Subject: Story: Allison's Test (F/f)
From: email@example.com (Laura Werner)
Date: 3 Aug 1997 21:42:46 -0700
I haven't been posting here a lot lately, aside from bot reports and other moderation crap. What with babysitting the 'bot, dealing with constant crises, and being generally disgusted with some of the pettiness and mistrust around here, I just haven't had the time or the inclination for any of the soul-baring posts that I used to write.
Well, I'm baaaack.
In the last couple of months I've been feeling kind of down and a bit, well, little. Small and vulnerable. I try to be good to my inner little girl and buy her stuff like her school uniform, take her to parties, and so on, but sometimes she just wants to be little and sad.
In the last week, for reasons some of you know and others can prob'ly guess, I've felt very little and very scared. After falling apart last weekend, I went and hung out with Amy for a few days. (Ooh, a meeting of the secret moderators' cabal!) It did me a lot of good. While I was at there, I wrote a story for the little girl inside me. Or maybe she wrote it herself. It's kind of what she wishes she could have had.
This is only the second story I've ever posted, but it feels like a fairly good one to me. But then it's my fantasy, so of course it would. There may be a "Part 2" to this story sometime, but this part works by itself too.
For the second time in as many minutes, Allison raised her hand to knock on Miss Hastings' door, and for the second time she hesitated at the last possible instant. She was terrified. "How did I get myself into this?" she thought. At that moment, she would have preferred to be anywhere else. "Well, almost anywhere," she reflected. "At least it's not the headmistresses study." With that thought, she raised her hand again and knocked.
After a few seconds of silence that seemed to stretch on forever, she heard footsteps approaching the door. It opened, and Allison looked up in surprise. At first, she thought she might have knocked on the wrong door. But no, this was her teacher all right; she just looked different. Miss Hastings always dressed conservatively. Whether she was in the classroom, in the cafeteria, or on a school outing, she always wore a conservative dress or skirt. Now, however, she was wearing leggings and a long T-shirt. With a start, Allison realized that she must have been getting ready for bed.
Miss Hastings waited for a moment, but when Allison remained silent said, "Allison, what brings you here at this hour?" Her voice was gentle, but there was an obvious note of disapproval.
A small shudder ran down Allison's spine. Wringing her hands nervously, she said, "I need to speak with you, Miss."
Miss Hastings replied, "You know that my office hours end at supper time, Allison. Come by tomorrow after class, and we can talk then. You do have an exam tomorrow, in case you've forgotten." Her voice, while still kind, had become very firm.
Allison lowered her gaze to the floor for a few moments and shuffled her feet. She was afraid to even look at Miss Hastings, but forced herself to do it. "But Miss, this is about the exam, and it's very important!" she pleaded.
Miss Hastings' voice lost its gentleness. "Allison, I do not answer questions about what will be on my exams. Unless you would like a strapping right now, I suggest that you return to your room and study. It will do you a lot more good."
With that, a tear appeared in the corner of Allison's eye. This was what she had been afraid of. Miss Hastings had a well-deserved reputation as a firm, even harsh, disciplinarian, and Allison did not want to encounter her strap. Unlike most other teachers, who preferred to assign lines or apply the slipper for moderate infractions, Miss Hastings was rather old-fashioned and still used the strap. She believed -- and did not hesitate to explain -- that severe, immediate discipline was the best way to nip a student's misbehavior in the bud and to prevent future problems. In her eyes, the age-old method of strapping a young miscreant's hands seemed as appropriate as ever.
Allison had seen that strap's effects on her classmates and was terrified of experiencing it herself. Nevertheless, she didn't seem to have much choice. She chewed on her lip briefly while gathering her nerve, then said, "Miss Hastings, please --"
"Allison, that will be quite enough! Apparently you do need a good dose of my strap." Miss Hastings opened the door wide and grasped Allison by the arm. "Come in here at once!"
"Yes Miss," Allison said meekly. With tears beginning to flow down her cheeks, she followed Miss Hastings across the room. The study was well-appointed and homey, with a comfortable-looking sofa, impressionist prints on the walls, and shelves filled with books and assorted knickknacks. In the far corner were a large, oak desk and several armchairs. Allison barely had time to notice her surroundings, however. She watched in fear as Miss Hastings walked to the desk, rummaged about in the top drawer for a few seconds, and withdrew a wicked looking leather strap. About eighteen inches long and two inches wide, it was split down the middle for the last eight inches. And it was stiff. Very stiff. Allison had seen a similar strap used in Miss Hastings' classroom, but she had hoped never to see it up close.
Miss Hastings said, "Left hand, Allison," and Allison extended her hand, palm up, just as she had seen her classmates do on previous occasions. She couldn't keep it from shaking. At the command "A little higher", she obediently raised her hand a few inches, then looked on in terror as Miss Hastings raised the strap over her shoulder. A mask of concentration appeared on the teacher face, and the strap began its descent.
A moment of pure panic seized Allison, and she reflexively withdrew her hand. Too late. The end of the strap caught her across the base of her fingers. Her fingers exploded in pain, and she screamed, "Aaaaahh! Owww!" and began crying in earnest.
