thunder.
“Okay, Kayla. You’re getting three swats for texting in class. Don’t move until it’s over. Okay?”
As she said all of this, I felt the paddle resting against my jeans.
“Okay.” I said in barely more than a whisper.
Then the paddle wasn’t there anymore. Which could only mean one thing.
Did I say that her shoes were loud? Well, they were nothing compared to the impact of the paddle against my butt. But that HURT. It was like the time I accidentally touched my hair straightener before turning it off. Only much, much worse.
Owwwww! I start to feel my eyes water. Okay breathe, breathe. At least you haven’t screamed. And there’s only one more swat. You’ll get through this.
“Owww!” This time the anguished gasp escaped from my lips, along with silent tears that began to flow down my face. That hurt soooooo much. It feels like my butt is on fire. I didn’t think anything could be worse than the last stroke, but this was much worse.
“Okay Kayla, it’s over. You can get up when you’re ready.”
The voice sounded like it came from far away. Ms Radley probably went back to her desk. I wanted to run out of the classroom and never come back, but my legs felt rooted to the spot. It’s over now, I thought. Just breathe. Inhale, exhale. After a few breaths my legs felt normal again and I got up from the desk and wiped the tears from my face.
“Do you want a tissue?” Ms Radley asked.
So she knew I had cried. That’s kind of embarrassing.
“Sure.” I said. I took the tissue and wiped the rest of the tears away.
“We’re not going to need to do this again, are we?” she asked.
I felt myself blush.
“No.” I muttered.
“Good. I don’t think so either. But if there is a next time, you’ll get five swats.”
I looked away from her. “Okay. Can I go now?”
“Sure,” she said. I started walking towards the door. “But aren’t you forgetting something?”
“What?” I said as I turned around.
She pulled something out of her pocket. “Your phone.”
How could I forget the thing that got me into this mess in the first place?
“Oh yeah.” I grabbed the phone from her hand. “Thanks.”
As I walked out of the classroom, I saw the last bus pulling away from the kerb. Well, maybe missing the bus isn’t the worst thing. At least I won’t have to sit down for awhile!
© Kelly DiMarco 2019