A story written over ten years ago (hence smoking occurs in a public place) by a new writer to us.

                                                          By Michael Turner

Claire was drawn irresistibly to the window. She liked browsing for antiques, much to the disgust of her husband, who hated the waste of money and the clutter they created at home. But this shop was rather down-market; knicknacks and disused junk. Quite why she was staring at the naff porcelain figures in the window, she wasn’t sure. But often, she thought, bargains could be found in such places, the owners ignorant of the value of the treasures they were selling.

Anyway, she was killing time. It was her regular get-together with her old girlfriends and the fashionable northern spa town was just the place to meet up, now they’d all moved away. Trouble was, she had a couple of glasses of wine too many over the elegant lunch. Not that she was drunk, but she didn’t fancy risking an hour’s drive home until she was certain she was under the limit.

Mark had gone to an away match with his mates so wouldn’t be back till late. No need to rush, so some window-shopping was in order.

The door gave an old-fashioned tinkle as she went in. Behind the counter a lady, presumably the owner, politely but crisply inquired if she was looking for anything in particular. She was surprisingly well spoken for such a place, in her 50s, tidily dressed with striking dark-rimmed glasses.

“No thank you, just browsing.”

“You are quite welcome,” replied the lady in her business-like manner.

Claire looked through the various tables beset with plates, books, figurines and sundry pieces of pottery. She found a Susie Cooper plate, but it was cracked, and some of the prints were interesting if they were given a decent clean. She noticed there was another room at the rear.

As she moved towards it, the lady said, “It’s just furniture back there, my dear.”

“Oh,” replied Claire. “Mind if I take a look anyway?”

“Of course, that’s not a problem.”

The furniture turned out to be mostly junk. A couple of Victorian sideboards caught her eye amongst the tat, and that table might be Georgian, but it was in dreadful condition. Outside was a dimly lit yard with more junk and what looked like a workshop at the back of it. Whoever used it, she thought, was no great shakes at restoration. She had turned to go back when she saw it.

A desk.

Not just any desk. Not an antique nor an elegant writing desk, but a school desk. A genuine last-century, wooden and metal school desk, worth next to nothing. Yet like the shop before, she was drawn to it. It was partially hidden to the left before the arch to the main shop.

Almost unconsciously, she wandered over to it. Made of oak, blackened and cracked with age, it was attached with black metal runners to a fixed seat. Flat and uncomfortable as her own had been. Yes, it was identical to the desks at the superior private school she’d been so glad to leave some 20 years ago.

She lifted the sloping top. An evocative aroma of lead pencil, used rubbers and ink met her nostrils. Nothing inside except a scrunched up piece of blotting paper and a torn part of a card. She could just make out the word ‘Report’, a date twenty something October perhaps, and what might be a name, ‘Jo…’. A heart had been carved on the wood inside. ‘Emma loves…’ The rest had been scratched out.

The memories flooded back. The tedious rules, hours of boredom listening to dreary teachers, standing in drafty corridors on Detention, and the constant desire to be anywhere but school, to leave the wretched place. But at the same time there’d been fun. Some good friends, two of whom she’d just had lunch with. Some real ‘cows’ but they were so much fun to tease. The excitement of testing all those ghastly teachers’ patience and stretching those silly rules to their limits and beyond.

Claire now realized she was actually sitting at the desk, uncomfortably leaning forward, her chin resting on her hands, dreaming into space, oblivious to her surroundings. How that posture had got into trouble. Jolting awake, she looked round. No sign of the woman. She stood up. Her mind wandered to the memory of Miss Forbes. What a cow! In her 30s, her pudgy face, tweed skirt and a rasping, sneering voice. And her slipper! How many times had it visited the seat of her knickers? So many, too many to remember.

Unaccountably, Claire found herself standing in front of the desk, then lowering herself over it. Bent over, her bottom uppermost she felt that old twinge of excitement in her stomach. It was almost as Miss Forbes was behind, about to lift her skirt to administer a volley of blows to her vulnerable backside. Not all teachers used CP despite the strictness of the school, most preferred detentions. How she hated spending her lunchtime standing in the hall corridor facing the wall. Then there were after-school detentions, an hour’s purgatory doing some pointless written work. But Miss Forbes preferred her slipper and thwacking girls’ bottoms.

Then there was Mr Bryant, a right old sadist who, deprived of the opportunity to touch any intimate part of the pupils, resorted to a ruler across the palms of your hands. And there was Virginia Kent, the gym mistress with her plimsole. We all thought she was a dyke. Wobetide you if she caught you misbehaving in the showers. The embarrassment of being dragged naked and wet over her track-suited knees to be spanked like a little girl. And finally the summons to the Headmistress; she shuddered at the thought.

Claire remembered herself. She stood up. Thankfully, no one appeared to have seen her. Flushed with embarrassment with the silliness of what she’d just done, she returned to the front of the shop to leave.

“Seen anything of interest?” inquired the woman.

“No, not really,” replied Claire.

“That surprises me,” asserted the woman.

“Oh, why’s that?” inquired Claire innocently.

“You were quite some time and seemed to be taking a great deal of interest in one of my pieces.”

‘She must have seen. But how much? What must she think of me?’ Claire thought.

“I, I just was, well, not interested, but,” she spluttered.

“Don’t worry, my dear. I quite understand.”

Then Claire saw that what she thought was a computer, was in fact a CCTV monitor. The woman had swiveled it round so that she could see the screen. It showed the desk in its corner. She couldn’t speak.

“It brings back memories, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” replied Claire, thinking she might have got away with it.

“They’re not allowed to treat girls like that these days, are they?” There was a tone of insistence in her voice.

“Er, no.”  Claire turned red with the shame of it. She’d obviously seen it all.

