The overhead speaker crackled alive with the ringing of a bell. Dinner time. I gently closed the calculus text, closed my my notebook and put away my pencil and graphing calculator inside the clear zipper pouch. The other girls in the study room moved with significant haste and noise, exiting the room with quick long strides as if they might arrive in the cafeteria and find it void of food. Five years at the institute had taught me many things, patience most of all.
When the study room was mostly empty, Tanzanite House Monitor Carol Sato and I were all that remained, I pushed my chair back from the study desk and knelt down on the floor to collect the rest of my study materials. Final exams were tomorrow and passing grades would mean I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting with six months still remaining before freedom. Successful completion of the Institute’s program meant my criminal record would be sealed and no one would ever need to know about it so long as I remain a law abiding citizen. If only the memory of it could be sealed away and forgotten as easily.
Carol’s shadow fell over me. “You didn’t push your chair in Pearce.”
Materials gathered at my knees, I sat back on my heels and looked up at her. “Just collecting my things, Miss Carol.”
Carol’s dark eyes sparkled with the thrill of authority. Her status as Monitor elevated her above me despite my seniority in both age and time served. At time like this, I sometimes regretted my decision avoiding the status and responsibility of being a Monitor. I would never have made a good Monitor though. Superiority over the other girls was not something I ever felt.
“You should have pushed your chair in first,” Carol said.
“It’s not in anyone’s way.”
Her thin lips perked at the corners. “Are you arguing with me Pearce?”
“No, Miss Carol.”
“Right,” she said, her left hand tapped the wood back of the chair, “stand yourself up and bend right over the back of the chair then.”
Five years at the institute taught me not to sigh. I followed directions. A few swats from Carol Sato weren’t enough to spoil my day, but giving her additional excuses to punish very well could. I grabbed the front edge of the wood seat and kept my legs and back as straight as possible. Spankings were a casual enough occurrence and a Monitor’s chastisements were limited enough in most respects that they tended to be more nuisance than punishment.
Carol lifted my skirt and laid it on my back, exposing my white panties. “22 this time.”
I felt the implement resting on the stretched cotton covering my bottom. The leather paddle I concluded based on it shape, texture and softness. It was the lesser of the options available to Monitors, but Carol was relatively new to the post and had yet to be certified on the strap. The first swat echoed in the empty room.
“One,” I counted.
Dean Rosecliff’s voice interrupted the spanking. “What have we here?”
Carol went ridged. “Britney failed to push her chair in properly, Sir.”
My gaze drifted toward the Dean and spotted an unfamiliar woman standing beside him. She looked barely older than me, but clearly wasn’t a new inmate, by the clothes she wore and the expression on her face. Probably the new Computer Sciences instructor if the rumors could be believed.
Dean Rosecliff said, “Some of our more accomplished and responsible students are given the authority to help us enforce the day to day rules at the Institute. Continue as if we weren’t here, Carol.”