"The Importance of Being Read"
(humour, F/f nc hard)

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"You may enter now."

Kelly Campbell took a deep breath, nodded at the secretary and stood from the bench outside Headmaster Snyder's office. She straightened her uniform and walked on wobbly knees to the door, then stepped inside, her nostrils stung by the pungent smell of pipe tobacco. Mr. Snyder was sitting behind his desk, and smiled at the girl as she walked in. He placed the cherry-wood pipe on a small stand and stood, himself.

"Please, Campbell. Have a seat."

"Thank you sir," said the girl. Trying to relax, she eased her five-foot-three slender fourteen-year-old figure down on one of the arm-less chairs in front of the desk, crossing her legs as per etiquette. The bright sunlight creeping in from beyond the window drapes made her dark ebony skin shine beautifully.

"I understand there has been quite a momentum for you, after your latest outing, miss Campbell," Headmaster Snyder said in a sterile tone, though one could catch a slight hint of amusement in his words.

"Err... yes, one may say so. Everyone's talking about me." Kelly's voice wasn't devoid of satisfaction either.

"Indeed, indeed."

The small, bald man reached into a drawer and produced a thin magazine decorated with dull colours. The cover read: "Inside Worthington" in big capital letters. Beneath the title, a black-and-white photograph of the Worthington Hall Institute located in South Kensington, London, and a few boxes and columns announcing the articles contained in that issue of the school journal. A box slightly larger than the others read: "Page 2, 'The Importance of Being Read', another story in the Terribly Twisted Tales by junior columnist Kelly Campbell".

"It is quite an article," Mr. Snyder commented, making the girl blush and smile a bit.

"Thank you sir."

Nodding, Mr. Snyder took hold of the magazine and stood, pacing the room in front of a very nervous Kelly. "When you entered Worthington last year, your teachers brought to my attention your skills in creative writing. Judging from your assignments back then, I could tell they were not those of the ordinary thirteen-year-old in our school, and you know how selective we are in choosing our pupils. Especially those younger than the required age."

Kelly nodded and muttered another word of acknowledgement, but her nervousness was evident: if she were standing, she would be on tiptoes – literally.

"If I remember correctly, I suggested that such brilliance could and should be applied regularly so it could be enhanced through time. Hence my suggestion to the older students like Michael Francis, and to Ms. Templeton, to let you write in our monthly journal... something which is usually off-limits to anyone younger than sixteen. Is my old, battered memory serving, miss Campbell?" Mr. Snyder said with his usual wry, good-heartedly ironical tone.

"Yes, sir, very much so. And..." the girl cleared her throat. "... and I'm very pleased for the opportunity you gave me."

"You are quite welcome, Campbell. Neither I nor anyone else in this institute have had any reason to complain about any of your work, so far. You proved yourself capable and could live up to my expectations. This idea of yours about telling the weirdest possible tales based on fact, while not exactly conventional, was met with favour and appraisal by nearly all of the student body. If you ask me, you do have a future in journalism."

Kelly swallowed and thanked again. It wasn't that she didn't like to be praised, oh no – a Jamaican-born girl of humble lineage, growing up in a poor neighbourhood and then being accepted into an exclusive private institute in London due to her school merits feels blessed every single day of her life. There was a 'but' coming, though, and given the content of her latest article, Kelly feared it would be a big one.

"But," Mr. Snyder dropped the bomb with lethal accuracy, the word searing through the silent morning air like a thunder, "if you'll allow me, an article focusing on your own childhood experiences related to corporal punishment fits well in the recipient of those things I would never expect to see in a school journal. To say it is original is a major understatement, and you cannot deny it has raised quite a fuss, miss Campbell. Not one hour goes by, since this issue was released yesterday, that I do not overhear someone whispering about it in the corridors, and that did not happen since Sean Connery visited our institute.

"So, in the end," he finally dropped the magazine on the table again, and placed his hands flat on the desktop, looking straight in her eyes, "I am interested to know the reason beyond this choice of yours... Not that the article itself is badly written, au contraire... and I would not call it 'inappropriate' either, but... well... it is just 'weird', to use a term familiar to youngsters like you. So, please..." he handed her the magazine. "Open to page 2 and re-read it aloud for me, before I can hear your explanation and comment on what you have written. I must confess curiosity is having the best of me......."

* * *

Terribly Twisted Tales
"The Importance of Being Read"
by Kelly Campbell, First Year

Hello, fellow students and readers of Inside Worthington! This month's Terribly Twisted Tale is, like always, based entirely on fact, true and proved facts, nothing else. But its speciality is that those facts did not just happen to someone in the world we barely know, if at all, but are taken piece-by-piece from my own childhood. This terribly twisted tale did not just really happen: it really happened to me, and I want to share it with you. This article will be long, and I apologise for that, but it just could not have been written otherwise.

