That's another word in the Hawaiian language. Loosely translated, it means "forbidden", but like aloha there's a deeper meaning. When something is kapu, it's not that it's morally wrong, or unethical, or socially unacceptable. It's simply not done, ever. Because it's the sort of thing that brings karma down on your ass, HARD, often instantly.
It's kind of hard for non-natives to understand, so let me give you an example. Taking black sand or lava rocks off a Hawaiian island, that's kapu. It's not against the law, the bag checkers at the airport will let you by with them. But Pele, our resident volcano goddess, is notorious for punishing people who take away pieces of her island. Every post office in Hawaii has a pile of native rocks outside that people have sent back, believing them to be the cause of all their problems.
Sure, it sounds like a quaint local legend to you at first, but then you get back on the mainland with your rocks, and things start to happen, slowly but surely. Your pets die off unexpectedly. You lose all your money and then your job. Your relationships fall apart. People you care about end up in accidents or with terminal diseases. And you start to wonder what on earth could have made your world so completely turn to shit.
That's what I'm wondering right now. If all this is my curse for doing something kapu.
I was sitting at Sister Bernadette's computer. Again. Telling all of you the latest horror story about being a 21-year-old college student trapped at Saint Sebastian's orphanage... when I heard the doorknob turn. SHIT, I thought. With a jolt of panic, I clicked send and dove under the desk as fast as I could.
Someone entered, I heard footsteps. It was totally dark except for the glow from the computer screen. Maybe they wouldn't know I was there.
I thought I'd been typing quietly, certainly not loud enough to hear through the closed door, and I'd kept the lights off. Could someone have noticed me?? Technically I knew I wasn't supposed to be doing this. I got phone priviliges during the day to try and get in touch with my parents, who were on vacation somewhere and didn't even know I'd gotten myself stuck here. But sneaking in and using Sister's computer at night, I knew she wouldn't approve if she caught me. It'd mean another swatting with that switch she kept beside her desk. I'd had a lot of those lately.
Who else could be wandering around this time of night, I wondered. The other girls were all sound asleep in bed. Sister Ulalia had her own office further down the hall, but it had been dark when I passed.
I heard the door close but didn't dare peek out. Wait a few minutes, Keilani, I told myself. I stayed hunched over, as motionless as I could, and tried not to even breathe.
And then I heard a voice, and instantly knew my already pathetic little life was about to start sucking a whole lot worse.
"What're y'all doin' down there, Kay-Lawny?"
They say Hawaiian is a culture of love, that hatred was imported from the rest of the world. For me it came courtesy of Suzanne Calloway, an annoying Southern girl whose parents dumped her off at the orphanage so they could enjoy their tropical vacation without her. I could understand why. Unlike the misguided Sisters, who honestly believed I was an abandoned 12-year-old and were trying their best to help me, Suzanne was just plain mean. She loved nothing more than to ridicule and debase me in front of the other girls, and she knew just how to get under my skin.
Even worse, she'd recently discovered I was actually 21! My friends Akela and Naia let it slip during that disastrous beach outing the Sisters took us all on. Of course Suzanne would never tell them the truth. If they knew they'd let me go, and keeping me here as a sort of pet she could torment was too much fun for her. Sometimes I think all the time I've spent here at the orphanage might have been at least halfway bearable, if it wasn't for Suzanne.
I didn't say anything to her, I just stayed crouched where I was.
"Hel-looo-ooo?" Suzanne cooed in a singsongy drawl, bending down to peer under Sister's desk. "Ah kin SEEEE yewwww!"
"Get OUT of here," I muttered, crawling out, feeling foolish.
"Ah ain't goin' no-where. Not 'til yew tell me whatcher doin'."
"Fine, then I am!" And I pushed past her and made for the door on the other side of Sister's desk.
"Yew walk outta here now, an' Ah'll tell Sister B." She crossed her arms and gave me a look that told me she meant it.
I spun around, furious. "You do, you little hayseed trailer-park BITCH," I hissed through clenched teeth, "and you'll get busted too! For being out of bed after lights-out!"
