“Fuck. Fuck. A thousand times fuck.”
“I don’t think that’s how the saying goes.”
“A thousand times fuck off, Caleb. How’s that?”
“Better. What are we going to do?”
Jade looked around at the backyard, which was currently more ash than grass. Lisa was out of town, and Jade had had some friends over to sit around the fire pit in the mild winter weather. That in itself wasn’t a problem; Jade was an adult, and plenty old enough to have a contained party at her house. This meant that she was too old to forget to put the fire out before she had gone inside and fallen into a deep sleep in the wee hours. Her best friend, Caleb, had slept over and felt partially responsible. He had convinced her to drag out the fire pit in the first place, and had gone to sleep after she had. Unfortunately, he was also just as much at a loss over what to do now. It a total fluke that the grass had caught fire, but a very avoidable fluke if they had just made sure to put the cover on and the flames out.
“I can fix this. I can fix this. I can fix this,” Jade was mumbling to herself as she walked around the backyard. Caleb looked doubtful, but ready to do whatever he could to help. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that he heard a car pull up in the driveway. His eyebrows knit together worriedly as he said cautiously, “Hey Jade…”
She looked up, then followed his gaze toward the driveway. Her view was obstructed by the house, but she read the signs. Caleb turned to see her shoulders visibly sag. He couldn’t blame her. He’d had Miss Harley in high school, and she could be scary when she wanted to be. He shivered a little as he remembered the only time he’d ever been in trouble with her, and the telling-off he’d received. He’d seen her again since Jade had moved in here, but it was always brief hellos and goodbyes.
“You gotta go, man.”
He looked at Jade as he heard the car door shut. Miss Harley would be walking into the house now. Jade was making her way toward the back door. She had her time-to-face-the-music face on. He followed her, but she turned to him as she reached for the metal handle of the screen door and repeated herself, “You gotta go. Just go around the house.”
“I have to get my wallet and keys. Besides, if you’re gonna get yelled at, I should get yelled at, too.”
Jade snorted. “Okay, tough guy.”
He rolled his eyes and followed her inside. Lisa was putting her purse down at the kitchen counter and looking confused. “Hey guys,” she said. “Why does it smell like smoke? Is someone burning leaves? It’s kinda late in the year for that.”
Jade took a deep breath, walked over to the window facing the backyard, and yanked open the blinds. Caleb watched Miss Harley’s eyes go wide and she walked quickly over to stand next to Jade and look out the window. “What the hell happened?” she asked, taking in the large, vaguely circular patch of burnt grass covering her usually nice little backyard.
“I had some friends over and we got the fire pit out, and it got really windy later, and I guess some of the dried leaves in the pile blew out and…” She made a sweeping motion with her hand.
“It burned this much before you could stop it?” Lisa’s eyes were still wide with disbelief, confusion, and worry. Jade glanced at Caleb, then said to the older woman, “Can I say goodbye to him first?”
Caleb saw Miss Harley’s features shift, as she put on her impassive teacher face and said, “Of course.” But Caleb didn’t want Jade getting yelled at by herself, not when he had been just as dumb. “It wasn’t her fault,” he blurted out. “I went to bed later than she did and I should have doused it. It was mostly just embers but still, it was my bad. I’ll pay for the damage.”
Jade closed her eyes in frustration and brought both her hands to her forehead as she sighed, “Caaleeebbb.” Miss Harley’s attention all on the younger woman, and she spoke through her teeth now. “You went to bed with a fire still going?”
Caleb started to interject again but Lisa held up a silencing hand without even looking in his direction, her eyes still on Jade, who slowly cracked her eyes open and said, “Yes, ma’am.” Caleb felt compelled to look out for his best friend and couldn’t stop himself from interrupting. “I said I would put it out though. It’s my fault, Miss Harley.”
Lisa’s eyes snapped over to look at the young man in her kitchen, and he took an involuntary step back, though she hadn’t moved an inch in his direction. “Her house, her responsibility Caleb. You need to leave.”
“I’m not leaving! I’ll help… clean it up,” he said uncertainly.
Jade gave him a frustrated look and said “There’s no more fire, nothing we can do right now. Just go.”
“I’m not going,” he said stubbornly. He wasn’t sure why he felt so sure that he needed to stay, but he did. He wasn’t the best guy who ever walked the earth but he was loyal to a fault, and something about this felt like trouble, though he couldn’t figure out what exactly he was afraid was going to happen. Lisa threw her hands up, saying to Jade as she walked away, “Work it out. I’ll be back down in thirty minutes.” And she grabbed her small rolling suitcase and walked down the hall toward the stairs and up to her room.
