The Fashionable but Painful Path to a Doctorate

A ruthless business owner takes unusual steps to get what she wants

By Angela Fox

My intercom buzzed.  I thumbed the button and said, “Yes Madge?”

“Miss Robbins, Mrs Morton has arrived. She doesn’t have an appointment but she says you were expecting her?”

“Ahh, yes. Good. Send her in would you, and I apologise for not notifying you. It had slipped my mind.”

Janet Morton was my personnel manager and company security officer, all rolled into one. She had been with me from the early days and, though having little interest in fashion herself, had been one of my best friends at school. She had originally started her own headhunting company and then, as my own business ‘Strut Fashion’ took off, she had come to work for me full time as my business grew and I needed more people.

She was in her mid-thirties, married, though I knew her marriage was crumbling. She didn’t seem to care and I think was looking forward to pulling the plug. She, like most of my employees, was in excellent shape, fabulously good looking and had even done some modelling for me. I doubted she would have difficulty replacing her husband.

She stepped through my door, closed it and smiled.

“Hey, Sarah. I brought the file with me I mentioned over lunch, but I thought you should know, if she is the girl you really want, there is a time limit on it. You will have to either shit or get off the pot.”

I grinned. As usual, Janet didn’t mince words, though she was the only one I would let talk to me like that.

“Why?” I asked. “Surely someone isn’t about to steal the mail room girl? I mean if they wanted Angela Crampton or Felicia Merriweather, I could understand it. They are the best designers I have, but this Susan Beresford is our mail room clerk, for God’s sake.”

“Yes, as may be. However, when we hired her we didn’t know she was probably the smartest girl in the company.”

“You are kidding. I know she is efficient. Everyone likes her despite the fact that she is our only employee that gets away with dressing like a bit of a tramp. She does manage to get her work done, even though she is late to work almost every day. I also know she happens to work late hours so nothing gets misplaced and will often come in on weekends to get set for the beginning of the week. But nowhere does that suggest intelligence or ambition.”

Janet grinned. “Is our exalted leader aware that we test everyone who comes to work for us?”

Janet was the only person in our company who probably didn’t fear me and thus could say things like that. Most people were terrified of me and I suppose I was a bit ruthless when I wanted to be. On the other hand, fashion was a bitchy business and if you weren’t tough, you didn’t survive. Janet just happened to be my longest and best friend.

“Yes, I do not want people who are likely to steal from us or run out on us if things get tough. I also want the smartest I can get, so I know that your department gives all new hires a battery of psychological and intelligence tests.” I replied.

Janet opened a manila folder, took out a sheet of paper and handed it to me across my desk. I looked down, seeing it was an IQ test paper with Susan Beresford’s name on it. She had scored 173.

“You realise an IQ of over 160 is genius level?” asked Janet. “Your own IQ is 145 which is just one shy of Mike Goldstein, your accounts manager, at 146. However, with Miss Beresford in the mail room, you are now only the third smartest within the company,” she cackled. Then she stuck her tongue out at me, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

“That’s crazy. Why would a genius want to work in the mail room?”

“Well, she won’t for much longer, that’s for sure, which is why I wanted to see you now. She is finishing off her PhD, something to do with mathematics and computers, and as soon as she gets it, she will is gone. I found out the real reason she works here is that our location is close to her university and she is so efficient at doing her work, that she has quite a few free hours sitting around and uses the time to write her thesis. Mrs Harmon, her supervisor, allows it because she is such a good worker, despite the fact that she is nearly always late. No other person we have ever had in the mail room was able to get it all done without extra help. She gets it done and has time to write a thesis. See what I mean?”

“What about the other things I was looking for?” I asked.

“Well her psych profile says she is loving and loyal. Very honest, probably at least bisexual, if not an outright lesbian, although I can’t be sure. She is likely a submissive to boot. She has one other thing in her, or is it your, favour? She is flat broke. Actually, in debt to her eyeballs. She is behind on her rent and will likely get evicted soon, and she can’t even make her car payments. Her problem, besides the fact that you pay her basically nothing, is she that lives nearby, which as you know is high rent district. The only question is whether she will finish her thesis, get her PhD and get a real job before she gets kicked out and starts having to live off the streets.

“Basically, she checks all your boxes. But my guess is you only have a couple of months to make up your mind, then she will be gone.”

“Is that her file?”

She nodded and handed it across to me. I flicked it open and the first page was an eight by ten glossy photo of her head and shoulders, enlarged from her employment badge. She was tiny at only five feet three inches, with long blonde hair, dressed in a dark tee-shirt with a London Underground logo. She was smiling with perfectly white teeth, but looked shy in a Princess Diana sort of way. However, she was beautiful enough to be one of our models. At twenty-five, she was ten years younger than me and I wanted her. I wanted her in the worst possible way.

I said, “Do you think she will…?”

Janet grinned and immediately said, “Look, my kinky friend, I have learned a lot in the last twenty-four hours since you pointed her out to me, but there is no way I can know that. All I can suggest is follow your wicked way and if it works, more power to you. You deserve someone to enjoy your empire with and if this is her, well, I am happy for you. But its six-thirty for Christ’s sake and I want to go home, or at least around to my new squeeze. Do you need anything else?”

I shook my head and smiled. “No, and thanks for this. See you tomorrow and have a fun evening.”

She left and I kept on reading the file, gradually forming a rather dastardly plan. At first glance, I know most people would think it a stupid plan, but I have a way of reading people and hardly ever get it wrong. It is one of the reasons I have managed to build up my empire with over a thousand employees worldwide. But I was sick of working and I wanted someone just right to share my empire with. Susan Beresford might not be that person. She could well have no interest in me at all, but I had thought enough about it and wanted to know for sure. Perhaps in a week, I would know but, as Janet had said, it was time to shit or get off the pot. I would put my plan into action tomorrow.