Miss Hastings was livid. "Allison, that was disgraceful! Can't you even do something as simple as hold still for your punishment? Alright. That will be one extra stroke on top of the two you had coming. Now, give me your left hand again, and remain in position this time."
After a few seconds, Allison forced herself to speak. "Y-- Yes, Miss," she said, still breathing in rough gasps. "I'm sorry, Miss. I've never been strapped on the hand before, and I'm -- I'm scared. I'll try harder."
"See that you do, young lady. Now, your left hand again."
Allison put out her hand and watched the strap rise again. This time she closed her eyes as it began to fall, and she managed to avoid flinching. The strap struck her open palm with a loud crack, and her hand was in instant agony. She managed not to start sobbing but could not help crying out, grimacing, and shaking her hand to try to relieve the pain. It didn't work.
Miss Hastings said, "That's better. Now for the extra. Right hand, please."
Allison extended her right hand but then quickly withdrew it.
Miss Hastings' voice rose. "Allison! --"
Allison interrupted, "Please Miss!" With tears still leaking from her eyes, she said in a much quieter voice, "Could you do it on my left hand again? If you strap my right hand, I don't think I will be able to finish writing the lines that Miss Silverton assigned me for tonight." She lowered her eyes to stare at the floor, and she was obviously in a great deal of distress.
Miss Hastings considered for a moment, then said, "Fair enough, Allison. But you do realize that it will hurt even more this way?"
Allison did not trust herself to speak. She nodded her head gravely and extended her left hand once more. An odd half smile flickered across the teacher's face. To Allison, it almost looked like a smile of approval. Her mind was quickly distracted, however, when Miss Hastings raised the strap and swung it for the third time.
The teacher had been right -- this stroke, on Allison's already tender flesh, hurt worse than the other two combined. She cried out inarticulately, shook her hand madly, and began sobbing once again. Miss Hastings let the girl be for a minute, then handed her a tissue. "It's over, Allison. You took that fairly well for a first time. Now blow your nose and try to calm down."
Allison gratefully took the tissue and wiped her eyes as she brought herself under control. When she had settled down, she looked up at her teacher expectantly. Miss Hastings smiled again, and the expression on her face seemed almost tender. Gently, she said, "Now, run along and finish your work for tomorrow, ok?"
"B- but Miss," stammered Allison. "I just have to talk to you! It's important enough to get strapped over. Please!" She choked back a sob, and her eyes began tearing up again.
"Oh, all right, Allison," said Miss Hastings, with a note of exasperation in her voice. Have a seat and tell me what is so urgent that it could not wait until tomorrow. But this had better be good."
Allison sat down in an armchair next to the desk and cradled her throbbing hand in her lap, while Miss Hastings settled in her sturdy desk chair. "It is important, Miss. I just saw a copy of your exam for tomorrow."
"What? That's impossible!"
"It had your name and tomorrow's date on it, Miss. And the handwriting looked like yours."
Miss Hastings patted her desk. "That exam has been sitting right here in my desk drawer since it was written. It has only been out of my hands long enough to be mimeographed. Where did you see it?"
"Well," said Allison, "I went to the junior common area after supper to study, and three other girls were talking in the corner. They were being kind of quiet. I walked over to say hello, and one of them said she would show me tomorrow's exam questions. I didn't really believe her, but I looked anyway. It sure looked like a test that you would write, Miss Hastings, and the questions fit the material that you went over in class."
"What were the questions you saw, Allison?"
"Well, there was an essay on the Fall of Rome. And there was a question on the Byzantine Empire, and one on the first Pope, and then one on the Holy Roman Empire, and -- "
Miss Hastings' eyes went wide as Allison rattled off her list. Finally, she held up her hand. "That's enough." She thought for a moment, then said, "Allison, why did you look at the exam when those girls offered it to you? Since you went to such great pains to tell me about this, you obviously know that it was wrong."
"I guess I was just curious, Miss." Allison lowered her head and continued timidly, "And, well, I was maybe a little bit tempted to cheat. But I couldn't really do that, and I just had to tell you what was going on." She looked at her teacher and said, in a slightly petulant voice, "I thought you would want to know."
"I do, Allison. I'm glad that you came to me." Miss Hastings shifted in her chair. "Now, Allison, would you like to tell me who these three girls with the exam were?"
Allison lowered her eyes and stared at her lap as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. She wanted to disappear. "Miss Hastings, I can't. I don't want to be a tattletale. Please."
"Allison, I admire your loyalty to your friends, but in this case it is misplaced. If you had committed a silly schoolgirl prank and refused to identify your accomplices, I would understand. I would have to punish you for it, but I would understand. But this -- you just happened upon these other students who were cheating. You weren't part of their conspiracy, were you?"
"No, Miss Hastings! I wouldn't do that."
"Then you shouldn't feel like you are betraying them." A hard, steely tone crept back into the teacher's voice. "This is serious, Allison. You must tell me. You know that it's the right thing to do, and I can promise that you will regret it if you don't." Miss Hastings glanced significantly at her desk, and Allison's eyes followed until they fell on the strap that was still resting atop it. Allison squirmed nervously, and she was once again close to tears. She knew Miss Hastings was right, but it wasn't that easy.