As soon as they heard the first stair creak, Jade pulled the blinds shut and walked over to Caleb, grabbing his wallet from the small dining table and shoving it into his chest before physically pushing him toward the front door. “Bye, Caleb.”
He dug his feet in, pushing back against her. He was several inches taller than her and lanky, and easily turned around to avoid being herded. “I’m not going! What is she gonna do to you? She can do it to me, too.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Just go home, Caleb!”
“No,” he said, crossing his arms stubbornly and planting his feet. “I’m staying.”
“You know what, fine. Stay. Enjoy being a hero. It’s not gonna make my ass feel better tomorrow, though, I bet you that.” She stomped down the hall and yelled up the steps, “We’re ready, Lisa!” in an irritated voice, though barely five minutes had passed. She stomped back into the living room and sat on the couch, arms crossed, adding a quick, “Come on, Caleb. Come sit. Let’s wait on the grand finale together.” He made his way nervously toward the couch and did sit next to her. After a few minutes of silent fuming, she even uncrossed her arms and leaned against him. He didn’t speak, but watched the ticking second hand of the clock on the wall.
A few minutes later Lisa did come downstairs; they heard her walk through the kitchen and rummage for something before she entered the living room. Jade groaned as she saw the wooden spoon in her mentor’s hand, and Caleb’s eyes were glued to it.
“He’s still here?” Lisa asked Jade.
“He’s too stubborn for his own good.”
“And you’re okay with it?”
“It’s not my favorite thing but I just want to get it over with.”
“And does he–”
“I’m right here!” Caleb interjected indignantly, though as both women turned their full attention on him, he suddenly wished he was anywhere else. Lisa contemplated him for a moment, then pointed at a chair behind her. “Sit,” she said, pointing. Caleb looked over at Jade, who made her eyes wide as if to say “what are you waiting for?!” So, Caleb got up from the couch and moved to the chair, and Lisa took his spot.
She put her arm around Jade and said, “Do I need to go over why you are about to be spanked?” The younger woman felt her face begin to burn with embarrassment. Now that the moment was here, having Caleb around seemed like the worst possible idea. She resisted the urge to glance in his direction and just nodded. Lisa must have been feeling sympathetic, because she accepted the nonverbal response. But of course, Caleb wasn’t finished yet.
“You can’t do this! You can’t… spank her. She’s 27 years old!”
This time it was Jade who exploded, leaning forward and shaking her hands in Caleb’s direction. “You see any handcuffs? Does this place look like a prison to you? I told you to leave. You stayed. So shut the fuck up, Caleb. It’s bad enough that you’re here without you talking. Besides, you’ll get your turn,” she added caustically. “Fair’s fair, right?”
And before anything else could be said, she flung herself across Lisa’s lap. The teacher rubbed her back for a moment as she shared a silent exchange with Caleb. He had finally been startled into silence, and she felt confident he would remain that way for a while. She leaned down, running her fingers through Jade’s hair and whispering things he could not hear, though he noticed Jade seemed to scoot even closer to Miss Harley’s body and her right arm curled around the woman’s left ankle. When the first swat landed, he jumped at the noise, though Jade didn’t seem fazed. The soft thud of a hand on denim didn’t last long. Soon the girl’s pants were around her ankles, and Caleb watched as his friend’s brown skin began to turn pink around the edges of her underwear. He winced with every swat.
Jade was being unusually stoic. For all her bravado, she usually spent her time over Lisa’s lap whining and kicking, sometimes arguing about how unfair things were and sometimes promising the moon if she thought that’s what Lisa wanted from her. Today, though, she felt guilty, angry, and embarrassed. So she didn’t do much wiggling… at first.
Soon after Jade’s body began to shift, Lisa broke her steady rhythm and reached over to grab the spoon. She clutched it firmly in her hand and leaned down again to talk in Jade’s ear. Caleb was transfixed; he was mortified to be watching and equally unable to look away. He heard his friend groan into the pillow, her fist coming down in front of her to bang the couch. Then he watched as Lisa slowly pulled down the black and white striped underwear she wore, revealing a bottom that was already a dusky shade of pink. Soon the spanking had resumed and this time it was a wooden spoon landing on bare skin. The sound was distinctly different and his mouth was hanging open as he watched white oval patches appear and disappear. Jade was making lots of noises and moving all over Lisa’s lap by the time the woman finished. Caleb seemed not to exist as the older woman rubbed Jade’s back and bottom, then fixed her underwear and pulled her up into a hug before sending her with a push toward the corner of the living room. She didn’t even glance in Caleb’s direction.
