"Make yourself comfortable," He said.
If the irony of his statement was intentional I could not tell. I forced myself to move my stiff legs forward until they carried me beside the chair. He watched for a moment before moving out from behind his desk to a small table set against the wall. Vaguely aware of his movements, my eyes focused on the wall behind his desk. The prominent display was frightening, exhilarating.
"Would you like a drink?" He asked glancing at me over his shoulder. "Some tea or water perhaps?"
"Anything stronger?" I asked with a nervous giggle on my voice.
He smiled back at me and said, "I'm afraid that's strictly against the rules."
"Right," I said, taking in a deep breath and tearing my eyes away from the display. "Some water would be fine."
Resting his hand on the back of the chair, he handed me an ice cold bottle and said, "Please, sit down."
Although the words were the politeness of request, his tone was commanding. My hands smoothed away invisible wrinkles in my skirt and I sat. His hand brushed over my shoulder. The contact felt like an electric jolt, fleeting and sharp. He took his place behind the desk, hands folded neatly on the barren desktop. I shrunk into the chair, his gentle smile failing to distract from his stern gaze.
"Tell me," He said, "why are you here?"
"I, um... well, uh,"I said, fumbling for words. Mentally, I kicked myself for being unprepared for even the most obvious of questions. Adding to my confusion, his face gave no sign as to what kind of answer he wanted. There was the unfortunate series of events leading up to being caught and then there was the consequences of being caught, but in perspective they were only the most recent steps on a path that seemed to be inevitably leading me to the day I would sit before him. None of it seemed relevant.
"I don't know," I said.
"Surely, you must have some idea."
"It's Theresa," I said giggling, knowing it was entirely inappropriate.
"If you would rather go," He said with a nod toward the door and I replied, "No."
He said, "Theresa, I understand it is difficult for you, but you must at least try or nothing I do will matter."
"Will you," I said, my eyes drifting back to the display on his wall, suggesting that which I could not bring myself to say.
He leaned back slightly in his chair, turning his head to follow my gaze. "Is that why you are here?"
"I think so," I said. He perked an eyebrow and his chin lowered, scolding me for the ambiguity of my answer. A flash of conviction swept over me. The same conviction which had carried me to his office, walked me inside the room and sat me in the chair. "Yes."
"You believe you have earned it?" He said.
Was he suggesting I had not or did he mean something more, something deeper? He remained a mystery to me. His expression gave no hints to his thoughts, his folded hands offered no explanations. I searched his eyes, felt myself falling into them and had to look away. He knew everything about me, even the things I did not.
"I do," I said, wringing my hands.
"Once we begin, there is no going back," He said.
Desperate for the wait to end, I said, "I know."
He said, "There are things once done, which cannot be undone."
"You will feel pain," He said and I nodded. "You will beg me to stop," He said and I closed my eyes, "but I will not listen. You will plead for mercy and forgiveness, but they are not mine to give. You will cry tears of sorrow and remorse, but I will not be dissuaded. You will be punished."
A sane woman would have walked out the door and never looked back. I know this with certainty because my desire to leave and my need to stay were ripping me in two. If I stayed he would hurt me. He would make me regret the decision many times over. I knew his words were more than empty threats and I also knew if I walked out the door, I would be left empty and wondering. I opened my eyes and met his gaze across the desk.
"I understand," I said.
"You think you do," He said with a slight nod, "but I know you don't. No one ever understands until they've stepped passed the point of no return."
"Are you suggesting I should leave?" I asked.
"If I can persuade you to leave, then you should," He said.
"I'm staying," I said, uncertain whether it was stubbornness or stupidity controlling me.
He unfolded his hands and pulled a single sheet of paper from his desk drawer, sliding it across his desk toward me. I leaned forward resting my hands on the front edge of his desk, gaining a better view of the words printed on the page. He slipped a heavy pen on top of the page and refolded his hands, watching me.
"I thought I already completed the necessary paperwork?" I said.
He said, "This is a final summary of the terms and conditions of your enrollment. Once you have signed the bottom of the page you will be officially admitted."
"And if I don't?" I asked.
"Your application will be cancelled and you walk away," He said. "If you have doubts—
"No," I said picking up the pen, "I'm apprehensive, but given the circumstances I think you can understand."
"Naturally," He said. "You have limited experience with corporal punishment and the prospect of it is frightening."
"I'm used to being in control," I said.
"And once you sign that page, the only thing you will control is whether or not you follow the rules I set," He said.
"If you would like to take a few more days to think about it," He said, "there is no rush."
"I made up my mind before I arrived," I said and signed the bottom of the page.
He picked up the paper and slipped the pen into his desk drawer. Briskly, he walked to the door and opened it, disappearing outside for the briefest of moments before returning and closing the door once more. I listened to his footsteps behind me. My eyes focused on the wall and the implements of discipline hanging there. Fear lumped in my throat refusing to be swallowed or ignored.
"Stand up," He said.
I pushed myself from the chair. Temptation urged me to turn around to look at him. I steeled myself against it and cast my gaze downward at the empty desk. He paced from side to side behind me, his heels clacking against the floor. I felt his eyes appraising my back and backside. My future was in his hands and we both knew it.
"Face me," He said and I turned on my heels. "Your attire is adequate with one exception. Those boots will have to go. Remove them."
I looked down at me feet. It had been an impulse to put them on. Like so many decisions in my life, it had been poorly thought out. Leaning awkwardly against his desk, I slipped them off one at a time. I sensed a flicker of disapproval in his gaze, but when I looked up, boots in hand, it was gone. My eyes scanned the room for a place to put my boots.
"Give them here," He said and I did. He threw them across the room to land haphazardly in an empty corner.
"We shall begin with a caning," He said.
