Jenna hustled down Greek Row dabbing at her still damp locks with the towel hanging around her neck. Practice went long, then there were the laps afterward and an abbreviated shower so that she still smelled faintly of chlorine. As she would until the season ended and swimming once again became a relaxing pastime instead of a blood sport.
She walked as quickly as she could in flip flops and baggy basketball shorts. Not really the preferred attire for she and her sisters at Beta but she was hoping to be able to sneak in to her room and change into something more “appropriate” before the meeting.
As she always did at times like these she recalled that had she not pledged a sorority she would be home by now-relaxing in the dorms around the quad. But no, here she was on the outskirts of campus late to a mandatory pledge meeting. Admittedly the house was impressive with the long walkway, thick lawns and wide Greek-columned portico but as she took the steps two at a time all she could think of was that it made her later.
As luck would have it, when she yanked open the front door the first person she saw, the only person standing in the entrance hallway was Heather Johnson. The sorority president was as tall as Jenna but that was it for the similarities. While Jenna’s hair was dark, kinky and short, Heather had long blonde hair tied into a tight pony tail and a classically beautiful face clouded right this moment by the dark look in her steely blue eyes. She was dressed in stone-washed skinny jeans, flats and a perfectly ironed ice-white collared shirt.
“You are late!” was her greeting.
“Yes, I’m sorry…but” why the hell was she stammering, thought Jenna. “Practice ran long…”
“We scheduled this a half hour later to accommodate you already.”
“I know, I know…”
“You are always late you know…and you look like hell.”
“I know. I’m sorry…”
“Come on…we’re all waiting in the den.”
“I was going to change…”
“Won’t matter. Come on.”
She walked faster than she typically would indoors to keep up with Heather’s arm-pumping pace. In the den were all the sorority officers and all seniors in the house; thirteen women including Heather. They were spread around the room seated on the couch, chairs and Mandy Hopes, the vice-president, was perched lightly on the desk in the corner. There were no pledges in the room.
Jenna was caught up short. “Hi…everyone. Where are…..”
“Shhh…” said Mandy-a striking if diminutive brunette-from the desk holding her finger over her lips. “Nothing from you right now….”
“There are no pledges”, said Heather taking the last remaining seat in the room. “This is not a pledge meeting. We’ve called this meeting to…address a situation that you’ve put us in.”
“Potentially…” drawled Mandy.
“Exactly”, said Heather. “Potentially.”
Jenna stood uncomfortably in front of the baker’s dozen of satisfied and entitled girls. She knew before Heather started that this was about James Coyle who she had been “seen with.” They weren’t dating, they weren’t exceptionally close, they had never…Not even close! But he was known by all in the Beta house to be off-limits to Beta sisters. Why wasn’t clear. What Heather had pieced together is that maybe he had dated some of the girls-had been, as they liked to say here, untoward. Christ. Jenna’s thoughts were that Jimmy had done something to one of them-that tiny Mandy was the rumor-that she wanted but regretted later….it went on like that. She was trying to get this all straight in her head as twenty six probing eyes bored into her.
Jenna fidgeted from foot to foot-uncomfortable to be standing for this inquisition in front of all of her “sisters” none of whom was looking very sisterly at this point. She held her tongue and waited for an opening-or for when she was allowed to speak-so she could apologize and move on with the evening. Finally Heather ceased her blathering and leaned forward in her seat-slightly flushed and properly exercised by the process.
Jenna did indeed apologize. She hadn’t meant any harm she said. She thought James Coyle was a nice guy, she said-which elicited a loud “Hmph!” from around the room.
“I just didn’t think it was a big deal”, Jenna said finally.
“Not a big….” Heather fairly sputtered. “But it was a direct order. We told all pledges-and you specifically since you had so many classes together-to stay away from him. Didn’t we?”
“No but! We told you directly.”
“But what did he ever do to you?” Jenna interrupted sounding a little harsher than she had meant to.
The room fell flatly silent for a moment before Heather picked up again-straining to keep her voice modulated. “It’s not so much about him, per se. In the grand scheme of things that little shit means nothing to us. This is directly about you following the rules of the house and following orders. Get it? You are not in love with him are you?”