*          *          *

I had just started my afternoon break when Mrs Harmon, my supervisor, came into the break room and said, “Sorry, Susan. I know you just came down from the afternoon mail delivery but I just got word that Miss Robbins wanted to see you.”

“Should I finish my break or go right now?” I asked. I didn’t mind. I was the mail delivery girl and it was my job to be the office runner, and besides, Miss Sarah Robbins was the founder and owner of Strut Fashions.

“If I were you, I would go right now,” she smiled. “She probably has a question about some of the mail you just delivered.

“I don’t know how I could help, but I’m on my way.”

I was twenty-five, with a bachelor’s degree in physics, and master’s degree in mathematics, and probably overqualified for a mail clerk, but I needed the money until I had finished my PhD thesis and could get my doctorate so I could get a real job. I had worked at Strut’s for six months now and I liked it since I could work the late afternoon and early evening shifts which left me time to finish up my thesis in the mornings, when I was most productive and it left the weekends for library research.

But working at a fashion house in a lowly position was sort of fun. Everyone, it seemed, was always under intense pressure to perform, look glamorous, market, advertise and all the other nonsense that went along with a highly competitive and cut-throat business. Everyone, that is, except me. All I had to do was show up, sort the mail, put it in a cart and deliver it. True, there was a lot of it, considering this was the day and age of the computer and electronic mail, but it was easy and I could mostly switch my brain off and ponder my own world of Artificial Intelligence and wonder if one day it would put even Miss Robbins out of business.

I hadn’t really met the woman, of course, though I had been by her office numerous times delivering her mail to her secretary. She had seen me and periodically smiled at me as I suppose she did with the janitors and cleaners as well, but I am sure I didn’t exist in her life, just as I never really thought much about her. I suppose for a multi-millionairess she was young, probably about 10 years older than me. It was rumoured to be that she was a failed high-class model, being too tall for her own good. She was, however, a stunner; long-legged at probably six feet two inches, with silky immaculate long black hair, long neck, thin face, with piercing green eyes, usually wearing a high fashion tee shirt and whatever the latest jeans that Strut was pushing.

Of course, she never noticed my five feet three inches, skinny, flat-chested figure with my blonde hair reaching down my back. It was my best feature and I loved brushing it and keeping it shiny, but then I really didn’t care much else about my appearance. I never really had much interest in fashion in the first place. In fact, making myself look too good was actually something I avoided since, unless I were noticed by a televisions company as someone who could spout on about science, it was really a distraction where male colleagues might want to chat me up rather than have a discourse about the finer points of neural networks.

I was, as usual, wearing a pair of leggings and an old university sweatshirt over which I wore a yellow tabard apron that had a couple of handy pockets in front. I knew I was the least fashionable person within the organisation and took a perverse pleasure in that nobody cared what I looked like and wasn’t subject to all the fashion pressure that everyone else was. The cleaners didn’t count since they were a contract service that just came in at night.

I stepped off the lift on the top floor where Miss Robbins held court and pushed through the glass door to where her secretary, Margery Summers, had her desk. Mrs Summers was considered to be somewhat stuck-up by most of the other employees, yet she always smiled at me when I delivered the mail. This time was no different as I sort of expected her to hand me a package. However, her smile this time was accompanied by a nod of her head towards me and then towards the mahogany door leading to the inner sanctum. She said, “Miss Robbins is expecting you, you may go in,” and turned back to her computer.

‘Odd,’  I thought, ‘why the eff would Miss Robbins want me?

Puzzled, I knocked on the door that was partially open and Miss Robbins voice said, “Come in,” and as I nervously entered, she said, “you may close the door.”

Considering she was worth an absolute fortune, her office was presumably designed to show her power. It was located on the top floor of a twenty-story building in a corner overlooking the river and the city beyond, but the low cloud and drizzling rain which blew against the windows somewhat detracted from the overall effect. To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed, though I don’t mean to say that in a bitchy or jealous way. It is just that trappings of wealth like that are OK for those that want them but the things that impress me are less obvious.

I was impressed, for instance, that she had built up her company from nothing. She clearly possessed a lot of talents that I didn’t. She knew fashion, she could clearly get people and banks who presumably had funded her to follow her. She must have been dynamic and she certainly had the looks. But I didn’t crave those things. However, I did admire her work ethic and her ability to achieve what she wanted.

The office was a tastefully furnished with a large white oak desk, smart leather executive chair and, off to the side were a full ivory coloured leather sofa and love seat combination surrounding a coffee table that wouldn’t have actually fitted in my own flat. A few prints on the wall suggested she collected the works of a single artist, for they all showed city scenes at dusk with lighted buildings and streets depicting cafes, bars, theatres and cinemas. They were tasteful, I suppose, with good artistic workmanship, though maybe I would have preferred scenes of the English countryside.

She waved me to a comfortable chair in front of her desk and, somewhat bemused, I sat down. She looked at me from across the desk and seemed to want to study me.

“So, Miss Beresford, I think this is the first chance I have had to speak to you since you have been working for us. Exactly how long have you been here?”

“About six months, Miss Robbins,” I answered respectfully.

“And you are our mail person, I believe? I have sometimes seen you on your rounds. What hours do you normally work, Miss Beresford?”

“My normal hours are 11:00 am till 8 pm with an hour off for lunch, except Fridays when I only work a half day. Sometimes I do come in on Sundays, particularly if I hear a shipment arrives on Saturday, so I can get it ready for staff on Mondays. But my Sunday hours are considered overtime.”

“I see. Tell me, do you like working for a, well, although I say so myself, a distinguished fashion house?”

