Copyright 2001 to <email@example.com>.
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It had taken two weeks too long (in Mija's
opinion anyway) but there was finally a tree in the house. And
it was a great tree too! Smelling like a pine forest and decorated
with lights that glowed like colored stars. Quirky ornaments
too, collected over the years they'd known each other. The tree
made everything in their little house seem warmer and more homey.
Decorating had taken hours because Mija tried
to follow recommendations from her Feng Shui Holiday Guide.
Paul good naturedly moved the tree four times, but when she
pointed out that the fifth location wasn't right after all because
it directed holiday energy out through one of the windows, he
flatly refused to relocate the tree once more, instead offering
to seal any drafts so the energy couldn't get out.
Partly because she liked the way the tree
looked next to the window, and partly because of the odd vein
throbbing in Paul's forehead, Mija agreed that the tree was
probably okay where it was after all.
After the last candy canes were carefully
hung, Paul turned off all but the tree lights and the two collapsed
on the sofa. Paul put his arm around Mija, pulled her close,
and she began crowing about the tree, tilting her head back
and forth to get better views.
"It's perfect! The best tree ever!"
Paul looked carefully at the tree. "The
best one you've ever had?"
Mija bounced beside him excitedly. "Yes.
I mean no. The best one ever, period. Better than any
other tree anywhere!"
"How do you know?"
"I know. I've seen a lot of trees
and this one is the best."
"What about the one in New York? The
big one at Rockerfeller Center?"
Mija snuggled in closer and stared harder
at the tree across from her. She made a noise to show what she
thought of the NYC tree. It sounded a lot like a raspberry,
but wasn't since she's not allowed to make that noise.
"Ours is much better. That's a nice tree,
but really way too big. This one is more focused. It's a centered
tree with more concentrated Christmas tree-ness."
Paul laughed and kissed her hair. "'Tree-ness'??
I didn't know there was such a thing."
Mija rolled her eyes without Paul seeing.
At least, she hoped he couldn't see. And he didn't say anything,
so he probably hadn't seen.
"'The quality of being tree' of course!
Sheesh, those English schools . . . This tree is just
the right size. And has lots and lots of room under it. A Very
Good Thing in a tree."
This last was undeniable. There was
a lot of room under the tree.
Paul looked carefully at the space between
the branches and the floor. Mija assumed he was gauging it,
measuring it in cubic gift space.
"Maybe there's too much, sweetheart.
Whatever shall we put there?" His tone was serious. Could
Paul really not know?
Mija's answer was immediate. "Presents.
Lots and lots of presents. After all, we've both been very good."
"Have we now?" Paul smiled, but
seemed to consider this earnestly as he pulled Mija onto his
Mija wiggled into a comfortable spot. "Well,
yes. You're always really good. And I've been good too."
Except the last few words were said as a question.
She was pretty sure she'd been really good. At least, relative
to other years.
"Mostly," she finally added honestly.
Paul raised his eyebrows at this. "Really
now? You've been a good girl all year?"
Mija squirmed. It was hard to talk to Paul
when he looked at her like that. And even harder to look back
at him. So she looked at her lap before she answered.
"Well, there was some stuff, sure.
I mean, you know all about that. But Santa knows I got in trouble
for those. I'm sure he won't hold it against me. That would
be just wrong."
Paul nodded, but then followed up with another
"Won't he? So you're on the 'Nice' list
and not the 'Naughty' one?"
Mija squirmed a bit more and stared at the
tree. "Definitely on the 'Nice' list. Don't you
think I'm nice? So I'm getting lots of kewl presents."
"Girls on the 'Naughty' list get presents
too. Santa puts switches and lumps of coal in their stockings."
Something in his tone seemed to say he'd know
just what to do with the switch too. Paul is maybe not the innocent
boy he seems. The calm questions could sometimes lure Mija into
answering, and then realizing too late that the noose had tightened.
"Those sound like pretty crummy presents.
Unless you're the switch," Mija added, smiling brightly
and deciding it never hurt to flirt a little. "And you're
so big you'd ruin my stocking too." Mija paused a moment.
