April 1, 1896 - Sarah Waters' Diary

I spent the whole week waiting for today and now that it has come and gone I feel like something is missing. I know I should have been dreading today, but I was not. I woke up with a smile on my face despite my still healing ankle and my as yet missing fingernail.

A week ago I had been angry with Mr. Stone. I had been curt and nearly rude to him after school. Then I had gone and done one of the dumbest things I have ever done. I rode out into the foothills alone and got myself cornered by a pair of timber wolves. If not for Jasper and a little bit of good luck, I would never have left the foothills alive.

While undeniably a dumb thing to do, it was apparently something I needed. When I left the foothills, I was at peace with everything. No more misplaced anger at Mr. Stone for trying to convince my folks to send me to college, no more frustration about not being able to say what I want, and no more confusion about what I want. All in all I would say I benefited rather well from my moment of idiocy.

On my way back I was fortunate enough to find Mr. Stone still working at the school. We made a deal, he told my parents he had kept me after because of all the days I missed in the last month and when I went to leave, I got hurt trying to mount Jasper. In exchange for this tidbit of dishonesty, I agreed to stay after today and take my punishment from him for being a complete idiot. Is it wrong that I spent the week looking forward to our alone time?

I was actually dreading it for the first twenty-four hours. Wednesday night that changed though. My father came in to see me at bedtime, he often does. He had a curious look on his face and I thought for just a moment I was in trouble.

“Jasper threw a shoe with your misadventure the other night. I fixed it today.” He said as he sat down on the bed beside me.

“He’s not hurt is he?”

“No, he’s fine. Only thing is he had some hair and blood stuck on his hoof.” He paused and looked at me with his eyebrows raised.

I knew that look. He was waiting for me to explain.

“Mr. Stone didn’t keep me after.”

“I didn’t think he did.”

“I went for a ride after school instead of going to the laundry.”

“I thought as much.”

“I had things on my mind. I know it’s not a good excuse, but it’s the only one I got.”

“You used to talk things out with me.”

“I needed to work these things out myself.”

“Did you work them out?”

“I think I did.”

“Well then, what happened?”

“I rode Jasper out into the foothills.”

“Alone?”

“Yes.”

He sighed and shook his head looking at the floor of my bedroom.

“We ran into a pair of wolves hunting for supper.” I continued.

“And Jasper threw you to the ground to fight them off.” He finished for me.

“Yes.”

“I should have known. That horse loves you almost as much as I do.”

He smiled at me and brushed his hand through my hair. I always like it when he does that. It makes me feel safe and loved.

“I’m sorry I lied to you. Are you mad?”

“No, I’m not mad. I understand you. If you had told the truth you would have lost your job at the laundry, but with Mr. Stone selling your story for you, everyone believes it to be true. Mr. Faulkner won’t fire you now cause he thinks you got hurt trying to hurry along to work after being made late by your school teacher. You made a bad decision but you did what you could to limit the damage.”

I nodded, but to be honest I had only thought of that benefit after I had already asked Mr. Stone to lie for me. After my father’s speech I was not about to tell him that minor detail.
“Are you going to punish me?” I asked.

He chuckled. I blushed and closed my eyes unable to look at him in my embarrassment. Of course he would punish me. I lied to him, skipped out on my responsibilities, and went out into the foothills alone. No question about it, I deserved to be punished.

“No, I’m not going to. I have a suspicion Mr. Stone has already arranged to take care of that?”
I opened my eyes wide in double shock. Not only was I not going to get punished by him but he knew about my arrangement with Mr. Stone.

“Don’t look so surprised. I wasn’t born yesterday and no man like Mr. Stone is going to lie for a student without taking it out of their hide later.”

It was my turn to laugh. I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a big hug.

“Thank you, Daddy.”

“For what?”

“For being my Daddy.”

He kissed my forehead.

“You’re welcome.”

After that conversation I was feeling a lot better about everything. It is nice not to have secrets from my father. I always feel horribly guilty when I do. Without that extra burden, I was able to enjoy rest of the week.

Mr. Stone arrived promptly this morning, as he has ever since the incident, to take me to school. The ride was quiet, I think we must have both been thinking about what lay ahead for the day. I had the impression he was slightly nervous. He has punished me several times in the past but this time seemed different.

The school day seemed to go faster than normal. By the end of it I was nearly giddy with excitement. Were it my father soon to be dealing with me, I would have been shaking in fear but the thought of Mr. Stone taking me in hand was somehow less worrisome.

At last we stood alone in the room. Mr. Stone locked the door ensuring we would not be disturbed. My heart skipped a beat as he looked me over. I closed my eyes and bit at my lower lip even though I was not the least bit concerned.

