A new teacher clings to her job

By Judy S

Part 1. Memories

Saint Dominic’s was a girls’ boarding school with many traditions. Interhouse Sports Day, always the last Saturday in June, was one of them. From ten o’clock until two, the playing fields and refreshment tent became a hive of activity. Girls and parents dashed between events, competing or spectating. Tannoys and starting pistols, a soundtrack to the day’s activity.

In the canvas marquee, they laid out neat triangular sandwiches on doily-lined trays. Beside these, a finger buffet of breaded chicken pieces and dinky sausage rolls. Squash and lemonade for the girls. Tea and fruit-punch for the grown-ups.

There was an hour for small talk between parents and teachers, then prize giving at three o’clock. Meanwhile the girls, hot and tousled, hurried off to shower and change.

Sophie Heaton was in love. Not in the traditional romantic sense, though romance played its part. It was Saint Dominic’s that had won her affections. A love affair that began sometime between Prep school and becoming Head Girl.

Slim and athletic, she excelled in sports without ever neglecting her studies. But, her greatest ambition was to be here not as a pupil, or even as Head Girl, but as a Mistress. Four years had passed since then and now she was here. A one-year trial, and her plans appeared to be heading to fruition.

The Headmistress, Mrs Grainger, had been a constant presence in her memories. She was only a couple of years from retirement now, but remained formidable. Her sign-off on a successful one-year probationary report would seal the deal. After all the hard work, Sophie’s fate lay in a simple action of the Headmistress’s right hand.

A mere formality, she had thought and, until a week ago, she was right. It was then a shadow had beset her path. A deception she believed long forgotten, resurfacing at the worst possible moment. Something, heaven knows what, had tipped off the Headmistress. When challenged again, four years after the fact, she had dropped her guard.

She had lied as Head Girl, much to her shame, but now, as a young teacher, she finally confessed the truth. Yes, she had participated in planning a forbidden sixth-form party. Yes, she had smuggled alcohol onto school grounds. Yes, she was so very sorry for her dishonesty.

Deep down, Sophie wondered if Mrs Grainger had always known? If not for certain, she must at least have suspected. A breach of trust was beyond anything she could forgive. To dismiss a barefaced lie, to sweep it under the carpet, was out of the question. So now, Sophie’s lifelong plans hinged on that doubtful probationary sign-off.

Since leaving Saint Dominic’s, Sophie had blossomed into an exceptional and elegant woman. She looked back on those halcyon days of youth, days of assured progression from year group to year group. But, her next progression, sought after for so long, was far from assured.

Saint Dominic’s dreamy wood-panelled corridors and immaculate grounds had always enchanted her imagination. She remembered arriving in Prep school. Short pigtails, her school blazer feeling a little too big. To her, the austere traditions were the epitome of perfect schooldays. She loved the routine of morning chapel, the metallic call of the bell. The teachers, how tall and elegant they had seemed back then, in their flowing academic gowns.

True, the school embraced other traditions she preferred not to dwell upon. Sophie’s cousins seemed to think her ‘posh’ boarding school was like their childhood comics; a whacking at the end of every day. They never understood the cane was, by definition, a deterrent. Many girls, Sophie included, passed through school and never experienced its cruel bite.

Those shy and awkward schooldays were far behind her. She felt divine in her collection of formal skirt-suits for which she had saved so hard. Kind and approachable, acknowledging every ‘Good morning Miss’ from the girls. And, as the spring rolled into summer, she basked in the warm sandstone glow of Chapel and Main school.

Attached to Tudor House, Sophie’s day had been a real buzz. Organising the girls for their team events. Sometimes encouraging, sometimes commiserating. Competition between the houses was good-natured, but keen. She threw herself into the mix and, as per tradition, she too sported the house colours.

She felt rather underdressed at first, mingling with the affluent parents. Their linen suits and designer summer dresses would have cost her a month’s salary. But, with a tingle of relish, she realised her outfit was gathering more than its fair share of attention. A pleated sky-blue tennis skirt and white polo shirt, beginning to cling a little in the summer heat. Its colour coordinated appliqué hoops underlined the generous swell of her breasts. Several fathers, their eyes wandering, received stern frowns from their exasperated wives.

