‘Secret Santa’ will be enjoyed in offices, factories, schools and colleges around the world this festive season, but one girl finds it rather less enjoyable.

By Joanna Jones

It was a tradition of Raggington High every December. Each year all the class put their names in the hat and then drew them out. You then chose a Christmas present for the name you drew. There was a limit of 20 dollars on the purchase, and there was an unwritten rule not to get anything the school would consider inappropriate but otherwise you were left to decide. A key element was to think about a classmate you did perhaps not know so well and to work out what they would really appreciate.

At least that was the idea, and mostly it worked.

This story is about an occasion when it most certainly did not.

Hayley Daws put her hand into the bag that served as a ‘hat’ and hoped to get someone good; one of her friends, or better still Sam Gregman, who she secretly hoped might put some of his handsome attentions her way. After all she knew she was one the prettiest girls in the class, if only he would notice that.

However, the name that came out was in her view about the worst possible; Thomas Tyler. Outwardly she maintained a neutral face. Inwardly she was rather furious with the gods of luck. Thomas (always Thomas, never Tom) was in her opinion weedy, nerdy, but above all irritating. She knew he liked her, but his awful, cack-handed attempts to engage with her had been firmly rebuffed. Now he seemed to try to impress her in group conversation, but he usually served to embarrass himself. Most of the class agreed he was a bit odd, certainly socially awkward, but pointed out that he was always kind, considerate, and eager to help. He tried really hard to fit in, something he always struggled with. It was really only in the last few years as they had got older that he had stopped being teased or suffering from low-level bullying for his awkwardness, something many of his classmates, now mostly eighteen, felt rather guilty about.

Thus most of the class liked him well enough and accepted his foibles. However, Hayley was not one who felt that way. To her mind he was just an irritation, someone who should if life was fair never even be in the same class as her.

Of course soon she was moaning to her friends about her luck.

“Why did I get him, he is just so annoying, so stupid. He just winds people up. Someone like that doesn’t deserve a Christmas present.” She said bad-temperedly.

Many of her friends rolled their eyes inwardly as Hayley embarked on one of her infamous mild tantrums. More than one thought her rather spoilt and selfish, indulged by her parents, especially her mother, with her undoubted good looks perhaps preventing her having had the edges rubbed of those traits before now.

Becky replied: “Come on, Thomas is okay. So he may be a bit weird at times, but he has a heart of gold. Always tries to help out.”

“Humph!” Snorted Hayley. “The best way he can help me is by keeping well out of my way! And now I have to buy the prat a present!”

As a group of classmates appeared there was no time for further discussion, other than Becky exhorting her friend to calm down.

Hayley did not. In contrast her irritation as she went round the mall looking for presents with her friends festered. It was an irritation exacerbated by the obvious anticipation of Thomas too.

As far as choosing, she could not find anything for him, not that she was making much effort given she really did not want to in any case. She had neither interest nor desire to find out what might be a good choice for such a nerdy guy!

However, unfortunately allowing her irritation to win out, she finally decided on something, something she thought darkly most suitable, and wrapped up her present to him the night before.

The following day, the final afternoon before term’s end, was a dedicated homeroom time, for socializing, a few informal games, and of course the class exchange of presents. Everyone watched as one by one the gifts were unwrapped and with various degrees of genuineness students thanked their classmate for their thoughtful choice.

It was Jade who received her present from Thomas, something she had been wondering about. On the one hand he was a bit odd, but on the other he had a reputation in previous years for the thoughtfulness in his choices, almost as if he was trying to make up for his poor social skills, just as he did in trying so hard to help people out.

She was not disappointed. Her first reaction was no way could this have cost less than twenty bucks as she stared at an exquisite silver bracelet with tiny green stones set in it, her favourite colour!

It turned out Thomas had made it himself using some second-hand jewellery he’d picked up and adapting it. Jade knew his art and craftwork was good, but had no idea that he did jewellery-making as a hobby too. The peck of thanks on his cheek was genuine as she slipped it on.

More than one girl was rather impressed, and in some cases slightly jealous, at the present Thomas had given. While it may not have actually cost more than the limit, the price on his labour was not included.

Hayley felt a pang as she waited for Thomas’s turn, but she was sure her friends would find it amusing, no matter what Thomas Tyler thought.

A few minutes later Thomas nervously started unwrapping the gaudy paper after giving Hayley a shy smile. Finally he came to a brightly coloured box. As he opened it his face fell in shock and the box fell to the floor, revealing to all Hayley’s ‘present’. That ‘present’ given traditionally to naughty children; a lump of coal!

