Rivalry in the 6th form

by Lisa Berry

 From the age of eleven I attended my local grammar school until I left at the age of eighteen. My friend Susan and I had been inseparable right up to the sixth form. As I had a very good disciplinary record and my work was good, I expected to be made a prefect. You can imagine my disappointment when I was passed over. To make matters worse, my friend Susan became a prefect. That would have been bearable but for the fact that we had a big falling-out over a boy the term before. I had tried to make it up with her, but she would have none of it. Now she had authority over me and she was gunning for me, and I had to watch my back the whole time.

One day, she seized her chance. I was just getting off the school bus outside the school and I had taken off my hat to get off the bus. As I stepped onto the pavement, she pounced.

“Rachel, you are not wearing your hat. You know the rules.”

“I was just going to put it back on again.”

“So you say. You will do me a hundred lines by tomorrow, ‘I must wear my hat to school at all times’.”

I could tell that she was loving this. I was fuming and put my hat on and stormed off. It was even more infuriating the next day. To hand in the lines, I had to take them to her in the prefect’s room. I handed them to her and she gave the hint of a smile. Several of the other prefects grinned at my embarrassment.

My biggest mistake came the following term. My mother had asked me to go to the shop near the school and buy her some more tights. I completely forgot about it until I had a free study period in the afternoon. I decided to slip out when nobody was looking rather than go after school. That would have meant missing the bus and getting home later. The problem was that I was going out with friends that evening and I had to get my homework done. I should have gone during the lunch break as sixth formers were allowed to leave school.

So, I took a chance and slipped out. I was sure that I hadn’t been seen when I got back to school. I stopped outside the school gates and hid behind one of the gate posts to make sure the coast was clear. It was, so I went in. I had only taken a couple of steps when the door to the main building opened and a girl stepped out. I stopped dead; it was Susan. At first, she didn’t notice me and I was about to dart back out of the gates, but too late. She had seen me.

She strode across the grass; I knew I was in real trouble now. Had it been another prefect, I might have appealed their better nature, but not Susan. She was out to get me and she had well and truly succeeded.

“So, you thought you’d get away with leaving school,” she sneered.

“Yes I did,” I replied. There was no way I was going to grovel to her. I was caught and might as well accept it.

“I’m going to take you straight to the headmistress. Come on.”

She turned and walked off; I had no choice but to follow. We got to the headmistress’s study and we went in.

“Yes Susan, what is it?” asked Miss McIntyre.

“I caught this girl sneaking back into school,” said Susan almost triumphantly.

“I see. Had you been out of school, Rachel?”

“Yes, Miss.”

“I think you can leave this to me,” said Miss McIntyre.

Susan turned and left, but not before she grinned at me.

“Well Rachel, have you a good explanation for your behaviour?”

I stammered an apology but I knew that I was wasting my time.

“I’m sorry, Rachel, but you know the rules and I expect someone of your seniority to set an example to others. Therefore I have no alternative but to cane you. I was shocked when she told me that she was going to cane me. I didn’t expect it. I thought a stiff reprimand was coming, but not the cane. It was the ultimate disgrace to be caned by the headmistress, and worse was to come; my name would be read out in assembly the next morning. I had heard from girls who had been caned by the headmistress what it was like, and the sort of cane that she used.

The cane was kept in a cupboard and seemed longer and thicker than the one I had been told about. I thought about it afterwards and assumed that most of the girls she caned were younger than me and perhaps she had a special cane for sixth formers. This particular one had a crook handle. Girls had to bend across a large padded leather chair so that their bottom rested on one arm and they could grip the opposite arm. The bottom was then in a very vulnerable position giving a good target! Girls with skirts had them folded back but I was caned over my trousers. I was the first girl to be caned over trousers, which was not an honour I appreciated.

I was in a state of shock really when I was told to bend over the chair, and I remember my trousers tightening over my bottom. I could smell leather polish, and still hate the smell of it to this day. Anyway, I soon felt the first whack and a sharp pain a few seconds later, followed by 5 further strokes. It hurt far more than I expected and by the fifth stroke I was in tears. I was then dismissed and warned about my future conduct.

I felt really ashamed about being caned at 18, and to add to my shame, as I left the study, there was Susan waiting for me. She looked gloatingly at me. She said something, but I didn’t wait to hear it as I was too wrapped up in the pain in my bottom to care about her. I kept very quiet about it for the rest of the afternoon, but there was no hiding from the announcement in assembly next morning. It was standard procedure if a girl had been caned that she show off her marks, so I had no option but to go to the changing room and lower my knickers in front of my classmates. My humiliation was complete.

The End

© Lisa Berry 2021