“Much the pity, yes.” The woman pronounced.

Claire was silent. She ought to just run out of the place.

“No need to be embarrassed. We all have our little secrets.”

Again, Claire was lost for words, mumbling something she now could not quite remember.

“Now, I close at four-thirty if it’s quiet, which it usually is on a Saturday. You get yourself back here just before then and we can deal with your little problem. How about that?”

Claire had no idea how to answer. She stared into the woman’s commanding eyes and just whispered, “Yes, oh, thank you. I’ll just, thank you.”

With that, she fled the shop.

*          *          *

The mist was coming down as it turned dusk that late autumn afternoon. Claire wandered aimlessly through the streets, her mind in turmoil. She ought to just return to her car and go home. But something stopped her. She couldn’t get the events of the last half hour out of her head. She needed to think. Light shone from the doorway of a newsagents’ shop.

At the counter, she asked for 10 ‘B and H’. She had given up smoking years ago. In fact, she’d never really smoked, just to be daring and show off at school and when she was out with friends and had too much to drink.

Across the road was a café, a down at heel place full of fat women in grubby overcoats. She got a tea and sat down at a formica-topped table. She took out a cigarette and lit it. She coughed as she took her first drag and then felt her head swirl with the second. It was now nearly four o’clock. As she sipped her tea and puffed at the cigarette, her mind cleared a little.

She felt a sense of excitement and trepidation. Just how she felt years ago when she was summoned to see the Headmistress. She dreaded the prospect, yet was excited by it. The fear beforehand, the buzz of the adrenaline as it coursed through her body. The sense of achievement afterwards, that she had taken it and survived. But then there was the pain, the humiliation of punishment and occasionally the tears, which provided release.

She had a second cigarette and looked at her watch; four-fifteen. Decision time. She got up to leave. She was being silly. She had no need to meet that woman ever again. She would forget it had ever happened and return to the safety of home and husband.

Claire had no idea where she was. She saw a sign for the car park and followed it. Then, as she turned a corner, she saw the light from the shop shining onto the road. Before she knew it, she was back in the shop. The woman nodded to her as she entered but said nothing. A man in a mack was leafing through a pile of books. Claire tried to focus on some pottery on the table in front of her, not daring to look around. She could still leave.

“Thank you, goodbye,” the woman said.

She heard the bell ring as the man left. They were alone.

“Glad you made it, my dear. For a moment, I thought you weren’t going to be on time. Good job I don’t have to deal with that as well.”

She gave a knowing smile. Claire thought she understood her meaning.

“Now, I’ll just close up and be with you in a jiffy. You just go through to the back.”

At first, Claire couldn’t see the desk. Then she saw it had been pushed nearer the rear door and had some boxes on it. In the space where it had been, a curtain could now be seen. Claire pulled it back to reveal stairs to the upper floor. They were bare and uninviting, illuminated by a single un-shaded bulb at the top. She heard the shutter go down on the shop window.

“Yes, that’s right,” said the woman. “Go on upstairs and wait for me on the landing. I’ll be up in a minute to deal with you.” Her tone was now crisp and authoritative.

When Claire got to the top of the stairs, she found that the lino-clad landing led to three doors. On the landing itself was tea-making equipment and mugs on a shelf, and hangers for coats. Opposite was what appeared to be a toilet with wash-basin. She tried the door to the front. It was locked. She opened the second door and peered inside. To her further astonishment, in the shadows she made out two desks, side by side. In front was a table and chair, and she thought she could make out a blackboard or easel. She was about to go in when she heard footsteps on the stairs, so she retreated.

“Now then, young lady,” her tone was firm, her eyes fixed on Claire. “I think you had better use the toilet before we start. But before you go,” she paused and opened the first door with a key. She disappeared inside and emerged a few moments later with a pair of black pants. “I think these will be appropriate, so put them on when you’ve finished.”

They were indeed, school knickers.

“And no tights please.”

Her manner invited no comment from Claire.

“And I don’t think high heels are quite the thing, do you? Better wear these.” She produced a pair of rubber soled, elastic slip-ons rather like the type Claire used to use for gym.

“When you’re ready, knock on that door and wait for me to summon you. And you will call me madam.” This last was said with emphasis as she fixed Claire with a stare.

“Is that understood?”

For the first time in the last few minutes, Claire was required to answer.

“Er, yes.”

The stare continued.

“Yes, Madam.”

“Now, give me your jacket and bag.”

Claire meekly handed over her cotton jacket and designer handbag.

Sitting on the toilet, she examined the knickers. Elasticated legs, just as they had been at school, size medium. She now realized there was no way out. She fumbled under her knee-length beige skirt, removed her sheer silk tights and hauled up those dreadful knickers. God, they were tight. She tried on the shoes. A size too big but they would stay on if she was careful. A deep breath, then out onto the landing she went. Standing before the door, she could hear her heart thumping. Finally, she summoned up the courage and knocked. No reply. She waited. She knocked again. Nothing. She tried the handle. It turned. She was about to push the door.

“Wait!” a voice commanded.

She waited, her heart pounding.

‘I just want to get this over with,’ she thought.

Then the command, “Enter!”

Inside, Madam was sitting behind the table. In front, there were indeed two desks, similar to the one she’d seen, but in a lighter wood. There was indeed a blackboard. It was all quite surreal.

“Stand in front of my desk.”

For the first time, Claire got a good look at her foe. Her black, permed hair was graying. Her face was angular and imposing, reinforced by her thick-rimmed spectacles. She wore a pale pink V-necked jumper which revealed a substantial cleavage, with a pearl necklace. Her eyes once more bore into Claire as she stood before her.

“Now, my girl, you know why you are here. Three demerits equals detention, yes?”

“Yes,” mumbled Claire.

“Yes what?”