"Don't you think I've been good?"
Paul looked down at her and raised her chin
so she looked up at him. "You've done some naughty things,
but I'm sure you're right. Santa will take into consideration
that you've already been punished for all of them and not put
you on the 'Naughty' list this year. He's very fair that way.
And you've got a pure heart."
She nodded slowly, turning her head a little
bit away. Staring into his eyes always made her feel a little
guilty. Mija was sure she'd got punished plenty this past year.
The stuff she'd gotten away with hardly seemed worth mentioning.
"You have been punished for all
the naughty things, haven't you, Mija?"
Mija started to nod some more. After all,
she thought, I'm no fool. But then again, what if Santa does
know? She looked longingly at the empty space under the tree
and imagined bright paper and ribbons. Lots of kewl stuff could
fit under there. Her stocking already hung from the mantel and
it was a biggie. How awful would it be if they came out on Christmas
morning and he had all sorts of kewl stuff and could see that
Mija only had coal? He's good, she thought, but totally greedy
with sweets. He might not even share! Or worse yet, what if
there were only coal and a switch. It would almost be like Santa
was telling Paul to be stricter with her. What would that
look like? She shuddered slightly at the thought.
Mr. Bailey waited a few more seconds, then
tipped her chin up again so he could see into her eyes. Her
eyes darted about as though looking for escape, before looking
back into his, trapped.
"Mija, is there something you want to
Well, put it like that! Mija tried
to squirm away. Which isn't easy to do when you're on someone's
"I - I don't think so. Maybe there's
one or two little things that I might have forgotten to tell
you about or that were really too small for anyone even to notice.
But nothing that should keep me off the Nice list. I can't even
"Mm-hm." Mr. Bailey made the noise
that sounded sort of like he was agreeing but really means he's
doubtful. Hearing it, Mija closed her eyes and wished the tone
It seemed the very next moment that Mija was
off his lap and sitting on a low stool in a corner of the living
room away from the tree. Something must have happened
in between, but somehow she'd missed it, though from the sting,
she suspected her ear might have been involved. Christmas magic
isn't supposed to work that way.
There was a low voice in her ear that made
her jump and almost turn out of the corner. Almost but
not quite, because Mija knew better.
"Mija, you sit there and think for a
few minutes. And then I'm going to ask you to tell me everything
naughty you've done all year long. You've only got this one
chance to try and get off the Naughty list, so don't waste it.
And don't forget what happens in this house to girls who tell
She stared at the corner. Why hadn't she remembered
to paint something interesting on these walls? Or maybe put
the tree in this corner so he had to pick another? As it was,
all she could do was hear Mr. Bailey's voice. Things Mija had
done flitted through her mind. They weren't really that
serious. But a year's a long time. It was funny how she forgot
about stuff she didn't get caught for. Tortured by her conscience
she sure as heck wasn't!
"Plus you should consider that there
very well could be things I've noticed and not mentioned that
I will be expecting to hear about."
Mija was glad he couldn't see the face she
made at this remark. Was he serious? Bluffing? Who could tell?
This was seeming like a worse and worse idea.
And where was he anyway? His voice sounded like it came from
another room. But one quick look over her shoulder - Mija barely
even saw anything and there he was, lifting her up, his big
hand smacking hard against her bare thighs, dropping her back
to the stool and pushing it and her further into the corner
and telling her the next time she looked back she'd be feeling
the ruler across her palms as well as her thighs. Bleh! What
happened to looking at the tree by the soft glow of the fire
all snuggled up on the couch?
Mija wanted to say that, but she didn't. Besides,
who wants to cuddle with such a grouch anyway? She felt very
sorry for herself indeed.
But what had she done? Maybe there really
wasn't anything he didn't know. How could she be punished if
she couldn't remember anything she'd done? Especially since
she honestly couldn't.
"Come over here to me, Mija."
She turned to see him sitting in an armless
chair, paddle in hand. Suddenly staying in the corner seemed
like a very good idea. But still she came, reluctantly.