Suzanne put on her best fake innocent look and began acting out her anticipated conversation with the Mother Superior. "Honest, Sister Bernadette! Ah had ta go ta th' bath-rewm, an' all th' ones upstairs were occ-u-pado. So Ah came down here an' saw th' laht on in yer office... An' ye'll never guess who was in there!" She came back to the present, smirking at me triumphantly. "An' then it'll be yer word agins' mahn, Kay-Lawny. An' un-lahk yew, Ah ain't no LIAR."
DAMN it! It killed me to admit it, but she had me there. My track record with the Sisters was abysmal. How many times had I shouted at the top of my lungs? "I'm NOT a little girl, I'm 21!!" All it had gotten me was a series of bare-bottomed spankings and a reputation as a troubled preteen who made up stories to get attention.
My mind raced, trying to come up with something, anything, that I could hold over her head. But Suzanne saw the look of fear in my eyes and knew she'd already won. Satisfied that I wouldn't run out on her, she turned her attention to why I was here in the first place. "Hmmm, mebbe we oughtta see what yew've bin up to on this here Inner-net."
Yes, she fucking said "Inner-net"!
And before I could stop her, she sat down at the computer and typed something into the open web browser. I watched in horror as pictures of very well-endowed naked men, some of them doing things to OTHER naked men, began popping up on the screen.
"Gaw-LEE you bin naughty!" Suzanne exclaimed. "Lookin' at nekkid pitchers when Sister ain't watchin'!"
"Keep your voice down!" I whispered urgently.
Suzanne spun around in the chair to face me. "If'n Ah'm gonna keep quiet," she said, "then yew OWE me, Kay-Lawny. Lahk a favor, an' Ah kin cawl it in enny tahm ah want. If'n Ah say dew somethin'? Ah 'spect yew ta dew it, no ifs, ands, 'er buts."
Palakumele: blackmail. It was now perfectly clear that this was to be the latest stage in Suzanne's game of humiliating me.
I should have ended it right then and there. I should've yelled and woken Sister up and confessed to sneaking into her office at night to make calls and use the computer. I would have gotten in trouble for it, but at least I'd have spared myself the indignities that followed. Fucking 20/20 hindsight.
"All right, FINE," I hastily agreed, not having the faintest notion of what I was getting myself into. I still thought maybe if I could hold out just a few more days, my parents would get home and rescue me from this hell. Not that they'd even know where I was. I still hadn't been able to reach them.
"Aw-raht then," replied Suzanne, clearly pleased with the way this was going. "First order 'a biz-niss... Gitcher clothes off!"
"What?!" I demanded, wide-eyed, momentarily forgetting the need for silence.
"Yew done heard me."
Arguing with her was useless. And so, cringing, my face flaring hot in the near darkness, I began pulling the flowered mu`u mu`u I wore as a nightgown up over my head. Suzanne chortled when she saw what was underneath.
"HAW-HAW-HAW! Nice dahper, Kay-Lawny!"
She was referring to the big, bulky diaper I'd recently been forced into wearing at night, after a degrading bedwetting incident Suzanne and her friend Makala had staged at my expense. Now she was waiting for me to take that off too, so I tugged the crinkly plastic down my legs and stepped out of it. Underneath the hot saggy folds, my hips, thighs and ass were all covered with a sheen of sweat. It would have been a relief to get it off me, except for the fact that I was now completely naked in front of Suzanne Calloway.
Suzanne tilted the monitor so its light bathed my nude form a little better. "Gaw-LEE, yer a scrawny li'l thang!" she said, looking up and down my four-foot-ten body. "Lookit them robin eggs!" She reached out and tweaked one of my nipples, and I instinctively slapped her hand away.
"Don't touch me!" I snapped, moving my other arm to protect my tiny breasts. I wasn't wearing a bra, my chest was too flat.
"Still cain't believe yew really ARE twenny-one! Ah'm gonna have so much fun with this!"
