The Lie

            “Hello! Earth to Lydia!” Charlie perched on the edge of my desk and waved his hand in front of my face. “Jesus, you’re barely conscious.”

            I rolled my eyes and turned in his direction. “Like you look any better. Did you turn in your chapter?” Charlie was a year ahead of me and already churning out chapters in his thesis—when he wasn’t out dancing all night.

            “Hell yeah, I did. I turned that fucker in two hours ago. What are you still working on?” Charlie leaned over to look at my screen. “Oh my god, you haven’t even written a paragraph. How long is it supposed to be?”

            “It’s just a stupid response paper, but I can’t concentrate. It’s for Jason’s class.”

            “Lydia, if you can’t even write a paragraph, you won’t be able to finish this tonight. Turn it in tomorrow and come out with me tonight.”

            “You’re joking. Jason would kill me if I missed a deadline in his class.”

            “I’m not joking. Tell him you’ve got the flu and couldn’t finish. It’s going around anyway. He’ll believe you.”

            “And you did this a lot with him?” Charlie had taken classes with Jason the two years prior. I couldn’t help but think that he must not have gotten to know Jason very well.

            “I did it like once a month at least. He always believed it. Just email him and we’ll go. Two-for-one starts at Stroh’s in half an hour. We can beat the crowd.”

            It was tempting. I’d been staring alternately at my sources and the computer screen for hours now, with very little progress to show. And if I told him I was sick and skipped class tomorrow, I wouldn’t see Jason until next week. That was plenty of time to “have the flu” and then “recover”.

            “Okay, just let me email him,” I said, making up my mind. I pulled up my university email and started to type. My heart fluttered a little bit; I knew I would be in serious trouble with Jason if he found out I was lying.

            “Tell him you can’t get out of bed and won’t be in class tomorrow and ask if you can turn in the paper later in the week,” Charlie instructed. I sighed. Charlie was a bad influence on me.

            Ten minutes later, we were on our way out the library doors and headed to my apartment, halfway between the university and town.

            “Stay there,” I told Charlie. “I’m going to change into something sexier.”

            “You have two minutes, no more,” he said, flopping onto the couch.

            It was just Stroh’s, not like we were going wild. I pulled on some dark jeans and a sweater that showed off my cleavage just a little—casual, but hot. Hair in high ponytail, swipe of eyeliner…not bad for two minutes’ work.

            Charlie was checking his watch as I reappeared in the living room. I grinned at him as I retrieved my jacket and shrugged it on.

            “Are we doing this or what?” I asked, nudging Charlie off of the couch.

            Stroh’s hadn’t gotten crowded by the time we arrived, although past experience said that in a matter of minutes, there would be nowhere to sit. We nabbed our usual table, tucked in a corner, out of the way. Charlie and I had been best friends for years, since my first week in college. Neither of us had gone very far: we were both in the same graduate program in the same department we had done our undergrads in. Charlie was a year older than me; he’d been my RA in my freshman year, although he’d never been very good at setting an example for me. He’d gotten me my very first fake ID just a few months into the school year, and we’d been hanging out at Stroh’s together since then. Now, of course, it was perfectly legal for us to be in Stroh’s on a Thursday night, if not well-advised.

            A lot of people we knew were there, but no one from my class—I imagined they were all still stuck in the library, getting headaches over the paper for Jason’s class. A large group of our friends from undergrad showed up not much later than us and crowded around our table. Charlie—ever the smooth talker—convinced us all to get tequila shots, which everybody knows is the start of a wild night.

            Things started to get frenetic in Stroh’s. It’s normally a pretty laid-back place, but we were nearing midterms and all of the 21+ undergrads, plus those who had fake IDs seemed to be out blowing off steam. The microscopic dance floor was teeming with kids who didn’t want to study for their tests, and the rest of us were caught up with them. I headed to the bar to get the next round for me and Charlie. I had our beers in hand when I saw him: Alex. Shit. I hadn’t even realized he was still in town, but there he was, eyeing me from the end of the bar.

            Why he still paralyzed me, I would never know.

            Alex was by my side in seconds, before I could collect my thoughts. “Wow, Lydia,” he said, slipping his hand around my waist. “Have you lost weight? You’re looking good.” It was classic Alex. I knew better—I hadn’t lost any weight at all, and I wasn’t going to fall for this again.

            I turned the other way so rapidly that I collided with the person paying his tab near me at the bar, and when I looked up, I almost wished I were talking to Alex instead.

            It was Jason.

