Friday, June 18, 2010

Mistaken Identity

“Hailey!” Professor Friedman said, stopping me on my way out of class.

I turned, smiling at the Professor, curious what he would want with me, but nonetheless pleased he knew me by more than my last name. He held a folded note out to me as I approached and I took it, fumbling to open it. The contents were disturbing, although perfectly printed in bold, black ink; I was to report to the Dean’s office before leaving campus.

Befuddled, I asked, “Do you know what this is about, Sir?”

Professor Friedman shook his head and said, “I’m sure it’s nothing serious.”

Uncertain whether I agreed, I nodded and said, “Yes, Sir. Thank you.”

The reception of the Dean’s office had the eerie quiet of a doctor’s office. I approached his assistant’s desk with wobbling knees and a quivering lip. The woman behind the desk, continued typing away on her keyboard, seemingly oblivious to my approach or existence. I cleared my throat, standing at attention before her. Her disapproving eyes flickered to my face.

“Ms. Zephyr?” She asked and I nodded.

“Sit down, the Dean will be with you momentarily,” She said, pointing at a row of yellow, plastic chairs against the far wall.

I said, “Yes, Ma’am,” and sat in the central chair of the row.

The wait was barely worth having seated myself. I had no more finished smoothing the pleats of my skirt than the Dean’s office door opened. He stepped out, a tall, lean man in a tan tweed suit. His lips seemed pursed in a permanent pose of disappointment and his dark eyes appeared to see everything, judging it for the visual flaws. I twitched, uncomfortably aware of my shortcomings.

“So nice of you to join us Ms. Zephyr,” The Dean said, towering over me. “Won’t you come inside?”

Rising to my feet, I nodded, saying “Yes, Sir.”

I watched my feet, forcing them to take the necessary steps into the Dean’s private office. He followed, a mere pace behind me. The door closed with a soft click and I stopped walking, standing between two visitor chairs, angled at the Dean’s desk. He failed to offer me a chair, but quickly sat behind his desk, his hand steepled on the desktop. Those dark, judging eyes bore into me and my legs trembled.

“Do you know why you are here?” He asked.

I shook my head and said, “No, Sir. Have I done something wrong?”

“Is it your desire to be expelled?” He asked.

“No, Sir,” I said, shuddering at the very thought.

“Then I would say, yes, you have done something wrong,” He said.

“I don’t understand, Sir,” I said.

He said, “Nor do I. If I was a student here wishing to graduate and avoid expulsion, I would not skip my classes to the point of failing.”

“Sir?” I said, not understanding his inference.

Leaning back in his chair, he said, “Ms. Zephyr there is no need to play dumb in here. I have your attendance record and your grades right here. Your instructors do not even know you well enough to be disappointed.”

“There must be some mistake,” I said, looking into his eyes. “I’ve never missed a class, Sir.”

He said, “Ms. Zephyr there is no mistake. I have already taken the time to discuss you with each of your professors. None of them can recall seeing you more than a handful of times. I had intended to offer you a second chance with academic probation, but if you are going to pursue this farce with me, I shall simply expel you and simplify both our lives.”

I said, “Sir, please, you have to talk to them again. Ask Professor Friedman, he knows me and I always attend my classes. There has to be some sort of mistake, maybe they don’t know my name, but I swear all my professors would know I attend my classes if they just saw me.”

The Dean flipped open the file in front of him and said, “Ms. Zephyr, why would I bother speaking to Professor Friedman? You are not enrolled in his class.”

“But I am, Sir,” I said.

“One moment, Ms. Zephyr, “ The Dean said, holding a finger up to me and punching the intercom button on his phone. “Ms. Riley, are you certain this file for Dana Zephyr is accurate?”

I blinked, the realization hitting me like a freight train and I said, “Sir, I’m Hailey Zephyr. Dana is my sister.”

“Ms. Riley, perhaps you should join us in here,” The Dean said, disconnecting the call before a response could arrive.

The door opened and Ms. Riley walked in, closing the door behind her. She stood to the side of the Dean’s desk, her hands folded behind her. I glanced between her and the Dean, but neither was paying much attention to my presence. The Dean focused his glare on Ms. Riley and she focused her eyes on his desktop. A faint blush colored her cheeks.

“Could you please explain to me, why I am speaking with Hailey Zephyr while having the file for Dana Zephyr on my desk?” The Dean asked.

Ms. Riley shuffled her feet and said, “I wasn’t aware there were two of them, Sir.”

The Dean’s chair creaked as he leaned back and said, “There are not two of them. There is one Dana Zephyr and one Hailey Zephyr.”

“It was an honest mistake,” Ms. Riley said. “I’m sorry, Sir.”

“Not as sorry as you’re going to be,” The Dean said swiveling his chair to the side. “Get over my knee.”

Ms. Riley turned her eyes to me and said, “But, Sir--

“Either get over my knee this instant or we can move this out into the reception,” The Dean, said.

