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At Hadrian's Wall
This was truly the most amazing trip. I had
spent my whole life (or so it feels) hoping to get to go to
Hadrian's Wall. I know that must seem like an odd dream for
a California girl, but there it is - and after all, I'm a very
When I was very little, I wanted to be an
archaeologist and participate in excavations. Find little pieces
of lost civilizations and discover what life was like for people
from long long ago. Hadrian's Wall was the place I most frequently
imagined. Why? Maybe a television program? Who knows why we
want anything? But I think it had to do with the wall once,
from a Roman perspective of course, being the edge of the known
world. Barely civilized, an outpost against the terrifying (for
surely they must have been scared to build such a wall)
At fourteen, I'd read all sorts of accounts,
real and imaginary, of soldiers sent to patrol the wall, their
letters home consisting mostly of pleas to loved ones begging
"get me out of here!" Even now California seemed no
further from Northern England than Rome. To those soldiers from
southern Europe it must have been like being banished to the
I knew that in the summer the hills we were
driving past would be covered with grass greener than anything
from where I'm from. But right then it was at the edge between
winter and spring. The grass was shades of yellow, brown, grey
and, I kid you not, pink. There was the barest hint of green
emerging. When I finally saw the wall, the rocks were similar
colors, covered with lichens, making the wall seem like it too
was a living thing.
Paul pulled into the car park as I craned
my head, trying to see past the trees that surely blocked the
ruined military fort he was taking me to see. For miles I'd
watched the grey rock walls that dotted the countryside, trying
to decide where they changed from something strictly dry stone
wall (which my companion never ceases to mention at least once
is both an art and a dying form) to something more planned and,
There was little to see from the car. A National
Trust tearoom selling some very basic refreshments and what
looked like a very nice gift shop. I have a definite weakness
for gift shops, even ones that carry the same items I've been
looking at all over the country. Paul mostly indulges my vice,
but still, I hate always having to ask to go in them.
"Come on, hurry," I urged, "Let's
go." Paul, who had been taking his usual sweet time locking
the car doors, said nothing, though he looked at me with green
eyes that half warned, half teased. My hands immediately went
to my bottom, which was sore from a very hard "just because"
kind of hairbrush spanking earlier. It was, no doubt, the reason
that despite my growing excitement I'd been relatively calm
and well-behaved for the entire drive. But that calm had passed
even though my bottom was still tender.
Right now, immediately, I wanted to go and
see the wall. It was the only thing on my mind and the excitement
almost hummed. He took my hand and kept me from tripping or
walking into anything as I looked around at the grey rocks,
the signs, everything but the direction we were going (yeah,
he does a lot to keep me from walking into poles, deep holes
and moving cars). As we walked past the tearoom and shop, following
the signs directing us to the wall and fort, we passed the restrooms
or, as the doors say with a bluntness to make Emily Post blush,
"Do you need to use the restroom, Annie?"
Only he didn't say restroom, he said the "t"
word in a voice loud enough that I was sure everyone was looking
and imagining just what I would being doing in there too. Couldn't
he have at least said "the ladies" or something like
"No." I answered right away, even
before I realized I did sort of need to go (Mom said
you should always try and mostly I've never met a restroom I
didn't like enough to visit). And after all, there hadn't been
a place to go after our fish and chip and soda lunch in the
But I didn't really have to go, I
reasoned, or I would have noticed before now. And I could always
go back in fifteen minutes or so, after I got a good look at
the wall. Maybe even sneak in some weak tea and glance through
the gift shop.
Reflexively I rubbed my palms together as
I walked. It was a nice day for March in the North-East. Which
is to say it was chilly, with a cold wind and weak sunshine.
We followed the path a bit further, through
a gate that warned us of coming fees. (We were prepared. History
costs after all.) One more turn of the corner, I thought, and
then we'd be there.