            He’d been bent over the bar, signing his bill, but when he straightened up and unleashed his terrifying scowl on me, there was no mistaking him. It was Jason, and he was covered in the beer I’d been holding. I prayed for a brief moment that he hadn’t read my email yet.

            I had no such luck.

            He looked at me for a moment, as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing—unsurprising, I guess, since I had never skipped out on a paper and then appeared before him, quite drunk, in a college bar. In fact, I’d never run into him in town before.

            I looked over my shoulder and saw Alex was still looking at me. “Shit,” I said, out loud. “I have to get out of here.”

            Jason followed my gaze, and seeing the predatory look on Alex’s face, snapped into action. He took me by the upper arm, not gently by any means, and steered me away across the bar. I tried to make eye contact with Charlie. I’m going home, I mouthed as he sashayed past me on the dance floor. Charlie’s eyes widened, and he made a face that quite clearly conveyed simultaneously, Good luck talking your way out of this one and Sorry, not sorry.        I’d never been able to figure out how much Charlie surmised about my relationship with Jason, but I’m sure he had picked up on the fact that Jason held me to higher standards than anyone else and that I had a very healthy respect for his authority. I doubted he was surprised to see me directed out of the bar by my stony-faced advisor.

            I knew that Jason was furious with me because we walked in silence in the direction of campus, his hand still gripping at my upper arm. At this point, I didn’t know if I should be grateful for his quick rescue or very, very nervous about what he would say when he started talking.

            We were nearing my apartment building when he finally spoke. “Where do you live?” he asked, just as curtly as I had expected. I indicated my building just ahead, on the main road.

            “Stop here for a moment. Tonight, I am going to walk you to your door, watch you go in, and listen for your lock. Tomorrow, you will be in class a half hour early, sitting front and center, and afterwards I will see you in my office with all of your study materials. Do you understand?” I nodded, knowing that it wouldn’t be enough, but needing the moment to swallow down the lump in my throat. I wasn’t afraid of him, necessarily, but being in trouble with him made me feel a little bit queasy, to say the least.

            “I’m waiting for a proper answer,” he said in a low voice.

            “I understand,” I said.

            “I’m so disappointed in you,” he said softly. “You’re above this kind of dishonesty and irresponsibility.”

            True to his word, he escorted me to my door, and I didn’t hear his receding footsteps until I had locked the door behind me. Even with the knowledge that I was going to get one hell of a spanking for lying to him, I was grateful that he’d made sure I got home safely.

 

 

            The dread really washed over me the next morning as I got dressed. I thought back to the night before, and the foolishness of my actions fell heavily around me. How could I have thought that lying to Jason was a good idea? He’d have found out one way or another, and the way that he had found out was the worst of all. I knew, too, that Jason was disappointed and furious. I thought of the disbelief that had washed over his face when he saw me at the bar instead of sick in bed.  He had thought better of me.

            I choked back some coffee and aspirin and was early to class as instructed. Jason was already in the classroom when I arrived, fiddling with his PowerPoint presentation on his computer. In the very first row, I saw a desk with a paper neatly placed in the center. It was for me, I assumed. Jason didn’t even look up, so I slipped into the seat and read the post it note that accompanied the paper, which turned out, on inspection, to be three separate sheets. It read, “Use your neatest handwriting. I will collect your work ten minutes before the start of class.” Underneath, on the very top of the paper, a single line read “Responsible students do not lie or skip class.” Each line was numbered—100 of them. A little dramatic, maybe, but okay. I deserved it.

            I dug a pen from my bag and began. It was mind-numbingly repetitive, and my hand began to cramp and ache about halfway through. I didn’t dare shake it out, knowing that my time was limited. I was approaching the end when I heard a timer from the front of the room: Jason had set an alarm. He looked at me for the first time, fixing me with a severe look, and held out his hand. I stood up and offered him the papers that I had covered with that single sentence.

            He inspected my work while I stood in front of him. I couldn’t help but fidget with the hem of my cardigan. His eyes flicked over each of the lines in turn. With the red pen in his hand, he made a small x next to three of them. His mouth set itself in a grim line as he came to where I had ended at line 93. “I see,” he said, and marked a large “90” at the top of my paper. “It’s almost time for class. Go and sit down.”

            I returned to my seat just as my classmates started to trickle into the room. I pasted on a smile as we greeted each other and tried not to think of how torturous the next three hours would be—and how horrible the punishment following.

 

            After class, Jason sent me to his office ahead of him. I hauled my satchel up all the stairs to the very top of the astronomy tower only to find that his office door was locked. There were two chairs outside of his office, although I didn’t know who would make the trek up voluntarily. I slung my bag onto one of the chairs and slumped sullenly in the other. I wondered how long he would make me wait, and I half-wished he’d made me get up early and done it before class instead. At least then it would be over with.

