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Harsh Realities


Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 26 Feb 2018

It was with his stomach churning that young Thomas Lody knocked on the door of the headmaster’s office. The twelve-year-old knew exactly what it was that would soon be happening to him; the note that had been hand-delivered to the dormitory he shared with fifteen other boys his age made sure that there would be no room for doubt. Esteemed Mr. Lody, the headmaster would like to see you in his office at precisely 30 minutes past 7 o’clock. You are to arrive ready for a thrashing, it said. As was always the case with such messages, the note was passed around the room from boy to boy, each lad gazing upon it with a sort of fearful reverence.

As instructed, Thomas made his way from the dormitory to the administrative hall already prepared for his upcoming punishment, dressed in only his school-issued underwear – a pair of white boxer briefs with his last name embroidered on the waistband to make them easy for the matron to identify and ensure that they were returned to the right boy when she washed their laundry. He thought back to the conversation he had overheard his parents having several months earlier:

Myriam, I know he’s your little boy. Trust me, he’s mine too. And I wish it could be like that forever, but we can’t protect him and shield him from everything. It wouldn’t be fair to him, his dad was saying to his mom, neither of them aware that Thomas was listening from the top of the staircase. This was just after they had been informed that Thomas had been admitted to the prestigious Canyon View Academy and had decided to attend. His parents had left that decision entirely up to him; it was a hard choice to make, and perhaps his choice would have been different if the school weren’t close enough for him to still be able to return home on the weekends, but in the end he had chosen to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, to keep the family tradition alive. He hoped to make them proud.

His father warned him about what attending a school like Canyon View was like: They would tell him that they cared about him, but they didn’t...not in the way Thomas was used to being cared about, at least. It wasn’t that they were bad people; it was just that it was impossible to care that deeply about so many students. But, his dad said, picking up Thomas’s iPhone, if you ever need someone to talk to and can’t wait until the weekend, remember that we’re just a phone call away. Always remember that, son.

The hollow sound that reverberated down the hall as the boy’s knuckle knocked against the old wooden door sent a chill down his spine. Come in, the headmaster’s voice beckoned from inside the room. The door creaked as Thomas opened it to step inside.

Ah, Mr. Lody, I am glad to see you made it to our little appointment on time. If you are capable of doing that, then would you care to explain to me why you missed curfew by fifteen minutes yesterday?

I lost track of time, sir. I’m sorry, was the boy’s simple response.

Short, sweet, and to the point. I do appreciate it, Mr. Lody. As you know, we take curfew very seriously here. Now, get those underpants off and go get the cane that is hanging on the wall. The third one from the door, the headmaster said. The boy complied, feeling as if his heart were going to beat out of his chest as he looked over the fearsome implement. Good. Now, since you were fifteen minutes late, I want you to stand there, holding the cane up over your head for fifteen minutes. You will then get six of the best. If you lower your arms before the time is done, you will get eight strokes instead of six. Understood?

Yes, sir, Thomas replied timidly.

Good. Cane up, then, the headmaster said before going back to his computer and resuming the work he had been doing before the boy arrived.

Dutifully, Thomas did as instructed. Tears were already threatening to flow down his face as he remembered the conversation he had with his dad a few days prior to starting school:

Dad, what are canings at school like? he had asked, seemingly catching his parents completely off guard. His mom left the room, and he didn’t quite know why.

Well, son... his dad was stumbling to find the right words. They definitely hurt. More than the belt. Thomas’s eyes went a bit wide; the belt his dad used on him always provided quite a sting, enough to be a powerful deterrent for most misbehavior except for the occasional careless slip-ups even the best boys are wont to be guilty of. And do you remember what I told you about how it’s hard for them to really care about so many boys?

Yes, sir.

Well, the same thing goes for discipline in a place like that. They’re just trying to keep everything under control and making sure all of the rules are followed.’s just different from the way spankings are done at home.

The vague understanding that Thomas had taken away from that conversation was now becoming much more clear. Being naked for punishment was nothing new to him. Even the feeling he had of his physical exposure being a symbolic reflection for the exposure of his misdeeds was a familiar one. But he never felt the need to cover up in front of his dad. Sure, there was always some shame in it, but he’d always felt comfortable, safe, loved by the man whom he loved so dearly. Here, there was nothing he wanted to do more than to cover up, to not let the man sitting behind the desk see him in his current state.

The minutes seemed to stretch out into hours as Thomas attempted to keep his aching arms up over his head, but he just couldn’t maintain that position for fifteen minutes. So, with ten minutes having gone by, he finally dropped them and let out a sob as the thought of the extra two strokes sunk in.

Eight strokes it is then, Mr. Lody. You did do well, though, I must say. If you will please hand me the cane, the headmaster said. With the implement now in hand, he gave Thomas his final instruction: Bend over and touch your toes, my boy.

Few seconds passed after Thomas had assumed the traditional punishment position, which countless generations of boys had inevitably found themselves in at some point, before a vicious swishing sound filled the room as the cane sliced through the air and crashed onto the young lad’s rear end. There was barely enough time for Thomas to wail in pain from the first stroke before the cane was already swishing through the air and smashing into a spot just below where the first had hit. Strokes three and four quickly followed, each met with another agonized cry. The boy could not believe that such pain was possible.

The headmaster allowed for a quick minute-long break, which did allow Thomas to compose himself slightly, before swishing the cane through the air again. All the composure that Thomas had regained was immediately lost once again as this latest stroke made its impact with a spot that had already received the cane’s attention once before. As the final three strokes were delivered to his already battered bottom, they were accompanied by just the whimpering of a young boy thoroughly broken by a most terrible punishment.

Thomas heard the headmaster walking away from him to place the cane back on its hook on the wall but did not dare to stand back up until he was told to do so. He tried to stop crying, but he thought about how his dad always soothed him and comforted him after a spanking, reassuring him that he was still a good boy and that he was loved. How he missed that just then. It was that longing for comfort, more so than the pain, which kept the tears flowing.

After five minutes, the headmaster was finally satisfied that Thomas’s crying was sufficiently under control, so he told the boy to stand up and put his underpants back on and that he was now free to go back to his dormitory. Then he went back to work.

Going back to the dormitory, Thomas was in no mood for the time-honored tradition of showing his friends the marks on his rear end. He could not understand how some boys saw those as badges of honor, but still, he humored their requests. With the excitement and the oohing and aahing over the brutal stripes having finally died down, the other boys went off to the recreation hall, where they would be allowed to play video games until bedtime.

Thomas, though, needed to be alone for a while and process what he’d experienced that day. Perhaps take a nap. But as he lay in bed, he could do nothing but toss and turn as he thought about his family. How had his dad gone through that sort of punishment in school? And his grandpa? How could this place not break them? He got up and got dressed, having decided he’d rather spend time outdoors on the school grounds than in bed. Then he thought briefly once again about the conversation he’d had with his dad when he was admitted to Canyon View, and as he made his way outdoors, he picked up the phone, listening to the dial tone as he waited for the call to be connected. Thomas stepped outside, and a familiar voice excitedly said, Hi son! He felt a wave of relief wash over him as he told his dad about the day’s events and listened to the caring wisdom that his father had accumulated over the years, the wisdom that would provide Thomas with safe refuge as he learned to navigate this new world and its harsh new realities.

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