The path turned stony and then opened up out
of the trees. We looked down onto a smallish gorge that separated
us from another NT shop and, further still, the fort. The wall
stretched out from it on either side. It was about a mile and
a half down a steep path and up another one.
It was a spectacular setting, but that wasn't
what was going through my mind. What I was thinking was should
I tell him at this point I need to go back and use the restroom?
I opened my mouth to and imagined his comments after the "no"
I'd given not ten minutes ago. I looked across the distance
at the wall and the National Trust building on the other side
and decided that there would be a restroom over there. So as
we started down the hill, I didn't say anything.
The stones on the path were sharp shale (I
think) and hurt my feet even through shoes. Though they were
Doc Martens, my favorite pair of red double t-bar buckles, the
soles were worn thin and were no match for the big rocks under
our feet. This made me step carefully, and go more slowly than
I would have liked. By contrast, Paul had on heavy work boots
and seemed unconcerned about the state of the path except to
hold me steady over the wobbly places.
The day and place were lovely and I tried
to focus on looking up at the wall in all its ruined glory.
But you know how it is. Once you realize you need to use the
restroom, well, you really need to. And it's soon all
you can think about. Anyway, that's where I was, hiking toward
this place I've always wanted to visit, trying not to trip or
puncture my foot on the sharp rocks.
I took another few steps.
"I didn't think it would be this far
from the car park to the site."
"Me neither," he replied. "Still,
it's nice the way we'll be able to look down and not see any
cars or anything. Good planning really."
I agreed in principle, however, in reality
my feet were sore and the urge for the restroom was becoming,
well, urgent. Still, I had to be cool. We walked on
a few minutes and then, as we started up the hill, I spoke again,
as though it hardly mattered.
"So, I wonder what's up there?"
I pointed toward the stone building three fourths of the way
up the hill.
"Probably another shop. Maybe a historical
centre of some sort."
I nodded, and then threw in as an aside, "And
maybe another restroom."
Paul stopped dead. His hand on my shoulder
stopped me as I started walking past him.
"I'm sorry, Annie, did you say you needed
I shrugged and tried to look away. "Well,
yes, maybe. I mean, it would be nice if there's one up there,
just in case?"
"I thought I asked you and you said you
didn't need to go."
"Well, you know, I may need to go later.
But I'm sure there's one up there."
Paul looked less sure.
"Do you need us to go back?" He
pointed toward the buildings over a half mile (uphill) behind
"Oh no, I'm sure I don't need to go."
Well, sure I didn't need to go right at this moment anyway.
Which meant that I wasn't really lying. Right?
"Not that serious," I continued.
"I'll ask at that other Trust place."
Paul nodded, took my hand, and we walked up
to the second visitor center (or centre if you'd rather). The
building near the fort is big, so I was hopeful that there'd
be a restroom inside. After all, no one who worked there could
be expected to walk a mile each way when they needed to go,
Inside was a smallish shop, complete with
chocolate (the stuff is sold everywhere in the UK,
proving what a civilized nation it is after all) and a National
Trust interactive learning centre (which was full of very kewl
stuff, including lots of ancient dice games - guess I was right
about them being bored). But when I asked if there was a "ladies",
the man in the shop pointed back toward the other hill.
"Didn't you see it? The toilets are back
over by the parking lot."
There was that "t" word again. Clearly
Emily Post needs a missionary plan for the UK.
After thanking him (gee gosh golly!), I busied
myself with the exhibits, not looking at Paul even though I
could feel his eyes on me. Reading through the materials about
the wall, I could almost, almost forget how bad things
were getting. So long as I could avoid thinking of water, running
streams, rushing rivers, waves cresting, dams bursting. . .
Okay. So things were a little more
serious than I'd let on.
Still, we paid our money (you didn't think
this was free, did ya?). Okay, so Paul paid. Whatever. Anyway,
he held my hand tightly as we walked up to the fort and the
wall. It was every bit as wonderful as I'd imagined. And the
trees did do a great job hiding the car park. The only
thing that would have made it a little better was if
there hadn't been so many screaming kids. Okay, one especially.
