At last Jo-Jo hung limp over her mother's lap, all fight finally slippered out of her. Her cheeks were a deep, glowing red and there were splashes of pink and purple on her thighs.
“There. I think you'll agree that Joanna has learned a very good lesson, Miss McDuff. Annabel. Haven't you, Joanna?” Jo-Jo struggled to control her breathing and to respond correctly, but couldn't find the words.
Just as she finally opened her mouth to speak she had to squeal instead as the slipper struck full-force for one last time on her right cheek, and one last time on her left. “Come along, my girl! Speak up!”
“Sorry, I'm really sorry,” she babbled. “I honestly, truly won't ever miss doing my homework ever again. Ever.”
She repeated the word ever three times over as her mother pushed her off her lap and pulled her into a standing position. Jo-Jo's hands went to her burning bottom, but her Mum grabbed her wrists and held them in front of her.
“I'm glad you've learned your lesson, young lady,” she said, a note of tenderness entering her voice for the first time since Miss McDuff's arrival. “This is how it will be from now on, so you'd better buck your ideas up. Now go to Miss McDuff and show her your naughty bottom, and tell her how sorry you are too…”
Jo-Jo shuffled across the room, her progress slowed by the navy knicks around her ankles and by stretched, swollen bumcheeks that burned like fire. When she got to her, the teacher gave her a searching look with her cool blue eyes before signalling that she wanted her pupil to turn around.
“Lift your skirt up then,” her Mum directed and, reluctantly, she did as she was told. Showing her well-spanked bare bottom to her teacher was deeply, deeply humiliating, but it was good to know her suffering was over and done with.
How she longed for the peace of the Guest Room. She felt Miss McDuff's fingers lightly brush across the lower curve of her left bumcheek and it made her quiver. “Couldn't have done a better job myself, Joyce,” the teacher said.
“Now, there was something else,” she began, and Jo-Jo looked over her shoulder to see Miss McDuff opening her handbag. She took out the piece of green card, folded but still recognisable, and what looked like some sort of belt that was part rolled-up.
A rather thick and well-worn brown belt that had two splits at one end and a sort-of eye at the other. As it dawned on Jo-Jo what the belt might be for she offered up a simple prayer - a prayer that she might be back in that Guest Room. The nice, quiet, boring - but very safe - Guest Room.