The Gift

By Alyx

“In terms of instilling the values of mental toughness and work ethic, discipline is the gift that keeps on giving.”   ~William Baldwin


Avery looked at her wall calendar and sighed. Christmas was still a week away, and already the small dorm seemed deserted. Nearly everyone went home for the holidays, with her roommate Bethany packing up just the day before.

“What, not going home?” she’d asked as Avery helped her wrangle her huge suitcase into the elevator.

“Naw, gotta work on my project over the break,” Avery smiled ruefully.

“Really? Bummer!” Beth said sympathetically.

“Yeah. You know how it is.” Avery hugged her awkwardly as they stood on the sidewalk, waiting for Beth’s boyfriend to pick her up. “You have a great Christmas, though.”

“Thanks, you too. Oh, there’s Shane. See you in a couple of weeks!”

Avery looked out the window now as she thought about the lie she’d told Beth. Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie. She probably would be working on her architecture project, trying to construct a scale model building with an eco-friendly facade. But she knew that wasn’t the real reason she was avoiding going home.

It wasn’t even home anymore, really. Ever since her mom and dad had divorced, it was just a place to stay when she wasn’t at school. She could visit her friends and get her clothes washed, but it wasn’t the same as when they’d been a family.

It was different for her brother Jerrold. He seemed to let everything slide and spend all his time playing basketball.

“Jerry, doesn’t it bother you that Dad is dating someone my age?” she asked him the last time she’d been home, during spring break. “I mean, the ink isn’t even dry on the divorce papers, and he’s going everywhere with her!”

Her brother had shrugged as he tied on his sneakers. “It’s his life, I guess.”

“And what about Mom? It must be so humiliating for her!”

Jerry picked up his basketball and grimaced. “It’s pretty sucky,” he agreed. “Especially since Petra is such a bitch.”

“Do you think Mom’s depressed?” Avery asked in a lowered tone, glancing over her shoulder. “I’m away at college, but you see her every day. How does she seem to you?”

“I don’t know….the same, I guess. I gotta go meet the guys. See ya!” He rushed out the door, leaving Avery to deal with a woman who was so determinedly stoic that it was impossible to bring up any subject connected to emotions at all, let alone how she was dealing with her recent divorce. The atmosphere at home felt at times like swimming underwater – every sensation was magnified and dulled at the same time.

Avery’s phone chimed, bringing her back to the present. It was a message from Salem, the Dorm Supervisor:

Hey there, looks like there will be a bunch of us stuck here in Merion Hall during the Christmas break, including yours truly. But there’s no reason why we can’t have a little fun! So I’m organizing a Christmas Day dinner in the dining room. I’ve persuaded the chef to whip up a nice prime rib roast (and a Portobello pot roast for you vegans), so all we have to do is bring the side dishes! Let me know by replying to this email whether you’ll be attending. And if you want to join in on the Christmas decorations, I am looking for volunteers! 🙂

Avery sighed. Salem was a graduate student at the college and one of the coolest people she’d ever met, and she would’ve dearly liked to agree to anything she arranged. But the thought of sharing a meal with a bunch of strangers, even the friendly students in her dorm, was the last thing she wanted at a time like this. She started to text her regrets, but couldn’t finish it. She’d have to come up with a good excuse. But right now, she decided, what she needed was a glass of wine from the bottle Beth had left in their tiny fridge.


Salem stretched out on her bed and opened up her laptop. It had been three days since she’d sent out the invitations, and she’d gotten replies from most of the students in her dorm, with eleven of them participating in the holiday dinner. Three of them had other plans, and one still hadn’t replied.

“Avery Bennett,” she murmured. “That’s the kid in apartment 204. Hmm….come to think of it, I haven’t seen her around much lately. Wonder if the reg list is wrong and she actually went home for Christmas?” She double-checked her email, texted, then rang Avery’s phone number. There was no answer to any of the attempts at communication. As a final check, she decided to pay a personal visit.

A knock on her door produced no answer, but Salem thought she could detect sounds coming from within. She knocked harder.

“Okay, okay, I’m coming!”

The words were muffled, but she could definitely hear someone moving around. Then door opened and Avery appeared, looking more disheveled than Salem had ever seen her. It was mid-afternoon but she looked like she’d just gotten out of bed. Her t-shirt and sweat pants were badly wrinkled, and her normally neat hair was sticking out at all angles.

“Hey there, Avery. I’m sorry, were you taking a nap?”

“Salem! Um…no…I was just…not feeling well.” Avery ran her hands through her hair and tugged at her clothes self-consciously.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Caught a cold or something?”

“Yeah, something like that.” The reply was mumbled and the girl wouldn’t meet her eyes. Salem spotted a bottle of wine lying on the floor behind her. Her eyes narrowed in concern.

“Is everything okay?”

“Sure, it’s fine. Everything’s fine. I’d…uh…invite you in, but the place is a bit of a mess….” She trailed off and gestured vaguely behind her, while closing the door even more.

“Okay, well, I was just coming to check on you, as you hadn’t replied to my invitation. You’ll be joining us for Christmas dinner, right?”