“No”, Jenna huffed.
“Then we can assume the only reason you saw him in public like you did was to throw it back in our faces-to defy us, correct?” Jenna held her tongue because Heather wasn’t altogether wrong. “I thought so.”
Heather stood and stepped over to the desk where Mandy produced a pledge paddle with the sorority’s initials burned on one side. There was a strict “No Hazing” policy at the school so this little implement no longer had a starring role in the house but pledges still whispered about being paddled if they broke rules. Jenna had heard those whispers but didn’t believe them. If pledges were being paddled wouldn’t she know about it? Maybe not, she thought just now with a flutter in her chest. Maybe not if it was done in secret.
“There is a no-hazing policy in place, you know”, she said weakly.
“This is not hazing. This is enforcing house discipline.”
“Doesn’t there….shouldn’t there be a vote or something?”
“What do you think we did while we were waiting for you?” said Heather smugly. “It was unanimous. “
“Wait-girls. Ladies…I don’t want to get paddled…I…”
“Nobody does-but neither do you want to follow the house rules, right? You want to do what you want to do without regard of the consequences.”
“I didn’t know that I would get…” her eyes were drawn to the wood. Jenna felt doors closing and the walls closing around her. “Look…so…how about I just quit. I can just leave the sorority. I’m not really cut out for this life-you know that….”
“Your option, of course. The door is always open and swings both ways. We can part as friends.” The girl was holding the paddle with her right hand and stoking is with her left-as it polishing a sword. “Of course”, she said. “You will forfeit your pledge fee.”
Ouch! That was tough. It was all she could do to talk herself into forking that over in the first place. Her swimming scholarship wasn’t a full ride and the fee covered a semester of board-too much to swallow. Or more to swallow than this would be. She had once finished a race with a torn rotator cuff. She could handle pain though she knew that this would be more than just pain. She sighed and her shoulders drooped. She wouldn’t beg.
Heather, looking for any sign, saw her sag. “Very good then. Diana?” she said directing, “Put your chair over there-behind her.” Diana carried her wooden chair over keeping her head turned slightly to not catch Jenna’s eye. They were in a class together and Jenna actually thought of her as a friend. “Turn it around….so it’s backwards…that’s right. Now Jenna, turn around-face the chair.”
Scanning the room once and seeing as many averted as hungry eyes, she turned her back on them and stepped to the chair knowing that the command to bend over would be next. She was unhappily surprised.
“You can take those shorts down.”
“Really?” Jenna said, half turning her head.
“Come on, Heather…”
“You are in no position to argue, Jenna.”
That’s why Heather had said it didn’t matter what she was wearing. She wasn’t going to beg and had spent enough time in locker rooms to not care about being naked. Except here. Except now. Don’t beg-Fuck ‘em. She hurriedly untied the drawstring on the shorts and they fell in a heap to the floor. She heard a couple of gasps because in her hurry out of the shower she hadn’t bothered with panties.
“Very nice”, she heard Mandy say sarcastically.
“Doesn’t matter”, said Heather. “If you were wearing panties they would have come down too. We voted to paddle your bare ass, didn’t we ladies?” There were a few coughs and some mumbles of assent, but not what you would call a landslide of support.
“Now”, said Heather, “Bend over and put your hands on the seat of the chair.” Jenna did as she was told, trying to keep her cheeks together to cover as much as possible. As slim as she was though, in her racing trim, she didn’t have too much back there. “You might want to grab the edges…give you something to hold onto. Now, we’re all going to take a few swings…What?…” From her position, Jenna couldn’t see anything going on behind her and the sounds were all whispers and mutters, but it didn’t sound like everybody was going to be taking their swings.
“OK, well…whatever”, she heard Heather say and felt her move closer to her bared bottom. Heather wickedly touched her with the paddle and Jenna flinched much to the giggling delight of some behind her. She knew not to tighten her cheeks more than absolutely necessary so she pushed her toes into the hardwood floor to tense something and squeezed her eyes shut as the paddle disappeared. But not for long.
