I Shouldn’t Really Be Here

Patricia Holmes was furthest left of the four girls standing in front of their headmistress’s desk. Each of them was dressed in the standard school uniform for fifth form girls; white blouse, navy blue cardigan, navy blue pleated skirt, white knee-length socks and black low-heeled shoes. Their headmistress, Miss Alexandra Boulter, had found them guilty as charged. From Patricia’s perspective, the other three were guilty. She had simply been an innocent bystander.

Their victim, Ann Carter, probably the most intelligent girl in their class and not at all athletically minded, had refused to help the girl two to Patricia’s right, Jilly Mandleson, with her Physics homework. Not only that, Ann had the temerity to suggest Jilly should hand in poorly done homework so their teacher would realise Jilly needed extra assistance. Jilly, though, was convinced that ‘extra assistance’ would most likely entail a one-hour detention and that was not on her agenda.

Thus, at just after four o’clock the previous day, Jilly and her two friends set about Ann Carter when their form teacher had finished completing the register and had left for the staff room and home. Ann soon found herself being lifted clear of the floor and deposited on the teacher’s desk, then being held down by Jilly and her friends while Jilly undid the girl’s skirt and pulled down her white knickers.

While that sort of treatment was hardly rare for someone who had annoyed classmates, it was very much frowned on by the school and regarded as bullying, plain and simple. Patricia had been looking for a particular pencil she knew she had in her desk, but was struggling to find it. Hence, she was also in the room when their form teacher, Mrs Williams, returned unexpectedly.

Patricia neither liked nor disliked Ann Carter. Ann was a rather plain girl, quite slim with mid-brown hair she wore in a bun at the back of her head, and Patricia had been only mildly interested in seeing Ann having her knickers pulled down. Clearly, Jilly and her two friends were enjoying themselves much more, as evidenced by the laughter and shrill shouting that accompanied their partial undressing of Ann.

“What on earth is going on here?” Mrs Williams had called from the now open door.

Of course, Jilly and her friends immediately released Ann, who then hastened to pull her knickers back up and put her skirt back on.

“You four will wait outside the headmistress’s study at nine-thirty tomorrow morning,” Mrs Williams continued after watching Ann getting dressed.

“But Miss,” Patricia protested, wanting to explain she was not part of the plot to remove Ann’s knickers.

“Don’t say another word,” Mrs Williams stopped Patricia mid-sentence. “You four girls are disgusting, and you will undoubtedly be punished severely tomorrow. For now, all of you get off home. I don’t want to hear another word. You four, get out. Ann, please wait behind. I’d like a word with you.”

The following morning as the girls of 5A started arriving for registration, Ann made a point of coming up to Patricia.

“Pat, I’m sorry you got caught up with what happened yesterday. I did try to explain to Mrs Williams that you weren’t really involved, but she wasn’t in the mood to listen.”

“I wasn’t involved, Ann. I was just in the room.”

“I know. And it wasn’t that I really minded what they did to me. I mean, most of us have had it done at some stage, haven’t we?”

“True,” Patricia acknowledged, pausing to reflect back on the occasion six of her classmates had grabbed her during a mid-morning break, spreadeagled her on the teacher’s desk, removed her skirt and pulled her knickers down. It was considered revenge for Patricia having conceded an own goal during hockey the previous afternoon.

“I mean, it’s just a bit of fun, isn’t it?” Ann continued.

“Yes, sort of.”

Further discussion was prevented by Mrs Williams entering the room. Everyone stopped talking and stood behind their desks until they were told to sit down. Mrs Williams took the register, told the girls to prepare their books for the first lesson of the day, and then to get themselves along to the main hall for assembly.

As the girls filed out, she stopped Jilly Mandleson, her two friends from the previous evening, Sue Bishop and Mary Masters, and Patricia.

“After assembly, I will meet you four outside the headmistress’s study.”

Jilly, Sue and Mary all responded with a simple, “Yes, miss.” Patricia wanted to protest, to explain, but Mrs Williams stern countenance and a raised finger to her lips forced her to simply add her own, “Yes, Miss.”

All through assembly, Patricia tried to think of a way out of her predicament. She really did have no part in the plan to remove Ann’s knickers. She really was innocent, but would Mrs Williams or Miss Boulter listen to her if she even tried to explain her lack of involvement? It seemed highly unlikely. And was she really completely innocent? If they were going to remove any girl’s knickers, then Ann Carter was the girl she would most rather it be done to. And while she was searching for her pencil, she was quite tempted to watch what was being done to Ann.

