It was my fault. I admit that. It was my own wickedness that brought God's wrath down on my ass. Sister Lucretia was only His instrument, his avenging angel. I deserved every painful lash she inflicted on my bare behind.
I was a good girl, too. I only touched myself one time, in seventh grade, when I woke up one morning with my hand down my pajamas. It felt warm and comfortable and good. So I pressed down, and I rubbed, and before I knew it, it felt so good I couldn't stop. But as soon as it was over, I knew it was wrong. I didn't know why, and I was too embarrassed to bring it up in confession, but it had to do with sex, so I knew must be bad, and I never did it again.
I thought about it sometimes, and that was a sin, too. Jesus said if you even look at somebody with lust, you've committed adultery in your heart, though nobody ever bothered to explain to us what adultery was. Sister said it was possible to sin in thought and in word as well as in deed. I sinned in thought, but at least I kept my mouth shut. When the boys in the schoolyard told dirty jokes or ragged each other about "jerking off," or the girls gossiped that some girl was a slut, I did what Sister told us to do when someone "makes the Virgin Mother weep in their speech." I walked away.
Then one day in April, when I was in eighth grade, I sinned in deed again. It was the first really nice spring day we'd had since Easter, and the warm air did something to me. It made me jittery. My panties felt damp and tight. After lunch when I went into the girls' room to pee, I took them all the way off — pulling them over my clunky saddle shoes — and stuffed them in the pocket of my uniform. I told myself it wasn't a sin if nobody saw you.
Jesus never said you had to wear panties.
There was a breeze in the schoolyard that blew up my skirt and gave me goose pimples on my butt and my thighs. I liked the way it felt, and even more, I liked having a secret none of the other kids knew about.
But once we got back inside, it was hard to concentrate. I kept thinking about my secret, and how it might be fun to, like, lift my skirt up in front of a car on the walk home. OK, that would be a sin. I spent all afternoon trying not to think things like that. It felt warm between my legs, and I spread my knees a little to let the air in to cool off. I was lucky Sister Lucretia never called on me for anything, because I wouldn't have known the answer. I probably wouldn't even have heard her. I hardly knew where I was.
The three o'clock buzzer finally went off. I actually sighed with relief, and I snapped my legs shut and sat up straight. I thought, on the way home, I'll sneak behind some bushes and put my panties back on, and that'll be that, but just before the kid came on the intercom to announce the dismissal lines, Sister Lucretia looked at me from her desk — I sat right in front of her — and she said, "Miss Beaver, would you stay after class for a moment? I'd like to speak with you."
"Yes, Sister," I said. It's what you always said when a nun asked you anything. I didn't know what she wanted, but I never suspected it had anything to do with my being out of uniform. She didn't sound mad, though with the nuns, you could never tell.
I sat there with my hands folded on the edge of my desk while the kid on the intercom called out the buses and street names.
"Large Street," he said, and some the other kids in my class lined up and went out.
"Bleigh," he said, and another group left.
"Shelmire" — that was my line, and I missed it.
Sister never moved from her desk. It took almost a half hour before we were alone, and she waited for another five minutes or more, marking her black leather grade book. It's not a good sign when they keep you waiting.
Finally she said, "Miss Beaver, come up here, please," without looking up.
Suddenly my legs felt weak. I got up and went around behind her desk. She turned in her seat and faced me with her whole body. Her habit was white linen, with brown panels down the front and back, draped over her shoulders, and tied at the waist with a white rope. The tips of her black shoes peeped at me under the skirt. She had on a brown veil, and her white wimple was wrapped tight around her face like a bandage. A crucifix sat on her bosom. It was black lacquer, with a silver Jesus on it, and it hung from her neck with a brown string that looked like a shoelace. She had taken a vow of poverty, she told us once. A gold chain would be a vanity.
"Lift your skirt up," she said.
I just stood there.
"Do you not understand English? Take hold of your skirt and lift it up."
I pulled my skirt an inch above my knees.
"All the way up."
"What for, Sister?"
"Because I'm telling you to. And it will be worse for you if you don't."
She knew, and there was nothing I could do about it. She could have sat there and stared me down all night. I pulled my skirt higher, slowly, until I felt her eyes on my brown puff of hair. Then I dropped it, fast.
"I thought so," Sister said. "Do you think I'm blind? That I can't see you when you sit there with your legs wide open? I've seen a lot of whorish things, but you, Miss, take the cake. Where is your undergarment?"
"Im muh puh," I mumbled.
"In my pocket," I said.
"In my pocket, what?"
"In my pocket, Sister."
"Let me see it."
I took it out I held it low at my side, balled up in my fist. Sister yanked it out of my hand.