“No, I don’t think so….I have to work on my project.”

“What, all night? Surely you can take a couple of hours off?”

“Well….” Avery really didn’t want to go, but it was even harder to say no to Salem in person. Inwardly she kicked herself for procrastinating on that email.

“Just come for dinner. You can bury yourself in your studies after that.” Salem smiled persuasively, and Avery nodded with reluctance.

“Okay, though I don’t know what dish I can bring. I’m not much of a cook.”

“Bring some dinner rolls, that’ll be fine. Just pick up a couple dozen at the market, that’ll be plenty.”

“All right. Uh…see you then.” Avery gave an awkward half-wave and shut the door.

Salem stood there for a minute afterwards, looking at the door with a frown. She could tell that Avery was not at all “fine” as she claimed, but there wasn’t much she could do when the girl was clearly unwilling to talk about it. Being a residence hall supervisor was tricky. She had to make sure all the rules were followed, look after the welfare of students, and also be a shoulder to cry on when necessary. It meant being a resident manager, parent, and friend, all rolled into one. Salem found the role rewarding, but it was also a big responsibility.

She decided to keep a closer eye on Avery. She’d make it a point to have a longer chat with her at the Christmas dinner, and maybe check on her in the coming weeks. It was better to catch any problems as early as possible.

But when the Christmas dinner came, Avery was a no-show. Salem had her hands full helping set up and getting the students organized, but once everyone started in on the hors d’oeuvres she slipped away to go to Avery’s room. It seemed like déjà vu as she rapped sharply on the closed door, to hear muffled scrambling on the other side.

“Yeah? Oh, Salem!” Once again she was faced with a bleary-eyed girl in wrinkled clothing – in fact they looked like the same clothes she had seen her in four days ago.

“Avery? Are you planning to come to dinner?” she asked.

“Dinner? What dinner? Oh shit!” Avery covered her mouth with her hand. She was clearly wide awake now, and looking slightly panicky at the thought.

“Yes,” Salem agreed drily. “That dinner. It doesn’t look like you’re dressed for it.” Her eyes narrowed. “Have you even changed or had a shower since I saw you last?”

Avery flushed. “Of course I have!” she said. But her expression made Salem doubt she was telling the truth. “Oh….I don’t have the dinner rolls I was supposed to bring!”

“That doesn’t matter,” Salem said. “Have you left the room since the last time we talked?”

“What do you mean?” Avery asked, frowning.

“Never mind. May I come in?”

“Well, it’s a bit messy….” Avery said uncertainly, but Salem ignored her. She gently pushed the door open, causing Avery to have to step back and let her in.

“Don’t worry, I’ve seen it all,” she said politely. But inside she was dismayed to see the state of the young woman’s apartment. There were empty wine bottles on the counter, clothes strewn on the floor, and the trash clearly hadn’t been emptied in weeks. She wrinkled her nose.

“Why don’t you go have a shower and change? Then we’ll go down to dinner.”

Avery looked alarmed at the prospect. “But…the rolls?”

“Don’t worry about the rolls, we don’t need them. We’ve got mashed potatoes and pasta and half the people are on keto diets anyway!” she snorted. She pointed toward the bathroom. “Go!” she said firmly. “I’ll wait for you out here.”

Still reluctant, but unable to argue with the authoritative note in Salem’s voice, Avery went. When she emerged from her shower, dressed in a pair of clean jeans and pale gray sweater, she found that Salem had started cleaning up the apartment. The plastic trays of half-eaten TV dinners had been thrown away, and the clothes that had been lying on the floor were now piled on her bed. She surreptitiously glanced around for the bottles of wine, but they were nowhere to be found. She felt even more mortified, if that were possible.

“I put them in the recycle,” Salem said, informing Avery that she was perfectly aware of her unease. “You do know there are dorm rules about the consumption of alcohol?”

“I thought it was okay, as long as we weren’t rowdy!” Avery looked distressed.

“The rules are more concerned about public drunkenness, but I’m personally more concerned about private depression and alcoholism.”

“I’m not an alcoholic!” Avery said indignantly.

“But you are depressed?” asked Salem quietly.

Avery looked down. She had a sudden lump in her throat and couldn’t answer.

“Never mind, let’s not talk about it now. Let’s go have dinner.” Salem put a comforting arm around her shoulders. Then she put a finger under Avery’s chin and lifted her head to look her in the eye. “But afterwards we’re going to have a long talk, understand?” Avery nodded.

Though Avery hadn’t wanted to go to the party in the first place, she found herself having fun. It helped that someone had obviously added a touch of brandy to the eggnog, despite what Salem had said to her earlier about the dorm rules concerning alcohol. Salem was apparently reading her mind as she took a sip, because she quirked a brow and said, “There’s nothing wrong with alcohol consumption if done responsibly.”

Avery laughed. “Okay, point taken!”

She hadn’t eaten properly in days, and hadn’t really felt like it. But she could hear her tummy growling as she took a slice of medium rare prime rib, with a healthy dollop of creamed horseradish. A scoop of mashed potatoes, green beans with sliced almonds, and homemade cranberry sauce completed her meal. There were lots of other choices on the table, but she could see another table laden with yummy looking desserts and she wanted to save room.