Today, her favourite of the school calendar, should have been a defining moment for Sophie. Supporting the House, cheering on the girls. It was exactly where she had always wanted to be. Plus, it looked like Tudor House had a great chance of coming out on top this year.

The background noise soon faded as the girls made their way to the changing rooms. Sophie stepped outside the refreshment tent, into the quiet shade. She enjoyed her recollections, and wanted to be away from the grown-up chatter.

The summer of 1988 was the year of the infamous senior common room party. It was an event now etched into Saint Dominic’s folklore. The finale included tipsy revelry and the egging of the PE Mistress’s car. The entire school was abuzz and the fallout had rumbled for days. That was the length of time it took Mrs Grainger to unmask the prime ringleaders.

When summoned to her study, they faced an unenviable choice. Would they opt for a week’s suspension? Or, choose a far swifter resolution, courtesy of her ferocious crook-handled cane?

Speculation abounded but, with A-Levels looming, their choice was stark. Six strokes each, it became known, a rarity for any senior girl. Four subdued sixth-formers, two were prefects, trooped from Mrs Grainger’s study that day. They made their choice, and took the old-fashioned consequence.

Sophie too had come under suspicion, but was resolute in her denials and stuck to her story. A certain rapport between Headmistress and Head Girl may have helped. Meanwhile, her friends had not been so fortunate. Their nervousness, under Mrs Grainger’s no-nonsense questioning, had betrayed them.

Even so, Sophie’s mere presence at the party earned her a Saturday detention. Two-hundred and fifty lines was a childish and humiliating imposition for a senior. But, able to sit in comfort upon the classroom seat, she knew she had dodged a far worse fate.

There were storybooks she loved back then. Tales of japes and mischief. Old-fashioned schooldays where the threat of discipline was far more acute. Saint Dominic’s use of corporal punishment was rather sparing in comparison. Yet, in her imagination, it held an irresistible fascination. Like a ‘danger – no entry’ sign that you know to avoid, yet cannot resist taking a peek.

She had conjured private fantasies, filling in every last detail. Escapades of derring-do where she, the heroine, often came within a whisker of the plimsoll or cane. To feel the thrill of terrible anticipation, but to know that a last minute reprieve would save her. Such was the privilege of imagination.

The summer party incident was her closest-ever brush with real corporal punishment. She had sidestepped it, but not with a meritorious plot twist like her private fantasies. Her escape had been through plain, shamefaced dishonesty.

Head Girl was an honour and she still carried the guilt of pulling the wool over Mrs Grainger’s eyes. But, whenever the memory haunted her, she thought again of the indignity. Of reporting to Mrs Grainger’s study at eighteen years of age. Of standing beside the low wooden stool, skirt raised, exposing her cotton panties. The terrible trepidation of placing both palms flat on the seat. The embarrassment of the Headmistress’s incisive scolding. Finally, hearing her notorious mantra, “If your hands leave the seat, you’ve earned a repeat.”

If it had come to it, Sophie imagined pressing her hands hard against that low wooden stool. Like others before her, praying her hands would stick like glue. Legend had it that a lenient two or three strokes could sometimes become a full sixer. Such was the price for any girl who was unable to hold the position.

Then finally would come the dreaded whoosh of air and piercing cracks. Six scalding lines of fire scored across her tender young bottom.

No, she knew it had been her only choice. But, what seemed a merciful escape back then, had come back to bite her with a vengeance. Without a sign-off on her full-time appointment, she would see her hopes dashed.

 

Part 2. Reprieve

In the shade beside the refreshment tent, Sophie gazed back across the playing fields. They lay flat at first, then rolled down to an ornate sandstone retaining wall. There, trim flower beds edged the rear corner of Main school. There would be other opportunities, and other schools, she supposed. Although, nowhere else could hold the resonance of Saint Dominic’s cherished memories.

“Miss Heaton.”

The unexpected voice behind her left shoulder jolted her from a dreamlike reverie.

“I wanted to catch you before prize-giving. We’ve had our differences, but this afternoon has given me rather a dilemma. Mr Jones from the governors made a suggestion that we should discuss.”

Mrs Grainger had kept her voice low. Not wanting to be overheard, Sophie wondered? The thought piqued her curiosity.