As we walked by this young boy, he was (at
least this was my impression) yelling: "toilet, look the
toilet, this is where the Romans went to the toilet. Hey come
see where they went to the toilet. Right here, right in this
hole in the ground. Mum, can I go down here? It's where the
Romans went to the toilet!"
My legs tightened a bit, the pressure to go
and explore that hole for myself seeming still more intense.
Still, I tried to press on, looking at the wall, getting Paul
to take some pictures of my bendy man on the wall, trying to
keep my mind off the fact it was rapidly becoming clear to me
there was no way I was going to be able to walk a mile back
over a rocky path without a trip to the ladies.
Even though there was no ladies.
Okay, now through all of this, Paul was very
quiet, and, it seemed, watching me closely. When we heard a
child yelling at his parents, in that "No no no" sort
of way, he hadn't said much of anything, even when I commented
on the kid being kinda spoiled. The man seemed happy enough,
I suddenly felt very aware of my bottom. The
bottom that got such a hairbrushing a few hours ago that I could
feel every bounce in the road as we drove here. His hand was
gently cupping my right cheek.
How best could I tell him I needed the restroom?
And what could he do about it anyway?
Desperately I looked for a wall or something
out of the line of sight from the fort. Of course, any place
out of the line of sight couldn't really been seen
where I was standing. Still, I was sure if I struck out west
I could find a private place. The question was, how to do it
with Paul's hand locked on mine. I could hardly wander away,
much as I might want to.
I steered our wanderings toward the western
edge of the fort ruin.
"I was thinking I might like a bit of
a walk over this way."
My voice sounded false, even to me, as I gestured
lamely toward the west.
I could feel Paul's eyes on me as I looked
out across the tall grass.
"Have you seen enough of this site then?
We can head over to the next one. The admission is good for
He gestured back to the car park.
But no, I didn't want to leave this site yet.
And darn it, I was sure I wasn't gonna make it back down then
up that path.
"Um, no, I thought I might just have
a private little walk."
I dared a glance into his face. A mistake
by the way. He'd listened to me. He had heard. He suspected.
No, he knew. (Apologies to Poe by the way.)
"Yes," he agreed, holding my hand
tightly and starting to walk. "Let's take a little walk
to somewhere with a bit of privacy."
I protested a bit, while still following.
"You don't need to come, really. I'll
be fine and will come right back."
I sounded feeble. I couldn't even convince
myself he was going to let go of my hand.
He ignored me and we walked about two hundred
yards, out of sight of the fort, around the edge of another
hill. Ahead were a cluster of trees, bushes and a low outcropping,
the remains of some long-ago farmer's dry wall.
In the distance, the shouts of children at
the fort carried across to us. But we were alone. I looked at
the bushes, feeling both embarrassed and that the time for such
embarrassment was long past.
"Excuse me," I said.
Still he followed me.
"Step behind those bushes over there."
His finger pointed and I did as I was bid. Eagerly.
Now, um, for those of you who aren't female,
you might not know that it isn't anywhere near as simple for
women as it is for men. And if you're wearing jeans, as I was,
well, if you're me, you need to take them off so as to eliminate
the risk of anything bad happening to them.
Paul was polite and didn't peek or anything
'cept to find tissues in my jacket (which he was holding along
with my jeans). And then it was all over and I pulled up my
Those of you who are more alert to such things
may have seen this next part coming. Let me be very clear in
saying I saw no such thing. I even came part way around the
corner, shivering a bit and demanded my jeans back.
"Come on Paul, the wind is cold and I'm
freezing my tush off!."
One look from him and it was suddenly hard
to swallow. Or even breathe. Oh shoot!