“Got your eye on the pecan pie and homemade whipped cream?” Salem whispered in her ear, obviously noticing where her gaze went.

Avery looked embarassed. “I was actually looking at the Key Lime pie and the chocolate mousse,” she admitted. “But now that you mention it, pecan pie sounds heavenly too.”

Salem chuckled. “Well, no reason why you can’t have a slice of each! Christmas is the time for indulging a little, hm?”

She left Avery sitting at the table and made her rounds, making sure to spend time with each of the students at the party. Avery chatted with a boy who was in one of her architecture classes, as well as his girlfriend who was a design major. After graduation they were planning work together on low-cost solutions to the homeless crisis, a plan which Avery admired very much.

“What are you doing for your eco-project?” she asked Brendan.

“I’m designing a tiny house,” he replied as he tucked into some corn on the cob. “I figured Elise and I could continue to develop it later as part of an affordable housing solution. You?”

“That’s a great idea!” Avery said. “I’m exploring bamboo as a building material.”

“Bamboo?” Salem asked, coming up from behind them and taking a seat next to Avery. “Isn’t that what they use in the tropics?”

“They’re starting to use it all over the world, actually,” Avery replied. “But it’s true that most of the bamboo species grow best in tropical climates.”

They chatted for a bit more, then Salem stood to start clearing up. She thanked everyone for their contributions and gave each student a hug as she said her goodbyes.

“Come back to my apartment for a bit?” she asked Avery, as they hugged. “If you’re not too tired, that is?”

“No, I’m not, and I’d like that.”

Avery had never been in Salem’s apartment, and looked around curiously. It was the same size as the one she shared with Beth, but had a full kitchen where they just had a sink and tiny fridge.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Salem invited her. “I’m just going to change out of these ‘party clothes.'” She disappeared into the bedroom, and Avery was left to look at the large bookshelf filled with as many mementos as books. She was glad to see a great many feminist and lesbian titles on the shelves, but what most interested her were the photographs of Salem with various people.

Judging by their resemblance, some were obviously family members, but there were as many of her laughing with groups of friends. One in particular caught her eye – Salem with her arm around another woman, standing on a hill, looking off into the distance. They were silhouetted by the setting sun, and something about their posture – relaxed, the woman’s head on Salem’s shoulder – spoke of a very close friendship. Maybe even more.

“That was on the way to Crystal Lake,” Salem said softly over her shoulder. “A great hike.”

Avery glanced at her. Salem’s eyes were soft, her mouth curved in a gentle smile. Something about the affection in her expression gave Avery the courage to ask, “Um…is that your girlfriend?”

“Partner,” Salem said, even more softly. “Or, she was. She passed away three years ago from breast cancer.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” She bit her lip, unsure what to say. Mentally she kicked herself for being nosy about the photo in the first place.

Salem turned to her and smiled. “Thanks,” she said simply. She gestured to the couch. “Have a seat. Can I get you something to drink?”

Avery sat down awkwardly. She felt the sudden desire for the burn of alcohol in her throat, but had a feeling that wouldn’t go over well. “Uh…no thanks.”

“I often like to wind down with a nice mug of herbal tea,” Salem said. “Would you like some chamomile?”

“That would be perfect,” Avery said gratefully. She struggled for something to talk about while Salem filled the kettle and pulled out the teabags. Fortunately, the older woman came to her rescue.

“I found what you were saying about your eco-project really interesting,” she said. “Are you really going to build a scale model using bamboo?”

“Actually, I’m going to use foamcore.”

Salem nodded. “That’s the thin board they use to mount photographs?”

“Right, exactly. Then I’m going to use balsa wood strips and sheets on the outside to mimic the bamboo façade.”

Salem handed Avery a mug and they both sat down at the table. “Why bamboo? Because it’s such an easy-to-find resource?”

“It’s the most renewable resource!” Avery said. “Did you know the plant can grow up to three feet a day? It reaches maturity after only three to five years, and when harvested it regrows without having to be replanted. Plus it doesn’t require any fertilizer!”

“Really? That’s pretty cool.”

“It’s also the perfect building material,” Avery said, growing even more animated. “It’s two to three times stronger than steel, prevents erosion of the soil, and it releases 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere and absorbs more carbon dioxide than any other plant. It actually cleans the air by decreasing greenhouse gases!”

Salem smiled. “You’re really enthusiastic about bamboo.”

Avery realized how nerdy she sounded and flushed. “Sorry, I get carried away sometimes.”

“No, no, it’s nice to see you so excited about something. You’ve seemed…..a bit down lately.”

Avery picked up her mug and buried her nose in it as she took a sip.

“I know it can be difficult to talk about,” Salem continued. “But it might help. The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many people. Particularly because it’s supposed to be joyful but instead serves as a reminder of days gone by….” She glanced at the photo on the shelf, and Avery realized suddenly that the dorm supervisor was referring to more than Avery’s problems. It gave her the courage to speak.

“My parents got divorced,” she blurted. “And my mom is like this plastic version of herself – like she has to be cheerful at all times or she just might crack, you know?”