When the four girls waited outside the headmistress’s study after assembly, Patricia stood slightly apart from the other three. She noted they all looked rather pale and spoke only in whispers, mainly speculating what would be the outcome of their meeting with Miss Boulter. The cane was the only punishment being discussed.

After waiting more than ten minutes, they were called into the study and told to stand in a line in front of the desk. Miss Boulter had clearly been well-briefed on the events of the previous evening. Mrs Williams stood behind the headmistress.

“My problem, girls, is that Ann Carter appears not to have been a willing participant in your little game yesterday. I understand she’s not a particular friend of yours, more the reverse in fact. That makes it a case of bullying, plain and simple. Mrs Williams has spoken to Ann and she doesn’t want to make any type of formal complaint. That’s maybe to her credit, but it doesn’t alter in any way my resolve to stamp out this bullying. Ann will, however, be informed of your punishment.

“I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this, girls. You’re clearly guilty, so all I have to do now is decide how to punish you.”

The silence that followed while the headmistress contemplated allowed Patricia to wonder if she should now speak up, to deny her involvement. It would have been appropriate for the other three to tell the headmistress she wasn’t involved, but they didn’t. Patricia would have to do that herself, or maybe she should stay silent and take the consequences. Even if she did speak, would the headmistress listen? Would she think it was just a frightened schoolgirl trying to avoid punishment? Would Patricia even be allowed to explain? Or, would she be silenced almost as soon as she opened her mouth?

“Right, girls,” Miss Boulter spoke before Patricia was able to. “It’s four strokes of the cane. That seems to fit the bill perfectly. Let’s get on.”

Patricia bit her lip as she watched the headmistress stand and go across to the communicating door between her study and the secretaries’ office.

“Mrs Smith, could you bring me the cane and the punishment book, please?”

Turning back to the four girls, Miss Boulter directed them to a highly varnished side table.

“Remove your skirts and cardigans, place them on that table and return to my desk.”

Ashen-faced, all four girls went over to the table and began peeling off their cardigans, folding them roughly and placing them on the side table. The gentle sound of side zips being unfastened followed, and then four navy blue pleated skirts were added to the pile of clothing. Patricia tried to catch the eye of any of the other three, but they were all intent on divesting themselves of their cardigans and skirts. One by one, they reformed into a line in front of the headmistress’s desk, now standing in white blouses, white school knickers, white socks and black shoes.

Within moments, Mrs Smith came in from the secretaries’ office carrying a pale yellow rattan cane, about two and a half feet long with a crook handle, and a red exercise book that had been labelled in large letters, ‘Punishment Book’. She opened the book at the appropriate page and placed it on the headmistress’s desk, then handed the cane to Miss Boulter.

“Thank you, Mrs Smith. That will be all for now.”

Mrs Smith seemed disappointed she was not going to be allowed to stay and watch the girls receiving their punishments. She did, though, take a good look at the backs of the girls, especially their bottoms arrayed in just their white knickers, before she left.

Although Patricia had seen all the other girls naked in the changing rooms and showers, she somehow found it odd to be standing in their headmistress’s study in just her knickers and blouse. Looking at the others, they seemed equally uncomfortable too. Miss Boulter looked down at the girls’ knickers, presumably checking they all complied with the school regulations, that they were white in colour, and not too brief.

When the headmistress moved to a clear area of carpet over to the girls’ right, they all knew the next few minutes were going to be stressful and painful to their bottoms.

“Mary, please.”

The girl furthest to the right of the line, Mary, looked at the headmistress but remained motionless. Patricia could see the girl was practically shaking. Mary had long dark hair and was something of an athlete with a neat bottom.

“Come along, Mary,” Miss Boulter called. “Come here, bend over and touch your toes.”

Mary, of course, knew there was no way out and went over to the headmistress at the second calling. She stood in front and with her left side facing Miss Boulter, took a deep breath and easily bent over and touched her toes.

Patricia could see Mary’s white knickers stretch tightly across her bottom and ride up to expose the girl’s lower bottom cheeks.

Miss Boulter immediately laid the cane across Mary’s bottom as she sized up the first stroke. Suddenly, the cane flashed and whipped across Mary’s bottom.

