The Spanking Machine

     Over on Austin Mystery Writers I talk about why I write.  One of the reasons is a story I wrote in 8th grade called The Spanking Machine. I thought I’d share it with you. This isn’t from the actual paper, but my recollection of it. I guess you could say it’s my second draft of the story. 🙂

The Spanking Machine

            My big brother was like most big brothers, he loved to harass and terrorize me. When I was in kindergarten, he told me that when I got to elementary school, I had to be really careful not to get into trouble because the principal had a spanking machine. And this wasn’t just any spanking machine, it was so horrible that she accidentally killed a student while using it.

I was gullible and believed him. As the first day of first grade approached, I was really excited and terrified. The year progressed, I learned to read and write, but didn’t get into trouble because I dreaded going to the office. Other students talked about the machine, so it must be real. Right?

I moved up to second grade the next year and my best friend, Jana, was in first grade. We lived just a few houses down from the school so we walked home together. One day we were feeling particularly adventurous. I don’t recall how the subject came up, but she dared me to lie down in the street. I looked up and down the whole street and there were no cars. Sure, why not? So I went to the middle and laid down for a count to ten. That was that and we played at her house.

The next day at school a voice said over the intercom, “Mrs. Vasquez, please send Valerie to the office.” Everyone looked at me and Mrs. Vasquez was confused. I wasn’t a student to get into trouble. I didn’t want to go, I was scared. “Go on, Valerie. I’m sure everything will be fine.” Was she crazy? I don’t know what I did, but I didn’t want to die!

I walked with dread. What did I do? I entered the office and a secretary sitting at a desk said, “Valerie?”

I nodded.

“Just take a seat and Principal Rockefeller will be with you.”

I sat in a chair in the outer office, waiting for my death. My legs dangled over the edge of the chair; my feet didn’t reach the floor. I felt sick to my stomach, dizzy, and tears streamed down my face. I was too young to die! I’d miss my mom.

I looked around. I wondered which office was hers. I knew it when I saw it. Across the main office there was a door with the word “Principal” on it. It was open about four inches and I could see inside. Against the wall was a large, black machine with lots of dials. Inside my head I groaned. There was the spanking machine!

Mrs. Rockefeller called me into her office and told me to take a seat. “I heard that you did something yesterday that was dangerous.”

I was confused. I didn’t do anything dangerous at school. I tried to read her face for a clue. She just stared at me through her round glasses. I shook my head.

“Oh? A crossing guard saw you lie down in the street after school.”

Immediately I thought, “What I do after school is my business,” but just shook my head.

“Well somebody laid down in the street.”

“That was Jana.”

“Really?” She stood up and walked to the machine.

Sweat popped up onto my upper lip. I looked at the dials, wondering how the machine worked. I wasn’t ready to die. I nodded.

She approached the machine and flipped switches.

My heart was beating so hard it hurt. I thought for sure she’d be able to hear it. More tears ran down my cheeks. I’ll miss my mom and my cat, maybe even my brother. Why didn’t I listen to him? He warned me. I wondered if he’d miss me.

Mrs. Rockefeller leaned forward toward the machine and said, “Mrs. Mitchell, will you please send Jana to the office?”

It was the intercom! There was no such thing as a spanking machine. I was going to live! I was so relieved, until Jana came to the office. She ratted on me and said I was the one that laid down in the street. Great friend, didn’t take the rap for me.

Jana was dismissed. She glanced at me on her way out. She gave me a look that said, “Why did you say I did it?” Hey, I was just trying to survive. Now that I knew I wasn’t going to be beaten to death, the situation was easier to face.

Mrs. Rockefeller faced me again. “So it was you, wasn’t it?”

Time to suck up. I wiped the tears from my face. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Okay, don’t do it again. That was very dangerous.”

I’m not an idiot. I could see all the way down the street that no cars were coming. I also knew it was useless to explain this, so I said, “Yes, ma’am.”

“You may return to class.”

When I walked out of the office the air seemed clearer, the trees more colorful. I had a brush with death and survived! I returned to class and Mrs. Vasquez gave me a questioning look, wondering why I was called in. I just shrugged like a cool pro.

I sat down in my desk and the kid next to me whispered, “Are you okay? Did you get the spanking machine?”

“Naw. We just needed to straighten out some things. She told me I was dangerous. I told her, ‘Yes, ma’am,’ and she let me go. We have an understanding.”

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