Salem nodded, her eyes sympathetic. “That sucks. What about your dad?”

Avery snorted. “He seems fine,” she said bitterly. “He left my mom for a woman half her age, and she’s made it pretty clear she doesn’t want his kids around to make her look older!”

“Ah. Even suckier. I’m sorry.” She laid a consoling hand on Avery’s shoulder.

“Thanks.” Avery sighed and picked up her mug. “But I guess a lot of kids have to go through it…divorce is pretty common!”

“Doesn’t make it any easier. Is that why you started drinking?”

Avery dropped her eyes, unsure how to answer. Salem waited.

“Um….well, I did get a bit depressed, I think.”

Salem nodded again. “I understand how that can happen. You do know that’s not a solution, though?” Her eyebrow quirked up.

Avery looked down at her tea. “I know,” she said, voice muted. “But sometimes it just helps you numb out the pain….”

“Oh, I know!” Salem’s tone was rueful. “Keely used to have a habit of that when I first met her! She didn’t realize she was stronger than she thought, and could actually bear those feelings she was trying to numb.”

Avery looked up in interest. “Keely was your partner?” Salem nodded. “And how did she manage to overcome it?”

“With lots of love and support…..and the occasional application of a hairbrush.”

Avery choked on her tea. She started coughing, and Salem patted her back, chuckling. “Sorry! Are you okay?”

When she could speak again, Avery glanced at her host. “Do you mean…uh…are you saying….” She was unable to finish.

“We had what you might call a ‘domestic discipline relationship,'” Salem acknowledged, her eyes amused. “Does that shock you?”

Avery thought about Salem’s authoritative manner, and the very natural way she took charge of most everything and everyone around her. She could well imagine her being the dominant one in a relationship.

“No, I guess not,” Avery said at last. “But…um…why did you decide to tell me?”

“Why do you think?” Salem asked. Her expression was firm, but kind, and Avery felt a sudden drop in her tummy.

“You’re not suggesting….” Avery trailed off for what seemed like the hundredth time that evening. She was at a loss.

“I have often thought,” Salem picked up both their mugs and walked over to the counter to add more hot water, “that you might benefit from a bit more…’structure’…in your life. What do you think?”

Avery’s first instinct was to deny it indignantly, but then she thought about the days she’d overslept and missed classes, the unnecessary late fees on her credit card bills, and most recently the depression and desire to escape using alcohol. Maybe she did need some help. But did she need that kind of help? Surely there were other methods!

As if she were reading Avery’s mind, Salem spoke. “Of course, I’m talking about being a kind of mentor to you. And that means someone who will lend a willing ear and a shoulder to cry on sometimes. Someone you can ask for advice. Someone who will provide support and guidance when needed.” She paused, and then continued deliberately. “But also someone will who take you over her knee and heat up your backside when necessary.”

“But why??” Avery asked, frowning. “Why is that part necessary?”

Salem handed Avery her mug and sat down again. She tilted her head to one side as she considered how to answer.

“It isn’t necessary for everyone,” she said at last. “But for some people – people like Keely, for instance – it added a vital structure she really benefitted from. Knowing about consequences – and actually feeling those consequences in a very concrete way – gave her a sense of security and boundaries that nothing else could match.”

Avery was silent as she took that in. “And you think I’m one of those people too?”

“I do.” Salem smiled. “But I could be wrong. You think about it, okay? And let me know once you’ve given it some deep thought. Whatever you decide, we are friends and I will always be here for you.” She gave Avery a hug before saying goodnight to her.

Back in her room, Avery got ready for bed, but her mind was racing. Other than the odd swat in passing, her parents had never disciplined them that way. She’d grown up seeing it portrayed in comics and on television shows, so she was familiar with the general idea. But she had no idea what was involved in real life, not with a proper spanking. And she was pretty certain that the kind of spanking Salem would administer would be a proper one indeed.

As she brushed her teeth, she stared at her reflection in the mirror. The eyes that gazed back at her were both serious and questioning, but there was a spark of interest and hope in them as well. Salem was someone she’d admired for a long time, and knowing she wanted to mentor her made her feel so cared about, it almost brought a lump to her throat.

Ever since things had started to go sour at home, Avery had felt adrift – like a boat cut loose from its moorings and tossed about by an indifferent sea. Salem’s offer was like a hand coming into view, taking hold of the rope and guiding her back to shore. As she lay in bed, Avery closed her eyes and searched carefully to discern her true feelings. She experienced a shiver of apprehension, but she also knew its cause: She wanted very much to say “yes.”


The next day Avery delayed as long as possible before texting Salem her answer. She knew if she didn’t bring it up, it was likely that Salem would never mention it again. But she also realized it was just prolonging the inevitable, because she was convinced deep down it was what she really needed. Even so, she couldn’t bring herself to spell it out in words, so just referred to “the arrangement” that Salem had suggested last night.

I’m glad, was the simple text back. I’ll be down in half an hour.

Exactly thirty minutes later, there was a knock on her door, and Salem stepped in carrying a small backpack. Seeing Avery’s widened eyes, she smiled. “We are going to start your discipline today,” she confirmed. “Do you have a nightshirt? Like one you sleep in?”

