The Hangover

An evening in the local pub leads to a break of Matron’s rules and a painful visit to the Headmaster

By Tara Patterson

“Come on Tara another drink won’t hurt,” said Tara’s Roommate, Clare Nicolson.

The two junior members of the school staff of Queen Anne’s Boarding School, Ambleside were enjoying a night out in a local pub to mark the end of their first month’s work at the school. They had hardly noticed the time had passed 9.00pm, the official curfew time of the dormitory floor they had lived on since joining the school staff and agreeing to abide by the ‘house’ rules.

“It’s gone curfew already,” warned Tara. “If we leave now then we might make it back before lights out. It’s a pity, this Windermere Pale is a very drinkable pint. You know my Young Farmer friends used to call me the beer monster.”

“Well, let’s stay for another then, Tara. I’m sick of Matron Taylor and her bloody house rules. We’re grown adults. It’s Friday night, for gawds sake. Neither of us are on time-table tomorrow. What harm could it do? We have both been pretty good since we arrived. Anyway, didn’t you say there were ways in and out of the dorms without using the main stairs?” Smiled Clare.

“There are ways, Clare,” said Tara as she thought for a moment. “Why not? Yes, please get me another pint. It may help me remember the way in. But we are hardly dressed for breaking in are we?”

Three hours later, as the school clock struck twelve, the two roommates, both the worse for drink, staggered giggling across the lakeside car park and towards the school gate. Tara was dressed in a knee-length khaki dress, white cardigan and sandals whilst Clare wobbled alongside, often tripping over the hem of her blue maxi dress.

“Not this way, mate,” whispered Tara as they neared the gate. “Schoolgirl error that.  We need to go over the back fence near the long jump pit.”

After much difficulty in the dark, Clare and Tara managed to climb over the five bar school fence on to the playing fields. This part of the school grounds was rather untidy and overgrown. Mr Lane, the Headmaster and a keen ornithologist, had tried to have the area left as a nature and wildlife haven. Tara soon made her way out of the trees and looked down the hill at the view; Lake Windermere twinkled in the light from the school.

‘My favourite view,’ she thought. ‘Beautiful. Well worth the nettle stings on my legs.’

A shout from behind soon brought her back to the situation in hand.

“Oh fuck, bloody trees, shit, lost my shoe. Can’t see where I’m going. Whose mad Idea was this? Tara where are you? I’m fucking stuck again.”

“Keep it down, Clare,” whispered Tara. “Why not shout a bit louder? It might help Matron find you. Look, it’s less than ideal for me too; thin stockings and sandals are no protection from this patch of nettles I’ve just found. Look, that’s the hard bit done. We have just got to nip up the back fire stairs and in through the bathroom window. Let me lead but keep it quiet. I don’t fancy having to explain to Matron us waking someone up.”

*          *          *

“Come on, you two, up you get! Enjoy ourselves last night, did we?” Matron’s voice boomed as she knocked loudly on the door. “Stand by your beds, the pair of you. You have both got quite a lot of explaining to do. If you are not up in five minutes, I will come in there and get you up.”

The two roommates reluctantly dragged themselves out of bed, both now suffering from a hangover. It was late and the rest of the girls were already down having breakfast.

“Shit, Tar, how much wine did I have last night? I feel so sick and my head is thumping,” complained Clare just as Matron Taylor burst in to the room.

“Right then, Ladies, do you wish to tell me what you were doing or shall I tell you what I heard?”

Tara and Clare both sheepishly looked at Matron, not quite sure what to say.

“Right then,” scolded Matron. “I heard you come back in last night. A full three hours after curfew, the rear fire escape and bathroom window are not appropriate ways of entering the building. You returned to school intoxicated and under the influence of alcohol That is strictly against the rules as you BOTH should know, and as for the disgusting language that I heard being shouted down the playing field, absolutely inexcusable for anyone, especially for two members of Staff. You leave me no choice but to report your appalling conduct to the Headmaster. Now I suggest that you both take a cold shower, sober up and think what you shall say to Mr Lane when he undoubtedly sends for you.”

Two hours later and still feeling worse for wear, the two young women stood in front of the Headmaster’s desk looking very sorry for themselves. Both had opted to wear a dark suit and sensible flat black shoes.

As Mr Lane began to speak, he looked Tara in the eye and then looked at Clare.

“An unfortunate evening, ladies; most disappointing. I’m not against my staff enjoying a sociable drink after work. I encourage it in fact, but returning intoxicated and drunk in the way you both did last night is totally unacceptable. You are supposed to be setting an example to our pupils. As for the foul language Matron heard being exchanged between you, whatever were you thinking?”

“Sorry, sir, it was a mistake, sir. Things just got out of hand.” Clare mumbled.

Tara shuffled uncomfortably, just wishing that the worn carpet under her feet would open up and swallow her whole. This was serious, she thought. Why had she been so easily persuaded to stay out so late?

Mr Lane continued angrily.