"Really? Is it? Maybe we should warm
And before I could do anything (though without
jeans it's not like I could have run anywhere), he'd sat down
on the wall ruin and pulled me over his knees, panties (again)
down. Hard hand smacks reminded me that my bottom was indeed
"What did I ask you when we first got
"Ow! Ouch, please! I'm sorry okay?"
This was really stinging and I was sure the sound was carrying
More hand spanks were my answer.
"I'm sure you're very sorry. What did
I ask you when we first got here?"
When did he get so strong anyway?
"Nooo, oh please, someone might see.
You asked if I needed the restroom!"
Still harder smacks, these on the tops of
"That's right. And what did you tell
"Nooo," I wailed a little. "I
Paul let that stand with a minute or so of
spanking. It was impossible not to try and squirm off his knees.
Tears started falling. I felt really sorry for me!
"And that wasn't the truth."
This wasn't a question, nor did he seem to
want an answer. Instead, his hand just paddled into my bottom.
"Even the littlest child here knows when
to use the toilet. You could have ruined this trip for us both,
and I know how much you've been looking forward to it. I'm not
sure why you didn't go when you had the chance, but maybe if
you're afraid people might see this, next time you'll plan a
Or something like that. I'd lost track of
what he was saying, focused as I was with my bottom pleading
with me to stop the spanking.
Which he finally did, just as I was sure that
I was going to start howling.
Finally, Paul let me up and held me close,
bottom still bare. I sniffled, explaining that I had really
wanted to get to the wall and had thought I could go back really
easily and how embarrassed I was when he talked about "toilet"
where people could hear.
He didn't say anything, but helped me wipe
my face and eyes and blow my nose, finally letting me pull up
my panties and get back into my jeans.
We went back to the fort and wall in silence,
my hand holding Paul's tightly as I tried to neither wipe my
eyes nor rub. I was sure that many at the ruin had heard my
little "correction", but assumed that that sounds
were one of many of the parents here reacting with the ultimate
expression of frustration to one too many bratty demands.
I was pretty sure no one guessed, even when
Paul landed a few hard smacks (just because) on the seat of
my jeans. Still, even though I was enjoying examining the ruins,
I wasn't sorry when Paul commented that I was shivering (Northern
England is cold to a Southern California kid) and we
should get back.
We trudged back, down the hill and then up,
my hand clasped in his. Which was nice because it kept me steady
over the rocky places.
Back at the shop and information center, we
browsed around. I bought two books on the wall and fort - which
wasn't bad for me shopping-wise since I have a book thing and
there were at least two others I really wanted - and Paul bought
a floopy ruler like one a friend of ours has. I knew from experience
the thing was going to sting like crazy while looking really
silly. (Stuff like that always leaves me feeling a bit foolish
for it hurting.) But as we left the shop and moved toward the
patio (or whatever such things are called in England), I realized
that Paul hadn't entirely forgotten the events back across the
"There's the toilet, miss," he said,
pointing. "You go use it and then come back here to me,
please. And you wash your hands well."
My face burned at that last, sure everyone
was looking at what sort of girl needed a reminder of such things.
Still, I nodded (no way was I going to say 'sir' there) and
made to go. But he wasn't done even though I was sure my face
was bright red.
"And why am I telling you to do this
rather than just asking or reminding you?"
The answer sprang from my lips with surprising
quickness. I'm still not sure if it was a submission or a desire
"Because you don't trust me to do the
right thing when I should."
My fevered prayers that this would be a specific
enough answer were heard and I was allowed to go in and use
the "toilet". I felt oddly calm, wondering if he was
thinking, as I was, of a story I'd told him of being spanked
by my Nana when I was very small for wetting my dress after
ignoring her reminder to use the bathroom.
That was how I felt. Very small and naughty.
When I came out, Paul asked me specifically
if I'd used the - well, you know. Though not too specifically
- the issue of how was thankfully left out of it. By
now, I was committed to staring at the ground until we got back
out to the car.