"I'll keep this, since you have no interest in it," she said. "And if you cannot dress decently, you might as well not dress at all. Take off every stitch of your clothing."
It didn't sink in, what she said. A nun would never say anything like that, so, obviously, Sister Lucretia could not have said what I just heard. I just stood there some more, stupid and blinking.
"Miss Beaver, we can do this one of two ways," Sister said. "Either I can call your parents and tell them what a wicked daughter they have raised, or you can accept your punishment now, and we can keep this just between us. The choice is yours."
So I took my clothes off. Or I tried to. My fingers went numb as I reached behind my neck and fumbled with the zipper on the back of my jumper. I couldn't get a grip on the pull-tab, and Sister was in no mood to wait. She gave me a big sigh, grabbed my shoulders and spun me around. I heard the zipper go down and felt the jumper come apart. Something ripped.
Sister yanked the jumper down to my feet, and I stepped out of it.
"Turn around again," she said. "Do you think you can do the rest, or are you such a baby that you need an adult to undress you?"
She kept her eyes on my chest while I unbuttoned my blouse and unhooked my bra. I began to toe off my shoes, but she said, "Unlace them," and I got down on one knee, then the other, but when I tried to get up from the crouch, I lost my balance and fell on my ass. My legs were spread wide, and I could feel Sister's eyes on my gaping crotch. I pulled my shoes off sitting down, and my blue knee socks, too, which, stupidly thinking I could show Sister I was a lady, I rolled up and tucked into the shoes. When I stood up again, I didn't have anything on but the gold cross I wore on a chain around my neck.
I tried covering up — one hand over my little bush, one in front of my titties, with the thumb and middle finger spread over the nipples — but Sister slapped at my arms, and I let them hang down.
"Stand up straight," she said.
I squared my shoulders, lifting my breasts. Not that I had much to lift.
"Not quite ripe, are you?" she said. "But you have a beautiful body."
"Thank you, Sister," was all I could think to say.
"That was not a compliment. A body like yours is an occasion for sin. The boys are already looking at you with lust in their hearts. Some of the girls, too, I imagine. They are marching into hell with you at the head of the line. Do you understand the kind of perversion a girl like you is responsible for?"
"I doubt it," she said. "But you're about to learn. Are you ready to accept your punishment?"
"Fine. Do you know the big door at the end of the hall on the third floor? The one we keep locked?"
"Wait here for ten minutes, then go up there and knock. I shall be waiting for you."
"Yes, Sister. May I have my clothes back now?"
"No, you may not. You will walk upstairs naked. And if anyone sees you, you are to explain to them exactly why you are naked. Do I make myself clear?"
"And don't keep me waiting."
She got up and left the room, taking all my clothes with her.
She didn't even bother to close the door. When I was sure Sister was gone, I went over, leaned out and grabbed the doorknob. But the door wouldn't budge: it was held open by a latch on the floor. I was wondering whether to go out all the way and unhook it when I heard some keys jingle. I dashed to the back of the room and ducked behind a desk. Somebody walked by outside. I peeked over the back of the seat, and from there, I watched the clock. The minute hand crawled around, and the more it crawled, the scarder I got. I hugged myself to keep from shivering. The ten minutes dragged by — plenty of time to worry about the trouble I was in — and when it was up, I had to get upstairs no matter who saw me. If I didn't, Sister would come back, and she'd be even more pissed off.
I went to the doorway and stuck my head out.
The corridor was empty, thank God. Down one end were the glass doors of the main entrance. The sunlight was bright outside. There was a stairway down there, but to get to it, I had to pass the main office, and the principal or the secretary might still be there, and they'd see me. At the other end was a plaster statue of Saint Theresa, wearing the same habit our nuns did, standing on a table where the hallway T'd off. There were stairs at either end of the T.
I tiptoed out toward Saint Theresa. I don't know why, since I was barefoot and no one would hear me anyway. More than anything, I was aware of the cold tile against my feet, and how hard and pointed my nipples were. I pulled on one of them nervously, and something between my legs sort of swelled. It felt heavy down there, like something was pushing at my cunt from the inside. It made it to hard to walk, but I kept on, scared I was going to pee any second.
Left around the corner, past the girls' room, one of those heavy, hissing fire doors opened into the stairwell. The stairs were cold metal, with round metal handrails on either side. Everything was painted green, and the endless row of square bars under the banisters, turning back on themselves as they went up the landings, made me feel like a monkey in a cage. I ran up the stairs two at a time.
