How To Win Arguments And Make Friends

April 28, 1896
Sarah Waters

I am unsure when it happened, but the entire town now seems turned against us. I can feel it in their stares and the way they turn away whenever I approach. Then of course there was more obvious, when mother and I were fired from the laundry house today. Neither of us had done anything wrong but that did not seem to matter. Mother of course blames me.

“The whole town is mad at us because I wanted my father released from jail?” I asked.

“Watch your tone young lady.”

“Seriously, mother! This is all William Howe’s doing.”

“What were you doing socializing with him in the middle of town?” Mother asked.

She is a master at manipulating conversations and changing subjects to bring up old and previously settled arguments. I should know better than to bite by now but somehow she always manages to rattle me just enough to make me say something I will regret.

“I already told you, we weren’t socializing. He was threatening me.”

“Of course he was dear, because you are so dangerous to him.”

“No, but father is.”

Mother rolled her eyes in the same way I have been known to, only when I do it to her I usually end up with a sore backside.

“Besides, Mrs. Gallagher said you two were socializing scandalously.”

“The only thing scandalous is Mrs. Gallagher’s lies.”

“How dare you insult Mrs. Gallagher.”

“How dare she insult me!”

The slap of mother’s palm across my face silenced me from saying anything further. As usual mother took advantage of her authority over me to win the argument.

“Go to your room and don’t even think about coming out until I tell you otherwise!” She shouted as though she had a right to be outraged.

I sulked on my bed. Really there was nothing better to do. It was that or have more frustrating daydreams about Mr. Stone. Since he left me off the hook he has barely acknowledged my presence. Perhaps he thinks I should be grateful for being let off?

I know it is a sin to want for a married man but my heart knows no better. What I would not give for a torrid moment in his arms. Perhaps discreetly in the school house or wildly reckless under the moonlight in the woods. I imagine his soft fingers caressing, tickling, my accentuated skin. Just the mere thought makes the hair on my arms stand straight and a cold shiver run down my spine.

His lips brush softly against my neck, teasing my every nerve. His hands explore my body, slowly with confidence. His eyes sparkle with amusement as I shudder in his arms. He takes his hands away and steps back. I start to pursue him to call him back to me.

My bedroom door swings open and slams into the wall behind it with a thud. I jump up from laying on my bed to see mother standing in the doorway with a disapproving gaze. I cannot help but blush, certain she knows every illicit detail of my thoughts from a moment ago.

“What in Heaven’s name are you doing in here?”

“Nothing.” I replied too quickly.

“The blush on your cheeks says different. I’m sure I don’t want to know what rancorous thoughts were pulsing through your head.” Mother said while looking me up and down.
I blushed deeper.

“It seems it is past time I blistered your delicate butt. Get undressed and wait at the foot of your bed. I’ll return in a few minutes and you better be there if you know what is good for you.”
She left my room, leaving the door wide open. I began to undress myself, obeying without question or thought as to why.

“We can have tea in the garden once I’ve dealt with Sarah.” Mother said.
I gasped, startled to learn we were not alone.

“Would you like to watch? After all it is fitting since it was your character she deemed to impugn.”

“I don’t want to intrude but if you think it would be beneficial…” Mrs. Gallagher’s voice trailed off.

“I certainly do.” Mother said.

I turned my attention back to myself, realizing I had little time left to finish the job of undressing. I let my dress fall to the floor, quickly followed by my dressing gown and undergarments. I knelt down and scooped them all up in my arms to carry them to my bed.

Mrs. Gallagher and mother walked in. I was halfway to the bed, but stopped in my tracks when I saw them. Mother frowned. Mrs. Gallagher shook her head as if to scold me.

“Don’t dawdle anymore than you already have, young lady.” Mother said.

I finished my task and placed my things on top of my bed. I moved to the end of the bed and stood straight. My arms ached to cover my indecency, my face and more flushed red with shame. I desired only to stare at the floor but forced myself to keep my head up and meet their gazes.

The two ladies took their time looking me up and down with scornful eyes. I felt like a defective doll set out for all its flaws to be identified and corrected.

“Turn around.” Mother ordered.

I turned and faced my bed. At first I thought it would be better but the collection of my garments laying empty and unused only served to accentuated my nakedness. I longed for the comfort of a shoe even but knew it was not to be.

My chair scraped on the wooden floor as it was pulled out from my desk. I imagined mother sitting down in it, straightening her dress over her legs. Mrs. Gallagher walked around to the side of my bed. Our eyes met and if she could read my thoughts she would have fled the room, the house, and the town, but instead she smiled. She sat on the edge of my bed and turned just so she would have an excellent view of the scene soon to unfold.

“Bring me your hairbrush.” Mother ordered.

I hesitated a breath before moving to my dresser to comply. My hairbrush lay innocently on top of the dresser. Its white bristles pointed upward and long strings of my hair lay intertwined through them. The brush is a prized possession, expensive and finer than anything else I can call my own. Dark red in coloring with a blue velvet holding the bristles in place, it was beautiful to look upon. I still remember the day father gave it to me.