Claire hesitated.

“Yes, Ma’am, er, Madam.”

“Twice late for school and once no homework. When will you girls learn that excuses like ‘you left it on the bus’ won’t wash?”

“No, Madam.”

“So, you are to be punished. Anything to say before we start?”

“No Miss, er, Madam.”

Madam glared at her.

“Well, I have,” a tone of anger in her voice. “Are you aware of the rules of dress at this school?”

Claire looked perplexed. She could hardly be faulted for her cream silk blouse and her skirt. She had been given nothing to wear instead of them.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” said Claire hesitantly.

“I mean in particular, the rules concerning the wearing of jewelry.”

Claire fingered her silver linked necklace. ‘The cow,’ she thought. She had said nothing about it outside.

“Sixth form girls are permitted not to wear uniform. They are not allowed to demonstrate their parents’ foolish indulgence by wearing expensive precious metals.”

It crossed Claire’s mind to enquire if it would have been OK to wear cheap costume jewelry, but she thought better of it.

‘Bet her pearls are imitation, the jealous cow,’ thought Claire.

Madam stood up.

“Hand them over.”

Claire reached behind her neck and unfastened the hasp of her necklace and drew it over her reddish fair hair. The woman stood up and took it from her.

“And the earrings.”

She’d forgotten those. Again, she removed her expensive real pearl jewelry and handed it over.

“Those are now confiscated, and for that breach of school rules I’m going to punish you. Go to your desk.”

Unbelievably, she obeyed. ‘This was it,’ Claire thought. She walked to the nearer of the two desks.

“Bend over!”

Hesitantly she lowered herself over the desk. The butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she lay over it, her hands resting on the seat. She sensed the woman behind her. She felt her hands on the hem of her skirt. Slowly, it was raised and laid on her back. Claire felt the cold air on her exposed thighs and her bottom. She shuddered.

“Lift your up your foot!”

‘What was she on about now,’ thought Claire.

A hand crashed down on the exposed flesh of her left thigh, causing an involuntary gasp.

“I said, lift your foot!”

Claire raised her left leg behind her. From her foot, the woman took her shoe.

‘The bitch!’ thought Claire. ‘Just like Miss Forbes.’

The woman’s fingers stretched the leggings of her knickers further down her thighs and smoothed the surface over her bottom. As if the wretched things weren’t tight enough already. She had, by now, realized that the knickers were at least one size too small for her. Her bum had expanded somewhat since she last wore a pair of school knickers. A moment of silence, she dare not look behind.

Then the rubber sole struck her left buttock. Almost before she had time to wince, another hit her right. She’d forgotten how it stung, how it hurt, but had no time to think before another pair descended. She thought she squealed, the dull pain following the initial sting. The next pair came down, if anything harder. She sucked in her breath, her hands gripping the seat of the form.

A bare hand moved almost gently over the seat of her knickers.

“Up you get,” she heard.

Slowly, she raised herself up, her skirt falling back in place. Instinctively, her hands went to her bottom. In an instant the woman had seized her arm and spun her sideways.

“I did not give you permission to rub.”

With that, the woman swung the shoe down on her skirted rear, catching her just below her buttock. Claire stared at her assailant, with hate in her eyes.

“You will learn to do as you are told, won’t you?”

Claire said nothing, staring at her defiantly. The woman raised her right arm again.

“Yes, Madam, I will,” ejaculated Claire.

“That’s more like it. Now sit at your desk.”

Claire lowered herself gingerly onto the hard wooden seat. Even so, it smarted as she sat down.

“Now, for the first part of your Detention you will write out a line, 50 lines in fact. In your best handwriting.”

Claire did not know what to do next.

“Hurry up, girl. Open your desk.”

Claire lifted the lid of her desk. Inside was a jumble, but amongst it she found an exercise book and a pencil. She opened the book and took up the pencil.

“I said, your best handwriting, which means with a proper pen!”

Claire hesitated.

“It should be in your desk. If it is not, I shall be forced to punish you further.”

‘Like hell,’ thought Claire. ‘You’d take the slightest opportunity to whack me if you could.’

Once more, she lifted the lid and rummaged around. Finally she found a fountain pen, which she assumed was the chosen implement for this task. She took the top off and held the pen ready to write.

“Now you will write down, ‘I must not be late for school and I must hand my homework in on time, otherwise I will be punished’.” 

‘How imaginative,’ thought Claire. ‘Surprised she doesn’t say, ‘or your botty will be smacked’.’

Nevertheless, she wrote it down on a blank page, taking up 2 lines, when told to.

A moment later, Claire put up her hand. The woman, who was now sitting behind the table, lifted her eyes and looked disdainfully at her.

“What is it now?”

“Please, Madam, my pen has no ink in it.”

“Then fill it up, you stupid girl!”

Claire again looked confused.

“In your desk, ink!” shouted the woman.

Claire again searched the desk and eventually brought out a bottle of blue-black ink. She could not remember the last time she had filled a pen. The lapse of time proved fatal. As she squeezed the pen to fill it, she succeeded in squirting ink over the book and the desk. Trying to avoid this, she knocked into the ink bottle, knocking it down the slope of the desk. She caught it before more was spilt, but only succeeded in getting her hands covered in the stuff.

“You wretched girl, clear that up.”

Claire had no idea what with.

“Here, blotting paper,” handing her some. “Get some more from your desk.”

Claire mopped up the mess as best she could as the woman glared at her.

“Now, go and wash your hands. And be careful not to get ink on the doors.”

Claire stood up and, leaving the room, went to the toilet where she washed her hands. This was so unfair. The wretched woman was setting a series of traps for her. Well, she wasn’t going to win. Claire went sulkily back into the room.

“Don’t sit down, and take that look off your face.”