Ms. Riley hurriedly placed herself over the Dean’s lap. His hand immediately descended on her buttocks, echoing in the small office. I stepped back from the desk and averted my eyes, embarrassed to be present and wishing the Dean would excuse me. My movement caught his eye and he paused after the second spank, looking toward me.

He said, “Please, have a seat Ms. Zephyr. I apologize for the inconvenience to you and Ms. Riley will want to extend her apologies as well before you leave.”

“I can apologize now,” Ms. Riley said, her voice muffled by the Dean’s chair.

He said, “Nonsense, you will give a proper apology once you’ve been appropriately dealt with and not a moment sooner.”

“Yes, Sir,” Ms. Riley said and I reluctantly took a seat in one of the Dean’s visitor chairs.

The Dean returned his attention to Ms. Riley’s posterior. His hand slapped against her slacks with a fast pace and plenty of force. I watched, transfixed on her bouncing butt cheeks, and embarrassed by her frequent yelps. It was not so much I cared significantly whether she was spanked or not, but that her spanking reminded me all to well of my own trips over similar knees at home. I would never have desired an audience, especially a stranger, to have witnessed my response to the stimulation.

“Stand up,” The Dean said and Ms. Riley climbed to her feet, avoiding my gaze by staring at the Dean’s lap.

He said, “Trousers and panties down.”

She inhaled sharply, but her hands moved obediently to her waist. Bending her knees and still looking anywhere but near me, she pushed her slacks downward, until they fell in a pile around her feet. She stood tall again before grabbing the elastic of her panties and tugging them down to mid-thigh. Her hands immediately covered her nakedness from sight.

The Dean said, “Fetch me the cane from your desk.”

Ms. Riley looked pleadingly into the Dean’s eyes for a moment before saying, “Yes, Sir.”

She shuffled to the office door and opened it momentarily disappearing outside the office. Shuffling back inside she nearly slammed the door closed, making her way back to the Dean. In her hands she held the cane in front of her, still managing to cover herself at the same time. I tried not to be obvious as I watched her, but I am certain she was aware of my prying eyes.

Taking the cane from her hands and standing aside from his chair, the Dean said, “Bend down and grab the seat.”

Ms. Riley glanced at me, blushing bright pink as she complied with the Dean’s instructions. I noticed her hands shaking as she gripped the sides of the chair seat. The Dean took a further step back from her and swished the cane through the air, sending a breeze to flutter her hair. She winced as if he had struck her, but the cane had struck nothing at all. He brought it back down to his side and then raised it to rest against her exposed buttocks. She grimaced in obvious reluctant anticipation of the cane’s next touch.

The cracking of the cane against her butt made me jump in my seat. Ms. Riley cried out and her buttocks tightened with tension as she struggled for composure. It was only the very first stroke and I could see she was already near tears. As soon as the tension in buttocks eased, the Dean delivered the second stroke. Ms. Riley’s head shot upward and she gasped for air, tears trickling from the corners of her eyes. The Dean struck her again at the moment her lowered. She buried her face in the seat of his chair, moaning in obvious discomfort.

“Hold your position,” The Dean said, irritation creeping into his tone.

“Yes, Sir,” Ms. Riley said, straightening her legs and bring her head back to a level position.

He swung the cane with blurring speed, crashing it against her bottom with enough force that it hardly bounced back. She raised a single foot in the air for a moment, crying out before resuming the expected position. The cane struck again without pause once her feet were both firmly back on the ground. She yelped, but held steady long enough for him land another stroke.

With an ear-piercing squeal, she jumped into the air, grabbing her striped backside with both hands. Tears ran down her cheeks and she sniffled like a child, all the while bouncing around in a circle. I could not help, but smile. The Dean was less amused.

He said, “Stop this foolishness right this instant.”

Calming herself, she said, “I’m sorry, Sir.”

The Dean stepped by her and laid the cane on top of his desk. Pulling open a drawer, he removed a leather tawse and stepped back behind Ms. Riley. She hardly seemed in need of any additional discipline to me, but far be it for me to argue with the Dean. Ms. Riley apparently felt the same because while her eyes grew wide with fear, her mouth remained closed.

“Bend over,” The Dean said and she complied.

He thwacked the tawse down on her bottom and she yelped. Twisting around with one foot in the air, Ms. Riley looked pleadingly up at the Dean. He remained undaunted in his task, nodding for her to get back down. She glanced tearfully at me before grabbing hold of the desk and bracing herself for the next stroke. The Dean delivered it promptly along with two more on its tail. She squealed in misery, twisting and turning, but staying enough in place to avoid further comments from the Dean. I sympathized with her, laying my hand atop hers briefly before a look from the Dean made me take it away.

He said, “Stand up.”

Ms. Riley stood, lower lip quivering, tears streaming down her cheeks. Her gaze drifted ever downward as if searching for the ever elusive black hole to swallow her up. I have stood in such a manner myself, prayed for the very same disappearance and of course it never occurs. She sniffled back future tears and swallowed hard. The Dean stepped back from her, admiring his work on her red bottom.

