The morrow: zero hour (Pt 5)
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Jesse stood in front of the Headmistress' desk. Sister Mercy wore her usual dour and crabbed expression. Jesse noticed that the hairs above her thin, pale lips seemed more prominent than ever. Were nuns not allowed to wax, or perhaps shave (even in cold water)?
'Merciless' dispensed with any greeting.
"You were not in chapel yesterday."
"Did you have permission to stay away?"
"So why did you not attend divine service?"
Jesse paused for moment. Was she really going to say this? "Because I didn't like the priest who was taking the service."
Sister Mercy's eyes flickered briefly. She knew the girls disliked her; she'd even overheard one or two of their cruel remarks. But she wasn't, at least in her opinion, the flint-hearted tyrant she was taken for. She hadn't liked Father O'Connor either: as usual, he'd preached a tediously dull sermon; he'd bored them all to tears over lunch with his entrenched opinions about the Vatican Council; and then afterwards he'd insisted on staying for the games afternoon. Sister Mercy was quite sure that his sole sporting interest lay in the girls' brief skirts and tiny shorts. The way he kept smacking his lips was revealing. She could understand Jesse's point of view, but she mustn't let that cloud her judgement.
"That's as may be, Jesse, but the Lord expects full attendance at His Sunday service. He is all-seeing and He is grievously offended by those whose absence he notes. He demands expiation. It is my task to ensure that His wishes are met." She picked up the cane.
"Follow me." She led Jesse across to where the carpet ended in front of a small alcove. A bare wooden table stood on the tiled floor.
"Take your under-garments down and bend over the table." Jesse slipped her knickers down and stretched herself across the cool wood, fearfully gripping the far edge. Her eyes welled with tears. She felt her skirt being raised and folded across her waist, and the cane traced lightly over her cheeks before it sang as 'Merciless' swished it up and down a couple of times, well aware of the terror this evoked in the waiting victim.
Then the first stroke cracked across her bottom. Christ! She couldn't believe how much it hurt. Despite Angelica's forewarning, the blazing sting made Jesse gasp and thrash her legs.
"Still. Keep still."
The second cut was just as bad, but Jesse managed to ride it. The third produced a hissed "Ooooww!" and the fourth a mighty wriggle and cry of "Ouuuch!" Then she remembered Angelica's advice: just two more to go: she could make it, she would make it.
The sixth was the hardest of them all, laid viciously across the crease between her bottom and her thighs. She reared up with the pain, grasping at her cheeks and yelping.
"Who told you to get up? Stay in place!"
"But, Sister, that was six. Isn't it over?"
"Six might have been enough if you'd been found reading the Holy Scriptures, but you weren't: you were reading some scandalous magazine, for which you're getting two extra. Now get back over the table."
Jesse, taken by surprise, found her reserves had evaporated. As the last two lashes of the rattan bit into her ridged and striped behind, she yelled and yelled.
In her office, the secretary pulled down her mouth and patted her grey bun.