Madam was standing in front of her desk and Claire noticed she had a ruler in her hand.

“I’ll teach you to disrupt detention. I think you did that quite deliberately.”

‘Oh, get real, you cow,’ Claire fumed to herself. ‘If I wanted to disrupt this charade I’d have been far more subtle. The ink would have been on your chair.’

“Hold out your hand.”

‘What, the…?

“If don’t do as I say, I’ll give you a double dose.”

Hesitantly, Claire proffered her left hand. This was unreal. Mesmerized, she saw the ruler raised and then brought down sharply on her palm. She winced with pain and started to take her hand away, but managed to hold it in place. God, she hated being punished on her hands. She could never get used to it. The next struck her palm. Instinctively, she withdrew her hand and shook it.

“Put it back at once.”

She obeyed, and the third slammed down. Her knees buckled slightly, her face contorted with pain.

“Other hand.”

“But that’s my writing hand,” objected Claire.

“Well, doing your lines will be all the more painful. It’s your own fault. Now do as you are told!”

Claire’s eyes were filling with tears as she obeyed. She watched in horror as the ruler was brought down again. She held her position, just. A second blow caused her hand to clench.

“Keep those fingers straight.”

Down came the last, as hard as could be. The woman turned to put the ruler down. Claire held her hands still for a moment, numb with pain, then she thrust them deep into her arm pits in the vain hope of soothing away the pain.

“I did not give you permission to rub your hands, did I?”

“No, Madam.”

“You will learn obedience! Hold it out!”

Claire hesitated.

“I said, put your…”

Claire tentatively proffered her left hand. In an instant, the ruler crashed down on her sore palm again. Instinctively, she closed her hand and then thought better of it. Her hand hung loosely by her side, pain throbbing through it.

“Other hand.”

Her right hand now felt the full force of the ruler. Slowly, she lowered it, hoping that was the end of her ordeal.

“Now sit down and get on with your lines.”

As Claire meekly obeyed, she realized that there were tears in her eyes. She daren’t rub her hands, confining herself to massaging each palm with her fingers. It did little to ease the pain.

“You have 15 minutes to complete your lines. If you do not, you will be punished further. I suggest you get on with it. And remember, I said your best handwriting.” With that she sat behind the table. Deliberately, she took her watch and placed it on the table.

Claire seethed with resentment. She took her pen and started to write, trying to ignore her throbbing palm, but all the while she thought of the injustice of it all. The bitch kept trapping her. She’d get her own back somehow. Then she realized time was passing. There was no clock in the room, but she’d only written 4 lines. Panic set in. She’d better get a move on. She wrote faster. As she did so, it occurred to her that she was behaving and thinking just as she had 20 years ago, like a sulky teenager. Why, for God’s sake? She had no time to think. Her pen began to race across the page. Occasionally, she glanced up at the woman. She was ignoring her, writing something on a sheet of paper in front of her. Then she stood up. Claire’s heart missed a beat.

Was time up already? She was nowhere near finishing 50 lines. False alarm. She went to the door and left, leaving Claire on her own. She had no time to think. Her heart pounded as her pen raced across the page. Her writing became more indistinct. ‘Best handwriting’, she recalled the command. Oh, bloody hell! She now took a little more care, but still writing as fast as she could. Her hand ached. She longed to shake it but dare not.

Claire heard the door go and glanced up to see the woman enter. She continued writing. Madam got to the desk at the front and picked up her watch.

“Time up,” she intoned.

Claire tried to finish the line she was writing.

“Stop writing, I said.”

‘You didn’t actually,’ thought Claire, but she wasn’t going to say it.

The woman strode over to her desk and picked up the exercise book. Returning to her table, she picked up a pencil; red, as she later discovered. A frown crossed her face. To her dismay, Claire noticed that she was crossing things out.  Her heart pounded as the woman scrutinized the exercise book. Minutes passed, or so it seamed. Then, with a sigh, the woman put down the pencil, lifted her head and peered at Claire over her spectacles.

“Come out,” she ordered.

Claire stood up and hesitantly walked towards the desk.

“What were my instructions, young lady?”

“Um, 50 lines,” muttered Claire.

“And what else?”

Claire was silent.

“I asked you a question. What else?”

“Er, in my best handwriting,” said Claire, her voice almost a whisper.

“And what do you call this, this scrawl?” said the woman, turning the book round towards her. She fixed Claire with an icy stare.

“I did my best,” pleaded Claire.

“Well, your best is not good enough. Come! Stand beside me.”

Claire shuffled round the table so that she was standing to the woman’s right.

“Closer, girl,” she was ordered.

Claire now saw that there were red marks through some of her lines. The first 6 or 7 were OK, but the next had a red line through it.

“That is illegible.”

Claire could read it, but she thought better of disputing the point. The last line of the page had a red circle over one word.

“What do you think is wrong with that?”

Claire stared at it, puzzled. It was one of her clearer efforts.

“Nothing,” she ventured.

At this, a hand crashed down on her left thigh, stinging even through her skirt.

“Look at the word. What does it say?”

“Or else,” replied Claire, mystified.

“And what should it be?”

The penny dropped. The rest of the page had ‘otherwise’.

“But it means the same thing,” ventured Claire foolishly.

“It may well do, but it is not what I told you to write, is it?” With that, her hand struck Claire’s right thigh. “Is it?” Another slap.

“No, Madam.”

The next page contained even more red. Claire was required to announce what was wrong with each one. If she gave the wrong answer, the back of her legs were slapped. Even through her skirt, they stung. By the third page, even she realized that her hand writing had become a scrawl as she had rushed to finish her lines. Virtually every line was marked in red.

“’On time’, not ‘one time’.” A harder than normal lap caused her to shy away, turning her leg away from the woman.

