Molly knocked nervously at her papa's woodshop door.
She loved the smell of the shop, wood shavings and saw dust mingled with leather and sweat in a dusty haze that settled everywhere. When she wasn't there for a spanking, it was one of her favorite places, a place of quiet and hard work.
Papa grunted without looking up from the hunk of wood he was shaping. Molly wondered what it would be. Papa was the most cleverest man with carving and carpentry she'd ever seen.
"Um… Papa? Mama said I'm to ask for a spanking."
He grunted again without looking at her and nodded at the sawhorse that'd been draped with three or four old saddle blankets. Molly approached the dreaded sawhorse and laid the strap she carried on the bench nearby. Then she hiked up her skirts in back and pulled her knickers down to her knees. Readied, she bent over the sawhorse, a surprisingly comfortable position, and grabbed the old horseshoes that'd been nailed to the floor there for just this reason. Molly knew from experience that she could hang on to those horseshoes and they would keep her from jumping up and interrupting the spanking, something Papa wouldn't tolerate.
Soon thereafter, she heard Papa get up from his work bench and approach.
"She sent you with the strap?"
Molly nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Did she say how many?"
Papa grunted again.
The first searing stripe struck her from her body and locked her to a place of nothing but shock and pain. She's been spanked loads of times, bare bottomed over her mother's knee with a wooden spoon, over her papa's with his callused hand, over this very sawhorse with a switch, but the strap was like nothing else, a deep, core-burning that left her without breath. She wanted to scream so that Papa would know how much it had hurt, so that maybe he'd go easy on her for the next one, or perhaps stop all together.
But she couldn't.
The next shattered the stasis.
Molly pierced the woodshop with her cry. She gripped the horseshoe handles for dear life and pressed herself into the sawhorse, as though she might slide into it and away from the spanking she had asked for. She gritted her teeth and tensed against the next.
At the third, she kicked and bucked and lost her grip on the horseshoes. She danced back and away, her hands on her bottom, rubbing hard, her vision blurry with tears.
Papa leaned on a table, the strap held negligently in one hand, arms folded, eyebrow raised.
"She said ten?"
"Um… maybe she said five?"
Papa grunted and nodded at the sawhorse.
With a breath for courage, she bent back over and grasped the horseshoes. Papa lifted her skirts in back and took his position.
Molly took the next two with courage, but also with shrieking and kicking and crying and a general carrying on she thought she'd grown out of. When it was all over, when she could see again and breathe again and stand on her own two feet again, Molly took the strap back from her Papa and he went back to work.
Molly hurried to the backdoor of the kitchen and peaked in. her Mama was focused on rolling out flour, so she hung the strap on the peg by the door and slipped away with Mama none the wiser.
Through the trees and down to the river, she traipsed, her aching bottom a constant reminder of her coming victory, and though it hurt, she moved with ease. At the creek, she found Tommy working a bit of wood. Tommy was a skinny boy with reddish-brown hair and freckles, and he looked up at her and grinned.
"I did it," Molly said. She turned, hiked up her skirts and tugged down her knickers.
Tommy whistled. "Golly, Molly, that looks awful. You've got a mess of bruises." And he reached out, unthinking, and ran his fingers gently across the mottled bruises of her beaten backside.
Molly gasped and spun around to smack at Tommy's hand. He danced back and laughed.
"That tickled!" Molly protested as she re-arranged her knickers under her skirts.
"Did ya cry?" Tommy asked.
"Heck yes," Molly said. "But I did it. You bet I couldn't, and I did. Now, give it here."
Tommy nodded. "Fair's fair. I bet you my second best whittling knife you wouldn't take a strapping. But… I'll make it my first best whittling knife if…"
Molly frowned at him and planted her fists on her hips, sensing duplicity.
"If you give me a kiss."
"Just one little kiss."
"For your first best whittling knife?"
"Well… all right, but only on the cheek."
Tommy smiled and nodded again.
Molly took a deep breath, squinted her eyes, and leaned in. But rather than her lips connecting with Tommy's cheek, he turned his head last moment so that she kissed him right on the lips. There was a moment of soft awe. His lips on hers felt nice. The next moment was filled with outrage.
Molly jerked back and swung her fist at the same time, catching him right in the stomach. Tommy doubled over and took several steps back, coughing. He held up a hand to ward her off as he caught his breath and straightened up, tears streaming down his cheeks. At first Molly though he was crying and felt bad. Then she realized he was laughing and she considered hitting him again. She thought about aiming for the face.
As Molly took a step toward him, fists up, Tommy quickly fished his first best whittling knife out of a pocket and handed it to her.
Mollified, she took it. It had a deer antler handle and a long, curved blade, all held in a leather sheath made by Tommy's pa. Tommy's pa was as good with leather as hers was with wood. Molly unsheathed the blade and tested it on her thumb. The small cut was enough to assure her it was his best knife.
Molly sheathed the knife and stuck it in her pocket. She sucked at the cut on her thumb and eyed Tommy, considering if she still wanted to hit him. Instead, she turned and hurried back home before her ma could miss her, still sucking her thumb.
Tommy smiled as she went. A girl who could take a strapping and didn't mind showing the marks, who could hit like a boy and test a knife on her own thumb, whose lips were softer than… well… than something really soft, that was a girl Tommy was interested in seeing more of.
"I think I'll marry her one day," he said as she disappeared between the trees.