Miss Harley, however, shifted her full attention to the young man sitting in her living room. “Well?” she asked. “Are you ready to go home now?”
“No,” he replied immediately, though his voice sounded much higher than it normally did.
“You are going to take the same consequences as Jade?”
“Yes,” he said, and then at her raised eyebrow, “…ma’am. Yes, ma’am.”
“Good,” she replied, “because I happen to agree with you. You deserve a spanking almost as much as she did. Come here.”
Caleb rose, and walked unsteadily to the side of the couch where his former teacher still sat. She gestured at his belt and jeans. “Undo those, please.” He did so, fumbling and blushing the entire time, and then took the hand she offered him. She guided him down over her lap, and adjusted his body until she felt comfortable. She wrapped her left arm around his waist, then rested her right hand on his denim clad bottom for only a moment before she brought it up and back down. Caleb’s eyes darted back and forth as he thought about what was happening. It stung, though barely. But she was spanking him. It was really happening.
He was almost comfortable, and he began to wonder if maybe she would leave his jeans up because it was his first time. No such luck– she pulled them down without so much as a warning, and when her palm landed on the thin cloth of his blue boxers, he heard himself yelp. There was suddenly nothing comfortable about this position, and he tensed his arms in an effort not to reach back. Before he could analyze his thoughts on this second phase of the spanking, she began to scold him.
“You know, I think Jade is fully aware of what went wrong last night, Caleb. I think that you think you’re getting spanked because you stuck around. Because you’re still here. Well let me make something very clear to you,” Miss Harley said, picking up the pace and adding some strength to her swats, “you are being spanked because you made poor choices. Under no circumstances should either one of you have gone into the house for the night, much less crawled into bed, with a fire still burning.”
Caleb was unable to control his rear, though no amount of wiggling seemed to keep the teacher’s hand from landing on his quickly reddening behind. He made constant noises, little grunts of pain, and felt his blush intensify at her scolding.
“And it’s not because I’m upset, or just because there are physical consequences for girls and boys who misbehave in this house. It’s not because of the damage to my property, though I am not particularly thrilled about that.” Her hand seemed to be finding the meeting of his thigh and bottom more and more often at this point in the lecture. “You put people needlessly in danger. It may have felt like a low risk, but it was also low reward, young man. You are lucky the fire just burnt a big hole in my yard. What if the wind had carried those escaped leaves further? To my house? To the neighbors’ houses?”
“I’m sorry!” Caleb said, straining to stay still.
“No,” Miss Harley replied, “sorry comes next.” She stopped spanking, and the young man took several deep breaths; his backside burned! She rubbed his back and bottom as she spoke, though not to him. “Jade, come over and have a seat.”
“I’m not asking, I’m telling.” Caleb heard the chair he had vacated scoot a little, then a hiss from his friend as she sat. He didn’t turn his head to see, instead becoming engrossed in the floral pattern of the sofa. Miss Harley began talking to him again, saying “We’re almost finished, Caleb. I wish it was over now, but this was a big deal. Very big.” And the next thing he knew, his boxers has been whisked down to his knees. He reached back with his right hand, grabbing for them and turning his head without thinking. He made eye contact with Jade, squeaked and jerked his hand back as he turned toward the couch again.
“Give me that hand,” he heard the voice above him say firmly, and he reluctantly did as he was told, slowly reaching his right hand back and having it grasped around the wrist. The next thing he knew, pain was exploding on his already sore bottom and he completely forgot about Jade, and being embarrassed, and anything that existed in the whole wide world besides the awful smack of the wooden spoon on his hot bare skin.
Thankfully, it seemed to be finished almost as soon as it was started. The throbbing ache in his bottom continued, and she let go of his hand, rubbed his back and his hair. He leaned into her comforting touch, needing it more than he had realized he would. Soon, he felt his underwear and jeans being pulled up, though he could have done without the jeans. He sat up and felt himself being hugged, and he hugged her back hard. He felt like he should say something, but he had no idea what. He opened his mouth, and all that came out was “ouch.”
Both women burst into laughter, and he peeked up to see Jade smiling at him. “You’re an idiot for staying,” she said affectionately. He grinned back at her. Maybe she was right, but not all the way right. His bottom hurt and his pride was bruised, but he wasn’t worried or anxious like he had been all morning. He felt like he had just joined a secret club, one with high dues, but totally worth the cost.