“As members of Staff, this matter constitutes misconduct although not quite gross misconduct worthy of dismissal. But it was a serious breach of the trust we placed in you by allowing you to lodge rent free on the dormitory floor. May I strongly recommend that, seeing you find it hard to keep to Matron’s rules, you should make alternative living arrangements at your own expense. You will also both receive final written warnings on your work records regarding your conduct. Naturally these will have to be disclosed should you wish to apply here for future permanent employment or mentioned in any reference that we may give to any other employer.”

Clare began to cry.

“Oh, sorry sir, it was a silly mistake. It looks like I have blown my career before I have even qualified.”

“However,” interrupted the Headmaster. “I am a fair man and I wish to offer you an alternative. Matron Taylor, despite being very disappointed with you both, has reminded me that this breach of her rules occurred outside of your normal employment hours so you should be treated and punished as any other member of the school community should be. If you accept school punishment you will be punished and punished severely as pupils. You may then remain billeted in your current accommodation. An entry will be made in the school punishment ledger but no mention of it or your misconduct will appear on your employment record. If you wish you may take a moment or two to decide which way you wish to proceed.”

Tara looked down at the floor. Her mind was in a jumble as to what to do. She couldn’t afford to have a written warning on her record or find somewhere else to stay in the middle of the tourist season. She might have to leave and go back home. Then what would her father say about her leaving another job so soon? But then school punishment? Gosh, she knew all too well what that meant. It was going to be painful and uncomfortable whichever option she chose. What a mess, she thought.

Clare Nicholson spoke first, interrupting Tara’s thoughts.

“Well sir, sorry, headmaster, I think I am going to opt for the school punishment, whatever that is. I can’t afford to stay anywhere else, not with my student debts and all, and not only that, a written warning would be a guaranteed fail on my final teaching practice. Sorry sir, I’ve blown it, haven’t I? My interview went so well last week too; what will the Governors say about how I have behaved? That’s working here out of the window now, isn’t it?”

“And you, Miss Patterson, have you reached a decision?” Asked Mr Lane.

Tara thought for a moment before she spoke.

“Well sir, yes, you are right. I have betrayed Matron’s trust and broken the house rules, so I suppose it’s going to be school punishment for me too. I’m glad of the chance to make amends. I enjoy living here and it would be a shame if I had to leave again so soon.”

“Very well, ladies,” continued the Headmaster as he got up and began to pace around his study. “Firstly, as you are both over eighteen we will regard this conversation as the parental consent part of the process. From this moment on you will be treated equally to any other girl who would find herself in a similar position.”

Both girls bowed their heads and stared at the floor.

The headmaster paused by his desk and stood in front of Clare.

“Nicholson, for returning to school intoxicated, for entering the building three hours after your curfew and for the use of foul and unacceptable language on school property, you will receive six strokes of the senior cane.”

Clare gasped but said nothing.

He then moved and looked at Tara.

“Patterson, as the senior girl here, I am even more disappointed in you. Not the behaviour we would expect from a Sphinx former or present, is it? I notice from our records that my predecessor often had similar discussions with you about your nocturnal activities, with little effect it seems. Perhaps eight strokes of the senior cane will make a more memorable impression on you this time.”

Tara spoke, her voice cracking with emotion. “Why eight, sir? That’s not fair! I’ve done no worse than Clare, sorry, Nicholson. Crumbs, it’s nearly twenty years ago since I last went outside out of hours. Where is the fairness in this?”

“I could easily add another two for impertinence, Patterson, or perhaps take the count up to the full dozen if this protest continues. I do not like your attitude, young lady,” interrupted Mr Lane.

“S-sorry Sir, I apologise for my outburst. I’ll take eight, yes sir, eight will make quite the impression on me,” begged Tara.

After a long pause Mr Lane addressed them both.

“Right, Ladies, as neither of you possess appropriate school uniform I shall require you to change into your gym kits for your punishment. In ten minutes you will both be standing outside this study facing the wall with your hands on your heads. Matron Taylor will be along presently to act as witness, now go to your room and change; you are both dismissed.

*          *          *

Tara stood in the corridor facing the wall. Her arms ached from the length of time she had been standing with her hands on her head. It seemed an age since she had heard the last crack of the cane from inside. How much longer must she wait for Clare to come out? Then it would be her turn. She started to shiver; a gym kit was hardly the warmest thing to be wearing in this draughty corridor.

Eventually the heavy door creaked open. Through the corner of her eye Tara saw Clare walking out. She was moving very slowly and gingerly. Tara noticed she was clutching her bottom and carrying her folded gym skirt tucked under her arm.

Matron Taylor stood in the doorway.

“Right then, Patterson, lets be having you. You have had long enough to think about your actions and now for the consequences. Let’s get this over with, shall we?”

Tara nervously followed Matron into the room. She noticed the large desk in the centre had been cleared of Mr Lane’s usual papers and clutter. Matron Taylor stood next to the desk whist Mr Lane stood in the centre of the room. He had removed his jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves; the senior cane hung menacingly from his right hand.

