Ms. Chambers kept a firm grip on my arm and led me through Rosecliff Institute’s halls. My butt blazed behind me still sore from the Dean’s swats. Fortunately the halls were deserted, leaving my naked shame mostly unexposed. We arrived at the rear exit, a mostly glass door with a four inch metal frame. I stopped. Desert landscaping and a concrete sidewalk were plainly visible on the other side as well as light and shadows from the late afternoon sun. Ms. Chambers opened the door and tugged me through it.
“Don’t dawdle,” she said, allowing the door to swing closed. “You don’t want to have to wait until after dinner to get your uniform.”
Her warning and the hot concrete served to quicken my pace. We walked past a gated pool area, vacant beyond the hum of a running pump, and proceeded toward the last building on the right. It stood directly across from a large gated field of green grass with a dirt oval track running through it. Above double glass doors, metal lettering read, Tanzanite House.
Ms. Chambers opened the right door and led me inside. “In all likelihood this will be your home for the duration of your stay.” She pulled me along to the stairs. “Your room assignment may change over time, but for now you’ll be on the third floor.”
We ascended to the third floor and turned left, down a fairly wide hallway. The walls were barren and white. Light blue carpeting on the floor and stairs. We turned left around a corner and stopped immediately in front of a closed door on the right. Black numbers on a white door identified the room as 310. Ms. Chambers inserted a key in the lock and opened the door. Three sets of bunk beds, wood frames, two small windows on the far wall, three chests of drawers and three nightstands beside the heads of the bunk beds made up the room. The floor was distinctly different from the rest of the building, polished oak. A doorless entry led to a sink and toilet.
Ms. Chambers let go of my arm and patted the post of the nearest bunk. “You’re assigned bed C, bottom bunk, sit down.”
I sat on the center of the mattress. It lacked sheets and a pillow. The other beds in the room were all neatly made with pillows at the head. Their neatness reminded me of a hotel room. The only time I ever made my bed look half as neat was on the days I changed sheets. Somehow I doubted these beds were made by maids.
Ms. Chambers said, “You’ll meet your bunkmate, Jocelyn Dooley, later this evening. The two of you will be splitting chore assignments.”
I nodded acknowledgment. A flash of annoyance crossed Ms. Chambers face reminding me of the Dean’s earlier admonishment. I said, “Yes.”
She planted her hands on her hips and stared down at me. “You’d best learn to address the teachers and staff here with some respect. You’ll address me as Miss or Ms. Chambers and if I or anyone else needs to remind you again, you’ll be getting a spanking to help make it stick. Am I understood, Margaret?”
I lowered my gaze to hide the angry fire burning inside. The words tasted like vinegar. “Yes, Miss.”