“You disappointed me Sophie, I won’t deny it. You might feel I disappointed you too, over your teaching prospects at Saint Dominic’s? But, all day I’ve heard nothing but glowing feedback from parents and  colleagues. You may have done us proud, in spite of a stumble.”

“I know I let you down in sixth-form, and I felt ashamed. I can only apologise again, but I’ve tried my best, Mrs Grainger,” Sophie assured her.

Could she begin to take hope? It seemed to be the direction their conversation was heading.

“Mr Jones suggested we find a way to renew your probationary period. Give a promising new teacher some breathing space to prove herself. Within certain parameters, that’s something I may be able to concede.”

It was a small dent to her pride, but an extension was a trivial setback against a second chance. Sophie found it hard to contain her delight.

“We can’t discuss it here though.” Mrs Grainger inclined her head at the cream canvas of the refreshment tent. “Wait outside my study. Give me a few minutes to make my excuses down here.”

Sophie felt like a weight lifted from her shoulders. She stepped into the sunlight and made her lonely way across the playing field.

For a moment, she found herself unnerved by a sense of déjà-vu. Then she glanced down at her trainers, tennis skirt and polo shirt. It was almost like the clock had turned back four years. Her regular, business-like attire, transformed into the PE kit she had worn as a schoolgirl.

Her heartbeat quickened, an intangible doubt beginning to play on her mind. Déjà-vu was always a little unnerving, she told herself, but the feeling proved hard to shake.

Stepping back into school, the warm sunlight gave way to cool shade. Smells of summer grass submitted to the familiar, if unaccountable, musk of the old school.

She saw not a soul on the staircase and first floor corridor. It was strange, but in the silence those words, ‘wait outside my study’, seemed to echo in Sophie’s mind. It conveyed menace, like a sound effect from a corny movie flashback.

This must have been what it was like for her friends only a few years before. How awful it must have been, summoned to await their fate in that cool, quiet corridor.

Breathless, feeling the hairs prickle on the back of her neck, she indulged her daydream. There was a forbidden excitement in the aura of notoriety. Pretending that she was the naughty girl from a storybook. Taking her time, prolonging the wait, but ahead, the study door would draw ever closer.

Even now, twenty-two years old, she reigned in her imagination with a nervous frown. Her friends’ descriptions, facing this for real, still sent shivers down her spine.

It was four years since she had been a pupil of Saint Dominic’s. Mrs Grainger might subject her to another ear-bashing, which was bad enough. But, at least there was comfort in the certainty of being well beyond the days of any physical discipline. Still, the accounts of her four friends, Jennifer, Suzy, Kate and Naomi, rang vivid in her memory.

Stoicism was the norm and they all displayed the usual senior common room bravado. Despite this, Sophie noticed their discreet winces as they tried to sit down. The small attentions they took to ensure their skirt hemlines stayed in place. Jennifer, one of her best friends, confessed more when they were alone. The striped marks traversing her bottom were still discernible almost a week later.

Sophie felt a growing unease, doubts beginning to enter her mind. She thought back again to those clichéd words.

‘Wait outside my study.’

As hard as she tried, it was impossible to push the thoughts from her mind. Like countless miscreants before her, she took a seat on the ornate wooden bench. Cold and hard, like those in the school ante-chapel, facing Mrs Grainger’s imposing door.

 

Part 3. Proposal

Sophie heard Mrs Grainger before she saw her. A distinctive rap of patent leather court shoes on polished parquet flooring. By instinct Sophie stood, smoothing down her short, pleated mini-skirt. Seated on the low wooden bench, it was beginning to ride up at the front of her thighs.

“Right,” Mrs Grainger declared. Her gentle demeanour from the refreshment tent was now restored to a determined tone. “I have no doubts we can resolve this matter, and then I must get back to the parents.”

She spoke while stepping into the office, inviting Sophie to follow with a casual gesture of her arm. The heavy door on its ageing spring-closer creaked, and then shut with a decisive click. Instead of taking her usual seat, Mrs Grainger leaned back against the front edge of her desk.

Sophie waited, feeling awkward, trying not to fidget with the hem of her tennis skirt. Once again, she felt that schoolgirl déjà-vu.