I spent the first twelve years of my life in the poor neighbourhoods of this mighty City, growing up in that area between Charing Cross Road, Southwark and Suffolk Street, and everyone knows what that means: it isn't exactly the friendliest place for children to live in. Even though most of what you hear about it belongs in fact to urban legends – there are no prostitutes hanging around at just every street corner, and pubs don't pour Guinness to the crack of dawn... most of the time anyway – transgression is indeed quite en vogue. What you see is not what you get, though, because the glittering bar insignia and the night club posters do hide the real hood, which is unknown to the eyes of many Londoners.

When I was little, my widowed mother was very strict and reared me with a strong sense of discipline, expecting me to be perfect in pretty much everything: I was considered very bright and talented, so my school results had to be great – I was top of the class since elementary school – my talk had to be clean despite where we lived, my friendships had better not be dangerous, and so on. We had little money, and since her past was tumultuous to say the least before finding a decently paid job as a waitress, she did not want me to follow her tracks, so she did all she could to keep me on my best behaviour and in a straight line, knowing for sure that one day my talents in writing would land me in an exclusive school in an upper class district like this one. So I can say that from several points of view I was an alien to most of the people I used to hang out with, mainly my schoolmates. My mother made sure I always dressed and talked properly, and that didn't fit with the habits back then, since most of my friends knew more ways to swear than American rappers on MTV.

The thing I remember the most, and that this article means to bring to everyone's attention, is a curious, mostly trivial fact that might make many of you smile, but I assure you did cause more than one issue during my childhood.

It was the August of my eleventh summer, and the new school year was about to commence. It was a time I dreaded, because even though we never went anywhere outside London, I loved summer and all it brought. School was often boring for me, and I tended to react to boredom with truancy; and when found, truancy was punished with lengthy doses of a hairbrush or a slipper on my bare bottom, by my ever-attentive mother. And so was my continuing refusal to go back to school at the end of the holidays. I remember that most of the kids I used to hang out with were spanked at home, or had been spanked in past. I can actually say that some were hit, on the head or other places, and that always made me very sad, even though there isn't much difference after all.

On that particularly hot afternoon, when I was supposed to be checking on my summer homework and completing what was not done yet, mother caught me sitting on the stairs right outside our building, chatting to my best friend Monica and many others. She hauled me back up inside the house and made sure I did what I needed to do. Since I was bored to sobs, it took me a whole three hours to finish. After that, it was time for dinner, which I ate wincing on my chair, well-knowing I would be spanked at bedtime. And it happened, for my mother had me remove my pj bottoms and really lay into me with the slipper. That was a very hard spanking, and it was worth for all the punishments I'd escaped that very summer, when I had been un-spanked for over two months – unfairly, I must confess. So I ended up with a very stinging backside as I cried myself to sleep as we cuddled. She kept saying how she made a lot of sacrifices for the sole purpose of me having a chance in life, and I couldn't but be thankful for that, even when my bummy was sore as it could be.

The following morning, the penultimate day of summer, Monica and I and several other kids met again and did whatever it is that poor eleven-year-olds normally do – for us, it was walking and taking free rides on the tube and basically just chatting the day away, for we couldn't afford much more. They all wanted to know if I got spanked, and I just shrugged and said that I had been, of course.

"My, bet her arse looks red," another girl snickered, to which I replied in an unladylike way that my mother would not approve of. A couple of the boys followed her lead and even tried to raise my skirt to 'check', as they put it, but of course I was not going to allow that. All the chatter eventually died down within the minute, because one of us getting it was no big deal after all.

But that day will be carved in my memory forever. Even when I am old, I am sure, I will always remember the terrible embarrassment I felt at that comment. And not for it had to do with me getting punished (again: no big deal), but because of its vivid content. You see, it's even a classic figure of speech that parents use to deter their kids from misbehaving: "You'd better do as I say, unless you want a red bottom tonight."

It's common and I had always heard that, but that afternoon it struck me like a thunder how it did not belong to me... because, you see, a black girl's bottom, when it is spanked, does not turn red. It turns white. Well, that is not accurate either. Let's just say it isn't that kind of bright, almost glowing redness you see on the pearly cheeks of white boys and girls. It's a slight hint of colour, but if there are welts, or bruises – and under my mother's strict discipline, there often were – they are of a dull whitish tonality instead of the deep-red, tending to purple one. So whenever my friends said how they cherished when they could keep their bummies white for a long time, I always blushed and felt as ashamed as one could be, because to me, to have a white bottom meant not being able to sit comfortably for a few days.