I smiled and said honestly, “I love working here. The people are all very nice, the offices are full of excitement, but the hours also allow me to continue my studies.”

“Studies?” she enquired.

“Yes, I am still at the university finishing up my PhD thesis.”

“You are enrolled in a PhD program? May I ask your subject?”

“It is sort of technical. I am studying mathematics and the computer science underpinning artificial intelligence.”

She blinked a little at the unfamiliar words and they likely rattled around in her mind. “I see,” she began after a slight pause which suggested she really didn’t see at all. “So, I take it you are not particularly fashion conscious and that most likely you are not considering working here permanently after you graduate?”

“No, Miss Robbins,” I answered truthfully.

“Very well. I suppose that makes my job a little easier. I would hate to crush your aspirations if you had set your heart on a career in the fashion industry. You should also know that I never like to give my loyal staff the really unpleasant jobs that I can do, since it risks damaging their morale. So, I will just tell you that, as of this coming Friday afternoon, we shall no longer require your services.”

I blinked in shock; a sense of helplessness welling up inside of me. “I am fired?”

“Yes, I am afraid so.”

“May I ask why?”

“Of course. It’s bad enough that you alone, of all our employees, dress so poorly when we have an image to keep, even though your only duty is to sort and deliver the mail. It is true, you are well liked and are quite efficient, however the real reason I am having to let you go is that your timekeeping is atrocious. Last week alone, you were late every day, sometimes by as much as twenty minutes, and this has been going on months despite your supervisor Mrs Harmon reprimanding you on almost countless occasions.”

“But I have always made my time up and I never leave before all my work is done.”

“True, however, everyone notices you, possibly because of the atrocious way you dress, and they notice you are late. If I do nothing I set a bad precedent, two actually, and so I must let you go.”

“Couldn’t you just keep me on for four more months? By then my thesis will be all done. I shall be able to pay my rent and get started with my career.”

“I am afraid not. You set a bad example and if I do not take care of it I am courting much more trouble.”

“Couldn’t you punish me; give me a warning, dock my pay or something? I really need this job. It’s just for a few more months. Talk to anyone here, they will tell you I am a good worker. I will try much harder to be punctual.”

She leaned back in her chair studying me and then looked down at her desk into a folder that I suddenly realised must have been my personnel file.

“Just how bad do you need this job?”

“Really bad. I am behind on my rent as it is and I can barely afford to eat. It’s just that I still have to attend certain morning lectures, give and take tutorials; they are always in the mornings but sometimes they run late which makes me late.”

She paused as if studying me under a microscope. “This is your file; it says you went to an all-girls boarding school down in Devon. I take it this was a private school?”

“Yes,” I nodded puzzled, wondering why her sudden change of tack.

“I went to an all-girls boarding school too. It was very strict. Was yours very strict?”

“I suppose so,” I answered.

“I mention it because they taught us the value of teamwork, hard work, reliability and punctuality. They had no tolerance for girls shirking off, making excuses and not fitting in. The punishment was quite severe for those who fought the system. Did they punish you for similar deficiencies?”

“Of course,” I answered. “All schools punish their pupils to a certain extent when they break their rules.”

“At my own school, for instance,” she continued as though I hadn’t said anything, “they used corporal punishment at times, including the use of a cane. Even the head girl was permitted to use corporal punishment when she believed it was deserved. Did you ever receive such a sanction?”

I was suddenly very uncomfortable with this conversation. Was she really suggesting that I accept some form of corporal punishment if I were to stay working for her?

I said slowly, “At our school, the cane was reserved for serious offences like fighting, cheating and smoking or use of drugs. Things like that. I suppose it was in lieu of expulsion. I was certainly never caned.”

She sniffed. “You didn’t actually answer my question though. Of course, if you are uncomfortable answering my questions, you are free to leave. I shall pay your wages through the end of the week.”

“I suppose I did receive the slipper from a teacher a few times for things like talking or not paying attention in class.”

She nodded as if confirming certain suspicions she had about me.

“A part of the reason for my questions is that I was the Head Girl in my final year of school. On occasion, I did have cause to slipper a few girls. The cane, of course, was always reserved for our headmistress to use and I suppose I was always rather curious as to what it would be like to apply the cane to a deserving recipient. I suppose I would be prepared to pay for that experience.”

I looked at her, my worst fears confirmed. “Are you saying that I could keep my job if I allow you to cane me?”

She smiled suddenly and leaned across her desk, looking straight at me. “Exactly!” She said. “You might consider it a punishment for your failure to follow the rules of employment, namely for your failure to live by the agreement you signed when you joined us about timekeeping. You might also consider it a form of ‘encouragement’ to help you be more punctual in future. In return, I would allow you to keep working here and I would turn a blind eye to the fact that you flout our dress code.”

“I didn’t know the dress code applied to a lowly mail clerk. Mrs Harmon never told me about it. Besides, the mail is often dirty having been in dirty warehouses at the post office and so forth. It’s why I wear this apron; to keep some of the grime from my clothes.”

“Our business is fashion, and this building is our headquarters. Every employee in this building represents the business. We have clients walking through our corridors every day and, obviously, they pay attention to the people that work here. I wish to maintain a high standard, though I don’t insist that we all wear our fashion line. I just want our clients to know we are fashion conscious.”

I suppose as the ‘mail girl’, her tone wasn’t exactly sneering, but it certainly was a tone of admiration!

“I admit I can be less than clean; you could be excused from this requirement, even though I hate making special cases which unfortunately set poor precedents. It would be helpful if you could smarten yourself up a bit though.

“However, the punishment with a cane is strictly about your punctuality, or lack there-of. But this would be purely voluntary on your part.”

“Voluntary?” I asked.

