A service is provided for errant residents
By Lorna Brand
I have never felt more self-conscious than I do right now, standing on the porch of ‘Sister’ Mary Home holding this stupid piece of red card. I live in a tiny quarry village; it is so small we have one single lane one-way road that comes in to the village. This is lined with houses. It then runs down the main street which consists of one local shop, a school and a church. After that, it runs out the other side of the village where it is also lined with houses.
The village was built for the local quarry workers; since the site was so far away from anything else it was the only way to attract workers. All five hundred homes are exactly the same, giving our ‘U’ shaped village a strange look of a horror film set. The quarry is busier than ever and new houses are being built all over to make up for the ones that were lost in the war.
There is not much to do in the village and the nearest picture house is miles away, but the adults do like to have a get-together at the weekend. The children out-number the adults by quite a bit, which we don’t mind but, for some reason, my mum goes on about it. The older kids in particular seem to be a trial for the village and the ‘wait until your dad comes home’ line was losing its impact with us especially when most of us could go days or a week without seeing them anyway.
So that’s why ‘Sister’ Mary is here. She used to visit the old Reverend before his passing and he always addressed her as ‘sister’, so we all assumed she was a Sister, not realising she was just HIS Sister, not that it matters now anyway.
After the Reverend’s passing, ‘Sister’ Mary spoke to the adults about how we needed a firm hand and, as the men were away doing such a hard job, they shouldn’t be expected to waste their free time punishing us. She offered to stay in the village and help as she was a teacher.
I remember the first time I was standing on this porch. My Mum was upset because I had stayed out to ten o’clock the night before and she saw me holding hands with Tom from school. I think that because I have almost finished school I should be able to stay out late on a Friday and start courting. Mummy didn’t agree, so first thing on Saturday morning she pulled me by the ear all the way down to ‘Sister’ Mary’s to be dealt with. My Mum rang the door bell and we stood in silence.
I was used to Dad belting me every now and then but standing at a stranger’s door with your mum and the whole village knowing why you’re there is embarrassing.
‘Sister’ Mary let us in and took us through to the sitting room where Mummy told her why she was upset and what I had done wrong. ‘Sister’ Mary told me how it all worked and that all my Mum had to do was give me a piece of paper with a coloured dot on it to indicate how bad I had been; red, dark red or black. That way she didn’t have to waste her time bringing me down and could get on with sorting dad’s tea and keeping the house.
I wasn’t in any position to argue and I wasn’t going to make things worse for myself, but I was completely taken aback by what happened next. ’Sister’ Mary told my mum that, although I was clearly out of control, I have been allowed to get this way and that Mummy was clearly to blame, so she would have to be punished too!
My Mum seemed even more shocked than me but agreed.
‘Sister’ Mary said that Mum would have to go first so I could see what to expect and she could experience what I would. We where taken to the kitchen and Mum was asked to bend over the table. She was still in her cleaning apron and her curlers but she did what she was told. It was very strange seeing Mum in that way and I was in tears before anything happened.
‘Sister’ Mary had an old school strap that she got down off the wall where it was proudly displayed and then took aim at my Mum’s bum. Pulling the strap back over her shoulder, it cracked over Mum’s bottom like a whip. Mum took a sharp breath in but I could see the tears in her eyes and her knuckles whiten as she griped the table. Mum didn’t move through the next two strokes. Not a sound passed her lips as she was, presumably, being brave in front of me and I was sobbing enough for both of us.
On the final stroke, Mummy let out a defining scream that I will never forget. ‘Sister’ Mary seemed quite satisfied with her handiwork and couldn’t remove the grin from her face, especially when Mum started to walk stiffly.
Then ‘Sister’ Mary said that I seemed upset enough for today and I should come back in a few days, so here I am waiting for my turn.
“Come in, dear, and straight to the kitchen with you.” ‘Sister’ Mary barked as the door opened. “Where’s your note to tell me how naughty you have been?”
“Here, Miss.” I gave her the note from my Mum.
“Right, over the table with you.”
I moved one of the chairs that was tucked under the table to one side before I bent over the hard wooden table, grasping the far edge as tightly as I could.
“You won’t feel a thing under those petticoats,” I heard as they were thrown over my head exposing my knickers. The fresh air cooled my skin momentarily before I heard the crack and felt the stinging sensation, just like a strike of lightning running over my clad bottom. I couldn’t help but cry out although my voice was dampened by my petticoats.
The second and third strokes came so quickly together, catching me off-guard. I could hardly catch my breath in between quenching my muffled screams, but the final stroke hit the hardest, striking the uncovered part of my bottom that was escaping from my knickers as I strained against the table with each onslaught. I cried out as my back arched and my toes curled, crying uncontrollably from under my skirt with a mixture of relief, humiliation and pain. My skirts where pulled back down and I was excused. I don’t plan on being back anytime soon.
© Lorna Brand 2015