"But I'll regret it if I do tell you, Miss. If the other girls find out that I told on them, I will never live it down." Her resolve cracked, and the tears began streaming down her face again. In a very soft, timid voice, she said, "They'll never stop picking on me! They already do it now, and this will make it even worse. It's not fair! I'm just trying to do the right thing." Allison felt -- and looked -- as if she were seven or eight years old, not twelve.
Miss Hastings stood and walked over to Allison. She pulled a nearby ottoman up against the side of the chair, sat down, and put her right arm around the crying girl's shoulders. Gently, she said, "Allison, dear, it will be all right. We will make sure that no one finds out that you told me about this scheme. You have been very brave about this so far. Don't let me down now."
Almost against her will, Allison leaned into the embrace. "Do you promise, Miss?" Her voice still sounded like that of a scared little girl.
Miss Hastings squeezed her shoulder. "Yes, Allison. I promise that I will not reveal how I found out about this. Not to anyone. Now, are you going to tell me?"
Allison straightened up in her chair and wiped her eyes once again, composing herself. "Yes, Miss Hastings, I will." The eight year old was gone, and Allison looked her age again.
"That's a good girl, Allison." The teacher gave Allison's shoulder one last pat and then returned to her own seat. "Now, go on."
"Yes, Miss. It was Elizabeth, mostly. Suzanne and Kathy were there too, but Elizabeth sort of seemed to be in charge. She was the one who offered to show me the test and everything."
"Thank you, Allison," said Miss Hastings. She sat and thought for a minute. As the silence lengthened, Allison began to become uncomfortable again. Finally the teacher said, "Allison, how well would you have done on that exam if you hadn't seen it in advance?"
Allison said, "I think I would have done fairly well, Miss. I might have flubbed the question on the Byzantine Empire a bit because I didn't really study that chapter very much. But the other questions didn't seem too hard."
"Were you planning to study more this evening, Allison? Before you saw the exam, that is?"
Allison hesitated. "A little bit, Miss. I was going to read over my notes from your class one more time and then finish up my lines before bedtime."
Miss Hastings considered the situation again, then said in a gentle voice, "Allison, can you make a promise to me? A promise that you will do just what you said: read through your notes, finish your lines, and go to bed? With no extra studying?"
"Yes, Miss Hastings. I promise."
Her teacher smiled warmly. "That's a good girl. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. You did the right thing. Not everyone would have, you know." Bringing the interview to a close, she stood and motioned for Allison to do likewise. "You may go now. And remember, no extra studying."
Allison stood up and smiled. "I promise. Good night, Miss Hastings."
"Good night, Allison."
As Allison reached the door, Miss Hastings spoke again. "Allison?"
Allison stopped and turned back to face her. "Yes, Miss?"
"I owe you an apology. You've always behaved well in my class, and I should have known that you wouldn't disturb me unless it was important." Miss Hastings paused for a moment, and then continued, "I am truly sorry about strapping you, Allison. And I am proud of you for having the courage to endure it."
Allison glanced down at her swollen palm and massaged it with her right hand. Looking up, she grinned ruefully and said, "Well, I did sort of break your rules, Miss, so I understand. I kind of expected it, really, because you're so strict." She hesitated briefly, scared to go any farther, but then couldn't help herself. Feeling eight years old again, she looked at the floor. "I -- I'm so scared of you, Miss Hastings. I'm always afraid I'll do something wrong by mistake, not even on purpose, and end up getting a strapping or a thousand lines or something. It doesn't seem fair!" A childlike pout appeared on her face.
Miss Hastings walked across the room to Allison and put her hand around the girl's shoulders once more. "I know that I can seem a bit harsh at times, Allison, but only when I feel that it is necessary." Allison nodded, but kept her eyes lowered. She felt a gentle squeeze on her shoulder and looked up as Miss Hastings continued, "Allison dear, listen to me. I don't often explain this to girls your age, but I think you might understand. My job here is to help you all become proper, well-educated young ladies ready to take your place in society. Punishing you is a part of that process. Sometimes girls -- even good girls like you -- need discipline just as a reminder that there are rules in society and that breaking them will have consequences." She hugged Allison more tightly. "In a sense, the punishments: lines, strappings, canings" -- Allison shuddered -- "are the Academy's way -- my way -- of letting you know that you belong here and that we care what happens to you. I think you know that deep down inside, even if you haven't quite realized it yet."
Allison nodded shyly and said "Yes, Miss Hastings."
"But I don't want you to be scared of me unnecessarily, Allison. If you need to talk to me like this again, just knock. I will listen next time. I'm sure that there will be times when you need to be punished, and when you do I will see that it happens. But I will always listen, Allison. I promise." A tender smile appeared on the teacher's lips. It was perhaps the kindest expression Allison had ever seen on her face.
Allison smiled back. "Thank you, Miss. Good night." Leaving the room, she decided that her troubles that evening -- even the strapping -- had been worth it just for that smile.