Mr. Stone moved the punishment stool to the middle of the room. He lifted the paddle from its hook on the wall behind his desk. His expression settled into a stern look. He cleared his throat. I shivered as though a cold breeze had suddenly blown through.

“Undress yourself and place your things there.” He said and pointed to the first row student desk on the left side of the classroom.

I hobbled over to the desk, playing up my injured ankle as much as I could without risking further chastisement. I took my time in removing my dress. Mr. Stone stood quietly by, watching my every move. My fingers felt twice as large as normal and were clumsy at unbuttoning.

When I was down to my dressing gown and bloomers, I stopped and turned nervously toward Mr. Stone.

“Everything, Sarah.” His voice was absent of the compassion I have grown accustomed to hearing from him.

My eyes widened a little. I had never been naked in front of him before. I admit some trepidation mixed with an air of excitement. I had never felt quite this way before. I finished removing my underclothes and positioned my hands to provide a small amount of modesty. When I turned to face him again I was flushed from head to toe.

“Hands at your sides!” He barked in a surprisingly commanding tone.

Before I even consciously realized it, I had obeyed the order. I wanted to look away but something made me look him straight on. I was embarrassed for certain, but I was also confident and unafraid.

“Better. Now tell me again why is it we are here today?”

“I agreed to a punishment from you so that you might help me mislead my parents as to my true whereabouts last Tuesday.” My voice quivered as I spoke.

“And what was it about your whereabouts that would have been so awful for your parents to know?”

“I went alone into the foothills without telling anyone I was going there and I was supposed to be going to town to work at the laundry.”

“And what happened in the foothills?”

“I was attacked by wolves.”

“Your actions were foolish. You could have been seriously hurt or even killed. You acted irresponsibly by skipping out on your responsibilities and you involved me in your mischief because your actions might well have eliminated any prospect of you attending the higher education you have strived toward for the last several years.”

His tirade chased the excitement from me. I had not intended to cry but his words, harshly spoken, had driven guilt out from its hiding place and left me exposed in an even more vulnerable manner than I had already been. I began to cry.

“Pull yourself together girl, we have not even begun yet. Go and stand in the corner and think about just how lucky you are.” He ordered.

I hobbled, tears falling freely, to the corner. I placed my nose at the point, arching my bottom out to do so. I have been in the position many times before but never have I felt it so keenly. I tried to think about how fortunate I was and all the bad things which could have befallen me for my idiocy but my thoughts drifted. Instead, I thought of what I must look like to Mr. Stone. I wondered if he saw me as a woman or a little girl. I felt as both.

I am unsure how long I waited there. It seemed an eternity of little moments. Mr. Stone’s strong hand grabbed my arm and turned me around toward him. Without a word of warning, he lifted me at the waist and carried me to the stool. He laid me down upon so my bottom was the highest part of my anatomy facing the ceiling.

He stepped carefully away from me and picked the paddle up again from where he had set it aside on his desk. He approached me from behind where I could see every movement upside down. He raised the paddle high in the air. I whimpered ever so quietly anticipating the stinging impact.

Smack!

“Ooh!” I cried out. I had braced myself for the inevitable but I had been wholly unprepared for the sheer force of the blow.

The process repeated a dozen times and a half dozen more for good measure. My cries became louder and more urgent with each successive smack. By the last I was sobbing and begging forgiveness. Only strangely I was not begging forgiveness for my misadventure as father called it, I was begging forgiveness for my harsh tone and ill thoughts toward Mr. Stone on that very same day.

He left me to my tears. I did not move and he made no statement leading me to believe I was allowed to move. I rested uncomfortably on the stool with the world turned upside down. It seemed strangely fitting, even ironic, that my punishment had my world turned around as such.
Eventually, when my tears had dried and my sobs faded, he lifted me upright again. All was as it should, all my wrongs righted. I hardly realized my state of undress as we regarded each other.

“Thank you.” I said contritely.

“You are welcome, Sarah.” He said and extended his arms to me for a gentle hug.

I snuggled against him and felt warm and safe.

Or at least that is what should have happened. Quite in fact, Mr. Stone did nothing of the sort. When school was out and I stayed behind he looked at me as though he had forgotten our arrangement.

“No, Sarah, I will not be punishing you today. I think you learned your lesson well enough last week.”

“But, I don’t understand.”

“I am quite certain you have suffered enough having today hanging over you for a week. Consider this my April Fool’s joke.” He smiled a crooked smile.

If only he knew the truth about my week of anticipation.

1 comment:

ace of spades said...

Ah good april fool's joke. Much better than being rickrolled for the hundredth time.