It was strange weather for November. Alice, aged 17, couldn't remember a day so warm so close to winter. It was a Saturday, and her 10-year-old brother Charlie actually complained at breakfast that he was sweating.
"That settles it", said Mother, and packed up her family for a day trip to Brighton Beach.
By noon, the beach blanket was spread, the picnic had been eaten, and her brother was near the water, building sandcastles. Mother was in a deck chair, reading her novel.
More than one family was at the beach that day. But they were all mothers with children. There were no men on the beach.
Alice was bored. She had begged and pleaded to wear an unseasonable white dress, and finally Mother had said yes if she wore a shawl. The dress was Alice's first ankle-length dress, and Alice felt very grown-up in it, and very pretty, which she was, with her English rose complexion, wavy black hair, and large dark brown eyes.
"Mother, can I-"
"May I go for a walk on the beach, then?" At Alice's tone, Mrs. Browning looked up. Recently Alice had been so difficult, and Dora Browning was feeling at her wit's end with her daughter. Daily, Dora wished that Alice's father was around to help keep Alice in line.
But Alfred Browning was in France, fighting the Hun, as was Dora's oldest son, Teddy. Every day, Dora and all the other wives watched from their windows for soldiers with black armbands and telegrams in their hands. The wives thought, "Whose door today? Whose son? Whose husband?" There were days when Dora could hardly get up in the morning for depression and worry.
The stress made Dora a bit stricter with the children than she sometimes meant to be, as now, when she snapped at Alice:
"You may go, but if you tear or dirty that dress on the rocks, you can expect a spanking, young lady."
Exactly what Alice did not want: to be treated like a little girl. Still, she knew from sore experience of her mother's hairbrush that it was better not to argue.
"Yes, mother." Alice gathered her dignity around her like a shawl and stalked off down the beach. I hate her and I hate the war. I hate everybody!" Alice silently fumed.
Gradually, the sound of the ocean and the cheerful sparkling of the sun on waves and rocks softened Alice's mood. The sun - so strong today - reached through the wool of her shawl and warmed her to the bone. She dropped the shawl on a rock, checked to make sure she was out of sight of the family, and then climbed on a rock to play her favorite game of pretend.
"I am a siren on the rock, calling sailors to me" she told herself, and began to twirl on the rock, her arms outstretched, enjoying the full flare of her organdy skirt.
She had reached her favorite part - where she kissed a pirate sailor and then dragged him down to the depths to his doom - when she heard a muffled "whap!" and felt a dull thud on the seat of her dress. She whirled, to see a tall, blond young man in an Army uniform, laughing and swinging a piece of seaweed.
"James!" Alice cried, and threw herself into his arms.
James was her brother Ted's best friend, and Alice had known James since she was a baby. What James didn't know, or maybe did, was that Alice had had a crush on him since she was 12 years old.
"Whoa!" said James. "Since when do young ladies throw themselves at young men?" But he held her very tight for a moment, then stepped back.
"Look at you", he said. "All grown up. I barely knew you."
"Why are you here? Where's Teddy?"
"I got leave. Just for a time. I'm sorry, but Ted and your father had to stay."
"Oh. Why, are you hurt?" demanded Alice.
"Sort of", said James, and an odd expression came into his eyes. Alice missed it.
"You don't look wounded," she announced.
James whapped her again with the seaweed.
"How would you know, Missy?"
Alice suddenly noticed the green blotches on her dress skirt.
"You rotten bugger!" she yelled. "Look what you've done to my dress!"
She turned around and around, trying to see the damage.
"Language! Wait till I tell your Mother!" jeered James.
"I'll get you back!" Alice cried, picked up a stick, and began chasing James down the beach. He dropped his canvas gear on the sand and ran just ahead of her, laughing, every now and then coming close enough for her to whack him, and then backing off again. She giggled as she ran, until she was completely out of breath.
Then her foot caught on a pile of debris, and she fell. She heard her dress tear formidably on a shard of driftwood.
She stood up, looking at the ruined dress, horrified. James caught up with her. She sank down on the sand, her head in her hands.
"Oh I am in so much trouble," she moaned.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes, but my dress...Mother is going to kill me."
"It's just a dress."
"She said she'd spank me if I tore it..." the words were out of Alice's mouth before she remembered her "young lady" status. Color climbed her cheekbones as she glared at James.
"It's all your fault!"
"Hm", said James, "It does seem to be. I'll have to make this right somehow." His eyes twinkled at Alice. "I've an idea."
"What?" she snapped.
"Why don't I give you the spanking now? After all, I'm practically your uncle. We could tell her I saw you being naughty and was offended."
Alice laughed, in spite of her fear.
"That's silly. She'd never believe it."
"She would if we showed her the evidence."