Mary grunted at the impact. Three more strokes of the cane were delivered with very little pause between strokes. Mary grunted as each stroke lashed her bottom, her grunts getting increasingly shrill.

“Stand back in your place, Mary,” Miss Boulter told her, her voice showing little or no sign of emotion.

“Jilly, please.”

Jilly Mandleson, whose dislike for Ann Carter was the root cause of them all being in this predicament, was the tallest of the four and arguably the prettiest with her shoulder-length shiny blonde hair. Perhaps she felt she had to set some kind of an example, because she immediately went across to the headmistress and bent over without being told.

“Good girl, Jilly,” Miss Boulter commented as she looked down approvingly at the girl’s neat bottom and her smooth white knickers.

The headmistress quickly applied four crisp strokes to the waiting target, none of which seemed to cause a great deal of discomfort to Jilly, although when told to retake her place in the line she did at least have the good grace to give the seat of her knickers a quick rub.

“Sue, you’re next,” Miss Boulter called across.

“Oh god!” the girl next to Patricia murmured quietly, but she submissively went to take her place in front of the headmistress. She, too, bent over without needing to be told, although she couldn’t quite reach her toes with the tips of her fingers.

“Hold still, Sue,” Miss Boulter instructed, presumably feeling the stretched knickers presented a perfectly satisfactory target.

Sue appeared more sensitive to the pain as the cane struck her bottom, for she grunted louder than Mary, jerked as each stroke hit her, and had watery eyes when she was allowed to return to the line.

“And Patricia, please.”

At this late stage, Patricia knew she was beyond trying to explain her lack of involvement in the affair. It was no longer about getting a fair hearing, it was simply about bending over and taking her punishment with as much dignity as she could.

The walk across to the headmistress seemed to take far longer than it should, or indeed actually did. Standing before Miss Boulter made her feel guilty, even though she inwardly still retained some protestation of innocence.

“Bend over, Patricia.”

She immediately bent. To delay would look bad to the others, and probably to Miss Boulter too. Patricia managed to get the tips of her fingers within an inch and a half of the toes of her black shoes. Her white knickers felt stretched tightly across her bottom, and she could easily imagine the target she presented. She determined to hold still and accept the four strokes of the cane, knowing they would sting like the devil and probably bring tears to her eyes.

Then, imagination was overtaken by reality. Four swift strokes of the cane rained down and brought an awful smarting pain to her bottom that caused her to flinch and wobble, and for tears to indeed start running down the sides of her face.

“Back to your place, Patricia.”

She straightened up slowly, her fingertips searching out the seat of her white knickers and testing her bottom for soreness. It was sore like she had never known before. As she walked past her three alleged conspirators, she saw them all looking at her, judging her by the number of tears flowing down her face and by the amount of soothing she attempted to apply to her bottom.

And then the four, bottoms still clad only in their white knickers, stood silently for their headmistress to address them finally before letting them go.

“I hope you four have learned from this whacking. No one wants to stop you having a bit of fun amongst yourselves, and we all know some of the things girls will get up to, but always be very sure your actions can never be construed as bullying. Okay? Off you go then. Get dressed and back to your classes.”

No one spoke until they were dressed and out in the corridor, and several paces away from the headmistress’s study. All four were rubbing their tender bottoms through their navy-blue pleated skirts.

“I think a visit to the girls lavatory is called for before lessons, girls,” Jilly Mandleson announced.

Everyone agreed.

“Why didn’t you say anything, Patricia?” Sue Bishop asked Patricia as they reached the toilets and started to go inside.

“Like what?” Jilly asked, before Patricia could answer.

“Durr, like she wasn’t involved in de-knickering Ann?”

“Oh, that?”

“Yes, that!” Sue continued. “So, why didn’t you, Patricia?”

“I tried to, but Mrs Williams cut me off when I tried to explain, and then another opportunity didn’t seem to happen.”

“You should have made her listen, Patricia!”

“I wanted to, but I just couldn’t somehow,” Patricia tried to explain.

“Mrs Williams can be a bit overpowering, Sue,” Mary Masters came to Patricia’s rescue.

“That’s true,” Sue finally agreed. “And really, once she’d made her mind up you were done for, Patricia.”

“Exactly,” Patricia confirmed. “If I’d tried to argue I’d have just made myself look bad. It was just easier to take the whacks.”

The End

© Christine Henshaw 2024