            Jason wasn’t even out of breath from climbing the stairs when he arrived. “In,” he said, after unlocking the door.

            He left me to stand in front of his desk like a naughty schoolgirl while he settled himself behind it. He never seemed to tire of that aesthetic of scolding me from behind his desk. I twisted my hands in each other, knowing that a theatrical tongue-lashing was coming.

            “Tell me,” he said. “What did you learn from the lines this morning?”

            “Responsible students don’t lie or skip class. Jason, I’m sorry.”

            “You’re sorry you got caught,” he said dismissively. “What on earth were you thinking?”

            “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

            Jason banged his hand down on the table and pointed his finger at me. He was still furious. His finger shook as he spoke. “You are too smart to pull stunts like this. You know better. I put too much time and effort into developing your intellect to let you get away with stupid, lazy, and dishonest behavior. You are not a high schooler, Lydia, and you cannot do this anymore.”

            “To be fair, it was the only time I’ve ever done that.”

            “And it’s going to be the last,” he said. “Come here.”

             He stood up and moved toward the chair he kept in the corner of his office specifically for sitting in to spank me. I groaned audibly—a mistake on my part. He whirled around, his finger wagging at me again.

            “Don’t you dare whine at me, young lady. You knew I would find out, and you knew that this would be the consequence. If you didn’t want a sore, red behind, then you should have considered your actions more carefully. And you can bet that if I hear any more complaining, I will take off my belt and whip your bottom. Now get your jeans down and get over my knee.”

            To my credit, I didn’t cry immediately at the sharpness in his voice. I can dish out the sass all day long, but Jason made me feel about six inches tall.

            My jeans around my knees, I put myself over Jason’s lap. He started to spank me right away, as soon as I had lowered myself onto his legs. It was as harsh and unrelenting as his scolding.  

            “It is disgraceful that I have to spank you for skipping class like a child. You are a fully grown woman, and adults do not skip the classes that they need to take for their graduate coursework.” He stopped and pinched the bridge of his nose. ‘I can’t believe I’m having this discussion with a graduate student. I thought you were far past this.” He shook his head as if in disbelief and yanked my panties down to my knees. I had been using this moment to regain my composure, but I lost it again as soon as he resumed spanking me. His hard hand smacked each side of my bottom in turn, stinging every inch of skin. I wriggled from side to side, hoping that somehow I could escape it, but his other hand pressed down on my back, keeping me where I was supposed to be.

            I was near tears when he stopped. He rubbed my back for a few seconds before telling me to stand up. To be honest, I was surprised: it had been painful and humiliating, but hardly the terrible chastisement I had expected.

            I was mistaken, however: we were not finished.

            As I carefully wriggled my panties and jeans back up over my bottom, he picked up the chair and moved it to the opposite side of his desk. “Sit,” he said, pointing to the seat. “You’ll have an hour to write your paper now.” I winced at the contact with the hard wooden chair. The textbook and articles I needed were stacked neatly in front of me. I pulled my book bag closer and reached in for my laptop to begin my long hour of work.

            Jason worked across from me at his desk the whole time. I felt his eyes on me every few minutes, especially when I shifted around in my chair to minimize the sting in my bottom, but I pretended to be so absorbed in my work that I didn’t notice. My writing came easily where it was stuck the night before, and I was finished before 45 minutes were up. I wasn’t even tempted to check Facebook. I printed the paper to Jason’s printer and stood up to get it.

            Jason put out his hand, and I delivered the paper to him. “Passable,” he said after scanning it. “You’ll revise it later. You were spanked earlier for planning to skip class, but we still need to take care of the lying.” He opened his desk drawer and took out a large, oval hairbrush, something that he had threatened me with before but never used on me. A wave of dread washed over me. I couldn’t find the words to argue as he pulled the spanking chair back from his desk and sat down in it, nor did I think it was a good idea anyway. Setting down the brush, he beckoned me over and took hold of my waistband himself, unbuttoning and unzipping my jeans and pulling them down around my thighs.

            I found myself over his knee for the second time that day—unprecedented—getting my bottom smacked by his hand. He only gave me about a dozen swats, just enough to rekindle the sting in my behind, before he took the hairbrush in his hand.

            “Skipping class to avoid your work is one thing, Lydia—an unbelievably lazy thing, to be sure—but lying? I know that you have integrity, so imagine my surprise when I saw you perfectly healthy in a bar, when you should have been home sick. What could possibly have convinced you that lying to me was the best course of action?”