“I was once told that whilst some people bear a grudge, I actually cherish a grudge. A joke, I suppose, but it resonated because I must confess, it bears an element of truth. When Mr Jones buttonholed me earlier, neither of us want to lose you, Sophie. I knew he was trying to help me save face. Helping me to let go of a grudge, so that we have a means of retaining you on the staff. That’s how he came to his notion of a second probationary period.”

“It may seem a reasonable observation to you,” Mrs Grainger continued. “It hits upon the truth, but the fact of the matter is that I enjoy a close trust relationship with all my teaching staff. If you and I meet in future, I do not wish to remember you as the Head Girl who once deceived me. You lied to my face, if we’re being blunt, and hence my dilemma. That’s where his suggestion, for all its wisdom, falls a little short.”

Having allowed herself to take hope, Sophie was beginning to get a sinking feeling.

“But Mrs Grainger,” she said, struggling to keep her voice steady. “From what you told me outside, you led me to think we could work this out. I mean, that is what you said, isn’t it?”

Mrs Grainger stared back, studying her evident lack of comprehension. It was as if she were weighing up Sophie’s reaction. Deciding if this was mere innocence, or a deliberate obstruction.

“Sophie, there are times in life where we’d like to turn back the clock. I’m sure you’ve felt that. To put right a mistake, or to dodge a moment of social embarrassment? We can’t, of course. But, if our relationship is to continue, then I’m afraid we must turn back the proverbial clock. What I’m saying to you Sophie, is that you and I have unfinished business.”

The calmness of Mrs Grainger’s words belied the fearful weight of their implication. Sophie felt the warm prickle of perspiration in her armpits and around the small of her back. As understanding dawned, a welling sense of panic dried her mouth and sparked a tremble in her knees.

“Oh, now Mrs Grainger, you can’t mean, you can’t expect me to…?”

But, her words faltered and she left the sentence trailing. Clasping a hand across her mouth, she began shaking her head in denial and sheer disbelief.

“If that’s how you feel, I’ll be sorry to lose you from the teaching staff. But, this is not a negotiation. Those are the parameters I must insist upon before I renew your probationary period. I’m offering you one final chance, Sophie. It’s time you faced up to the consequences of a past mistake.”

Sophie could hear a tremor in her voice, like she was listening to herself on a recording. She pleaded, already knowing it was futile.

“But, I’m not a schoolgirl any more Mrs Grainger. I’m twenty-two years old.”

She found it hard to look Mrs Grainger in the eye, and her gaze flitted around the room. These were glances that fell at random. First upon the bay window, then the bookcase, and then a pair of drab green filing cabinets. But, a certain inevitability drew her attention to the corner coat-stand. Black wrought iron, scrolling curves to its feet and upper branches. Beside it, stood a low wooden stool.

A flowing academic gown obscured much of the stand itself, but there was one thing it could not conceal. The long, burnished brown length of Mrs Grainger’s cane was unmistakable. It hung from one of the pegs, only partly concealed where it lay, cradled amongst the folds of black cloth.

Sophie had the urge to run. She was a grown woman, she told herself. Nothing could prevent her from walking away. But Mrs Grainger had played her hand well. Now that her cards were on the table, Sophie knew she had no choice but to fold. Like a pledge, who must submit to a hazing ritual before gaining entry into an exclusive club. She began to see the calculated certainty of her fate.

“Please Mrs Grainger,” she stammered, “not this, please. There must be another way?”

The slow shake of Mrs Grainger’s head offered no comfort or solace.

“But, if we,” Sophie hesitated, unable to speak the actual words. “If we do, ‘turn back the clock’, please will you promise me that you’ll wipe the slate clean?”

For the briefest moment, Sophie detected a lapse in Mrs Grainger’s stony poker-face. A wry smile of victory at the final acquiescence of an opponent.

“Exactly Sophie. When you let me down, you let yourself down too, and the time has come to make amends. I know you’re nervous, and you should be. But I know you well enough to see you are not proud of your behaviour back then. Over the years, it might even have played on your mind? Well, this is your chance to put things right.”

 

Part 4. Ritual

The culmination of this long-established ritual was everything Sophie had dreaded. Cold, detached, and unlike her youthful daydreams, there would be no last-minute reprieve. Everything was playing out as Jennifer had described.