Oddly, I felt less ashamed then before. I
knew someone must have heard, or suspected, based on snatches
of conversation, that I was in trouble, but that didn't concern
me so much anymore. As seems to happen in these circumstances,
the world had shrunk down for me until it included only the
two of us. And he'd taken care of me in a situation which, while
comic, had felt overwhelming. When his hand brushed mine, I
clutched his tightly.
As we left the busy car park, I found myself
squirming on the car seat a little. Each bump seemed to remind
me of the soreness of my poor bottom. Two hard spankings in
one day seemed very mean, even if I had been a trifle naughty.
I sniffled in a way I thought was pitiful.
"Sit still, miss."
I tried, pouting, but soon found myself shifting
again. Smack! his hand landed hard on my thigh, over my jeans.
"Ow!" I whined, stupidly. "That's
so mean! My bottom really hurts you know."
Like he was going to be moved by that tidbit?
A smug "well it's supposed to" was
the reaction I expected. But instead, Paul said words that chilled
"Not as much as it's going to."
My heart leapt and began thudding in my throat
- drying my mouth and keeping me from swallowing.
Sure, I could have asked what he meant, but
feared I knew. My hope became that he would wait until we got
back to the hotel where I could stuff a corner of the quilt
in my mouth. Inside behind a locked door is always better.
All hope of something inside was dashed when
he turned the car off the road at the side of a clearly abandoned
stone building. The shell of its grey stone sides still stood,
but it was roofless and any plaster had long since weathered
away. Paul drove far enough behind the building so as to give
us a view of the road. This would give a tiny bit of privacy
and maybe ten seconds before anyone (like the police?) pulling
in behind could see us.
This was a far cry from any locked door.
Paul got out, but I sat, arms crossed, on
the front seat. I could hear the traffic of the not-too-busy
road, but my eyes were focused on the endless waves of grass,
made still more pink by the late afternoon sun. It was beautiful
there with a bleakness that made me think of Thomas Hardy. I'm
not sure if it was the landscape or what, but when I heard the
car boot (that's what Paul calls it) pop open then slam closed,
a tear slid out of my right eye.
The door opened and chilly air invaded the
warm car pod. I stared at my lap as he reached across and unbuckled
my seat belt.
"Young lady?" Those words. Do they
affect others the same way? Causing a flush, making it hard
to breathe? The total flight or fight reaction at a time when
neither are possible.
Turning toward him, I took his hand and stepped
out of the car. He tucked the bundle he carried on the floor,
sat down in my seat and pulled me between his legs.
I looked into his eyes. He looked back at
"I'm very disappointed in you. Do you
I nodded, tears gathering, chilled by the
"What happened was very embarrassing,
but could have been a disaster. Couldn't it?"
"Yes, sir," I admitted reluctantly,
imagining walking a mile back in wet jeans.
"And so simple. This was so unnecessary
- all it needed to prevent it was you telling me the truth when
I reminded you. Who would think that a big girl like you couldn't
be trusted with such a simple thing?"
My head shook. There was no answer to this.
Maybe he wouldn't expect one.
He went on. "And you've been doing so
much better at not lying to me. Why would you lie about such
a silly thing anyway? How did that happen?"
There was a pause long enough to tell me this
wasn't meant rhetorically. He expected an answer.
My eyes left his and fastened on the bundle
on the front passenger floor. His gaze followed mine.
"I - I don't know, sir. It just sort
of slipped out. I didn't really mean to. I mean, I didn't think."
Neither of these are great excuses. But he
seemed to consider them anyway. My thought at the moment was
oddly how lucky I was to have found someone so fair. How else
could I trust him, after all.
"This isn't going to happen again."
Tears overflowed and I bit my lip hard. I
hate knowing I've disappointed someone I love. Those words had
stung even more than the thinnest cane.
"No, sir, I promise. Really, Paul, I'm
He nodded, to let me know he believed me and
I felt a sense of relief. Maybe this really wasn't going to
be so bad.