“Uh…yes. Why?” Avery’s voice was higher than usual.

“Go put in on, please.”

Avery couldn’t find a reason to object, so just did as she was told. When she emerged from the bedroom in a loose t-shirt that came down to her knees, Salem had moved the hard-backed chair from in front of her desk to the middle of the room. She was sitting on the sofa and patted the spot next to her. Avery sat down, feeling extremely nervous.

“There’s no one on this floor during the winter break, which is why it was okay for me to come down here,” Salem explained. “But in the future, you’ll come visit me in my room upstairs, okay?”

Avery nodded.

“During a discipline session, I’d like you to answer me verbally, please,” Salem said kindly. “And I’d like you to address me as ‘ma’am.'”

“Oh! Sorry…yes, ma’am.” Avery blushed.

“Do you know the reason for all that?”

“Um….to show your authority, ma’am?”

Salem laughed. “Do you think I need to show my authority?” Then, when Avery blushed deeper and struggled to answer, she took pity on her. “No, the reason for the nightshirt, and for addressing me that way, is more for your benefit, sweetie. What I’m about to say and do will work best if you’re in a compliant and receptive frame of mind. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Avery nodded in comprehension, then added a hasty, “Yes, ma’am.”

“In a minute, I’m going to ask you to take off your panties and fold them and put them on your bed. You won’t be needing them for a while. Then I’m going to sit on that chair, and take you over my knee. I will be spanking you with my hand, and also with a paddle I have in this knapsack. Are you following what I’m saying?”

“Yes, ma’am!” Avery’s voice was almost a squeak.

“I’m going to be lecturing you as well, and it will probably be hard to follow along when you’re laying over my lap. But we will go slowly, because it’s important that you listen to me.” As she was speaking, Salem was opening the backpack and taking out a leather paddle. It was the size of a large hairbrush, about half an inch thick, and the black leather looked smooth and well worn.

Avery swallowed audibly and wondered what she’d gotten herself into.

Salem placed the paddle on her lap, and proceeded to roll up the sleeves on her shirt very methodically. She was giving Avery time to absorb the sight of the implement, and also process what was about to happen. After a few moments she continued. “You may speak while you’re being punished – in fact, I will expect you to answer any questions I ask you – and you will very likely find yourself apologizing or making other…er…involuntary noises. That’s natural. However if you need me to stop at any time – to really stop for an urgent reason – I want you to use a safeword. I would like you to say, ‘bamboo.’ Do you think you can remember that?”

Avery suppressed a desire to giggle nervously, and agreed.

“Very good. All right, go remove your knickers and come back here.”

Avery stumbled to the bedroom and took off her underwear. She realized now it was all a part of making her “compliant and receptive,” as Salem had explained, but she couldn’t believe how vulnerable she felt. Walking slowly back into the room, feeling the drafts of air on thighs and the soft material against her naked bottom, made her hyper-aware of what was about to happen.

Salem was sitting on the chair, and she directed Avery around to her right side. Without ceremony, she pulled the girl across her lap and held her tightly against her. She rested her arm across Avery’s bottom as she addressed her.

“Young lady, you are in this position today because of your lack of care of yourself. You’ve been neglecting your health, your studies, and your friendships. You are going to find that I will not put up with such neglect, and whenever you engage in this kind of behavior, you will find yourself over my knee, with your butt roasted as it’s about to be right now. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“Good.” She lifted the back of Avery’s nightshirt, pulling it up to her waist and baring her buttocks completely. She waited for the inevitable consternation and embarrassment to arise, and nodded in satisfaction as the girl couldn’t help squirming slightly, clamping her thighs together and shrinking away in an attempt to create as small a target as possible. She knew some spankers liked to begin with a covered bottom and uncover it gradually, and she herself didn’t always require a bare bottom. There were times a swift smack over clothing was enough of a correction. But for Avery’s first time Salem believed the shock of immediate exposure was the sort of wake-up call she needed.

She lifted her hand and began with slow, even swats, palm impacting with an upward motion which caused each cheek to bounce slightly. She was using moderate force, which created only a slight sting, but she’d meant what she’d said to Avery about taking things slow. She wanted her charge to remain attentive to what was happening to her, and that meant not overwhelming her with sensation right away.

“You…will…NOT…neglect…your…health! You…WILL…get…enough…sleep! You…will…NOT…drink…to excess…or engage…in other…numbing…behavior! You…will…mind…your…eating…habits…and…proper… hygiene!”

Each word was accompanied by a smack from Salem’s hard palm. Avery was slightly relieved to find that it didn’t hurt as much as she had dreaded. Still, she could feel a definite warmth penetrating her rear end, and she could imagine it would be quite different if Salem were going faster or harder than she was. As if she’d read Avery’s mind, the older girl paused then.

“Were you paying attention, young lady?”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“I’m glad to hear it. Then I would like you to repeat back what I just told you.”

As Avery struggled to repeat Salem’s instructions about improving her behavior, the whacks to her bottom began speeding up slightly, and landing with more force. She punctuated her recitation with gasps and lost her place a couple of times, but finally managed to finish. Mercifully, the spanking stopped as well.

