prone and canedThe bags were all packed and lined up in a neat row of three, largest to smallest in the hall. The door stood like a sentinel beyond with sharp light streaming through the little square window set halfway up. If she peered through it she would see the street and freedom.

Constance knew if she did look she would see the brownstone steps and Mr Edwards’ Model T parallel to the curb. All she had to do was open the portal to the world and turn left for the railway station.

She turned at the bags and then at her coat on the peg. She could just brush her hair first, before she braved the world. She owed herself that much.

The hall mirror was modest and tasteful like everything else in the house. She studied it now rather than the face looking back at her in the glass. The girl there had sad blue eyes and was much too cowardly to fly the nest. She could not meet them.

What had she said at breakfast? That they had never loved her, especially him, she choked back a sob as she remembered. They had only allowed her to remain out of duty. Well now she was a woman, she told herself and had out grown them.

The outburst had not travelled well from her lips to their ears. Somehow it had landed with pain that had become written upon their faces.

“I’ll go then,” she had said in a dead voice.

He looked up then and studied her. He shrugged with his eyes, but the pain did not fade.

“That is your choice,” he said at last, “Your father certainly left you enough money.”

“Yes, and I can spend it how I like and with whom I like,” she had spat back at him angrily.

“You know that is not true,” he replied softly, “Not while you live under this roof. Think of your reputation. What would your father have thought?”

She might have retreated then. After all she knew the rules. She could just have apologised and accepted their ire. But then Edith and the others would have mocked her and perhaps shunned her from their society.

So instead she had told them of her decision to leave. He had nodded at this and without a word he had put on his coat and left.

“See,” she yelled after him, “You never loved me.”

In the present Constance risked a glance at the proud one in the mirror and saw only a brat.

“Damn you,” she cursed as she looked away and at the door.


The book was another portal of escape. She loved reading and often lay on her bed or in the seat under the window for hours losing herself in paper. But now the words were silent on the page and leaf after leaf turned over unread as she stared forlornly at the tome before her.

It was the silence that distracted her. It roared and filled the house, drowning out all sounds but those muted ones from the street and the ticking of the clock. Perhaps that’s why she did not hear the front door or his footfall on the parquet floor.

“You decided to stay then,” he said.

She could tell that he was striving to maintain a neutral tone, but there was no pain in his voice, not as there had been that morning.

“Yes,” Constance replied not looking up from the unread book.

“Then we have matters to attend to don’t we?” he said in his stern voice. His neutrality now surrendered in favour of control.

At least he sounded like him and not the near broken thing she had tried to hurt at breakfast.

“I’m sorry about…” she paused.

She was going to say, she was sorry about last night. But her regrets extended beyond that now. Beyond breakfast even. So she looked at the floor and whispered merely, “Sorry.”

He nodded.

“I know,” he sighed.

He carefully removed his coat and stepped back into the hall to hang it on the hat stand by the mirror. But the tall array of wooden branches that had been a wedding present held more than just hats and coats. From an up thrust hook from which also hung an umbrella, he took the long pale stick. She heard it rattle on the wood and felt her heart lurch within her chest.

He re-entered the room then with the cane in his hand and tapped it firmly on his left palm. She noticed he had already rolled up his sleeves of his shirt to reveal two tanned arms speckled with dark hairs. She could also see the brown mottles on his skin and small blemishes there. Life was full of such imperfections. But like with the mirror she could not meet his stern countenance leave alone his steel grey eyes.

“Come on,” he said in a sad voice and she nodded in reply.

The skirts of her soft check dress came off her thighs easily, but the thick cotton panty-briefs had a hard journey to make. Constance tugged on them reluctantly but such immodesty stayed her hands for an age before they betrayed her and slid south.

She shot a horrified look in his direction but he had averted his eyes, so she had time to ensure that she was covered in front if not behind.

The small firm curves of her denuded bottom were emphasised by the bunch of white cotton still atop the black silk stockings she had purchased from Hecht’s. She was far too big behind in her estimation and heat burned in her cheeks.

At least she didn’t need to be directed and walked awkwardly to the chair to fold herself over with her bottom uppermost.

“Heels together girls, no one wants to see what you had for luncheon,” her old schoolmistress’s vulgarisms coming to mind.

He tapped her bare bottom twice with the stick, bringing her to the present and she fixed her eyes on a spot on the wall as she had once been taught.

“We will forget about this morning. I know you were upset,” he said gently, “This is for returning home late last night with alcohol on your breath.”

“Yes Sir,” she murmured and swallowed.

The first stroke took her by surprise. But then it always did. It was a bearable line of pain with an after-burn like a match. She took it in silence, but blinking hard.

The second was worse. Her bottom was expecting it and obliged its sting. The cane was so much more sophisticated than a spanking, grown-up almost, she pondered. But the slipper was more merciful.

Only the hairbrush was a rival and that was more humbling too. But that all depended on how many strokes he had for her.

“Ooh,” she wailed as the third sliced a cut under the first two.

“H-how many please Sir?” she asked meekly.

“As many as you deserve,” he replied, striking her again and extracting another bitter wail.

As many as that, she thought miserably, then aloud, “I suppose I am not too big for the hairbrush after all Sir.”

“I’ll leave that to her when she wakes you later,” he said, the cane adding some sharp punctuation. “You know she is very disappointed and cross with you.”

“Wakes me?” Constance wailed, scarce able to hold back her tears now.

“Yes, after this you will go to your room for the rest of the day,” he scolded her.

“Yes Sir,” she yelped as another stroke cut home.

She lost count around 15, but it may have already been more. It was so hard to reckon when your bottom was in purgatory. That may have been a half-way point. It was certainly no sooner in the proceedings than that.

But by then she was very sorry and was telling the neighbours so by her howls. There would be smirks and sharp looks for weeks now and all her grown-up pretensions would be scattered.

Finally he left her and she fell prone to the floor sobbing for a time. Did she really face a spanking later? But she knew she deserved it and had accepted as much by not flying the nest. They put up with so much from one who was not one of their own.

But she loved them as they loved her.

The end.

6 Responses to “Cuckoo”

  1. 1 paul1510

    Good story.
    But in reference to your last line, in my experience, sometimes but not always true.

  2. 2 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    Thanks for this, Damien. Like your other recent post, it’s a (presumably) fictional story that could well have been an anecdote. Just by coincidence I ran across a news story from the Beeb this morning about more young people than ever (25%+) still living at home with their parents. I guess we know what that means:

  3. “The book was another portal of escape.” As is Voice in the Corner…:)

  4. 5 jimisim

    A highly original take on an extremely fascinating topic.
    Ever since nearly choking on my morning tea when I read the letters in The Sunday Telegraph a few years ago, the subject has fascinated me.
    Mt take on it is that “there’s no smoke without fire” and it is probable that some caning took place. Some of the punishments seem to have been far too severe and possibly too frequent.
    However I read today that the columnist Auberon Waugh was proud of being the most beaten boy in his school-17 times in one term-painful, so it is possible to take repeated severe canings.

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