“Of course. I cannot force you to accept such a punishment from me. However, I do have the right to terminate your services for lack of punctuality. Essentially, I will forgo that right for the opportunity to experience the act of caning you. In essence, you would voluntarily submit to me humiliating and punishing you and, in return, you will keep your job. I might even throw in a little something else for you to help you make up your mind.”

“Err, something else?”

“Yes, since I personally wish to experience what it would have been like to have been the headmistress of my old school, and I acknowledge that your side of that experience would no doubt be quite painful, you would be allowed to keep your job for as long as you wish and I would see that you get a thirty percent raise. However, if you choose to accept this you would also have to agree to come to work on time.”

“Are you saying that if, for reasons beyond my control, I happen to be late occasionally, you would want to…” I couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence. But I didn’t need to.

She said, “Cane you again? Yes, certainly. I would just be exercising our agreement. Of course, you could again refuse and we would just terminate your services.”

Before I could even think about this, she said, “Tell me, did you used to wear a school uniform?”

“Err, yes,” I said, confused again by her sudden change of subject, since the thought of repeated canings from her was playing havoc with my ability to think.

“Please do not preface all your answers with ‘err’. It makes you sound like an imbecile. The file I have in front of me shows that you are in fact highly intelligent, with a first-class honours degree in physics and a master’s degree in mathematics. Describe your uniform.”

“Err, sorry, I mean, we wore a white shirt with a silver and blue tie and a navy gymslip and navy blazer.”

“Socks or tights?”

“Socks, err, knee highs, though prefects were allowed to wear tights.”

“Were you a prefect?”

“Yes.”

“Do you still have a uniform?”

“My mother kept my old uniforms.”

“Can you get one by Friday, and would it still fit?”

“I suppose so. My mom lives about 30 miles away. I could drive over tomorrow morning and get it, though…”

“Though what?”

“Well, it would probably make me late for work!”

She laughed. “That isn’t an issue. Since you are our mailroom clerk, I can send you on an errand to collect clothing at any time. I assume the uniform would still fit?”

I nodded. “I think so, I have filled out in the chest a little since I left school but the gymslips were always rather baggy anyway with their big box pleats. We hated them,” I added unnecessarily.

“If you decide to go along with me on this, I expect you to wear the proper knickers associated with school uniform, and that you will wear knee-high socks and appropriate shoes. None of those tennis shoes you seem fond of wearing.”

For reasons I couldn’t explain, I was suddenly extremely nervous, and yet excited. I told myself I needed the job and the extra money and I supposed I wouldn’t mind the humiliation of wearing a school uniform in front of her, but I was certainly worried about being caned.

I said, “So, what would happen if I agree to let you punish me?”

“It’s quite simple, dear. You would bring your uniform to work with you on Friday. Then, at six o’clock in the evening when everyone has gone home and it is the end of your shift, you will dress in your uniform and come and see me here, where I shall punish you.”

“I normally get off at three o’clock in the afternoon on Friday’s. It is my one evening off in the week.”

“Only if you have a job, my dear. If you are worried about staying the extra hours I shall pay your overtime. I wouldn’t, however, make further plans for Friday evening, though, since I do not think you will be in a fit state to enjoy any, well, shall we say, social activities?” She laughed at her own joke.

“Why the school uniform? Why do you want me to wear that? It is not fashionable in the slightest.”

“No, dear. I agree. It’s not fashionable at all. However, having you wearing it will make it seem more like the school punishment I have often thought about. The type of punishment where I get to wield the cane. I am sure it sounds strange to you, but I was always curious to know how girls handled being caned and what it did to their bottoms.”

“You were never caned yourself?”

“No, never. Similar to your school, it was only used on senior girls who had done something serious like smoking, fighting or cheating. Typically, something where the only other alternative was being expelled. As Head Girl, I knew of girls who were caned, but I never saw it happen and was always curious. Now, because I run my own business and have an employee that I would normally terminate, I possibly have the opportunity to satisfy that curiosity, assuming that is, you want to take me up on that offer.”

“So, what exactly would be my punishment?”

“It would be just like a school punishment. You will present yourself to the headmistress. That will be me. I shall inspect your uniform to see you are presentable, then I shall bend you over the desk here and you will receive six of the best on the bare.”

“Six strokes of a cane on my poor naked bottom?” I almost wailed.

“Of course it will be six strokes. Six firm strokes of the senior girl’s school cane. I would prefer to give you more, a lot more actually, but we might have to work up to that in future if you continue to flout my rules.”

I shivered. “Six strokes of the cane sounds awful.”

She grinned. “Yes, I am sure it will be. For you, at least. You should not fool yourself. It will be a severe punishment. Of course…” she trailed off.

“You mean just like school; it is the cane or expulsion. I could just collect my cards and leave?” I finished for her.

“Well, certainly you are welcome to take that option. I would never force you to take the cane. But that wasn’t what I meant. What I was going to suggest was something that was never done at my school and that is to offer you a simple hand spanking first over my knee. This would warm you up, as it were, and it is well known that a caning hurts much less on a previously well-spanked bottom, presumably because it helps numb up some of the nerves that carry the pain of a cane. However, you can decide that on Friday, assuming you even want to accept this punishment?”

“When would I have to let you know about letting you cane me?” I asked.

“Now, actually,” she said looking at me like the cat who had caught her mouse. “I shall be going down to my other home this weekend and I need to know what time I shall be leaving so I can make travel plans.”

“You want me to decide right now whether I should submit to a punishment from you?” I asked, stalling for time.