The third floor was gloomy, though one classroom door in the middle of the corridor was open, and the light from inside spilled out on the floor in a milky pool. I peeked around the corner with my arms crossed over my titties, to make sure the coast was clear. Then I took a deep breath and started down. The door Sister told me to go to was far down at the other end. It looked smaller than it did when I was in first grade and I had my classes up here, but it was just as scary. It was made of dark oak, with deep panels, a round black knob, and an old-fashioned keyhole in a black plate. We kids never knew what was behind it. The nuns never told us, and we were afraid to ask, but everybody imagined it was something spooky. One boy said it was haunted. Another said it was where they kept dead bodies before funeral Masses at the church.
I always just thought they kept boxes of books in there, but now, as I padded down the corridor naked, I was thinking that a third boy came closest with his theory: he said they took bad kids in there and chained them up.
The corridor smelled of chalk dust, sharpened pencils and that stuff they sprinkle on the floor whenever a kid throws up. The floor up here wasn't tile, either, just old, wavy wood planks that had been sanded down for years. My heart was pounding, and I went slowly when I should have been racing to get out of sight. Every inch of my body felt prickly.
I passed the open classroom door. I didn't see anyone inside, but I hadn't taken another three steps when a deep voice behind me yelled, "YOU!"
My skin stood up all over. I stopped dead, facing the door that looked farther away than ever, until the voice commanded me in a crazy accent: "Turn ar-rount, younk voo-man."
I did. A little nun I'd never seen before was standing outside the open classroom. I wouldn't have believed anybody so tiny could yell the way she did, but her hard face made it plain she was holding back a storm. Big round glasses sat on her little beak of a nose, reflecting white light that hid her eyes. She glared up at me like an owl.
"Vot chu doink, trepp-sink aroun' de school vit no close on?" she said. "Leetle children study here. Mebbe dey still here. Mebbe dey see you."
"Sister Lucretia told me to do it," I said.
"Vy?" the little nun demanded. "Vy good Seester Lu-kreetz make you do some-sink so eef-il? Tell me dot."
"She found out I wasn't wearing panties in class," I said. "She said I might as well not wear anything, and she told me to take off all my clothes and come up and knock on the big door."
"Ah!" the little nun said. "I see! You go to de pen-antz room! Seester Lu-Kreetz, she teach you lesson, ja? You know, venn you come out, you not be de same dirty gull dot go in."
She marched up to me and clapped her hand between my legs.
"Vet!" she said. "You like your leetle poosy-cat, ja?"
She rubbed me. I was surprised how slick I was down there, and how easily her fingers slid around. I went up on my toes, bending my knees, sticking my butt out. Every muscle in my body was straining. I bit my lip and grunted.
"Ja?" she repeated. She rubbed harder. "It feel good?'
"Yes, Sister," I confessed. "It feels amazing."
"Den you are dis-kress!" she hissed at me. She pulled her hand out. "You go! You go to de pen-antz room! You safe your soul, you vicked tink! I vant hear you screm!"
She spun me around, and I went on. When I got to the oak door, I looked back over my shoulder. The little nun was still there, her owl eyes boring into my bare ass. She hadn't moved, except that she was sniffing the fingers she had shoved into my pussy.
I knocked. Nothing happened, so I knocked again, harder.
"Come in," Sister Lucretia called.
The little room was ablaze. The windows were taped over with flattened out cardboard boxes, and there were candles everywhere — in sparkling brass candlesticks, on metal racks, in cups of blue and red glass. They were on the floor, on the walls, hanging in chains from the ceiling, and lined up on a rough wooden table over on the right. There was other stuff on the table, too — stuff I couldn't identify, laid out in rows — and, hanging on the wall above it, a crucifix that must have been five feet high.
"Close and lock the door," Sister Lucretia said.
She was standing next to a prie-dieu in the middle of the room. She had her wimple on, with her brown veil spread across her shoulders, but other than that, and the crucifix that hung between her breasts, she was completely naked.
"Tell me. Do you think I'm beautiful?" she said.
I meant it. The thing about the nuns at my grade school is that they were all either midgets or Amazons. Sister Lucretia was one of the Amazons — tall, with broad shoulders and, I saw now, big, round, high, firm tits. Her skin was smooth and so white she could have been a statue, except for her ruby nipples and the black triangle between her legs.
"The good Lord blessed me with beauty," she said. "Or cursed me. When I was in school, like you, I incited my share of lust. I became a bride of Christ to hide my body from the world. But here, in this room, we may stand naked before Almighty God. We cannot hide from him. He sees us as we are, and he loves us anyway. Kneel down before him."
The prie-dieu faced the crucifix and the rough wooden altar. The cushion had been torn off the kneeler, and my knees came down on a hard wooden slat. The longer I stayed there, the more it was going to hurt. Nice touch.