“You will stand still,” she hissed. “If you don’t like your legs being slapped, I shall use this.” With that, she picked up the ruler. “Lift your skirt up.”

Hesitantly, Claire stooped to grasp the hem of her skirt and lifted it. The ruler cracked her just above her left knee.

“Higher,” ordered the woman.

Claire raised it so that it was bunched just below her waist, the full expanse of her thighs now displayed.

“’Time’ not ‘tim’, you slovenly girl.”

The ruler stung her other leg. Claire winced. And so it went on. With each mistake, Claire felt the cruel sting of the ruler on her exposed flesh. She tried to stay still but, as succeeding strokes landed on the same tender spot, she began to squirm and twist in a fruitless effort to avoid the pain. Finally, on the seventh or eighth, she jerked so far that the front of her thigh jammed into the edge of the table, causing her to cry out and drop her skirt.

“Stay still,” the woman ordered.

“I’m sorry, but it hurts so much.”

“That, my girl, is the whole point. Now lift your skirt or I’ll take it off.” Claire meekly obeyed. “Turn and face me.” The front of her thighs were now towards her tormentor. “If the backs of your legs are too sore, we’ll have to find somewhere else.”

‘Oh, how kind of you, you bitch,’ thought Claire. She closed her eyes as the ruler rapped the front of thigh. ‘God that hurt.’ She dearly wanted to drop her skirt and flee as the pain swept through her. It wasn’t just a sting, but a lingering pain, which got worse with every stroke. Thankfully, by the final page, her writing had improved and the strokes became fewer. At last the woman set her pencil down.

“So how many correct lines have you done?”

“I’m not sure, Madam,” whispered Claire.

“No, and neither am I, because you haven’t numbered them, have you?”

“No, Madam. I didn’t know I had to.”

“Really? And I suppose you expect me to count them?”

Silence.

“Well?”

“I’m sorry, Madam.”

“You will be. Now go to your desk and number them properly. And woe betide you if I find you’ve counted any that I’ve disallowed.” With that, she handed back the exercise book back to Claire.

At her desk, Claire began her task, knowing with a sinking heart that there would be nowhere near fifty. She knew you didn’t have to be a genius to work out that the lower her final number, the worse it would be for her. Despite this, she was not tempted to count any with red ink. She hoped upon hope that with the crossings out, she’d in fact, written much more than fifty. As she turned the final page, her hopes were dashed. The last number she wrote was 31.

“Bring it to me.”

Claire got up and walked hesitantly up to the table. The woman said nothing and took the book. She scanned it, checking for any cheating. Satisfied that there was none, she turned to Claire.

“31. And how many were you told to do?”

Claire suppressed her irritation at the unnecessary question.

“Fifty, Madam.”

“Not very good at all. Is it?” the woman inquired, prolonging the ordeal.

“No, Madam.”

“You know what that means?”

Claire remained silent.

“Well?”

“I, er, I suppose you’re going to punish, er, smack me for it.”

“Of course I am, my girl. You know the form?”

“No, madam.”

“Very well then, I’ll tell you.” She moved from behind the table and cleared the book and the pencils from it. “For not completing the task I set you, six strokes. And one for each line less than required number. What does that make?”

Claire’s head whirled. She had difficulty in working it out, such was her mental turmoil. With what, she wondered. The ruler? The shoe? Or some other instrument she had hidden away.

“I’m waiting, girl.”

“Twenty five,” mumbled Claire.

“Indeed. Now take off your shoe and give it to me.”

Claire obeyed like a zombie.

“Bend over the table and grip the far edge.”

Again, Claire obeyed. She wanted to plead. Six had been hard enough to take, but twenty-five? Just to rub it in, the woman put the shoe down on the table, inches from her face. At that distance, it appeared even more formidable. She felt her skirt being lifted and placed on the small of her back. The woman picked up the shoe. Claire squeezed her eyes shut and waited for the inevitable thud of its sole on her knickers. And waited.

“Twenty-five is an awful lot,” said the woman.

Claire’s hopes rose.

“I shall be kind to you on this occasion and halve that.”

Relief of a sort.

“But, it will be on your bare bottom.”

There was a slight tone of exhilaration as she pronounced the words, ‘bare bottom’.

‘Oh, thanks a bunch,’ thought Claire. It had hurt badly enough through her knickers. God only knew what it would feel like on a bare bum.

Fingers reached under her skirt and grasped the waistband of Claire’s knickers, smartly tugging them down to her thighs. She felt a draft of cool air on her exposed cheeks, making her all the more conscious of them. A moment of expectant silence, she held her breath, then an awful sound of the slap as the first descended on her naked cheek. The sting was far worse and didn’t go away as a second landed on her other cheek. She yelped and two more followed. She was propelled further across the table in a pointless effort to lessen their impact. Her legs shot backwards and parted, before she regained her stance. A fifth caught her low on the left buttock, causing her to yelp with the sting of it. Then nothing. A hand was placed on her bottom and moved deliberately up to her waist.

“Get up!”

Puzzled, Claire gingerly rose to her feet and faced the woman.

“Lift your skirt right up. Higher!”

Claire obeyed and then, with a sickening feeling in her stomach, she understood.

“What are those?” demanded the woman.

The knickers Claire had worn that day were brief, not exactly a thong, but rather skimpier than a tanga, made of a lovely silky lace. Quite why she’d chosen them, she wasn’t sure. When she’d been given the school knickers, she hadn’t thought to take them off. She had no idea what to say.

“Why were you wearing two pairs of pants?” The woman demanded.

“I didn’t think to take them off,” answered Claire truthfully. “I didn’t think it mattered.”

“Didn’t matter? What do you mean by that?”

“Well,” Claire blundered on. “It’s not as if they protect my b-b-b…” Claire ground to a halt, realizing the stupidity of what she was saying.