Hayley started to laugh at his shocked face, and then it died as she realised no one else had found her “joke” remotely amusing.

As whispers of contempt murmured through her classmates, Thomas jumped up and then was running out if the classroom followed very quickly by a concerned teacher, whose last comment, thrown back into the class as she’d left, was: “Hayley Daws, go and wait outside the Principal’s office till I come and see you!”

Hayley felt mildly annoyed as she stood; after all how was she to know that Thomas couldn’t take a joke. The fact that it was not funny still had not registered.

As she began to leave she heard Angela call: “You are so mean, such a bitch, what did Thomas ever do to you to deserve that?”

To Hayley’s surprise there were murmurs of assent from the rest of them.

Worse still, Sam Gregman made a final remark. “Yeah, I hope Mr Sanders paddles that butt of yours real hard for that stunt!”

Hayley stopped at the door and stared at him, was shocked to see the contempt in his face, mirrored by that of her classmates, quite a few nodding. They were, she realised, deadly serious.

As she made her way down the corridor it slowly dawned on her that she had really badly misjudged things. It very much looked as if a date with Sam was off the agenda. However, at least she knew Sam would not get his wish; it was unheard of for 11th and 12th graders to get the paddle, even though it was used in the younger years.

Having to let the secretary know her homeroom teacher had told her to wait for her here was rather embarrassing, but she did not seem to make an issue of it and Hayley was able to sit and ponder her actions. Actions she now thought had been perhaps a little foolish in retrospect.

It was over quarter of an hour before her homeroom teacher appeared. Hayley was waved to sit down by the still angry teacher, whose contempt for her actions was shown by the curl of her lip as well as a tiny dismissive shake of her head.

Instead Miss Ramsey knocked on the Principal’s door.

Twenty minutes later Hayley was invited to join them.

Mr Sanders glowered over his glasses at the girl standing in front of him. Finally he waved for her to sit down. He had to make the effort to listen to her side of the story after all.

“Miss Daws,” he drawled in his finest southern accent. “So what has Mr Tyler done to you to deserve such treatment?”

Hayley suddenly found her mouth go rather dry. “Well it was meant to be a bit of a joke.” She said.

“A joke? So presumably you have a proper present for him for after the joke then?”

“Well, no, sir.” She croaked.

“Not much of a joke then, I would say. So what is the real reason?” He demanded.

Hayley twisted her hands together in nerves. Eventually she replied: “He just irritates me.”

“How, specifically?”

“I don’t really know, sir.” She replied lamely.

The Principal glared at her. “So basically you decided as perhaps Thomas is a bit ‘irritating’, which at your age you should be able to accept and tolerate, that you would publicly humiliate him in front of your class?”

Hayley Daws only answer was to stare vacantly at the floor.

Eventually Mr Sanders spoke again into the vacuum of her response.

“You will be glad to know that Miss Ramsey caught up with Thomas and persuaded him back to the class where your classmates are supporting him.”

“Yes sir.” Truth was, Hayley was rather more concerned with her own predicament, even now.

Something Mr Saunders easily recognised. “Well while it seems the rest of the school seem to be getting into the Christmas spirit, of love, kindness and forgiveness, but clearly that is apparently an impossible task for you! I am appalled that any young adult at this school could think to behave in such a manner.”

Hayley flicked her eyes pensively at the Principal as he briefly paused, then returned her interest back floorwards as he continued.

“I phoned your mother, but she was not answering. However, I have spoken to your father and he feels as I do. You need a good sharp shock young lady! I don’t like doing this to any student of your age, and can’t really remember the last time it was necessary, but I am going to give you a paddling.”

Hayley’s jaw dropped. Her mother, she expected, would probably not have agreed. The few spankings she had received as a teen were almost always when bad behaviour had been coupled with her mother not being around. However, that was not going to help her now.

She watched in a numb detachment as her Principal walked to a cupboard on the other side of the office, opened it and pulled out the thick wooden blade.

She found her voice as he returned brandishing the implement in front of him. “Please, I am very sorry sir. Please, I was very foolish, please.” Was her blubbered reply.

She was ignored. “I suggest you put your arms on my desk and stick that butt of your out now, unless you fancy a long post-Christmas suspension!” Responded the Principal coldly.

Hayley glanced at her homeroom teacher glaring at her. There was clearly to be no support from Miss Ramsey!