Following Mrs Grainger’s instructions, she brought the stool to the middle of the room. Four legged, sturdy, and very old. It may have once been a farmhouse milking stool, she thought. Only around eighteen inches tall, it was far heavier than it looked.

“Consider this a formal punishment, Heaton. I make no concession for your age, or your current position within the school. Do not try my patience. I expect you to follow my instructions to the letter.”

Hearing the formality in the Headmistress’s tone, Sophie made up her mind to respond in kind.

“Yes Miss, I understand.” Sophie had not addressed anyone as ‘Miss’ since her schooldays. But here, in the Headmistress’s study, knowing what was about to happen, it felt like her only choice.

“It’s six strokes for you, Heaton. Like your friends received four years ago. Like you should have received alongside them. If you’d told the truth back then, you wouldn’t be in this undignified position right now.”

Mrs Grainger paused, as if for effect, and pointed her index finger towards the coat stand. Sophie cringed as she heard the fateful words.

“Fetch me the cane, Heaton.”

It felt polished and hard to the touch of her trembling fingers. Feint streaks and mottled spots marked its flawless length. She had never handled a school cane in her life, nor even seen one so close. It flexed under its own weight, emphasising the heft of this fearsome instrument. She held it near the centre, hesitant to present it to Mrs Grainger.

In contrast, the experienced Headmistress took it with casual, easy confidence. Her right hand slid to its crook handle and she smoothed her left hand along its length. A gentle flex, a slight repositioning of her right hand, and another final flex. It reminded Sophie of a tennis player, making imperceptible adjustments to their strings.

Raising her right arm, Mrs Grainger took a high arcing swing downwards. An unmistakable heavy swoosh of air instilled fresh terror in Sophie’s mind. She watched, mesmerised, unable to take her eyes away as the tip of the springy rattan reverberated to a halt.

“Bend over,” Mrs Grainger demanded, tapping the cane’s tip upon the stool. “Legs straight, palms flat. Your friends may have enlightened you to my rule on keeping still? ‘If your hands leave the seat, you’ve earned a repeat.’ I will count out the strokes of your punishment. If you deviate from the position, if you disobey me, I will repeat the previous stroke.”

Her friends had told her, and in every grim detail. Jennifer and Naomi stayed over at her family home for the June exeat weekend. From their descriptions, Sophie knew exactly how close she was to her first ever taste of the cane. Unlike several of her peers, she had escaped it throughout her schooldays. At her current age, this sternest of all disciplinary measures should be far behind her. Now she lamented how a single, historic indiscretion had finally changed all that.

The stool was low, about knee height. To lay her hands flat in a position she could maintain meant shuffling her feet back a few inches.

“Feet six inches apart, and don’t you dare move.”

Mrs Grainger, unselfconscious, slid her fingers under the hem of Sophie’s tennis skirt. Polished fingernails brushed against her thighs and bottom while raising it up. The roughly finished underside of its pencil-thin pleats lay low upon her back. With the seat of her cotton panties exposed, the formalities were complete.

“Did you think you were being clever? A sixth-former getting one over on the Headmistress. Dodging a bullet?” Mrs Grainger began, and as she spoke she brought the cane to rest against Sophie’s bottom. Straight and level, it traced the centre-line of its target, like an equator across a pair of globes. Low upon her cheeks, the cane bisected the leg elastic of her high-cut briefs.

“Well, the truth has a way of catching up with us Heaton, as you are about to discover.”

Sophie winced at every aiming tap, trying to brace herself for the coming impact. Yet she knew that nothing could prepare her for the burning cuts Jennifer and Naomi had described to her.

Mrs Grainger’s technique displayed a precision borne of experience. Sophie felt the cane’s pressure increase, but only for a second. In that moment it incised a ‘V’ channel across her cheeks, before a rapid backswing drew it away. Turning her shoulder, Mrs Grainger unleashed the coiled power of elbow and wrist. With stunning force she delivered an almighty thwack across Sophie’s firm, rounded behind.

There was a brief moment of silence as Sophie’s mouth fell open and her back arched in a reflexive action. That initial shock of impact soon erupted into a burning sting. As it penetrated deep into both her cheeks, she exhaled a gasp of anguished surprise. Fighting the urge to grab her bottom, her breath quickening, Sophie knew it would only get worse.