“NO, they certainly do not. They are quite obscene and forbidden in this school. Take them off.”

Claire fumbled under her skirt and awkwardly removed them.

“Give them to me. They are confiscated.”

Claire handed them over.

“Why were you wearing them in the first place?”

“I don’t know. But I did have proper pants on top, Madam,” Claire pleaded.

“That is not the point. There was a reason for wearing that disgusting thing, wasn’t there?”

Silence from Claire.

“You were going to remove your regulation pants after school, weren’t you?”

“Yes, miss. I suppose so,” stammered Claire.

“So that you could flaunt yourself in front of the boys, if I’m not very much mistaken, you little hussy.”

“No, I wasn’t, honestly. I’m not like that,” Claire begged. “It’s just that, they feel nice, and make me feel grown up.”

“Grown up? I’ll give you grown up.”

With that, the woman took a firm grip of Claire’s left ear and propelled her behind the table. At the same time, she pushed the chair back and sat down on it. Claire’s head was first forced down and then she was unceremoniously launched across the woman’s lap.

“You are still a child, as far as I am concerned, and to demonstrate it I’m going to smack your bottom like a little girl’s.”

Up went her skirt again revealing Claire’s bare bottom. The hand slapped down on each cheek. Claire knew she was not holding back. The sting, followed by intense burning, swept through her. Her head hung low towards the floor as she tried to bear it. The smacks were now a steady rhythm, first one cheek, then the other. She winced at each, but was determined not to let the ‘bitch’ know just how much it was hurting. She squeezed her eyes shut. The sound of the slaps reverberated in her ears, but increasingly her mind was dominated by the intense pain in her bottom. Her breathing became heavier. The stinging wouldn’t go away. She was wriggling now, from side to side across the woman’s lap in a fruitless effort to ease the pain. Would she never stop? Just give me a rest, anything. If anything, the tempo of the slaps was rising, barely a pause between each blow. Finally a volley to the base of her cheeks just above her thighs broke what self-control she had left. With a squeal, Claire’s right hand shot back towards her blistering bottom in a vain attempt to protect it. In a flash, the woman caught it.

“No, you don’t. Keep still.” She gripped Claire’s hand and twisted across the small of her back. “I’m going to teach you a lesson,” her voice was breathless, whether with excitement or just the exertion, “to behave and I will continue until you have learnt it.”

Each word was accompanied by a hard slap to the crown of her buttocks. The spanking was now a furious crescendo. Claire was emitting a mewing sound. Her legs thrashed wildly, opening and closing in a scissor-like motion. Her feet were off the ground, her free hand no longer supporting her, leaving her balancing on the woman’s lap, still held in a vice-like grip with her other hand She clenched her buttocks tightly together. If anything, this made the pain worse. Claire’s whole world was her bottom.

‘Oh fuck her. Just stop, you bitch. I’ll do anything. Just leave my bum alone, for fuck’s sake.’

But on it went, slap after slap covering every inch of her backside and more. Her mewing had turned into a permanent squeal. She was gasping for breath. She could fight no more. Her body went limp and she lay there slumped across the lap as the spanking went on and on, moaning lasciviously.

Finally it stopped. The pain was still there, but the torment was over for the moment. She gulped for air, each gasp producing a high-pitched squeak. Her eyes were blurred, unable to focus. She realized, to her shame, she was crying, blubbing even. A hand was now caressing her inflamed rear. It helped a bit. She was aware the woman was herself breathing heavily. After a while, her sobs became quieter and then stopped. Still, she lay there limp as a rag doll.

“Up you get.”

Claire slid off her so that she was kneeling at her side.

“Come on. Let’s have you on your feet.” This was said in a kinder almost compassionate tone.

Claire struggled to her feet, desperately wiping the tears from her eyes.

“I think that may have taught you a lesson, young lady.”

All Claire could do was nod, and snuffle. She noticed the woman was rubbing the palm of her hand against her hip. It was little consolation that the woman’s hand had also suffered from the onslaught on her backside.

“Now, to let that sink in, we’ll have you in the corner.”

The woman propelled Claire gently across the room and positioned her face into the corner.

“And to make the point, we’ll have this on display.” She once more lifted her skirt exposing her flaming cheeks. “Hold it up. I want to see all your bottom.” She maneuvered Claire’s arms so that her elbows held the skirt to her sides. “Keep it up, and don’t you dare let it drop.”

With that she returned to the table and sat down.

*          *          *

Gradually, Claire’s eyes cleared. Ahead of her, six inches from her nose, was a grimy cream wall. Gradually, she composed herself. Her face was wet from the tears. There was a funny buzzing feeling in her head. And her bottom, oh her bottom. She’d never had such a spanking. Ants? Nettles? Sunburn? No word could describe the sensation. She long to rub it, caress it, anything to ease the pain. Yet, she felt relaxed, at peace. Maybe a good cry had done her good. Perhaps it was just the relief that it was over. Or was it? She sensed the woman in the room. She daren’t look round. Her eyes moved left then right, but all she could see were the two walls, confined as she was to her corner.

She heard footsteps on the floor. Then she heard the door. She waited, trying to detect any sound within the room. Finally, concluding that she was alone, she gingerly moved her right hand down to investigate. Her skirt slipped partially as she gently placed the back of her right hand on one cheek, then the other. The heat was intense. It did little to ease the pain, but felt nice. She heard a noise from the landing, possibly running water. Realising that her skirt was held by only her left hand and that the right side had fallen back down, she tried to hitch it back in place. As she did so, it slipped on the left side so that it was now covering half her bottom.

Just as Claire was about to try again, she heard the door go again. She froze. Footsteps again on the floor behind her. For a moment they stopped, then she heard them move closer to her at a quicker pace.