“You may apologize to Ms. Hailey Zephyr and then you can go and find me Ms. Dana Zephyr,” He said.

Ms. Riley looked to me and with a trembling voice said, “Ms. Zephyr, please accept my sincerest apologies for pulling you away from your studies for a matter completely unrelated to you. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you, please ask and I will do it.”

“I accept and appreciate your apology,” I said.

The Dean said, “Ms. Zephyr you are of course free to go with my apologies as well. Ms. Riley, you may return to your desk and keep your slacks and panties where they are until Ms. Dana Zephyr is sitting in my office.”

Ms. Riley nodded and shuffled her way to the door. I waited for her to get through the doorway before leaving myself and in the outer office, I turned to watch her wince as she sat at her own desk. From the front it was impossibly to tell she was bare bottomed except for the especially observant. The puddle of her slacks around her feet was just visible below the modesty guard of her desk. I wonder how many students passing by would take notice?


Paul said...

Ash, somewhat different, but very nice.
I love the changed perspective.
Congratulations on graduating, will you be going straight on to graduate school?
I take it that you will be working for a Masters in creative writing?
I imagine that you will waltz it.
Warm hugs,

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Nice story with a surprising outcome. Though of course it's not over yet. I'm sure Hailey will never look at Ms. Riley in quite the same way again, if she ever has occasion for a return trip to the Dean's office, as I suspect she might. Though she may not realize it yet, witnessing Ms. Riley punishment has no doubt awakened a secret desire in Hailey, to know first hand what it would feel like to be in that situation herself.

I take it this is another of your "backstories", Ashley?

AL said...

Good Story,
once again another different view and another story that is not like the other ones.
Having a witness is good it helps the one that is in trouble not forget too soon there misdeed that landed them in trouble.
You did the Dean good, sure was strict but in my opinion to insure rules are followed and mistakes are at a minimum has to be that way.
Liked this story thanks
AL :)

Ashley J said...

Paul, I've been in an experimental mood recently. Perspective or POV is something I haven't done a lot with in my short stories, mainly because the stories lend themselves too well to the first person narrative. Still, it's fun to try and make them interesting from an alternative perspective. Nice to know I succeeded here.

Thanks for the congrats. It does appear I'll be going straight on to graduate school from my Masters and yes, Creative Writing is my focus. I haven't chosen my school yet, but I'm reviewing options right now and have to decide pretty soon.

Karl, I just knew when I wrote this story, everyone would expect Hailey to be the one about to get a spanking. I'd been looking for an opportunity to do more of a voyeur type story and this seemed like a very natural place to fit it in.

Sorry to have confused you, but this was not a back story for The Retreat. This was just part of my weekly short stories for Fridays. I might replace a couple of them with back stories, but I promise to make it clear that is what I have done. I do think it would be interesting to follow this storyline down the road a little bit, seeing what happens with Hailey's sister and how these incidents effect Hailey. I might just have to pursue that at some point.

Al, Yep, I keep managing to make them all a little different from those that came before. Witnesses can serve many purposes, but in a story they generally serve to up the tension of a scene. It can also help to put the reader into the room as if they too are a witness.

Strict Deans / Authority Figures are all part of the plan. If they were less firm in their convictions, less harsh in their judgments, the stories would lose luster because the gentle soul will always find a reason not to punish. It's more enjoyable to write about those who will jump at any opportunity, take pleasure from that opportunity and comfort themselves with the theoretical good they are doing. Well, this is my view at least and certainly arguable, but I think it works well in these types of stories.


Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Nice to see you working in other modes after having such a steady diet of your Quest 5 for so long.

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

I understand Barbara Coloroso has a lot of interesting things to say about how the bystander (in cases of bullying) is not a neutral role, but that they are implicated in what happens.

I think a similar psychological process must be involved in cases such as the one in this story where a seemingly powerless onlooker cannot help but "share in the experience".

Ashley J said...

Karl, I'm happy to be working on some of these other projects myself. Quest Five was a lot of fun and I'm glad to have done it, but I'm equally pleased to leave it behind for now.

I haven't read from Barbara Coloroso personally, but I agree with the premise; a bystander is not unaffected by the situation they witness. There are the positive sides because not all witnessed experiences are bad, but in stressful or negative situations the bystander may suffer in their own way.

In the context of this story, I think Hailey would experience both positive and negative side effects. In the negative aspects, the situation would certainly create some anxiety at the prospect of a careless mistake, surely something everyone has committed on occasion. Toward the more positive, she observes the mature behavior of someone accepting the consequences for a mistake they made and apologizing for it. This dynamic could indeed lead Hailey down a path of curiosity to learn what a disciplinary situation of that sort would be like and how she would respond to it. Could she handle it as well as Miss Riley or would she lose control of herself? Would she be too embarrassed to apologize or even speak? Depending upon her upbringing and her disposition toward corporal punishment she could as easily be driven toward experimenting or campaigning for a total ban.

Of course, since I created her, she would be more likely to experiment than join a rally, but either choice could make for an interesting story.