“Yes. It’s a simple decision. You alone know your finances and whether you really need this job. I do not want an unreliable employee who isn’t really interested in my fashion business. On the other hand, I would like an opportunity to do something that I have always wanted to do and am willing to pay for. It is really a simple business transaction. For you, it’s a few minutes of humiliation and pain, where you keep your job and even earn a significant raise, or you are free to leave now and I shall pay you your wages till the end of the week. Which is it to be?”

I gulped. I really didn’t have much of a choice. I was desperate for money and though I was terrified of what would happen, I knew that by Saturday it would all be over.

“I will accept your punishment.”

“Very good.” She closed the file in front of her, held out her hand to shake and when I did she said, “I shall let Mrs Harmon, your supervisor, know that you will be in late tomorrow and that you are doing a job form me. Make sure your uniform is pressed and smart with the correct socks, shoes and knickers. I shall give you a uniform inspection when you arrive and if I find fault you will receive extra strokes. Know that I would love to find faults since I want to cane you as much as possible, so I suggest you put as much effort as you can into looking like the perfect example of a schoolgirl at your old school. However, I will be fair. I shall not make up faults merely to give you more strokes. Just do your best and you should be fine.

“And make sure you knock on my door at exactly six o’clock on the dot, Friday evening. My secretary will have long gone but the outer door to her office will be unlocked. Come right through the glass door and then knock on my door. I shall be waiting. If you are late for this appointment by even one minute, do not bother to show up at all. In which case your final pay cheque will be in the mail Saturday morning.”

At that point she dismissed me, and my last view of her as I went back through her door was of her putting my file into a drawer of her desk and pulling out a large folio of fashion drawings.

*          *          *

I was in a daze as I returned to the mailroom. I had just spent fifteen minutes with the most beautiful woman I had ever met and she had fired me, humiliated me and then told me that I could keep my job if I let her cane me as though I was still a schoolgirl. And, to save my job, like a lamb to the slaughter, I was going to let her do it. I was terrified. It was true I had never been caned before at school. I had received the slipper several times on my bottom over my knickers, once as many as a dozen when I was sixteen which had left me in tears throughout the lesson.  It left me sore and bruised for a week making it painful to even sit on the toilet. But that had been the last time. I never dared risk being sent to a teacher for the slipper after that.

The only question was, why was I so excited? My heart was beating like a drum, I was shaking in my body and I knew that if I had to talk to anyone my voice would have a tremor. I told myself that the excitement was really just out-and-out fear. The humiliation and pain would be unbearable, and the only reason I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even wanting Friday evening to come as quickly as possible, was to get it over with. At least, that was what I told myself.

Fortunately, I still had some mail to sort when I got back to the mail room. Mrs Harmon was nowhere to be seen, so I got on with my job, trying desperately not to think about Friday, but only partially succeeding. I made my last afternoon mail delivery and, fortunately, no one seemed worried by my pallor to ask me if there was anything wrong. I certainly was in no mood for talking about anything.

The following morning after visiting the university I drove down to my Mom’s. She seemed satisfied and even amused when I told her I wanted one of my old uniforms for a hen night party. She had lovingly cared for them, keeping them all, marking my stages of growth. She had literally kept the best garments from each year, having them dry cleaned and pressed and stored in polythene bags in the wardrobe of my old room. Mom was like that, a sentimentalist and, as she pointed out, even though I had been small, they had been of such good quality that I still outgrew them before they had shown much wear.

I actually tried one of my final year’s uniforms on and was surprised how well it fitted. It may have been slightly tighter in the bust, but the hem of the gymslip was still the regulation two inches below my knees. And even the knee-high knitted socks from the previous year before I was a prefect still fitted. I didn’t know if I was pleased or disappointed having no excuse to offer Miss Robbins for an inadequate uniform.

I put everything back into the plastic bag, kissed my Mom goodbye, only to have her tell me to make sure I had it all dry cleaned after the hen night, since she didn’t want it returned smelling of some dreadful pub!

Later that afternoon when I got to the twentieth floor to pick up the mail from Mrs Summers, I was surprised when one of the envelopes she handed me was addressed to me. She said, “I would open this when you get home tonight. It is your contract extension. Miss Robbins asks that you bring it with you when you have your Friday appointment with her.”

That night I opened the large manila envelope with a sense of dread. I had guessed it would be some sort of legal contract and I wasn’t wrong.

Essentially the contract said that, because of my poor record of punctuality, I agreed that Miss Robins, company founder and owner, had every right to terminate my services as of the previous Monday with payment till the end of the week. However, my employment could continue if I were to agree to accept a punishment from Miss Robbins that included a minimum of six strokes of the cane with up to a maximum of six penalty strokes if I failed to follow instructions during the punishment. It went on to say that if I accepted this punishment I could continue to work at the company with a thirty percent increase in salary, provided I continue to serve as a faithful employee and observe proper timekeeping rules. Failure to do this would result in further review where I would once again forfeit my right to work there. The contract went on to list all the times I had been late arriving to work.

There was also an optional clause that allowed me to accept a hand spanking on my bare bottom by Miss Robbins while laying over her lap, on the understanding that this would help mitigate some of the pain from the caning. According to the contract, if I agreed, the spanking would last as long as Miss Robbins deemed necessary to make my bottom better able to withstand the subsequent caning. In other words, I agreed to leave it up to her as to how much I would suffer.

The next two days weren’t exactly pleasant. I had hung my uniform on its hanger in its clear plastic dry cleaners bag that I could see from my bed in my little one-room flat. It was a constant reminder of my upcoming humiliation where I would allow an extremely beautiful and powerful woman to cane my poor bottom, just because I needed a few pounds a week for a few months until I could get a real job in my own profession. I had no doubt I would sign the first contract, but refuse her side offer of the spanking.

