School didnít start until nine, but by half past eight Lisa was already standing nervously outside the deputy headís office.
The eighteen year old had been determined not to do anything that might make Mrs Booth more angry with her than she already was. Lisa had kept out of trouble throughout her school career but, yesterday lunchtime Mrs Booth had caught Lisa and her best friend Diane coming out of a pub. Even worse, Lisa had been smoking a cigarette. She had kept then waiting the rest of the day to hear their fate and had then told them to report to her office by quarter to nine. Lisa had come early, but there was still no sign of Diane.
Lisa was alone with her thoughts. She had never been subject to corporal punishment before. The worst her curvy bottom had ever felt was a few love-taps from her boyfriend. But she had seen other girls after an encounter with Mrs Boothís cane and she knew that it wasnít a pleasant experience.
Last night she had lain awake for a long time contemplating the consequences of her behaviour. She had imagined that the worst thing about being caught was the shame and humiliation. But now she knew that wasnít so. The worst thing would be the pain caused by a cane whipping down onto her tender bottom. Her hands cupped her buttocks through her blue school skirt as she tried to imagine what they would feel like in a few minutes time. Time passed and she checked her watch again. It was nearly quarter to nine.
She heard footsteps and looked round. Diane was walking towards her, a serious expression on her normally cheerful face. Like Lisa, her friend wore full school uniform.
"Is she in there? Have you knocked?" Diane enquired in a nervous whisper.
"I havenít knocked," Lisa whispered back, "I donít think sheís in. I havenít heard anything."
Diane looked at her watch. It was exactly quarter to. She made a face, mouthed "Here goes" and knocked on the door. The girls held their breath. There was no response.
"Sheís not there!" Diane said, in her normal voice. "Iím not surprised, really. I was kept waiting both times I got the cane. They reckon the waiting makes it worse. And theyíre right. I just wish it was all over!"
Lisaís mouth opened and her brown eyes widened. "Gosh, Di! I never knew youíd been caned before." It was hard to believe. Diane was much shorter than her, just over five foot and with her softly pretty face and curly blonde hair she looked the model of an innocent schoolgirl. So far as Lisa knew this was the first time Diane had ever broken the rules - and she had had to talk her into the pub visit.
"Yes, well, itís not exactly something to boast about! I had a bad reputation at my old school and I got the cane twice there. I managed to turn over a new leaf when I came here."
"What did you do? How many strokes? Was it on the bottom? Did it hurt terribly?" The questions poured out in a torrent.
"Christ, Lisa! Itís not a pleasant memory! Iíd rather not say what I did, but I deserved it both times. It was four strokes the first time and six the second time, on the bum. Over skirt and knickers, but yes, it still bloody hurt. Iím really not looking forward to this."
Lisa was about to ask her something else but just then they heard someone coming.
When they looked up it was not Mrs Booth, but another schoolgirl. Jill was the netball captain and, in recognition of that, a prefect. However, despite her prefectship, she had always been one of the naughtiest girls at the school and was a regular recipient of the cane. Lisa remembered that sheíd heard that Jill had kicked someone in an inter-school netball match. Her own troubles had put it out of her mind.
"Hi! You two also due for a bum warming?"
"Sheís late again, I suppose," she said, gesturing towards the door. "The bitch is never on time. I donít bother coming until five minutes late these days! Is it your first time?"
After they had told her Diane asked Jill if the cane was given over the skirt.
"Youíll be lucky! No, you twoíll probably get it over your knicks and Iíll get it on the bare."
Lisa hesitantly asked the question sheíd wanted to ask Diane: "Is there anything we can do to stop it hurting too much?"
"No, not really. Itís going to hurt and your bumís going to be very sore and badly bruised. But youíll live!"
Once again footsteps were heard. This time it was Mrs Booth. She glared at all three girls and ushered Jill into her office. The athletic netball captain was inches taller than the teacher.
They couldnít hear what was said but the friends certainly heard when the caning started. They looked at each other in horror at the loud crack of the cane across Jillís bare flesh. Lisa tried to keep count but the caning just went on and on and in her consternation she lost count. They didnít hear a sound from Jill but then there was a sudden shriek. From then on each stroke evoked an cry of pain. When, finally, it was all over the girls could clearly hear Jillís loud sobs.
Lisa felt sick. If this was what the cane did to Jill, what would it do to her? She found out later that Jill had had a choice. Six strokes and losing the captaincy or twelve strokes and keeping it. Poor Jill had found out that twelve strokes hurt more than twice as much as six!
She stumbled out of the office not looking at the two friends. Mrs Booth gestured at Lisa. The waiting was over. Now it was her turn for the cane!