"Kneel down here sweetheart - that's
Mija knelt down, feeling an odd déjà
vu about confession at school. Her kilt brushed against her
knickers, making her quite aware of her bottom.
"So tell me. What have you done this
year and not been punished for?"
She knelt there, looking up at him, her head
swimming. There were things she wanted to tell him, but couldn't
bear to. Besides, part of her was sure there'd already been
more than enough spankings.
"I - I - can't remember any. Really,
I can't. I'm sorry."
Mr. Bailey looked at her quite sternly. "Have
we discussed the difference between 'can't' and 'won't', Miss?"
Mija trembled a bit and nodded sadly. His
hands tightened on her upper arms and pulled her over his knees,
baring her bottom quickly. The paddle began spanking her crisply
at once, causing her to kick as though she could somehow swim
"I had thought we could take care
of this quickly and easily, Mija. But it seems you're going
to be a naughty, stubborn girl and make this as difficult as
"No, no, no! Please, I'm sorry. I'll
try, really, really."
The pleading was in time with the paddle,
punctuated by crying and loud smacks. After forever (or at least
three minutes) the smacking stopped and Mija lay gasping over
his lap. Mr. Bailey set down the paddle, but reached between
her legs to pull her knickers down and then off. Mr. Bailey
stood her before him, pulling her face close to his.
"Okay, now what's going to happen, young
lady, is you're going to go over to that desk, sit down and
write a letter to Santa Claus."
Mija squirmed uncomfortably, resisting the
temptation to rub at her bottom where the sting was fast becoming
"In that letter," Mr. Bailey continued,
"you're going to confess all the naughty things you've
done this past year that you haven't been punished for. And
you're going to tell the truth. Then you're going to bring the
letter to me and I'll read it over before you mail it. If you
can't be disciplined for the naughty things you do, then we
can at least make sure Santa knows about them."
Mija looked down at the carpet, tracing her
toe around one of the flowers.
"Is this clear, Miss? Look at me please."
She looked up at him, trying to look very
sorry rather than pouty. He carefully pinned her skirt to her
blouse, ignoring the blush that made her face feel hot.
"That's right. You sit right there on
your bare bottom and write that letter. When you're done, bring
it over to me. And, Mija, if you have any trouble writing, you
remember I've still got the paddle and am happy to help
She nodded, hoping he couldn't read her thoughts,
and replied, "Yes sir."
She sat at the desk, trying hard not to squirm
on the hard wooden seat. The letter started slowly, as she felt
his eyes on her, watching her write. But soon the rhythm of
writing soothed her and Mija was only aware of the sound of
the pen scratching against the paper. She was unaware of time
passing or even of Mr. Bailey's quiet movements.
"I've finished, sir."
Mija stood before Mr. Bailey, her skirt still
pinned up, and held out a sheet of folded paper. He took it
from her and began reading the letter out loud, pausing to mark
errors in spelling and grammar. She listened, her eyes closed,
to the small crimes listed out.
hope this letter finds you well. I want to thank you for
the lovely gifts you gave me last year. Especially the
new dresses for Marianna.
not writing because I want to tell you what I want for
Christmas this year, but rather because Mr. Bailey wants
me to tell you about the naughty things I've done and
not been punished for, in case you haven't noticed. (But
if you think you have you don't need to read any further.)
four days in a row when I was alone, I got out of bed
after my bedtime and played on the 'net. When I got asked
why I was so tired, I said it was because school was so
hard. And that wasn't exactly true.
missed an appointment with the dentist because I wanted
to go and hang out with my friends. And I didn't make
another appointment even though I needed one.
I wanted more attention I didn't ask for it but made up
day I ate just candy all day but when Paul asked I pretended
I'd eaten all healthy.
got two parking tickets I didn't tell Paul about and didn't
got stopped for driving without lights.
haven't done my school work in a while and have avoided
talking about it with anyone because I don't know what
pretty much all I can remember. I'm sorry if this puts
me on the Naughty list.
Mr. Bailey cleared his throat and re-folded
the paper. He sat quietly, waiting for her to look up at him.