I could have resigned, of course, and risk losing the flat. I could have found another job, I suppose, but I was so close to finishing my thesis and getting a real job that I didn’t want to take the time out from that work to find another temporary job. In a way, it was a terrible shame I couldn’t walk into the job of my dreams till my thesis was published and my PhD assured.

I was in no doubt as to how painful six strokes of the cane would be. It was true I had never been caned, only slippered at school, however the slipper had been utterly horrible. Yet several girls I had known who had sampled both the slipper and the cane all said that the cane was a thousand times worse. The thought of Miss Robbins caning me as though I was a pupil at school was terrifying and I knew it would take all of my resolve to actually hold still for her and allow her to do it.

Yet the thought of baring my bottom for her and positioning it for her to cane me was somehow awfully intriguing. She was beautiful and powerful and the idea of submitting to her while she hurt me was strange in a way I couldn’t explain. And somehow, wearing my school uniform in front of this fashion queen seemed to magnify the difference between us in a way that I found a little provocative and even thrilling.

*          *          *

By Friday morning I was a nervous wreck. I took my uniform with me to work and laid it in the back seat of the car. I wasn’t late for once, since, with it being a Friday, my undergrads hadn’t wanted to stay behind after my tutorial and ask their usual moronic questions. I went into my mail room office and did my job mechanically; thankful that there was a lot of mail to sort and deliver. By three in the afternoon, my normal Friday afternoon knock-off time, I was almost a basket case. My work was done and there were no late Friday deliveries to make. I pulled open my laptop and started reading a couple of research articles that I was going to refer to in my own thesis, just to try and take my mind off of my six o’clock appointment.

About an hour later, Mrs Harmon stopped by and said, “I saw the light was on, my dear, so I thought I would check. Shouldn’t you have gone home an hour ago?”

I smiled replying truthfully, “You remember when I saw Miss Robbins on Tuesday afternoon?”

She nodded, a little puzzled.

“Well, she asked me to stay late on Friday. She may have a little project for me. I have no idea what, though I suppose it could be she is expecting some late delivery and doesn’t want to wait until next week. I don’t mind, but all my work is done and so I thought I would do a little research, for my thesis, you know.”

Mrs Harmon knew all about my PhD thesis and knew that I would sometimes work on my laptop if I had nothing else to do.

She glanced around my little mail room and seeing it was all neat and tidy with no mail left to sort of deliver she smiled, “Very well, dear. You do good work, I know, and you are far better than the last girl we had, so I shall miss you once you leave us for that real world out there. I hope Miss Robbins doesn’t keep you too late and I wish you a wonderful weekend. Take care.”

I said, “You too, Mrs Harmon.  See you Monday.” I smiled, watching her leave.

At half-past five, I crept out of my little office to my parking spot in back to get my uniform, noticing that there were only a couple of other cars in the carpark. I was praying that their owners would leave the building before anyone might see me wearing the outfit I carried. On my return, I closed the mail room door and locked it from the inside, and stripped down to my bra and then got dressed in my uniform, including the ridiculously unfashionable navy gym knickers with the tight elastic leg holes and waist. We had generally all hated the uniform at school, knowing that most schools had long dropped the use of gymslips, and many girls’ schools permitted girls to wear trousers. I actually preferred skirts to trousers and at the university, I generally wore a skirt but my jeans were useful for working in the mail room. It didn’t take me long to dress, snugging the old school tie around the starched collar of my shirt, throwing the gymslip over my head, smoothing down the pleats and tying the yellow woollen ribbon at my waist.

There was a mirror on the far wall and, checking myself, I realised I actually looked fairly good. I brushed my hair into a ponytail and put my navy pudding bowl felt hat on. She hadn’t exactly specified that I wear a hat but since it was part of the uniform anyway, I didn’t want to give her any excuse to give me more strokes. I checked that my socks were straight and my shoes were shiny, and at five minutes to six o’clock I picked up the manila envelope with the contract and made a mad dash for the lifts. Fortunately, there was no one there and the lift was empty as I rode to the top floor. There I exited and turned to the right and up to the glass doors of Miss Robbins’ outer office. As promised, they were open and I was relieved to see that Mrs Summers’ desk was empty. I was relieved that the large clock on the wall over her desk said one minute to six o’clock and turned towards Miss Robbins’ mahogany door. It was partially opened as she had promised and I waited for thirty seconds before knocking.

Even now, I am not sure which was louder. Me knocking on the door or my knees knocking together. It didn’t reassure me when I heard her voice say, “Come in.”

I pushed open the door and nervously crept in. She was sitting at her desk and, to my complete astonishment, I saw that the Queen of ‘modern’ had had a sort of retro makeover. Her long black tresses that normally glistened down her back had been tied up in a prim bun, adding at least 20 years to her age. Instead of the latest tee shirt, she had changed into a high collared blouse with a cross-over tie. She was sitting behind her desk with what looked like my employment file again open in front of her. She even had donned glasses that also seemed to add to her age.

She actually smiled as she saw my astonishment and said,  “I see you can be on time when you try. I know this can’t be very pleasant for you but I am pleased that you are showing the strength of character to go through with this exercise. I must confess that I wondered if you would actually show up, but I am thrilled that you did since it gives me a chance to live out one of my own silly fantasies which, though is going to cause you some significant discomfort, will also allow you to achieve some of your own goals.

“I see you were able to obtain a school uniform. Is that the one from your old school?”

“Yes.  My Mother had stored it,” I agreed.

“It is identical in style to my old uniform, except my blazer and gymslip was maroon. I thought gymslips had actually died the death about the time I left school and in a weird way, I am glad your school kept to them. Do they still wear them?”

“I believe so, though I think they allow shorter hems now.”

She pushed back in her chair, stood up and walked around her desk. She was wearing a charcoal grey expensive wool skirt that flowed over her long legs that were wrapped in dark silk stockings, which made her look a fashionista’s idea of a school ma’am.