“What did I say?” demanded the woman.

Claire said nothing.

“I said, don’t let it drop.” With that, two resounding slaps hit the backs of Claire’s legs, so hard they propelled her forward. Her knees banged on the wall before she rebounded. She winced but kept quiet.

“You will, learn to do as you are told. I want the whole of your bottom on display.”

Hands searched the waistband of her skirt. One found the hook and eye, and undid it. The other peeled down the zip.

“If you can’t hold it up as you were told, then we’ll have to have this off.” Claire’s left elbow still held the skirt at half-mast. “Put your hands on your head.” She obeyed and the skirt fell to the floor. “Lift your foot. And the other.” With that, the woman picked the skirt up. Two lighter slaps were delivered to the inside of her thighs, pushing her legs slightly apart.

“Now, you will stay still, my girl. And don’t you dare move, otherwise you know how I will deal with you. Understood?” Claire did not respond. A slap to her bottom. “Understood?”

“Yes, Madam.”

With that, the woman retreated. Claire felt the cool air course between her legs. She felt vulnerable, exposed. She realized she was wearing nothing but her bra and her blouse. Her shoes had departed somewhere in the spanking and she was now bare-footed. She closed her eyes. Was the woman watching her semi nakedness? Strangely, she didn’t care. She rocked to and fro’, or so it seemed, in a daze. Her bottom still hurt but it was a different kind of pain. The sting was still there but it was subsiding into something else. The heat was intense and yet it spread throughout her nether regions. She felt a curious feeling in her stomach. She no longer cared what was happening about her. Her mind was in a trance, entirely focused on the strange sensations her body was emitting. It was not only her face that was wet.

After a while, her reverie was gradually interrupted by the pain in her arms. Her fingers began to twitch and she wished she could relieve the strain by lowering them. Her returning senses noted that the woman was back in the room. She heard something thump down on the desk. There followed a pause. Instinctively, Claire knew something was amiss. Her senses became acute to every sound and the tension mounted in her body.

“Come here,” demanded the woman.

Claire turned to face her, relieved as she lowered her arms, but in trepidation of what was to follow. It occurred to her that the punishment for the missed lines had not been completed. How many had she had? Five, six, seven? She couldn’t remember. Surely the woman wasn’t going to finish it? Not after that assault on her bottom.

As she walked back across the room, instinctively her hands went to her front to cover herself.

“No need for that, young lady. I’ve seen it all before,” said the woman in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. “Hands by your sides,” she ordered.

Embarrassed, Claire withdrew her hands to expose her bush. As she reached the desk, she saw that her handbag now lay on the teacher’s table.

“Is this your bag?” the woman demanded.

“Er, yes”, Claire mumbled in response.

“And what am I going to find in here, my girl?”

Claire was puzzled and said nothing. Then, realization began slowly to dawn.

“When will you girls learn? After 25 years in teaching, I can smell smoke on a girl’s breath a mile off.”

Claire stared at the bag, then the woman.

She opened it and without difficulty located the pack of ‘B and H’, casually opening it. “Yours I believe?” she inquired.

“Yes, Madam.”

If Claire had thought that her ordeal was over, she now knew it was far from it.

“You know the rules about this filthy habit.” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Yes, Madam.”

“And that includes smoking outside school premises, and bringing them into school. Yes?”

“Yes,” Claire replied, her voice a resigned monotone.

“And you know the consequences?”

Claire did not but could guess. Whatever it was would be bad news for her bottom.

The woman turned and reached into an umbrella stand, which Claire had not noticed before. A thin yellow object with a crook handle was withdrawn. There was no mistaking it. It was a genuine school cane. Claire was mesmerized by it. Panic set in. She’d had it twice before; four, the first time for smoking, then six the second. She’d never forgotten the pain and trauma of it. The first time had been a whirl. She’d yelled and thrashed around so much that she’d knocked things off the head’s desk. Her efforts to avoid the caning had resulted in her taking one excruciating cut below her knickers. She’d ended up blubbing her heart out.

Yet she remembered waiting outside the study as her confederate took her dose. Six cracks she had heard with fascination. Then the older girl had emerged, her hands to her bottom, a tear in her eye but proud that she had taken it without protest. She remembered the look of contempt she’d been given for her own flood of tears.

The second time was different. She knew what to expect. God they hurt, but she took them without protest. She’d not cried until she was alone in the toilets and then only a few tears. She felt elated as the other girls asked how it had been, how many she’d got, knowing how impressed they were with her fortitude. Later she felt that pride as she examined the marks in her bedroom mirror, five fiery tramlines that turned a shade of blue then yellow before fading. She’d been fascinated as she lay in bed feeling the marks each night as she dozed off to sleep and strange dreams.

Her reverie was interrupted with the clink as the cane was laid on the table. She felt a knot in her stomach, of trepidation and something else. Once more she was facing the cane. Could she take it, particularly after the ravages her bottom had already been subjected to?

“You have two options,” announced the woman. “Either I can report you to the head. Who will expel you, or give you the thrashing of your life.” She paused to let the words sink in. “Or I can deal with you myself here and now.”

Claire, for a moment, could not see how the options differed.

“Unfortunately, as the head is away at present, you will have to wait a few days if you choose to be reported. Some may consider that wait worse. Or you can face up to your stupidity now, with me.”

Claire now understood. She was being offered an escape. If she chose the mythical head (he or she?), she could end it here. If not? There should have been no choice about it. She could escape to the safety of home and husband. But she paused. That tingle of excitement appeared in her stomach. But she feared the pain and she had no pants on. A bare-bottomed caning was unheard of.

“I’m waiting. Well?”

Claire would never be able to explain what she did next.