Holding it in my palm I shuddered to think of the stinging pain it would soon inflict. Such terror in such a beautiful thing seems a contraction, an incompatibility. I carried it with deliberate slowness to my mother. I offered it to her with a reluctance far deeper than the imminent pain evoked. I have always felt it the greatest inconsideration of my mother to use a prized possession of mine in this way.

Mother took the brush from my hand and then patted her lap. No words were needed. We have been here many times before and will likely be here many times again. I laid myself across her lap, feeling foolishly childlike. I dared not think of what Mrs. Gallagher would see.

Mother began straight away. She did not bring the brush down hard but it was a rapid pace. The light slaps began to build slowly on top of each other. I tried to keep my legs and bottom relaxed, but as the fast pace slaps built up their burn it became a more difficult struggle.

My anger at the unfairness of my position kept the tears from falling for longer than normal. I know mother will not stop until she is convinced I am sufficiently contrite. For some reason I cannot fake contriteness in a believable manner. Fortunately, I have the good sense not to try anymore.

Mother’s wrist must have been getting tired because her fast flicks became slower and then the slaps became more deliberate and harder. She took aim at my thighs and with each slap my legs kicked involuntarily. Back and forth she continued from right thigh to left thigh, over and over. Just when I thought I could stand no more she began at a rapid rate again and the fire she lighted had me kicking so fast I would have been running to keep up with Jasper, had I been standing.

At last the tears began to fall. I sobbed. I wanted desperately to beg forgiveness and plead for mercy. Foolish pride swallowed my words before they were heard. Stubbornly, I clenched my fists, gritted my teeth and stared hard at the floor. I told myself if I just held out a little longer she would stop and I would win.

Mother might have read my thoughts or perhaps it is the same thoughts that every woman has when over her mother’s knee. She stopped her assault.

“Stand up.” She ordered.

I pushed myself shakily up off her lap and stood silent at her side. She stood up.

“Mrs. Gallagher perhaps you would like a turn?”

“It would be my pleasure.” She replied.

Mother handed her my hairbrush as they switched places. My stomach turned in knots as I contemplated the woman now sitting before me. To think a woman who gossips, no, lies, about me and sullies my reputation would be allowed to witness my chastisement was angering enough to consider she would soon be wielding my own hairbrush against me in a farce of discipline was untenable.

“Over.” She barked.

I hesitated. She grabbed my arm and pulled. I started to pull back but she pinched my skin and caused me to lose my balance. A moment later I was upended over her lap.

“You sure are a feisty one.” Mrs. Gallagher said.

She rested the hairbrush on my enflamed flesh. Anger swallowed my tears again and I swore I would not let her make me cry.

She wasted no time in breaking my promise. She swung the brush hard and fast, landing it repeatedly in the same spot. Her target was the crease between my right buttock and thigh. She did not miss. Only when I let out a sob did she stop and move on to the left side.

I pounded my fists on the floor in hatred of myself as the tear flowed out uncontrolled. I kicked my legs desperate to avoid her onslaught. I wiggled on her lap trying to roll free and spare my burning flesh further torment. She thwarted me at every turn. I sobbed like a teething baby. She continued swinging the brush, never hitting anywhere but that crease between buttocks and thighs.

I exhausted myself over her lap. I could think of nothing but the burning pain. My humiliation faded to the background like a distant murmur. All I desired was a peak to the pain, an end to my suffering. It came in time but not before I slobbered apologies I did not mean and beg forgiveness I did not want.

I laid limp on her lap when she finally ceased the spanking. I cried a puddle of tears to the floor, I sniffled as my body shook with the weight of my surrender. Mrs. Gallagher had no mercy in her. She pushed me from her lap to land on the floor at her feet.

I curled up into myself. My hands grabbed at my blazing flesh, helpless to assuage the burning or provide comfort to the tortured flesh. Mrs. Gallagher stood above me. She dropped my hairbrush down on me and it bounced on the floor by my face.

In my thoughts I picked it up and hurled it at her while screaming. I beat my fist into her until she collapsed to the floor and then I kicked her and stood upon her chest until she admitted her deceptions. In reality I laid helpless at her feet.

“Get up.” Mother ordered.

I knew better than to hesitate again. I pushed myself wearily from the floor and stood with shoulders slouched.

“You remember this moment the next time you think to argue with me. Understood?”

“Yes, mother.” I replied as though I would say no?

“Rather than sulking in here, you can serve Mrs. Gallagher and I tea in the garden.”

“Yes, mother.”

I moved toward the bed and my things.

“You don’t need those.” Mrs. Gallagher said.

“Quite true, you can serve us as you are.” Mother said.

I fought back another wave of sobs and made my way to the kitchen to make their tea.

1 comment:

♠ace of spades said...

This one made me smile. Loved it!