“You can see I have dressed for the part too,” she almost laughed. “This dreadful outfit is almost identical to what our headmistress used to wear. I suppose it gave her a sense of power over her charges, and actually, seeing what you are wearing, it seems to be working. At least it does for me.

“You see that I want to enjoy this and, to that end, I need you to follow my instructions exactly as you would if you were a real schoolgirl brought up before a strict headmistress who is going to punish you. I want it to seem as real as possible. It is thus important to me that you, well, get into the part.

“In a moment I am going to give you a uniform inspection and then you will bend over my desk and I shall cane you. The rules for the caning will be just like they were at my school. Once in position, you will remain there until I have finished. You will receive six strokes from that cane which, incidentally, is a real school cane once used at a girl’s school in Scotland, I believe. It is quite old but apparently saw some good use in the past and is still quite serviceable.

“During the caning, you will remain over my desk. You may not stand up and you may not move your hands to either protect your bottom or rub it. You will, in fact, keep them stretched out forward in front of you. You may grab the far edge of the desk, if that will help. You must not lash out with your legs or try to kick me.

“Once the strokes have been delivered you will remain in position while I inspect the damage to your bottom. Once I am satisfied, I shall then march you over to that corner,” she nodded with her head, “where you will remain for thirty minutes with your hands on your head while I get on with some work. At the conclusion of that period, you will straighten your clothing and may use my private bathroom to possibly put a cold compress on your bottom and fix your face. You may take a shower if you wish. You are welcome to use whatever soaps, shampoos, conditioners and makeup you find there. You will be then free to leave.

“Do you have any questions?”

I shook my head. “No Ma’am.” Then after a very slight pause, I said, “Except, may I see the cane?”

She smiled. “Hmm, Ma’am? I like the sound of that. And of course, you may see it. She walked over to the wall and then reached up to a high shelf and took down a crook handled cane about two and a half feet long and handed it to me. It was darker than I imagined, shiny and smooth and perhaps a little heavier than the ones I had seen at school but it was obviously very flexible. I imagined I could have bent it in almost a circle without risk of breaking. I wondered how many girls it had made scream over the years.

She saw me carefully examining it and, as I handed it back, she said, “It is thirty-two inches long, made of Kobo rattan, the traditional material for making school punishment canes. I have several I collected from various people over the years, mostly retired teachers. But that one was actually from an all-girls boarding school, so I think it should be very appropriate for today’s activities.”

“Have you used it before?” I asked suddenly.

She grinned. “Sadly, no. I have made a few cushions suffer in anticipation of this evening, but I have never had the pleasure of using it for real. However, I am sure that because of my practice on the cushions over the past week, I can deliver an appropriate performance, and this cane certainly seems like it is up to the task. However, in a sense, you are providing me with an opportunity to break my discipline virginity, as it were. At least with the cane. Now is that the contract?”

“Yes… Ma’am,” I shivered.

“Excellent. Let us both sign it now.”

She put the cane down on the desk in front of me and handed me an expensive fountain pen. I duly signed the contract allowing her to punish me and initialled the bit where I declined her offer to spank me first. She signed next to me as the disciplinarian, remarking, “I see you declined the hand spanking. A pity. I would have enjoyed that and I think you are actually making a mistake. I think it would have made tolerating the cane easier, although I understand you probably want to reduce your humiliation. Trust me, while I understand this must be humiliating for you, I promise the humiliation will vanish as soon as the first stroke lands. Any more questions?”

I shook my head and she said, “Very well, please remove your blazer and hat. You may lay them on the sofa.”

I did as I was told, and then she said, “Now I want you to stand to attention in the middle of the room, eyes front and hands by your sides.”

Feeling very uncomfortable as well as very scared, I moved towards where she pointed and watched as she studied me.

“I see your mother has done an excellent job of looking after your uniform. It looks almost brand new.” She started walking in a circle around me studying me as though I was under a microscope. “Your shirt looks like it has just been freshly ironed and the creases in your gymslip are quite sharp. Your tie is straight and snug, it doesn’t show below your collar in back, your socks are straight and your shoes are shined to perfection. Did you shine your shoes?”

“Yes ma’am,” I admitted, feeling dreadfully humiliated. “I polished them last night.”

“Good. You did a nice job. We also had to wear low heel plain shoes with an ankle strap. Now I am going to lift your skirt in back to check on your knickers. Please do not move.”

“I bit my lip, fighting to stay calm as I felt her lift my skirt high up my back and literally felt her eyes on my knickers.”

“I see your shirt is tucked into your knickers. Was that how your school dictated it?”

“Yes Ma’am,” I forced myself to answer.

She let my skirt drop down. “Well, I am a little disappointed I could find no fault with your uniform, so I cannot in all good conscience award you any more strokes since you followed my instructions to the letter. Now, pull your knickers down to your knees, lift your skirt and bend over my desk. Stretch your arms forward and keep your chest into contact with the desk. You may spread your legs as far as your knickers will allow so that you can remain flat on my desk. Please keep both feet flat on the floor.”

Trying not to think about what I was doing, I reached up under my skirt and pulled my school knickers to my knees, lifted up the hem and got into position over her desk. I was literally trembling with fear as I lay my tummy on her blotter, stretching my arms out so I could grab the other side of the desk. Since my head was turned to the side, I saw her arm retrieve the cane and then I felt her fiddling with my gymslip, lifting it up higher and smoothing it along with my back along with the bottom of my shirt. I felt so incredibly vulnerable waiting for the cane to start its work.