“I expect you to attend all your classes, unless you are genuinely ill! Is that clear?”

Avery nodded. The spanking started up again immediately, loud ringing smacks that had her yelping in surprise, until she realized she’d neglected to answer as directed.

“I’m sorry!” she babbled desperately, “I mean, yes, ma’am! Yes, ma’am, I will attend all my classes!”

The spanking paused again. “Good. Now I would like you to pick up the paddle I have on the floor next to the chair. No, don’t hand it to me yet. I want you to hold onto it with both hands…yes, grasp each end just like that. You will hold onto it tightly, and not let go of it until instructed, do hear me? Or we will be starting your punishment all over again!”

“Yes, ma’am,” Avery said breathlessly. She wondered what could possibly be coming next, but she didn’t have to wonder for long. Salem hiked up her right knee, thrusting Avery’s bottom higher into the air. Then she released her hold on Avery’s waist, and instead used her left hand to take hold of Avery’s cheek and spread her buttocks open.

Oh shit, was all Avery had time to think, before Salem’s right hand descended and set fire to the tender skin of Avery’s right inner ass cheek. Once, twice, thrice – Salem’s palm landed half a dozen times in quick succession.

Avery nearly dropped the paddle in shock at the white-hot pain that branded her poor bottom. Instead, she closed her eyes and held the implement in a death grip, not bothering to stifle her yowls of distress as Salem applied the same treatment to Avery’s left cheek.

“Well done,” Salem was rubbing her back now, speaking to her in a quiet voice. “Hand me the paddle now, sweetie.”

Avery couldn’t hold back a small whimper as she realized her ordeal was not over. Shakily, she handed the leather implement to Salem.

“I am going to finish up with this paddle, because I want to make sure you will be feeling this for a while,” Salem said.

She was not likely to forget the lesson any time soon, but Avery wasn’t even tempted to point that out. Instead she said, “Yes, ma’am” in a very meek voice.

Salem tapped the smooth leather surface against Avery’s right cheek. “This is known as your sit spot,” she explained, as she pulled back and landed a solid thump against the younger girl’s rear. “The reason should be obvious – it’s because this area contacts the chair whenever you sit down.” Another solid smack, this time to the other cheek.

“When I am done…*WHACK!*….you will clean this disgraceful apartment.” *WHACK!* “You will remain dressed just as you are…*WHACK!*….nightshirt, bare bottom, until you are finished.” *WHACK!* Salem continued on, describing in detail what she expected, pausing only to deliver a stinging wallop with the paddle between words. She covered the area from the tops of Avery’s hips down to mid-thigh, but concentrated on her sit spots. When she was done the girl’s bottom practically glowed rosy-red, and the heat coming off her cheeks was palpable.

In the silence that followed, Salem rubbed Avery’s back comfortingly, and carefully drew her nightshirt back down to cover her well-punished bottom. Avery lay over Salem’s lap, thanking her stars it was over. Even in her inexperience she suspected the spanking wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, and she was thankful for that. Still, the throbbing in her backside was a sensation she’d never felt before, and she knew the ache would be a reminder for days afterwards.

“Up you get,” Salem said gently, helping her to rise and guiding her over to the small sofa to sit next to her.

“Do I have to sit down?” Avery managed to joke, taking a seat next to Salem and gratefully accepting the long, reassuring hug that followed. When she pulled back, Salem looked at her searchingly.

“Well, that was your first spanking, and if we continue, it’s likely not the last,” she said. “You think about whether you want me to mentor you, okay?”

Avery nodded, then her eyes widened and she opened her mouth to correct that.

“You don’t have to address me as ‘ma’am’ now,” Salem said, chuckling. “I’m talking to you as a friend now, and one who wants you to give careful thought to that arrangement. Take a day or two, and then let me know, all right?”

Avery nodded, smiling. She couldn’t believe how warm and fuzzy she felt on the inside. Not to mention practically in flames on the outside.

“But whatever you decide, what I said about this room still stands,” Salem said sternly. “You will be cleaning it thoroughly, and your thoroughly roasted rump should be a good motivator!”

“Yes, ma’am!”

And it was. Though Avery normally felt cleaning to be the ultimate in drudgery, somehow her scorched buttocks provided the perfect incentive. Even though every movement caused her inner cheeks to rub against each other and felt like sandpaper to the tenderized skin, her heart was light and her spirit energized. She managed to clean everything in record time, then snapped a photo and sent it to Salem.

“Good girl!” was the text message back, and Avery felt a glow of pride that echoed the one on her rear end. She was planning to give careful thought to the mentor arrangement, as she had promised Salem. But she was pretty sure she knew what her answer would be, just as she had the first time. She now knew what a spanking was like, but it was worth the caring and support she was certain would also come with the relationship. And she was pretty sure she could avoid any more trips over Salem’s knee in the future….a future that seemed suddenly incredibly bright. It was the best Christmas present she’d ever given herself.