Suspension or the Paddle. She knew what her father would do if she was suspended, no matter what her mother’s opinion. There was no real choice. Hayley gave a panicked sniff as she stood, then reluctantly tottered over to the desk, which Miss Ramsey had conveniently wiped clear of the papers, pushing them to one side.

“Anything in those jeans pockets young lady?” Drawled Mr Sanders.

“No, no sir.” Was the stammered reply as Hayley reluctantly placed her elbows on the desk as she bent over.

“You can do better than that Miss Daws!” Intimated Miss Ramsey. “Come on, dip your back and stick that butt of yours right out.”

Hayley gave another audible sniff as she complied.

“Normally I go easy on a first timer for the paddle, but you are really way too old and way too out of line to be dealt with leniently. Seven licks!”

Seven! That was almost as bad as Jayne Shilling had gotten back in ninth grade on her third visit in a year, for a rather nasty piece of bullying concerning another girl’s rather unfortunate birthmark. She could not believe it; in fact she could still not believe this was really happening at all.

Bang!

“Yeeouch!” She could believe it now as her bottom blazed after only one blow.

Bang!

A second semi-stifled wail of pain escaped her lips.

The principal looked at the well formed rear of the young woman in front of him. She deserved every bit of this, in his view. Taking his time to allow her to feel each lick he drew the paddle back and launched it for a third time hard onto those jeans. This time he’d gone a little lower and put a bit of upthrust in, so as to catch the under-curves of her ass.

The reward was a louder screech from Miss Daws.

A second identical blow led to a desperate wail and Hayley gave a sob as the tears welled up.

Neither teacher was sympathetic. In fact Mr Sanders was furious. He and Miss Ramsey both knew of the condition that afflicted Thomas, and while he could not mention it to the now squirming girl in front of him, he could expect she would have the nous to guess.

“Keep still Miss Daws!” He demanded as he launched the fifth blow on to that jean-clad rump, leading to a screech from the delinquent.

A delinquent who could not believe how shockingly painful it was. She had seen both boys and girls return after a dose in tears, and thought they were making a meal of it, she was sure she could take it better.

Clearly she was wrong.

Bam!

The sixth blow landed again with a slight upward motion to the lowest under-curves of her fanny. The sobs that had started were broken by the heartfelt wail of pain.

One final seemingly even harder blow later and she was up, desperately clutching her tight jeans as she tried to bounce some of the pain away.

“I am so s-sorry sir.” She blubbered through the tears.

Miss Ramsey smiled to herself. Hayley Daws had been needing that for quite some time in her view, and certainly the Principal had given her a paddling and a half.

She glanced at her boss, who nodded. “Right young lady, let’s get you back to the class where you can apologise to Thomas.”

Still snuffling Hayley allowed herself to be taken back where Thomas was calm enough to accept the apology from the disheveled tear-stained face. None of her classmates she noted looked that sorry for her. Clearly they all felt she deserved everything she had got. While Hayley found herself facing the wall to consider the throbbing pain in her butt, her classmates relaxed with various games that the final afternoon could provide.

The drive home was an unpleasant process as she wriggled in the driving seat with the throb.

Her mother was waiting for her when she came in. Her face was smiling in welcome.

“Hello dear, I’ve got news for you. There is an early Christmas present here from ‘A Secret Santa’. One for you to open right now!” She said seemingly kindly.

Confused, Hayley looked at the brightly coloured parcel. It looked as if it might be a largish hardback book.

However, instead there was a plain box, inside which was a well polished maple wood paddle, with six holes drilled neatly through the business end.

She lifted it up in horror.

Before she could react her mother had taken the paddle from her. Her kindly face was now replaced with one of cold anger and disappointment, something Hayley had rarely if ever seen in her mother.

“Yes dear, I know all about you at school today. I have NEVER been so disappointed in you, NEVER!”

Her mother took a breath and said: “Your father always said I was too easy on you, and I now see he was right! There are going to be some changes round here, and Santa’s present here is going to help us make them!”

“Mom!” Squeaked Hayley desperately. Of all things, she had not expected such a complete conversion in her mother. She wondered what her dad had said to her to put her so clearly on the “Road to Damascus”.

Joan Daws though was now fully in her stride. “Don’t you ‘mom’ me, young lady. Now get those jeans down and bend over the kitchen table. And if you want to keep your panties on I suggest you do it real quick!”

Her mother’s set, furious face was enough for Hayley to know that she was not going to be able to plead her way out of this one. She was already sobbing and begging for leniency as her hands started to reluctantly unclip the buttons of her jeans to reveal the thin cotton of the pale yellow panties underneath.

The End

© Joanna Jones 2013