A girl with a grudge gets her just deserts

By Lisa Berry

In the fifth and sixth year at my private girls school, we had a process of selecting prefects where girls were voted into office by the other pupils. There are two points to mention here. Prefects were not officially allowed to give corporal punishment, only lines, but unofficially they did, in the prefects’ common room. Members of staff who thought that prefects were reasonably responsible turned a blind eye. The second point, it was usually popular girls who were voted into office.

I thought I was popular. I really believed the other girls looked on me as a kind of ‘Jack-the-lad’ or ‘Jill-the-lass’, a devil-may-care, carefree sort of girl, so I expected to be made a prefect. You can imagine my daydreams about power and slippering young errant girls! But when the voting time came, I got the amazing total of one vote, and that was by me. I was devastated, especially when a girl called Pamela was voted in. I was miserable for days, especially with Pam.

I think you can guess what happened next. I was caught skiving off classes by a prefect. I refused to go to the prefects’ common room, so three girls who I knew and had known for years, dragged me there physically. I was very, very angry and made my feelings known. This was me, Helen Winters, the most popular girl in class, in my own little mind.

They held a court. All the fifth and sixth year prefects, including Pamela, were involved. Would they report me to the staff or deal with me themselves? I was not sure which was worse; being reported to the staff surely meant the cane. I had already experienced one on each hand on four seperate occasions. I did not think I could cope with any more, and skiving was serious. It would be at least two on each hand, and maybe even three. I had seen sixth year girls in tears after that. On the other hand, the prefects’ court would mean having tiresome lines to write, or the slipper by people I knew. Both would be highly embarrassing.

The prefects decided to deal with me themselves, unanimously. I know now they wanted revenge for all the trouble I had caused for them in the past. They pronounced sentence of six strokes of the slipper. Six! That was utterly unheard of; normally prefects gave one or two; at most three. I protested, which made them smile, and I tried to dash for the door. But there were about twelve of them. I was held back and bent over a table. What I am now relating, I have never admitted to anybody in my life, not even to family, but it’s been in my head for years. This episode was probably the most humiliating and horrible event in my life, especially as I knew everybody there. I thought they were my friends and I thought I was popular.

They closed the curtains over the window and locked the door. Then they held me down and lifted my skirt. I could have died with shame and anger, and I was trying to kick and squeal and protest. I remember the laughter and some of the comments.

”Who’ll do it?”

”Everybody!”

”Give her more than six.”

”Make it hard! Make her yell!”

”Pam first!”

I was in tears and in utter humiliation, but it was about to get worse. They dragged down my knickers so I was there, bare-bottomed in front of my friends and peers. Even as I am writing this, I can feel my face burning.

There must have been about six girls holding me down, and Pam put her face right beside mine.

“This is from me,” she said.

She gave me two whacks and she really laid them on. I was already crying, but I tried not to yell; I did not want to give them any more satisfaction. But I did yell. Those whacks really, really hurt. In the end, they only gave me six. I say only, because I think they wanted to give me more, but somebody, I don’t know who, but I think she was a sixth year, stopped them. But six was more than enough, and the hurt was nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the humiliation.

Strangely, they were quiet afterwards, and somebody pulled up my knickers quite gently, and somebody else patted me on the shoulder. I have not spoken to Pamela since, and I was hardly at school after that. I could not face them. I sat my exams and I was working before my 18th birthday. I only went to university as a mature student long after I was married.

The End

© Lisa Berry 2021