Felipe was to be slippered, for an incident at school I had nothing to do with.
Although I did not witness his thrashing directly, I heard it all right.
It was severe, more severe than the first one.
I sat on my bed and listened from my room as the slipper strikes resounded through the otherwise silent house.
I winced at each one, for I loved my brother and hated to hear him suffering.
I know there are siblings that take a malicious pleasure in hearing their brother or sister punished, but I didn’t feel that way.
I actually lost count of the number of strokes he received.
It was more than twenty for sure.
When it was over, he raced to his room and shut the door.
I knocked and offered to come in and comfort him but he told me he wanted to be alone.
The next slippering had my name on it.
It was just over a year had passed since our first experience over the kitchen table.
To cut a long story short, I had a fight in school.
It was with a girl called Pilar who, for some reason, had taken it into her head to be mean to me that week.
She’d called me names.
She’d started giggling when I was speaking in front of the class.
She’d drawn on my notebook.
At lunchtime, she cut in front of me in the lunch queue and that was the final straw.
I pushed her out of the way.
She reacted, pushing me back and we fought.
Kids, and trays, went flying, but we were totally oblivious, hitting and kicking each other.
Of course, it was not difficult for the teachers to prise us apart.
We were marched directly to the school director’s office and our parents were called and told we were suspended for the afternoon.
My mum came and picked me up and she did not look happy.
I spent the afternoon in my room. I was torn.
I was partly proud that I had stood up for myself.
I was partly angry with Pilar for winding me up.
And, of course, I was nervous about what my punishment would be.
Felipe had heard of the incident at school, of course, and when he got home he told me he was proud of me.
He also warned me that my punishment was likely to be a thrashing, which I had guessed.
Sure enough, my Mother came home from work.
She did, to be fair, allow me to explain my side of the story.
He listened calmly, and then told me that I should have walked away and told a teacher.
How easy it is for adults to say things like that when they don’t have to face the other kids!
My Mother told me to fetch the slipper from the green box in his bedroom closet.
She also told Felipe to go to his room.
“Right, young lady. Ten swats for fighting at school.
Same position as before.
I bent over the table, and braced myself.
It wasn’t as comfortable a position as the previous year.
I was taller.
Crack! The first swat landed, terrifically hard.
It stung and I remember wishing that Felipe was there too.
We’d been punished together and having someone sharing the experience had been comforting.
This time, with my bottom receiving my Mother’s undivided attention, it felt lonelier.
I gasped as the second stroke landed right where the first had.
It was getting hot back there and no mistake.
The sound echoed around the house.
There was no way my brother wouldn’t be able to hear it.
The fourth stroke landed higher, near my spine.
My bottom was, shall we say, feeling very much alive at this point.
The slipper was hurting far more than I’d imagined it ever could.
Perhaps my memory was playing tricks but this felt much worse than the first time.
I closed my eyes.
Stroke number six struck hard and low, and this time the floodgates opened.
I began to cry.
My Mother saw my shoulders shaking and paused.
“Get on with it, please,” I whimpered.
The next was right across the middle of my stinging bottom.
I was crying, but my Mother was not easing up.
He was really going for it and striking me as hard as he could.
Just a second later, I closed my eyes and tried to think of something else to take my mind off it, sort of tune out of the experience until it was over.
I tried to imagine myself lying on the beach, but it didn’t work so I tried picturing Pilar bent over her kitchen table.
The next was so hard I was thrown forward and any illusion was shattered. I was still, unmistakably, being spanked.
The last one landed with as much force as any of the others.
I have only a dim memory of my dad giving me permission to stand.
I slouched up to my room and closed the door to have a good cry.
Half an hour later, my brother knocked and I put a dressing gown on and let him in.
He’d brought me some sweets and we hugged.
I told him about the slippering and he told me, for the first time, what his second one had been like.
He told me his bottom had been so sore he’d been unable to sit for two days.
We agreed that we would try to make it the last time the dreaded black slipper appeared.