Mr Lane looked Tara up and down as if giving her a uniform inspection. Tara nervously brushed some fluff from her white polo shirt and looked down at her white ankle socks and plimsolls.

The silence was broken by Matron’s sharp commanding voice.

“Right then, Paterson, as you are familiar with the protocol prepare yourself for your punishment and assume the position across the desk. Remember if you do not count, if you move without permission or make excessive fuss during punishment then you will accrue penalty strokes; do I make myself clear?”

“Y-yes crystal clear, Ma’am” mumbled Tara as she slowly unfastened her maroon gym skirt. She folded it carefully and placed it on the corner of the large desk, then she took her position at the front of the desk and began to slowly bend.

Before she bent right over, she took off her glasses and carefully placed them onto her folded skirt.

Tara lay across the large walnut desk tightly gripping the far edge; she could feel her heart thumping hard against the surface of the desk.

Mr Lane took up his position. He lightly tapped the cane against Tara’s tightly stretched knickers, while Tara braced herself and waited.

Swish CRACK.

“ARRRH! Shisssst! Christ!” Muttered Tara as the burning sting from the first stroke cut across her buttocks. She wanted to jump up but she held on to the desk tightly and began to whimper.

“Count, Patterson!” Called Matron. “The passage of time has clearly affected your memory.”

“Ahhh! S-sorry, ma’am. O-one. Thank you, Sir,” she whispered.

Swish-CRACK.

The second stroke landed low just at the top of Tara’s thighs.

“Ahhhh! Two, thank you, sir.” Tara called out, trying to be brave.

Swish CRACK.

The third Stroke came quickly; Tara could feel the tears beginning.

“Arrrh! T-three, thank you, sir.”

After the fourth stroke, Mr Lane paused.

Matrons mood seemed to be softening as she spoke. “Halfway now, Patterson, keep it together. Would you like a pause in punishment to compose yourself or shall we carry on?”

“Owww! Ma’am, get it over, please. Ma’am, carry on, I just want it to be over.”

Strokes five and six came so fast Tara didn’t have time to count,

“Two more to go,” said Mr Lane. Strangely, he too somehow seemed to be encouraging Tara on.

Swish CRACK.

“ARRRRRR!” Tara screamed. “Seven, thank you, sir.”

‘Last one coming,’ she thought. ‘Always the worst.’

This thought seemed to strengthen Tara’s determination like a runner seeing the finish. She lifted her head and braced herselffor the final stroke.

Swish CRACK.

Tara wasn’t wrong. The last stroke cut diagonally across the seven other parallel strokes, sapping the last of Tara’s strength and resolve. She collapsed exhausted onto the desk and began to sob uncontrollably.

After what seemed an eternity, Tara felt the gentle touch of Matron’s hands on her shoulders. Matron spoke softly and kindly into Tara’s ear.

“There-there, Patterson, it’s all over. You may get up and put your skirt back on.”

As Tara stood up slowly, she reached down and painfully explored the wheals starting to form across her usually pert and smooth buttocks. Matron handed Tara her skirt and glasses. Mr Lane came over holding the punishment ledger and a box of tissues.

“Patterson, please takes a moment to tidy yourself up and regain your composure. Once you have signed the entry of your punishment in the ledger you may go. Thank you for your time Matron, I consider this matter to be closed.”

Tara made her way back to room 234. She moved as quickly up the stairs as her throbbing behind would let her. Luckily she didn’t see any of the pupils as they were all still in Saturday lessons. As she walked into the room, she was not surprised to see Clare lying face down on her bottom bunk, wearing just her socks and white polo shirt. Her plimsolls, skirt and knickers lay in a heap in the middle of the floor. Six angry red wheals showed up clearly on her naked bottom.

Clare looked up, her face flushed, her eyes red and wet with tears, but she was smiling, a huge beaming happy smile.

“I’ve done it, Tara, I’m in. I can’t believe it. Wow! This is great. I can’t wait to phone home and tell them all about it.”

“In what?” Asked Tara, puzzled. “Well done for surviving your first caning so well. It’s nothing to phone home about though.”

“No-no, Tara. I’ve got the Job,” beamed Claire. “Full-time here. Teacher of modern languages. Starting in September. Mr Lane gave me the good news after my caning. Rather strange, I know, but after he told me: “The matter was closed,” he just came out with the news. Apparently he was going to tell me formally on Monday and, well, me being in the office today, well he just felt the time was right to tell me. Wow! I’ve done it. I’m officially a teacher! It’s only the pain in my bottom stopping me from jumping up and down in delight. I haven’t blown it after all.”

Tara hugged Clare.

“I’m happy for you, mate. Well done. You deserve it after all your hard work. Clever you. There is only one thing.”

“And what’s that?” Asked Clare.

“Don’t ask me to go out with you tonight to celebrate!”

The End

© Tara Patterson 2015