“I’ll take, er,” a quizzical look from the woman. “ Please don’t report me to the head.” Claire said in a meek little voice.

“Very well. I will deal with you myself.”

Claire had burnt her boats.

“THE CANE.” There was a note of triumph in the woman’s voice. “I want you over that desk, your bottom in the air.”

Claire shuffled over to the desk and slowly bent forward. Her hands grasped the back of the seat and she let her legs part slightly as she allowed herself to slip down so that her stomach rested on the desk top. She heard the woman behind her. A hand brushed gently over her nether regions, then moved to her back, delicately took hold of her blouse and eased it up towards her bra strap. There was no danger of her blouse falling back down, but she felt even more naked and exposed now. The woman moved away again. Then she heard the woman pick up the cane from the desk. Resigned to her fate, Claire rested her face on her forearms and turned it slightly so she could see her adversary.

“This is my senior cane. I use it to beat only the naughtiest girls. I intend to hurt you and teach you never, ever to break the school rules again.” With that, she swished it through the air. “Six of the very best for you, my girl.”

Claire’s stomach filled with butterflies. She turned her head away and waited in trepidation for the inevitable.

She heard footsteps behind her, then silence. Claire could hear her heart thumping. Her body was trembling. Then, she did not remember whether she heard the swish as the cane cut through the air. She thought she heard the crack as it struck her buttocks. Certainly she felt the intense sting, which in a flash flew like electricity through her bottom, up her spine and exploded inside her head.  She yelped, all thoughts of stoicism forgotten. The pain intensified, lingered and then faded to leave a line of fire across her bum.

Another pause, more silence then this time; she was certain she heard the swish before it landed. God it hurt. But this she took better, no sound, except perhaps a little squeak. Again the pain mounted then died back. Her breathing was more measured. The third was harder, and she felt it delivered into the crown of her bottom. Just a gasp, but boy did that hurt. She lifted her head and gulped a deep breath. But she was OK, she was taking it. That proved a premature thought. The fourth crashed into the base of her cheeks just above the join of her thighs. She let out an involuntary cry. The pain was so intense it wouldn’t go away. Momentarily, her hands left the seat but she regained control before they could reach behind her. Instead she clenched and unclenched her cheeks in a pointless attempt to ease the pain. She was gasping for air as if more oxygen would cure her torment. Gradually she regained her composure and settled back on the desk.

The next landed further up. She winced and exhaled deeply. There was pain but she could absorb it. How many was that? Four, no five. Exhilaration. Just one more to come. Her senses were now so acute she could predict it. She heard the hiss of the cane as it descended, almost felt the breeze ahead of it as her bottom rose to meet it. It crashed into her low down, probably the hardest of them all. She let out a loud moan, her body rising up and forward, trying to ride the stroke like a wave. That wave of pain flooded into her, traveling up into her loins and onwards, intense, biting and beastly. Then the whole of her bottom seemed on fire, ablaze with electricity.

But she felt elated. She’d taken it, survived.

A hand once more rested on her cheeks. It felt pleasant. Then, with a final gentle slap which did not hurt much but made her jump, the woman told her to rise. Slowly she eased herself up from the desk. The mere act of straightening up caused ripples of pain in her bottom. Through misty eyes she viewed the woman.

“Well my dear, you took that rather better than I expected.”

To her surprise, Claire thanked her, for what she wasn’t entirely sure.

“That completes your punishment. I hope it was beneficial.” With that, she put the cane down and left the room. As she went through the door, she said pleasantly, “Get yourself dressed now, you’ll find your things on the table, and I’ll see you downstairs. Take as much time as you need.”

Claire was left alone with her bottom. For a while she did nothing, in a daze, trying to comprehend what she’d allowed to happen to her. She felt her buttocks gently with her hand. It was blazing hot she could feel ridges where the cane had struck. She tried to twist round to look at it, but could see little. Eventually she dressed, although putting on her knickers, skimpy though they were, was a struggle. Her bum seamed to have grown two sizes. Finally she was able to gather her things and leave her ‘school room’ behind.

*          *          *

When she got downstairs, the shop was in darkness except for the front. The woman was back behind her counter busying herself with some papers. She gave a reassuring smile as Claire came in.

“Now then, feel better for that?”

Claire said nothing, but nodded he head slightly.

“Yes? Well it certainly gave me a buzz. I haven’t dealt with such a genuine girl for ages. Been a while has it?”

“Er, yes,” replied Claire.

“All the more remarkable. You were brilliant. And what a lovely bottom. Just begging to be spanked.”

Claire felt a rush of pride and pleasure surge through her.

“Thank you madam. And you were, just like, my,” Claire couldn’t find the words. “Well, you know.”

“Yes dear, I think I do. I was almost tempted to give you another six. But I really think that was enough. There’s always the next time. Eh?”

Claire felt a tingle of excitement in her stomach.

“Now before you go, I’ve a little memento for you. You never know when it might come in useful.” With that she reached under the counter and handed over a china figurine.

Claire thanked her.

“Keep it safe. Not really the sort of thing you can put on display unless you’re really brave. Now I really must close up so off you go. I’m sure we’ll meet up again.”

Claire glanced at it briefly then put it in her handbag, gave a smile to the woman and left.

*          *          *

Later, Claire took the figurine out and examined it more closely. It was a schoolgirl clad in a St Trinian’s outfit, short-sleeved white shirt, navy blue gym slip, ridiculously short. Fair pony tails, she was leaning forward on a hockey stick, her bottom sticking out provocatively. The hem had risen up, exposing her knickers, which were even more ludicrous, revealing most of her bottom cheeks. As Claire looked more closely, she saw across the pale pink skin of the rounded cheeks three distinct but all too clear red lines. She understood why the girl had such a cheeky grin on her face.

The End

© Michael J Turner 2008