"That's not very impressive, is it, Mija?"
She shook her head sadly. "No sir."
"But it's not really very bad either.
Do you want to send this letter to Santa?"
Mija shook her head "no" again.
"Then you have a choice. You can either
address it and send it, or leave it to me to punish you for
At the word "punish," Mija felt
a familiar tingle in her backside. Still, it was clear which
she would have to choose.
"'Me' what, Mija?" He took her hands
God, this was agony.
"You, sir. Please punish me. I don't
want to have to send the letter."
He nodded. "Alright then. You go over
to that corner and push your nose right in. And you think about
the lies you told me. Because this list is mostly all about
It seemed to Mija she wasn't even there an
instant, barely even long enough to catch her breath, before
she was being pulled by her ear to a chair in the center of
the room. Mr. Bailey pulled her over to it, and then carefully
over his lap. She was already bared so he began tapping the
hairbrush against her bottom.
Mija tensed, but there was little further
talk before the walloping started. Though she tried to be brave,
she heard herself pleading almost at once, asking Mr. Bailey
to please stop. The crying started soon, deep ragged gasps as
the hairbrush slowed but swung still harder into her bottom,
crashing in a way that left her breathless and sobbing.
There was a pause as he rested the hairbrush
against her bright red bottom.
"Now then, Miss, I want you to answer
Mija squirmed a little before realizing he
was waiting for an answer.
"Yes sir. I - I'll try."
"Tell me this, Mija. Do I ask a lot of
She stammered a little, not sure of his meaning.
"You, um, expect a lot from me, sir."
There was a pause while he seemed to consider
"That's true. But what things do I expect
most of all?
"That I try my best. And keep myself
safe. And don't tell lies ever."
Mr. Bailey patted her almost gently with the
"That's exactly right, Mija. And those
are exactly the things you didn't do. You told me lies, you
didn't take care of yourself and you didn't let me help you
He waited a moment for his words to sink in
before he continued.
"What should happen to you now, Mija?"
Mija's tears started to fall in earnest. They
ran off her face and onto the rug.
"You should thrash me, sir. With the
cane." Her voice broke as she finished. The cane scared
her. As did that sort of thrashing.
The pats resumed, a bit harder.
"Indeed I should. But I think you know
that I think little girls like you need to be punished over
the knee on their bare bottoms. So I'm going to give you a very
sound spanking with this hairbrush. If you're a good girl and
don't put your hands back or kick your feet too much, I won't
need to give you the caning you so clearly deserve. Is this
She nodded. "Yes sir. Thanks, um, thank
She meant it too. Canings were nothing to
be sneezed at. But then, she thought gripping the chair, neither
He began smacking her, slowly, steadily and
hard. Mija's promise to herself to be quiet and still lasted
all of three smacks before she was squirming and pleading. Mr.
Bailey seemed heedless and continued spanking her, not increasing
in speed, but landing the wallops on the tops of her thighs
as well as on her already glowing bottom.
Deprived of her ability to kick or throw her
arms back, Mija was left only to sob over his knees, apologizing
and promising to be good. It was as long and hard a hairbrushing
as he'd ever given, so much so that when he put the brush down
and switched to his hand, she barely noticed.
"Such a good, brave girl."
With that, the spanking was over. Mija cried
over his lap, deep and hard. Paul turned her over and she buried
her face in his chest, wetting the front of his shirt with her
tears. He rocked her, whispering to her softly, smoothing her
hair with his hand.
"Can't I pull up my knickers now,
Paul?" Mija, curled up on the couch, reached back to rub
a bit ruefully.
"Turn around first and let me see."
"Why do you want to see?" Mija sighed
dramatically and turned around to show her bottom.
Paul didn't answer at first, but ran his fingers
gently over the red sore skin.
"I just wanted to check."
"To see if Santa would be able to see
what a good helper I am."
Paul landed a hard smack on Mija's
behind and pulled up her knickers. She turned and hugged him,
pulling him down with her on the couch where they could both,
finally, look at the shimmering, beautiful, perfect Christmas
to stories about us
to the treehouse