The End


43 Responses to The Gift

  1. LoganTyler says:

    Very nice Alyx! But I must say those inside cheek spanks have got to be mean! Thanks for your gift ☺️

  2. laineytales says:

    Thanks Alyx. After reading that I feel all warm. It sorta make you realise what friends are for at this time of year. Sharing a meal, a drink and a red bottom. 🙃

  3. Mil says:

    You are such a Gift, honey 🙂 And you HAVE such a gift! Thank you for this. It’s classic “Alyx” *proud*

  4. Ash says:

    Great! 🤩 Thank you for the gift, Alyx. That was a really cute story. You are very good at writing spanking scenes! I enjoyed that parts very much. 😅 I was also fascinated to learn about the benefits of bamboo! I have boxer shorts made of bamboo fibre, so I know it can be used for a lot of stuff.

    • laineytales says:

      Bamboo shorts, twice the strength of steel…sounds like all brats should have these as standard issue in their wardrobes. 🙃

    • Alyx says:

      Thank you, Ash. I’m not surprised you liked the spanking scene…I’m sure that kind of motivation is right up your alley! 😀 As for bamboo, it is an amazing plant. Trust you and Lainey to think of the practical applications for brats! *LOL*

      • Ash says:

        I wish I had someone to spank me right now! Hahaha. I might do better with my thesis! 😞

        Oh, and Bamboo fibre is really soft and I think it has some antibacterial effect or something. If you knit for a baby bamboo wool is really good.

  5. Wookie says:

    I loved this story Alyx. What great characters and all set for a follow up story…at some point possibly? ( just hoping 🤞🏻) …An awesome quote to start with too. I particularly liked Salem’s explanation of what was to happen and her communication through the spanking. I’ve enjoyed all your stories and this is no exception. Thank you for a lovely gift and Happy New Year to you ! 😊

    • Alyx says:

      Thanks, Wookie, I’m happy you liked it. 🙂 You must be on the same wavelength as Mil — she immediately thought about all the sequel material too! 😀 The quote was particularly apt, wasn’t it? And I’m glad you liked the communication throughout…it was something I wanted to convey for a newbie.

      • Wookie says:

        Great point you made there Alyx, relating to the communication. It is important to get that information out for anyone new to and interested in TTWD. Succinctly put I thought. 😊

  6. Hupotasso says:

    Aww. I enjoyed this.

    (l loved Fizzy’s line about a Hallmark Christmas movie, with spanking! I find I only watch them if I’m in the same state of mind as Avery before Salem knocks on her door, but every now and then I’ll be indulging in one and an actress like Sarah Paulson or Carrie Fisher will pop up, and I can pretend that I’m NOT lounging on my sofa in PJs and unwashed hair eating a log of raw, recently refrigerated, cookie dough out of the plastic wrapper….)

    This story reminded me of some discussions on the Global Village board a number of years ago about the possible use of spanking to deal with depression. Several wise Tops had cautioned against it, but I always thought it might help for low level, as opposed to deep “clinical” depression, and this story certainly helps fuel that forgotten minor fantasy….

    Anyway, thanks so much for the warm and fuzzies.

    • Alyx says:

      Thank you, Hupo. 🙂 Actually, Fizzy gets together with friends to watch Hallmark movies because they’re so corny and bad, so your hilarious description of that state of mind totally fits. My inner critic knows this story wasn’t earth-shattering, but I did try to work in a decent spanking scene. 😀 And regarding spanking’s help with the blues, I do agree with you, actually. As long as it’s not a serious depression, I do think it can help people feel cared about, and can totally change one’s mood. If I were a different kind of person I bet I could earn a good salary doling out spankings for a living! *LOL*

      • Hupotasso says:

        Alyx- If you ever chose to pursue it, I’m POSITIVE you could make a living that way. Instead of advertising as “a spanky life coach,” just describe yourself as “a therapist,” and in a just world, your fees would be covered by single-payer health insurance coverage!

        Ash and I might not have all that much in common, but my guess is we’d be your first “patients.”

      • Ash says:

        I wonder if the Hallmark people do it on purpose. I mean… it’s just horrible. And now Netflix has some shows and movies that remind me A LOT of Hallmark! 😛

        • Alyx says:

          You guys crack me up! 😀 You might be right in thinking there would be a market for a “spanky life coach,” but I don’t think they could be labeled “therapist.” That seems to be to be crossing a line somewhere…like taking advantage of someone? But I will definitely keep it in mind if the writing career doesn’t pan out. *LOL*

          (Ash, I doubt that the Hallmark people make naff movies on purpose! And there’s clearly a segment of the population who likes watching that stuff.)

  7. Peachie says:

    Great narrative Alyx! This story brings me back to several years back when there’s a lot of discussion on DD etc. It feels like reading one of your posts on “Spanking 101” explaining things to newbies, very clear and articulate, typical Alyx style, accompanied by a story to illustrate. 🙂 The spanking is coupled with tender care and compassion, no wonder Avery can’t wait to sign on! Who wouldn’t wanna? 😉
    I really liked their names, Avery and Salem. Thanks for this great gift Alyx!