The pain of the first swat exploded on her butt like a skyrocket. She settled herself, gripped harder and clenched her teeth. SWAT! The paddle landed again. The burn bloomed from the center and flowed hotly across her seat. She settled on not making a sound-that would be her pyrrhic victory.
But it seemed after the second swat that Heather was making it her job to get her to cry out. The third swat was the hardest yet and Jenna rose on her toes and gasped deep in her throat-she was sure nobody heard. Dammit! That bitch. That Hurt.
“OK”, she heard Diana’s voice pipe up quickly. “My turn…”
“But I wasn’t…” Heather began.
“You said we all get a turn”, said Diana.
She could feel that Heather was giving up the paddle reluctantly, but that was fine with her. Any respite from those brutal blows was welcome.
“Alrighty then”, said Heather in a false chirp. “Give it to her.”
Jenna held tight and bit her lip when she felt the paddle pat her bottom. She gritted her teeth when it pulled away and exhaled loudly when it landed with a light wrist slap; enough to sting but not much more. Heather complained but Diana held firm that it was her turn and she smacked Jenna again-hard enough to be felt but no more than a slap.
“Next up”, Heather called disgustedly.
“Me next!” called Mandy slipping off her perch on the desk.
“Let’s see if you can do a better job…” Heather said.
And she did. The little girl swung hard and caught Jenna’s bottom at the sit spot with her first and second swats. Then there was a pause as another girl took the paddle. And so it went. Jenna would get a break to breath as the paddle changed hands then hold her breath through two or three swats-then relax and breathe. After six girls had their turns-a few hit her hard, some didn’t- she still hadn’t made any sounds. Or at least any that the bitches could hear.
“Next?” Heather said.
There were a couple of “no-thanks” and at least one “I’m good…”
“That’s it…?” Heather was clearly disappointed. “That’s not enough…”
“I think she’s learned her lesson….” Came a voice that Jenna tried to recognize. Could have been Constance-hard to tell.
“Nope-I will finish her up then…”
Again Jenna flinched when the paddle touched her hot bottom. , DAMMIT!
“Jumpy are we?”
Jenna weathered two more blistering swats harder than any other and knew she couldn’t maintain her stoic silence any longer. After the third she stood bolt upright and grabbed her burning cheeks with both hands and rose on her toes left foot right foot-running in place. Still not a sound, though.
“Bend back over!”
“No”, she said through clenched teeth.
“Jenna! You bend over this instant!”
Jenna spun around and, without really planning to, threw a punch that caught Heather flush on the cheek. The paddle clattered to the floor an instant before Heather’s narrow ass did. Everyone in the room froze with the exception of Mandy who slipped off the desk and skittered behind it fearing she could be next.
Jenna’s eyes were shiny now with tears of rage more than pain or mortification. Mandy seemed to have reason to fear as Jenna made a half step toward her but stopped realizing that the room who had just gotten eyefuls of her bare bottom was now seeing her bush in all its frizzed-out glory. In fact, it was hovering just over Heather’s upturned face while she rubbed the spot on her cheek where Jenna had decked her.
“You HIT me!” she squealed from the floor. Jenna stepped a tiny bit closer so that the only way Heather could look up at her face was through the wild and wooly grassland of her down-under. Confused and beaten down by one little punch, with an assist by the vision of an angry vagina levitating just above eye-level, Heather looked away.
Jenna laid out her terms. She was going to a friend’s apartment for the night. She was going to take pictures of her bruised bottom and if, when she returned to the Beta house the next morning at 9 a.m. sharp, there wasn’t a check for the full refund of the pledge fee she was going to take the pictures to the Dean and the Head of Greek Life and show them how this house hazes pledges. And she assured all that by tomorrow her butt will have bruised a nice shade of purple and they should know she would have no qualms about dropping her jeans in front of the dean to show him first-hand what the girls at Beta did to her. They remembered didn’t they, that the Dean was a swimmer in college himself and attended meets from time to time?
With that, Jenna bent down to give the room one more look at her bare, red bum, swept up her shorts with one hand and, with as much dignity as possible, walked through them and out of the room.
“Well”, said Diana to no one in particular, “That went well….”