            Did he want an explanation?  It couldn’t hurt, I supposed. “I was stuck on the paper. I just wasn’t coming up with anything. And then Charlie said I should come out with him to clear my head.”

            “Are you really going to blame this on Charlie?” Jason asked in disbelief.

            “I know I made the choice.”

            “Good. You made a poor, dishonest decision, and now you’re seeing the consequences of it. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. A grown woman like you lying to get out of her work in a graduate program she chose and she pays for…”

            “Technically, I get grants to pay for it.”

            I could feel the exasperation radiate off of him. He was done scolding—perhaps he felt that the hairbrush would do a better job of talking.

            It was almost unbearable. The sting of his hand was nothing compared to fire of his hairbrush. I tried to keep count in my head: One. Two. Three. Four. Five. By the sixth, I couldn’t focus on the individual swats anymore. I kicked and squirmed over his knee, and he just pressed his hand down on my back and kept spanking. “I am so disappointed in your behavior,” he said. “Lazy work is understandable, if not excusable, but outright lying to me? I’m insulted that you respect me so little that you thought nothing of inventing a tale to get out of doing your work—that you thought I wouldn’t find out, or, possibly, that I wouldn’t care.”

            “I didn’t think you wouldn’t care—ow!”

            “Then you thought that I wouldn’t find out.” Well, that part was true, although I was regretting how I had not thought that through. He paused for a moment. “I want you to really listen to me now, Lydia. I hope I have your full attention.” His voice was deep and solemn. I stilled my body from squirming, and he continued. “It is one thing to train you to do better and more focused work. It is another entirely to drag you through this program with a sore, red behind if you don’t understand or respect the purpose. Lying once might be a mistake, but I will not tolerate it again. I have worked hard to mentor you, and I believe I have earned your honesty. I have to tell you that if this ever happens again, even once, you will have to find a different advisor. Am I clear?”

             “I’m sorry, Jason. I’m so sorry.” I was swallowing back tears.

            “I asked you a question.”

            “Yes,” I sniffed into my arm. “We’re clear. I swear it won’t happen again.”

            “Good,” he said, his tone still grave. “And since you recognize the severity of the situation, you’ll understand why we aren’t done yet. Stand up and bend over my desk.”

            There were a lot of firsts today: he had never made me write lines or spanked me with the hairbrush, or put me over his knee twice in one day—nor, of course, had I ever lied to him before. And he had never made me bend over his desk for a spanking.

            He instructed me to put my elbows on the desk and pushed down on my lower back so that my bottom jutted out at him. It was strange to think that he was looking at me presented in a much different way than when I was over his lap. When I was positioned just so, he went back to his desk drawer, this time bringing out a formidable looking wooden paddle. It was a long narrow rectangle that looked worryingly thick. Where would he even get such a thing?

            “I’m going to give you ten—one for each of your lines that was unacceptable or incomplete. After each, you will count it and repeat the line you were meant to write. Understood?”

            My voice was soft: “Yes, Jason.”

            I actually gasped aloud at the first swat from his paddle. It was unbelievable how much it hurt, and it took a moment for me to breathe out the required words. “One! Responsible students do not lie or skip class.”

            “They absolutely do not, and I hope that you are taking this to heart, young lady,” Jason said, preparing to spank me with the paddle a second time. It brushed against my bottom briefly and then was raised up. “Twoooooo. Responsible students do not lie or skip class,” I wailed.

            On the third one, I broke down in tears—another first. I sobbed as I spoke: “Three-eee-eee! Responsible stu—udents d-don’t lie or s-skip class!” He took no pity on me, and the next six continued in the same vein, with his paddle tapping me and then smacking down mercilessly against the fleshy part of my bottom.

            “This is your last one,” he reminded me, tapping his paddle down for a final time. “I hope I never have to spank you as severely again.” He dealt me the last swat, listened as I forced out the words, and then put the paddle down beside me on the desk. “Come here,” he said. When I got myself up and turned, he was sitting in the chair again. I went to him, wondering if he was going to put me over his knee again, but he did something that he never had before. He pulled me onto his lap so that I was sitting on him, sobbing into his chest. My legs dangled over the side of the chair as he rubbed my back and my sore red bottom.

            “You’re a very smart girl, Lydia, but you need discipline. I can give you that, but I can’t make you respect the work that you do. I trust that I won’t need to spank you for this again.”

            “I didn’t mean to disrespect you. I just didn’t think. I promise you won’t have to spank me again at all!” I said into his shoulder, fervently hoping that would in fact be the case.       

            He chuckled a little. “I doubt that,” he said. “But anything else I can handle.”