Unfortunately, an eleven year old isn't really able to keep a secret for too long, and also, her trust is often misplaced. That very afternoon, when Monica was over at my house, she asked if she could see how 'red' I was. It wasn't something uncommon, but for a fortunate coincidence, until then I never showed myself to any of my friends, while I did get to see them on several occasions. So, ignoring the gulp in my throat, I almost had to comply, and she gasped when she saw the still-whitish areas smacked by the slipper. Then she laughed so hard I wanted to be six feet underground and disappear right away. She apologised and everything, but I didn't like that.

And I liked it even less when I found out, the following day, that she had told nearly all of the gang I used to hang out with. There was only another black guy there, who had never been spanked though, so he didn't know a thing about it, and joined the others in the merciless teasing of my 'white, spanked bottom'. They said it was like raining with sunlight.

Thus ended my eleventh summer, and the teasing continued into the first days of school. The rumour spread pretty fast, and while other black girls sided with me, most of the school seemed to find it rather amusing. I was ashamed of it, of course, so ashamed that I would give an arm to make them stop. Now I know how unimportant it is, and how all teasing, no matter how bad it gets, sooner or later stops if you let it pass. But I didn't realise back then, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it – every pun intended.

Not a full week into school I was assigned, along with several other top-grade boys and girls, to the school journal, a small publication not very different from the present one, only much, much less interesting, and no, I'm not just saying that, hehe. Being the youngest in the group (some things never change, do they?), I was often required small pieces about the most useless things one could imagine, and that bored me to sobs. I wanted to write of the school policy on clothing and eating in classes, about why certain teachers just couldn't be fair to all students, but those issues were left to the older kids, much to my disappointment. Add that to the fact that the teasing about my white bum hadn't faded yet, and you have a very, very resentful eleven-year-old, ready to be ticked off.

Until, finally, at the start of September, I found the way to solve both things in the blink of an eye. It was such a fortunate coincidence that I wondered if I had been blessed with a gift from heaven. Barely containing my enthusiasm, I started to work right away on what was to be my ultimate revenge plan. The school's gym walls were being re-painted, because after years and years of throwing football and basketball balls against them, some of the original paint had worn off. But the Headmistress thought it was an opportunity to apply a little change: the walls were of a shining, almost disturbing yellow, and she said she wanted them different.

"A dark purple might do," she said. "Not only it's more classy, but also more relaxing for the eye."

And so, we had workers in the school starting the very next day, nice-looking studs living off a painter's wage. They came to our gym early in the morning and stayed until well after we had left. That was the talk of the school, of course, and since the next journal would be issued in less than a week, everyone in our little group wanted to be the one writing the piece about the painting. Mr. Martins (I have changed the name, of course), our Literature teacher, had the final say, and announced that everyone could write their own article about it, and he would choose the most interesting one at the end of the week, the day before printing. So us kids kept talking about what to write, exchanging ideas and stuff.

It came to my mind that the only way to be absolutely sure that my article was going to be published was to feature something innovative that no-one else could get to. I racked my brain on it for days, until I finally found what I was looking for, and it was even more intuitive than one could think. During the re-painting process, the gym was off-limits to all students, of course, and none of us had been there since the workers' arrival. We could just catch a glimpse of two of them when they came in and out, and the older girls would be flirtatious, of course. Well, it's not the thing I'm proudest of, but I did the same. Despite not being what you may call "a cute girl", I admit always having had a rather flashing smile, and I figured that could help in that frame. Sure enough, during the workers' lunch break on the last day before our deadline, I approached one of them who couldn't be more than sixteen. He was chewing on a sandwich and chuckled at me when I said hi. Yes, I flirted with him, there is no other way to put it. I was a child and looked like one, but my radiant smile eventually had the best of him, since he agreed to let me in for a quick look, well-knowing how exciting it would be for a kid to take a peek. What he didn't know was that I was nearly dying from excitement, and that I had brought one of those small one-use Kodak cameras with me, the ones you buy at tobacconists' and paper stores. It was my big chance: I wanted to be read in the school journal, and that was my opportunity.

I was granted a couple of minutes' look at the gym, and I saw it was half disrupted, and many structures had been built so that the workers could reach up to the ceiling. There were brushes and cans full of paint, some black, some red and some purple. He explained that they mixed the black and the red one in certain doses to obtain the exact purple that the Headmistress wanted, and I nodded my way through it all, taking mental notes to resort to while writing my article.

And then the unexpected happened: someone called from the hallway in an alarmed voice, saying it was important. He yelled that he would be there in a flash, and told me to just get out of there and lock the door behind me. He disappeared before I could reply, and there I was, alone in the huge gym. Beaming and mouthing a silent "yes!", I took out my camera and shot all 36 snaps I had in the film, making sure everything was well-documented: Mr. Martins loved pictures on our journal! Then I looked around some more, and I was about to go away... when my eye fell on the can of red paint, and it came to my mind how I could solve my other problem too.