My mouth dropped. I had known it would come in time. There was no avoiding it. It was my expectation to be broken in more slowly. Having rarely felt even the least severe of his implements, I anticipated a reunion with those long before tasting the cane. The glimmer in his eyes suggested he knew my every expectation and had chosen the cane for precisely that reason. I closed my mouth and straightened my shoulders. He nodded and stepped passed me, no doubt on his way to retrieve the implement of his choice.
"Go and stand in the corner next to your boots," He said and I did.
I felt safe staring at my narrow view of white wall. It was embarrassing as well. Think of it; A grown woman standing in the corner like a misbehaving girl. My imagined image of myself was enough to make me blush, especially knowing that he was seeing the reality. He swished the cane in the open air behind me. My muscles tensed anticipating an impact which never fell.
"You have never felt the cane, have you?" He asked.
"No," I said.
"You will address me as Sir," He said.
I remained silent, staring at the joining of white walls.
"It is a singular implement," He said. "Its purpose is to inflict pain and it does it well. We all have a purpose and mine is to ensure you are as efficient in your purpose as the cane is in its. Do you know what your purpose is Theresa?"
"We will endeavor to discover it together," He said, "but for today your purpose is to endure. Do you understand?"
"We shall see," He said. "Take two steps back from the corner."
"Yes, sir," I said and obeyed.
"Keep your legs straight and together," He said. "Bend down and touch your toes."
"Yes, sir," I said and bent over, stretching my arms toward my toes, conscious of my legs and knees begging to bend. A sense of pride washed over me as my fingertips brushed against the white socks covering my toes and then a blush washed over my face as I felt a cool breeze tickle my upper thighs, my skirts hem having risen beyond the point of protection.
From my upside down perspective, I watched him. He stepped closer to me. I could smell the polish on his shoes. He grabbed the hem of my skirt and flipped it onto my back. I resisted the urge to shudder, knowing he had an unobstructed view of my pantie clad bottom. His fingers slipped into the waistband.
"Please," I said and he said, "Silence!"
He slipped them down below my bottom. Shame swam in my head, flushing my cheeks hotter. The things he could see, the things he could do, danced around in my thoughts. He stepped back from me and I could see his calm and unaffected face. Panic gave way to reason and I knew I could trust him.
"I think six will suffice for a first time," He said.
"You will count them each and thank me," He said.
He raised the cane against my bottom as if measuring the width. I held my breath, waiting for the strike. It came with a dull thud and rattle. There was a mild sting, but not the searing pain I had been expecting. From the tales of caning I had read, I expected the sensation to be something akin to being branded. It was a relief to be wrong.
I said, "One, thank you, sir."
The cane tapped against the center of my bottom, reminding me there was more to come. I gazed upward trying to glimpse his face. Had he held back on the first? There was no sign of it, no compassion, no anger, just a simple smile on a professional face. He raised the cane and lashed it against my bottom. At first there was nothing more than the first time, but a half second later a sensation, not unlike fire, streaked its way across my bottom. My wide eyes blinked.
"Two, thank you, sir," I said.
I felt the cane tapping against my bottom again. My bottom pulsed in perfect harmony until he pulled the cane back. I squeezed my eyes closed, listening to it swish through the air. It thwacked against my bottom and in its aftermath the fire burned hotter. Tears stung in my eyes. I gulped air and forced my fingers to reach farther for my toes. Every impulse demanded I clutch my bottom and jump circles around the room, begging for leniency. Instead, I endured.
"Three, thank you, sir," I said.
"Starting to feel it now are we?" He asked.
At any other point in my life, I would have considered his question rhetorical. I might have even joked about the concept he and I would be feeling anything remotely similar. This however, was a different time and place. My body was stretched taught and my bottom was bared and burning with the implement of my discomfort held in his hand. He stood ready to deliver more and he would. The only question was how many more that would be and my answer or lack of it could well be the answer.
"Yes, sir," I said.
"As you're meant to," He said and raised the cane again only to bring it back down with another solid thwack across my bottom.
"Oh," I cried, feeling the burn intensifying to yet another level. My legs began to quiver. Tears seeped from the corners of my eyes. My fingers twitched, begging to apply their comforting touch to my tortured flesh. I sniffled, holding back the stream of pleas threatening to burst from my chest. Never in my life had I resisted so many conflicting urges, but I endured.
"Four, thank you, sir," I said.
Through teardrops I watched him tap the cane on my bottom. His expression remained unchanged. Holding my breath, I listened to the cane swish backward through the air and then forward. On impact, I lurched forward, up onto my tiptoes, bottom bouncing high into the air. Precariously balanced, I struggled against my reflexes. A moment later my feet rested back on the floor. My bottom throbbed and I endured.
"Five, thank you, sir," I said.
"Last one," He said and whipped the cane across my bottom.
My eyes shot wide open. I screamed without sound, sucking in air. My legs trembled and my hands balled into fists. I blinked through puddles of tears. My bottom pulsed and throbbed like fire and flame. Consumed by the pain, I forgot everything. I held to my position like it was the last fragile tether to my sanity. The intensity of the fire passed and I was left breathless. Memory came rushing back, pride following in its footsteps. I had endured.
"Six, thank you, sir," I said.
"An excellent beginning," He said, stepping away from me for a better view, "Wouldn't you agree?"
"Yes, sir," I replied.
"Now you shall remain as you are and contemplate what it means to endure," He said, walking toward the door. "I will be back later to dismiss you."
The door creaked open and he left. My bottom ached for attention as I blinked through tears. All I wanted was to find a quiet place to lay my head down and hold my burning bottom. Outside the door, I could hear the footsteps of passersby. The door remained open and although I could see no one, the occasional giggle seemed to certainly indicate the view was much better from outside. I tried to ignore it. I tried to focus on myself and my position. I tried to endure.