“That’s one, Heaton,” came Mrs Grainger’s quite unnecessary announcement. There was a satisfied relish to her words. A reminder this was only the beginning.

There was no time to regain composure before the tap-tap-tap of Mrs Grainger’s aim. Even these light swats tormented Sophie’s throbbing rear. And then, the same rapid backswing, and a piercing crack. This time the stroke landed an inch lower, straight into the crease between her bottom and thighs.

It was too much, and as Sophie blurted out a yelp, her knees flexed. She took a step forward to avoid losing her balance altogether. The sting that surged through her bottom and upper thighs was incredible. It took all her effort to maintain hand contact with the stool, and she could feel the tears welling in her eyes.

She straightened her knees, shifting back into position as fast as possible. She could feel the movement had already caused her short tennis skirt to flap down across her bottom. The pleated fabric should have made a light, innocuous contact, not even a tickle. Yet, in her heightened state, it sparked a fresh tingle through her hot, smarting cheeks.

“What did I tell you Heaton?” Mrs Grainger demanded. “My instructions were very specific.”

“I know you told me to keep still, Miss. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. It hurts too much, Miss!”

“I’m well aware that it hurts. I hardly think it would be effective otherwise. But, when I give instructions, I expect you to obey. Stand up, right now, and take off your skirt. If you can’t keep still, it will have to come off.”

The skirt was new and it wasn’t easy to unfasten the snug side-button with shaky fingers. Her eyes were warming and beginning to mist over. Blinking hard released a pair of tears and they dribbled in laborious tandem down each side of her nose.

When she dropped her folded skirt beside the stool, she felt even more exposed. The high-legged briefs offered so little coverage to protect her modesty. She remembered her reflection in the bedroom mirror as she dressed that morning. Her panties, the thin white cotton not quite opaque, failed to conceal the trim dark triangle of her pubes. Blushing even more, she awaited Mrs Grainger’s command.

“Back in position Heaton, and we’ll try that second stroke again.”

Sophie stared back at her, aghast, eyes wide and imploring. “No Miss, please!”

“I warned you not to move, and I explained the consequence. Get back into your position.”

There was an impatience in Mrs Grainger’s tone that should have been a warning to Sophie. She should have known better. But fear, and an impotent frustration, clouded her judgement.

“But Miss, I only stood up because you told me to take off my skirt. I did exactly what you said. It’s not fair.”

“I’ll decide what’s fair, not you. And, furthermore, I do not tolerate impertinent back-chat. We will repeat the second stroke, and I will add an extra stroke to the end of your punishment. You are going to learn to respect my authority.”

Sophie had already half-opened her mouth to continue the protest. It was the swell of smouldering pain, extending the full width of her bottom, that persuaded her to comply. Turning back to the stool, she re-assumed the position, in silence.

But the silence did not last, terminated a second later by another pained squeal. Mrs Grainger’s re-designated second stroke landed with yet another blistering thwack.

“That,” Mrs Grainger declared, “will count as number two.”

“Yes Miss,” came the tearful acknowledgement.

She was notorious for tight clusters of stripes across the lower curves of girls’ bottoms. The effects of her powerful right arm and unerring accuracy lasted several days. You could witness the manoeuvres of painful delicacy, whenever recipients sat down.

The next three strokes met Sophie’s bottom according to this long proven strategy. Anguished howls of protest, a more than ample testament to their efficacy. Each one ignited a fresh wave of smarting pain, surging and amplifying with every stroke.

Mrs Grainger continued to announce the count, her voice calm and level. There was no emotion or sympathy, but on reaching five she paused to deliver further scolding.

“And that, Heaton, will count as number five. If you had followed my instructions, if you had not answered back, your punishment would now be over.” The tap-tap-tap acted as grim reinforcement of these words. “But, since you did not listen, you have two more to come.”

“Not much fun now, is it? Being caught out. Trying to buck the system. Honesty Heaton, is always the best policy.”

She was not vindictive, but Mrs Grainger could not dismiss her disappointment. Sophie’s deception in the upper-sixth was a blow to an otherwise unblemished record. But, even more, it was the question of how many others had known of her lie. In Mrs Grainger’s mind they could have been smirking behind her back. That was the thing which angered her. More than anything else, it was the impetus for this unorthodox dénouement.