I didn't think twice. In the blink of an eye I bared my bottom and took the smallest brush. Looking at my derriere in a mirror, I painted several parallel lines, going from the top of my buttocks down to my thighs. I was careful to apply only a very thin layer of paint, but even then, looking in the mirror it was obvious that it was artificial. So I ran to a stall in the gym's bathroom and waited there until the paint dried off. When it finally did, I scraped off most of it, and what remained was a faint red hue all over: it really looked like I'd been strapped with a belt! Giggling and proud of myself, I re-dressed and left the place before any of the workers' lunch break was over. I sneaked back out just on time not to get caught.

First thing I did was finding Monica and start a chat, and I casually let it slip in the conversation that I had been spanked by my mother, last night.

"Oh!" she giggled. "More white stripes, huh?"

"No!" I exclaimed, and immediately showed her my 'artwork', at the sight of which she was breathless.

"Oh, but... err..."

"See? Even our bottoms can get red."

That was the end of the teasing, because knowing how much of a chatterbox Monica was, word spread around soon and I was considered "normal" again within a couple of days. That made me happy, of course, and as soon as I got out of school I took the camera to a photo shop for the pictures to be developed, and then ran home to write my piece.

Well, the following morning I went to Mr. Martin and showed him the whole pack, and he was aghast. He scolded me quite sternly for even thinking of sneaking in, but calmed down a bit when I said I wasn't there unsupervised. And he seemed much happier when I told him my mother had striped me good. I kept a stone face and tried to act as contrite as possible, but inside I was laughing.

And so, that issue of the journal came out with my article on the very front page, with my name printed in such big letters that I could barely believe it. My mother was so proud she smothered me with hugs, of course, but she never knew how her crazy daughter obtained those photographs, because in the article it was explained that they had been "kindly offered by our brave and capable workers in the gym". That was only the first of my many articles for the school journal, and I am proud to say that the contribution I am honoured to give to Inside Worthington partly comes from the practice over the years, and it all started with that episode.

Combine that accomplishment with all of the teasing stopping right away, and you see how in one day I realised the importance of being read... and the importance of being red as well.

See you next month for another Terribly Twisted Tale, by Kelly Campbell. All my love."

* * *

Kelly's throat was almost hoarse after reading it all aloud, but that on her face was a smile. Like all good writers, she loved to re-read her own creations, and that had been amusing. But even more importantly, there was a smile on Mr. Snyder's face as well, as he shook his head and regained his seat behind the desk.

"As I said, you are very talented, Campbell. And, as I said, it is a weird article."

"Thank you sir," Kelly nodded, then she said: "Might I suggest the words 'terribly twisted', instead of 'weird', sir?"

Mr. Snyder raised an eyebrow. "And you are very daring, too. Not only this article, if true in each and every part..."

"Oh it is, sir..." Kelly quickly hushed herself. "Sorry for interrupting you."

"... yes. Not only it is very revealing about yourself and your intimacy, something that a true journalist should not afford herself, but it is also very detailed... certain descriptions of how you carelessly showed yourself to other people could really be spared, you know? Same applies to some tribulations that your readers may really not be interested into... but after all, it is a space where you tell a tale, it need not be a true article..."

Headmaster Snyder seemed torn. Kelly just sat in her chair, her hands folded neatly onto her lap, and looked at him biting her lip. Perhaps it had been a little too daring.

"Oh, well," he decided after some more pondering. "If Ms. Templeton thought it appropriate for the Inside, then we should rely on her judgement, shouldn't we. But, if I were you, Kelly," he said, addressing her with her birth name for the first time since she was there, "I'd limit the next Terribly Twisted Tales to a less personal environment, because even though any form of corporal punishment is prohibited here, I will waste no time in breaking that rule, should you become any more 'vivid' than this, is that understood?"

As he escorted her to the door, Kelly's hands flew instinctively to her bottom, a habit that was hard to get rid of. "Yes, sir, I promise I shall be more careful, but... well... if spanking is forbidden, how would you justify its use on me?"

Mr. Snyder quirked an eyebrow. "Oh, as a science test, miss Campbell. Since you state your bottom turns white when spanked good, which I doubt, we might have to go down to the laboratory and... well, test it out with a paddle. You are one well-read young lady, but keep your talents in check if you don't want to be a well-red one too."

She laughed at the pun, and so did he.

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THE END

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The author is completely against the practice of non-consensual spanking applied to children and teenagers as a form of discipline: it is dangerous, violating and potentially abusive. All my stories are archived at http://www.geocities.com/haleys_stories/