The very first St Angela's story, from Roué 3
It was at the far end of the school, next room but one to the Principal’s study. The corridor which led to it was long and narrow and smelled faintly of wood preserver. The parquet flooring clicked and squeaked under your feet. It seemed about a mile long when you’d been sent to room 2D. Along the walls of the corridor were depressingly bright prints of Braque and Matisse and other people. They stared at you bleakly as you passed.
Room 2D was down a little flight of steps to the left at the end of the corridor. Four steps. Then, if 2D was occupied, you waited.
You put your hands behind your back and stared dismally at the institutional green of the door, and avoided looking at the solitary picture which hung at the apex of the corridor you’d just come down. Van Gogh’s Chair. It stood on its rickety-looking legs and reminded you of the chair in Room 2D, the one they’d probably put you over, whoever had sent you, so you tried not to look at it. And you waited because the little wooden indicator thing on the door had been pushed across to ‘occupied’, and you listened to the muffled sound of something crisp and stingy smacking across bare flesh. You listened to the stifled sobs and the plaintive yelps and it made your knickers seem like the only comforting thing left in the world. At least you still had them on, not like her, the unknown girl behind the door of Room 2D.
They weren’t supposed to lock the door, but the key was always in the lock on the inside nevertheless. So some of them turned the key, especially when you got a bit older and looked like you might need some help taking your knicks down. Which might or might not be a good thing, depending on who had sent you to 2D. The only way to learn was by experience.
Mr Harris liked you to be a good girl. Good girls didn’t wait to be coaxed into it, they just took everything off and got over the chair and did as they were told. That way they might only get a spanking. Mr Evans liked to take your knickers down himself. The Principal liked to do that too, only it took a while to learn that he preferred you to put up a struggle. So you struggled obligingly and squealed in embarrassment as he pulled you into him and tickled you so that you wriggled against the lump in his trousers, only you didn’t squeal too loudly, just in case. And then you realised that he whacked you just as hard anyway, but then it was too late to start objecting. You didn’t feel too sure of your ground, standing there with your knickers around your knees and him fondling the cane in his bony fingers.
Matron never locked the door, she just yanked your pants down and walloped you, but Miss Davies sometimes did, depending if you were one of her current favourites or not. Anyway, whether the door was locked or not, if the little sign said ‘occupied’ you waited outside. Only if it said ‘vacant’ did you wait inside.
2D was quite a small room, about ten feet by twelve. If you were waiting inside there wasn’t much to take your mind off the immediate prospect of getting your bum tanned. There was very little furniture, only a plain varnished chest which stood in front of the solitary window, and a hard wooden chair. You weren’t supposed to sit on it while you waited, and after you’d got to know what it was for you wouldn’t want to anyway. The floor was tiled in black and white squares. If you were nervous you could count them, only then you’d remember that that one with the bit chipped out was the one you’d tried so hard to concentrate on the time before last, while old Snotty had you over the chair and you were trying so very hard not to blubber because you knew it excited him when you cried and he’d only cane you harder.
Or, if you were bored, and you hadn’t been to Room 2D too many times before, you could look at the wall opposite the window and wonder what the hundreds of little ‘vee’ shaped nicks in the plaster were doing there. Although if you’d been there more than three or four times you’d know that they’d been made by the tip of a cane, drawn back and flicked accidentally against the wall before being whacked down across some girl’s naked bum.
If you wanted you could turn the pages of the book which was always left on the top of the chest, along with a pen. Funny thing was, it was always your own name you looked for first, a morbid curiosity making you seek out the written evidence of your past humiliations, the words meaning nothing when you found your name, the statements bald and uninformative... Julie Williamson, form 5B, eight with the cane for idleness. Signed by Mr Evans in his irritatingly precise writing. Never mind that he’d squeezed your tits as he made you bend over. Never mind that you got twelve real stingers, not eight, and you cried like a first-former. Never mind that you couldn’t sit down afterwards during prep.
Well, never mind. Room 2D had more secrets than that if you could believe what you’d heard from your friends. And you probably could.
And if you were foolish enough you could even open the drawers in the chest and gingerly touch the tawse or the strap or whatever it was that most fascinated you, and remember what it felt like, stinging its marks across your helpless bottom. Only you never could remember, not quite. You could only dread the forthcoming reminder. And the other things too, the most mysterious of all a pair of navy knickers, crumpled into a corner of the cupboard behind the canes which lay along the length of the single shelf. A name inside — Lucy Fitzroy, 5C. You might wonder what happened to Lucy to make her forget her knickers, although it wouldn’t take much to guess.
And then, distantly, you would hear the footsteps, knowing that they could only be those that you’d been waiting so fearfully for, and your knickers would feel uncomfortable and you’d ease their tightness between your legs, knowing that it wasn’t worth bothering, knowing you wouldn’t have them on much longer. The footsteps would click quietly closer, clip-clop down the four steps. The door would swing open...