Miss Robins pushed my back down slightly and I felt the wood of the cane press against my bottom. Then without any further warning, she delivered the first stinging cut. An incredible pain shot through me like a bolt of lightning and I know I gasped in shock. In that instant, all thoughts of anything other than the intense stinging in my bottom left my brain. The humiliation, the terror of her and the fear of the cane, evaporated in a puff of neural smoke and all I could do was breathe in and out and pray that the pain would fade.

Surprisingly, after about ten seconds, it did though it still hurt more than anything I had ever experienced. I tensed up my bottom desperate to try and absorb the next ferocious sting, but all too soon I felt the touch of the wood pressing again on my bottom, immediately followed by the second stroke. It was just as painful as the first and just as breath-taking. Once again, its mind-numbing sting shot through me, wiping out all thoughts other than that of hot smarting pain, yet incredibly, within a few seconds I felt the wood press into me again and I cried out as a third cut smashed into my poor bottom.

Tears now escaped from my eyes, flooding down my cheeks on to her blotter, yet somehow, I forced myself to remain in place. The build-up of scorching fire was indescribable and, before I could gain even the slightest relief, the wood pressed into me yet again and a second later it felt like I had been cut in two. My bottom felt like a raging torrent of fire and I moaned and gasped out my distress, hoping for some sympathy. But once again, after an all too short a pause, I felt the cane press into my bottom yet again and then another torrential flood of stinging pain. Yet I managed to keep still, offering my naked bottom for her pleasure and my horrendous pain.

I heard her say, “You are doing amazingly well. Stay there, but take a couple of deep breaths. I shall give you one more stroke and you should know I will not be gentle, but then it will all be over.”

I felt the gentle press of the wood and heard the ‘Shh thwick! This time I yelped as the pain lanced through me again. I didn’t think she had hit me any harder, but then I could hardly think at all. The pain was overwhelming and for a few seconds, my brain ceased to function. Then, just as with all the other strokes, gradually, sections of my brain clicked back online and, despite the fierce fire that was burning, I knew it was over.

I realised I had stopped yelping, but I was still blowing great gushes of air in and out and I heard her say, “That was truly excellent, my dear,” as I heard her put the cane down on the desk next to me. “Just stay there a little while longer and get your breath back while I inspect the damage.”

Somehow, I felt her bend down and peer at my bottom, and then I felt her fingers running over it and I flinched a little as those fingers pressed in what I later realised were the ridges left by her cane. I suppose I should have been angry, yet all I wanted to do was rub the burning fire in my bottom with my hands and I only wished she had rubbed harder.

“You may stand up now. That was brilliant. I enjoyed it so much and you took it so well. Do you want me to help you?”

I manage to stand up and, as my skirt fell back down, my hands flew to my bottom. I looked at her and, despite her ridiculous school ma’am outfit, she looked so beautiful with such a radiant smile, while I just stood there as tears continued pouring out of my eyes. She looked so happy, as though I had made her day, yet there was also an element of concern.

Suddenly she came up to me and wrapped her arms around me in a wonderful hug. Possibly because I was so relieved it was over, my arms found their way around her waist and I pulled myself into her and I hugged her back, telling myself I just needed her support. I couldn’t help but look into her eyes and I actually saw something that amazed me. It sounds ridiculous but it seemed to me that it was loving admiration mixed with sympathy, and something I couldn’t put my finger on. I saw her look down at me and that she was about to kiss me on my cheek. Instead, I turned my head so our lips could meet and we kissed.

*          *          *

Five minutes later, she placed me in the corner of her office where she could see me from her desk, tucked my skirt up into the yellow ribbon belt of my gymslip, and made sure my knickers were at my knees. I started to rub the stinging from my bottom, but she told me to put my hands on my head. The tears were still rolling down my cheeks and splashing onto the front of my shirt. I felt so small and humiliated, yet I didn’t budge. Instead, I obeyed her and just stood there staring at the wall.

Finally, as my arms were starting to feel very heavy, she said simply, “Very good. You have served your punishment. You may straighten yourself up and step through that door to the right, which is my private bathroom. You will find fresh flannels, towels, and makeup. You may take a shower if you like. Help yourself and take as long as you like. I will be here working and we can leave together. Just know you have impressed me tremendously.”

I took her up on the shower in a bathroom that was larger than my mail office. It was incredibly luxurious and I took full advantage of all her shampoos and conditioners. Finally, I dried off using a hairdryer to get my hair into some semblance of neatness, put my uniform back on and fixed my face. I only wish I had brought my normal clothes up from the mailroom with me.

When I came out of the bathroom she had of course changed. She was wearing some ‘Strut’ jeans and a pale blue sweater that accentuated her breasts, and her black hair now hung straight down well past her shoulders in a river of silky shininess. The headmistress personae had vanished completely and she was back to her normal age as well as being the best-looking woman I had ever met.

As I came out of her bathroom she looked up and said, “Don’t forget your hat and blazer,” nodding to where they still lay on her leather sofa.

I walked over to pick them up as she rolled up a set of drawings, stood and came around her desk towards me.

“Look,” she said, “how are you getting home?”

“Oh, I’ll just run to the mailroom, pick up my clothes and change, and then my car is in the car park in back. Since rush hour is mostly over I can be home in about half an hour.”

“It’s Friday night, you know. Traffic could still be bad. Besides, honestly, your bottom is very swollen. I put some good bruises there with that cane. You are probably in a lot of pain and I don’t want you having an accident. I don’t think you should be driving. It isn’t safe. Why don’t you come home with me? I can bring you back on Monday.”

A lot of discussions followed and, in the end, I actually spent the weekend with her. She did bring me back to work on the following Monday and I was punctual for once. But that is another story.

The End

© Angela Fox 2018

 

Angela welcomes contact from her readers. Email at: angelafoxbooks@yahoo.com


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