A livid group of stripes, two inches wide, enveloped the lower curve of Sophie’s cheeks. Six angry welts across her beautiful young bottom. With two more still to go it would be a more than adequate requital of the former Head Girl’s breach of trust.

Her aim flawless, Mrs Grainger landed the final two strokes across the top and bottom edges of this red band. With all the force she could muster, she swept the cane to its target. Her heavy oak door and double-glazed windows endeavoured to contain Sophie’s cries.

Satisfied, the Headmistress waited as a final howl of protest dissolved into sniffles. While she watched, another lone tear dripped onto the wooden stool from the tip of Sophie’s nose. She assessed her handiwork like an artist, before instructing Sophie to stand. Eight raised weals formed a parallel corrugation across her lower cheeks. They lay in an oasis of redness, a stark contrast to the light tan of her thighs.

“Take the cane, Heaton, and the stool. Return them to their places.”

With tearful acknowledgement, Sophie obeyed. There was a pink flush to her face and a glossy shine below her eyes where the tears had moistened her cheeks.

“I hope that you will reflect long and hard on this punishment, Heaton. Integrity and honesty are paramount qualities. Be in no doubt that your bottom is going to be very sore for a long time, and that discomfort should be a lasting reminder.”

Mrs Grainger appeared mollified, finally offering a half smile.

“I gave you my promise earlier. I will authorise the renewal of your Probationary Period in our English Department. But, please ensure that you never let me down again.”

“Yes Miss, I promise. Thank you, Miss.”

“Take a few moments to compose yourself. For the sake of discretion, it’s best that we don’t return downstairs together. I will see you, three o’clock, for prize-giving.”

 

Part 5. Epilogue

Finally alone, Sophie reached for her bottom with almost infinite care. Her cheeks throbbed, and the ridged, reddened band of skin felt burning hot to her fingertips. In time, she began to rub and massage deeper, though it brought minimal relief from the smarting sting.

She knew she was unlikely to meet anyone in the corridor, but dried her tears as best she could on the inside of her skirt. It would do, until she could make a dash for the staff toilets and splash some cold water to calm her blushes.

With her composure returning, her thoughts drifted back to Jennifer and Naomi. Their descriptions had been precise, at least of the pain and embarrassment. But they had failed to express the overwhelming presence of Mrs Grainger. Stern, accepting no nonsense, commanding respect with a word or glance.

As soon as she accepted Mrs Grainger’s ultimatum, Sophie knew she was under her control. Whether stripping to her panties, or bending for the cane, refusal had never been an option. Such was the authority the lady exuded as Headmistress.

Stepping back into her tennis skirt, she was unable to resist a final glance towards the coat stand. The crook-handled cane hung where she left it. It was an instrument of such devilish simplicity, so single-minded of purpose. It waited once again, indifferent to the devastation wreaked upon her suffering bottom.

Deep down, had she always harboured a perverse desire to experience its sting? She thought not, yet could feel no resentment towards Mrs Grainger. If anything, it may have been a catharsis. A relief from regretful guilt, carried in secret over the years.

She left the office with a single determined wish upon her mind. That her next probationary report would call for no similar recourse. Taking care, in case an errant gust of wind caught her short skirt, Sophie returned to the playing fields.

She could picture the glowing red tramlines traced across her rear. With a wince, she imagined the embarrassment if a colleague or parent should ever find out. To risk flashing even the briefest of glimpses did not bear thinking about.

Sophie was not surprised to find herself on the centre front-row seat for prize-giving. It had a certain inevitability after the events of her day so far. She could feel Mrs Grainger’s eyes upon her when she invited the assembly to take their seats.

Despite her best efforts, Sophie was unable to stifle a pained grimace as she sat down. The sensation of sitting on a pin cushion sang through her bottom. A wry smile from Mrs Grainger met her blushes as she tried her best to sit still. At any rate, the assurance of being back at Saint Dominic’s next year was some comfort.

And, her schoolgirl daydreams, always short of an ending, finally had a real conclusion.

The End

© Judy S 2022

Judy is happy to correspond with readers. Contact her at:  https://steamybedtime.co.uk/page/about-us