"Thank you. But you don't understand.
From now on, it's never going to be a question. If I tell you
to, you go and use the toilet, even if you don't think you need
to. Is that clear?"
I nodded. It was fair. But a tiny splinter
of resentment buried itself in my brain. I'd get used to the
new rule. But it would embarrass me. Such a private thing, after
all. And aside from that, when he said it, I'd always remember
At my nod, he reached up and unfastened my
jeans. I gasped a little, feeling him pulling them to my feet,
where my shoes got taken off and added to the bundle on the
floor. My jeans were folded and put in the back seat, as were
my jacket, turtleneck and sweater. Finally, I stood in front
of him wearing only my bra, panties and socks. The cold air
made me shiver, shake actually as my teeth chattered.
"Please, Paul, it's really cold."
In answer, his fingers slipped inside the
elastic of my panties as I fought a rising panic to stay still.
"Someone might see! Please don't!"
He didn't even pause, but tugged them down,
then off. A hard slap to the back of my thighs silenced the
protest already on my lips.
"Someone might have seen you needing
to go off behind the wall to take care of what should
have been done in the toilets. If someone sees, what they're
going to see is a naughty little girl getting some much needed
Fearing a matching handprint on the other
thigh, I resisted suggesting this might not fly with the police.
The rest of my clothes, socks included, followed the panties.
Great. Naked by the side of the road. This
was going to look wonderful stamped on my passport when I got
expelled from the country. And I don't think I've ever been
so cold in my whole life.
Thankfully, though, not for long. Paul picked
up a pair of heavy white knickers, gathered them and held them
out for me to step into. Now when one has been totally bare,
the thickness and warmth of knickers is welcome. My only wish
was that they were bigger. Like the size of a sheet.
The shirt was next, all neatly wrapped in
laundry plastic. He took forever to unfold it, carefully shaking
its crisp white cotton. Never have I slid my arms so easily
into the cracking whiteness, eager to be buttoned up, which
he did, saving the top button for last. I then stepped into
the short plaid skirt he held out. It barely did more that brush
the top of my thighs, but if you've been naked, even a very
short skirt feels pretty good. I had to put my hand
on his shoulder for balance as he helped me on with my knee
socks and t-bar shoes.
There, dressed again. Paul stood in front
of me and brushed out my hair, tying it in a neat ponytail.
"Now then," he said, looking down
at me. "You look very nice. Like a bad little girl who's
about to be taught to be good."
On those words, he sat down and pulled my
hands, so I was left standing between his legs. My knickers,
it seemed, were about to make another journey. He pulled
them down to just above my knees.
The air was cold enough to make the soreness
in my bottom an ache. When Paul tapped he hairbrush on my bottom,
it felt like a block of ice. But not for long. One second later
it felt like a branding iron, scalding my bottom, making me
want to howl.
I gasped, trying to find a place for the hurt.
But by three I was wailing, kicking crying pleading. The wind
chilled my tears, making my face feel frozen as my bottom felt
as though it were on a stove.
"Please, please, I'm sorry."
He was silent and continued spanking until
I was afraid to kick.
"Never again, Annie!"
Three more on each of my thighs.
"'No what, miss?"
"No, sir," I gasped. "No, sir!"
And then it was over. I was righted and hugged
and buckled back in and we drove off toward Newcastle, my bottom
and thighs surely burning through the car seat.
My hand flew to my mouth and I giggled. At
first I could stifle it, but then it grew to laughter. I couldn't
breathe and laughed in great gasps, tears forming in the corners
of my eyes.
Paul looked at me once and then again, finally
asking if I was quite finished, only to get another gale of
laughter in response.
Finally I settled down, waiting for him to
ask me to share the joke.
"So what were you thinking of, miss?"
"Stonehenge", was my only reply
before the giggles returned.
SMACK! landed Paul's right hand on my bare
But I think he was smiling too.
to stories about us
to the treehouse