At that a new kind of feeling came over Alice. It seemed to start in the place between her legs, and it radiated through her like the sun had warmed her bones. She looked at James, and there was a lot of color in his face, and a strange expression in his blue eyes. A mixed yearning and fierceness, and only the little teasing smile on his lips told her that he was still the same old James.
She felt like someone was speaking through her, like she was in a dream.
"Well...we could try it, I suppose."
"Come here", he said, patting the ground next to him. He was now sitting against a rock, his legs straight out in front of him. A patch of sunlight warmed the rock and the sand.
She half-crawled over to him and came to a stop kneeling by him. He took hold of her shoulders and began, gently but insistently, to pull her over his lap.
She jerked back.
"Wait a moment," she said, "How exactly does this get me out of trouble?"
James lowered his head to her ear.
"There's a secret I learned from girls in France", he whispered, "and it's this: there's more than one kind of spanking. And sometimes, girls like it."
"What do you mean?" whispered Alice.
"Let me show you", James said and pushed her face down over his lap.
She felt her ruined skirt raised and then her petticoat. Her face burned at the idea of James seeing her knickers, which were like all knickers of the time split at the crotch and up the back. What with heavy skirts and corsets, the split drawers made calls of nature easier.
Alice gasped as James parted the split in the back of her drawers and tucked each side down under her hips. She could feel the sun on her bare bottom. James ran his fingers over her bottom, and she shivered, not with cold. The wind came up and she could feel hard granules of sand strike her flesh.
CRACK! The first spank fell on her right cheek. She gasped, not really hurt. CRACK! The second on the left. And on the spanking went, as James alternated and moved up and down her buttocks, covering the whole area. The sting became soreness and then deepened into pain, just a little more pain than she wanted, not that she wanted this, she thought, not at all, this wasn't something you were supposed to want...but then why was the warmth "down there" growing and growing, why did she feel droplets of moisture moving lazily down her inner thigh, moisture that was coming from her...
He was spanking harder now. It was a good thing he had told her to count, as Mother always did, because she had no idea how many times he'd spanked her so far.
Suddenly it was too much pain. She tried to roll off of him.
"Where are you going, Miss?" he asked and she was surprised at the rough quality of his voice. He grabbed hold more tightly of her hands and pinned them behind her back, and then gave her six spanks, very hard and fast. She yelled.
Then he stopped. She felt his fingers moving back down to her secret place and suddenly wanted him to put them in there. He did, touching her wet pussy so lightly, so gently, and she moved against his fingers, and her world began to get dark.
"Keep doing that, young lady," he whispered. And he continued to spank her, very hard now, hard enough that she felt tears coming to her eyes, but this time she tried not to fight but to submit. She thought, I can do this, I can ride this wave. James kept his other hand at her delta and she moved against him in rhythm with the spanking.
The tide was coming in; the waves were loud against the rocks, and she felt herself falling off the edge of the dark world, the heat exploding inside her and through her buttocks and out the top of her head and she screamed...
At the same time, James stopped spanking her and twisted away from her, moaning.
There was nothing for a while but the crying of the gulls and the two young people holding each other.
The temperature had dropped with the late afternoon sun and she clutched him a little more, shivering. He smiled and touched her face.
"Not much like Mother, is it?" he asked. That struck her as very, very funny.
When it got too cold, they got up and walked up the beach, hand in hand. Alice found she no longer cared about the dress. She was lost in a kind of dazed happiness, sucked down to the depths of emotion, like the sailors and the sirens.
As they approached the family beach blanket - Mother looked up crossly from her packing up - there was a commotion over the ridge of the dune.
A boy with a newspaper was tearing down the dune, rolling down it, yelling at the top of his lungs.
All the mothers and wives watched. The children looked up from putting the finishing touches on sandcastles.
When the boy got close enough, they heard his shout:
"IT'S OVER! THE WAR IS OVER! GERMANY SURRENDERS! THE KING HAS DECLARED PEACE!"
"Oh. Oh, my God," gasped Dora. She grabbed her daughter and hugged her, and they began laughing and crying at the same time.
"Is it true, Mother?" "We won!" yelled Charlie, dancing around like a mad boy. "Oh, my God, Thank you, thank you!" said Dora.
"I was coming to see you, ma'am," said James. "I've got letters from Teddy and Captain Brownlow. They were alright when I last saw them, we can't be sure yet of course, but I think there's a good chance they'll be home soon."
"Oh you dear boy!" Dora pulled James into the embrace.
All across the beach, the sound of women crying, this time in joy. The red tents fluttered like rows of flowers in a field.
At last the families began to move towards home, some to greet fathers and brothers, and others to learn that the war had ended just a little too late.
Just before they got on the tram, Alice looked up at James. He took her hand.
"You won't have to go back now," she said.
"No, I won't. No more wars," he said. Just then the tram lines screamed, and Alice noticed James flinch and go white.
She got on tiptoe and kissed him.
"I'll take care of you", she whispered, and then, giggling, "Thank you for my spanking".
-- The End --
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