    • Alyx says:

      Thanks, Peach, I’m happy you liked it. 🙂 Yeah, it’s always a challenge to come up with names, since I like to use androgynous ones, and Beck has pretty much taken them all. 😉

      • Beck says:

        Fair statement, but I didn’t take all the androgynous names, just the good ones. 😉 Kidding. 🙂 I find names hard as well, but I really like the names everyone comes up with, including Avery and Salem that you came up with Alyx. Even with taking all the androgynous names, I still accidentally used one of Peach’s names – sorry about that Peach! I can always change it. 🙂

  8. Beck says:

    Another great story, Alyx! I really enjoyed reading it, especially Salem’s firm but caring lecture as she disciplines Avery. I always love the dialogue in your stories. The dialogue works so well and you detail the discipline and lectures in a way that makes the reader feel like they’re right there with the characters. This was a nice, light story to read – it has elements of a Hallmark movie, but sometimes a story like that is just what you need. 🙂 I also like the potential you’ve left open given the new characters you created!

    • Alyx says:

      Thanks, Beck, I’m happy you enjoyed it. Dialogue is my favorite part of writing (I probably have said that before) so it’s gratifying you liked it. 🙂 I guess it’s true that sometimes a Hallmark movie with whacking is what one is in the mood for. *LOL* Not sure I would watch one without the whacking, though! 😀

  9. Ellie says:

    If it’s true that who squirms the first of the year squirms every day of the year, you just provided me with a full year of squirminess!

    Thank you for this lovely gift. I have to second Mill, it’s just so “Alyx”!

    Ps. Those inner cheek swats should be declared illegal!

    Ps2 Happy new year! 😊

    • Alyx says:

      Aw, thanks, Ellie! I’m happy to have made you squirm. *LOL* If it’s true that what you do the first of the year you will do for the rest of the year, I better go make myself write. 😀 And as far as inner cheek swats, there would be a lot of tops breaking the law if they were made illegal — they’re so very gratifying. 😉

      Happy New Year to you too! 😀

      • Ellie says:

        That’d be perfect ma’am! If Tops broke the law, as you suggest they would, they would immediately gain the punishable status!

        Dang, it would be the perfect plan to flip the table!

  10. Robin says:

    Thank you so much Alyx, I loved your sweet story and its heartwarming theme about caring for each other in Christmas time! 😍 Sorry im late at reading and commenting but I loved the awesome dialogue, your sweet characters and the spanking of course with its wicked inner-cheek-spanks! Eeek!😳 I do think somebody caring enough to do what Salem did may help with the blues. Not only the spanking but also helping to break the isolation and apathy. Averys project made me read a little more about bamboo…☺ Amazing material! Surely good as canes too LOL
    I wish you a great year ahead and thank you for having us in your global village, that really means alot to me. And for the magnificent awesome Christmas exchange! Sending you a big hug Alyx !

    • Alyx says:

      Thank you, Robin, for your lovely comments and good wishes. It always warms my heart to read your heartfelt comments and posts. 🙂 Bamboo is amazing material, for sure. Trust you to think about it for cane material! *LOL* Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful 2019, and thank you for participating in the holiday exchange — all of you are the ones who make it as special as it is! *hugs*

      • Robin says:

        Thank you for your good wishes Alyx! 😊 My favourite cutting board is made of bamboo! Hmm…if i could find one with a handle i would find out if its also good as paddle material!😄 pretty sure it is!
        Umm..Im not really participating in the exchange (other than happily reading and commenting🙄) so cant take cred for that. I actually tried to write this year but I was too slow to finish in time. Might have it ready for next year…😅

        • Alyx says:

          Robin, your comments and encouragement are as important as the stories — readers who take the time to comment really mean a lot to writers, I promise you. But yes, I do hope you submit a story for next year! 🙂
          Btw, I think a bamboo cutting board with a handle would make a great paddle. I know bamboo spoons are deadly! (And if you find those Japanese rice paddles of bamboo, you will probably be very sorry you did. 😀 ) I wanted to mention too that what you said about a bamboo cane made me chuckle, because that’s in the novel I’m working on. I guess we will see how scary an implement it is, eh? 😉

          • Robin says:

            Thank you Alyx, Yeah i think your right it is important to comment too.😊 Ill also continue to try writing and we’ll see if anything good comes out of it! Its fun to do anyway! LOL you made me curiously look for bamboo spoons and rice paddles in the grocery store… feels like playing with danger hehe…
            Happy i could make you chuckle and possibly even more happy that you got a story going involving a bamboo cane… The way you said that… im pretty sure its a VERY scary implement…(feeling cold shivers along my spine…)

  11. Robin says:

    Sorry, seems like i posted before i was ready and then posted again!😳😄 Please just ignore first one…

  12. Woodsy says:

    Not sure why or how I stumbled on this story today, but I loved it.
    I also think it was one I needed to see today. It highlighted a place I have been in lately , albeit for very different reasons from those Avery is dealing with in the story.
    Grateful I found it.

    • Alyx says:

      I’m glad you found it when you needed it too, Woodsy. I had mixed emotions about this story (due to the “Hallmark” designation, since those movies are so cliche), so it’s good to know parts of it do appeal to people. Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

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