I waited outside in the hallway as my stomach flip-flopped. I was just outside the office door and could hear the person ahead of me being disciplined. Muffled words, the thud of a paddle, I think, and shrieks after it landed. Shit. What am I in for here? I’ve never dealt with this principal before. Or more accurately, I’ve never been dealt with by him before. I knew what I would be getting in advance. Twelve with the strap. That’s not so bad, right?
A young woman emerged from the office and I couldn’t interpret her expression. She seemed a bit smug. Resilient. I gathered that she was quite familiar with corporal punishment. There was no time to wonder about that. I was next and quickly ushered into the office. The principal was seated on the other side of a large table. My mouth was dry. I pulled out the chair across from him and started to sit down. “No need to sit,” he said abruptly. I jumped back up.
A stern gaze was now fixed on me. “Lea, you’re here today because you’ve been skipping class. Is that correct?” Any sarcastic responses or bravado I had earlier was long gone. God, I’m such a wuss behind closed doors. “Yes, Sir,” I managed to mumble. “Why have you been skipping class?” he asked. Because this isn’t a real school? I prefer to sleep? There was a very important episode of Days Of Our Lives on this afternoon? Hindsight. None of those thoughts were verbalized.
The butterflies in my stomach were in full gear. I didn’t have a reason. “I don’t know. I just didn’t want to go,” I muttered. He scolded me about the importance of going to all my classes so that I didn’t miss necessary material. He never broke eye contact which made me even more anxious. I nodded. He told me I would be getting twelve swats with the strap for this infraction. He walked over to my side and instructed me to bend over the table.
I complied and felt him flip my skirt up. I braced myself as the strap landed across my bottom. The heat was immediate. His swing was well measured, giving it just enough time to sink in before bringing the strap down again. Two, three, four, five, six. “Oww, owww” Seven, eight, nine. I struggled to stay in place. “Three more,” he said. Ten, eleven, twelve. “Stand up.” I turned to face him. “I hope this got through to you. Are we going to have to discuss this again?” There was that gaze. “No, Sir,” I replied. “Good. You may go.” He nodded toward the door.
I exited the office and averted my gaze from the others waiting in the hallway. I walked back to my room while intermittently smoothing my skirt, my hands feeling the heat emanating from my backside. Then I did what so many of us have done time and time again. I went straight to the mirror and lifted my skirt to admire the nice even redness across my cheeks. And I smiled.