"Why don't you just go back to Pigfuck, Arkansas?" I demanded bitterly. "Or wherever the shit you're from."
If this remark bothered Suzanne she did a great job of not showing it. Instead she gave me a sickeningly sweet smile and replied, "'Least Ah've got me a place ta go back to. Mah parents're comin' ta git me outta here, soon as their vay-kay-shun's over 'n' done. What've YEW got, Kay-Lawny?" Then, with an absolutely evil grin, "Heh. Mebbe Ah oughtta ask mah parents ta adopt yew, an' take yew home with us. Then yew an' Ah'd be together ALLLL th' tahm, an' we'd be fam'ly! Oh-haw-na, yer people cawl it, ain't that raht?"
Dear... sweet... GOD! The thought of being a hânai in Suzanne Calloway's family was too horrifying to comprehend.
"'s gittin' late," she decided. "We'd best be headin' back."
Akua praised, was I ever relieved to hear that. I reached for my clothes on the chair, but Suzanne gripped my wrist tightly.
"Ah didn' say git dressed."
And so I ended up walking back to the dorm without a stitch of clothing on. In the office doorway I hesitated, peering up and down the corridor, checking for any sign of movement. I was sure the thundering in my chest would wake someone. Then I felt a sudden, sharp SWAT on my ass, and I stifled a yelp.
"Giddyap!" ordered Suzanne.
I stepped out onto the cold hallway floor, my mind screaming. What the fuck was I doing?! What if one of the Sisters caught me here?!
Granted, I'd been in this kind of situation before. I'd been outside naked on the beach that night I got fired. I'd had my bare ass paddled in public. But even then I'd never felt so thoroughly exposed and vulnerable as I did now. The hall felt cavernous with no one else around. Panic throbbed in my stomach with every step I took, hands over my front, Suzanne following with my clothes. It was even worse than before, because back then my manager at the luau bar and that social worker Gail had forced me into those situations. This time I'd made the decision for myself. I'd actively chosen my current state of nudity over letting Suzanne blab to Sister Bernadette about my late-night web posting.
Suzanne, God damn her, kept a good ten feet behind me on the opposite side of the hallway, leaving me with absolutely no cover. I tried not to look at her, but a couple of times she'd make some sort of noise, like striking the wall with her hand, just so I'd spin around in a fright. Christ she was enjoying herself. I knew beyond a doubt that she would milk this for every drop it was worth. It was her thing, she got turned on by seeing me paddled and humiliated. I also knew I had limits on how far Suzanne could push me before I snapped, and I hoped against hope that she wouldn't cross them.
Back in our room, I couldn't sleep. My imagination kept conjuring up increasingly degrading things Suzanne might make me do. I tossed and turned for hours. At some point I must have drifted off from pure exhaustion, I don't know.
Suzanne wasted absolutely no time. When Sister Ulalia's wake-up bell rang the next morning, I got up and headed into the bathroom like I always did, so I wouldn't have to shower with the other girls. When I opened the door to my favorite stall, I found Suzanne waiting there, along with her friend Makala. Makala was an islander like me, and about Suzanne's age, bigger than me and mean-looking, like a silent stone tiki. In all my weeks at Saint Sebastian's I'd never heard a word come out of her. I wasn't sure if she even could talk, or what her deal was, to be honest. And I was too intimidated to ask.
"Howdy, Kay-Lawny!" came Suzanne's cheerful greeting as I opened the stall. Immediately I turned to make a hasty exit but Makala grabbed me and pulled me inside. That's how it worked with those two. Suzanne was the brains, Makala was the muscle.
The stall was cramped with the three of us, small though I was. I saw Suzanne had a small pair of surgical scissors and became very frightened. What was she going to do to me??
"If'n we're gonna keep yew here as a twelve-year-old," Suzanne explained, "we gotta do somethin' 'bout that hair."
My hand went instinctively to my head, the long black locks that dropped like a sheer waterfall down the entire length of my back. My friend Oliana, another girl at the orphanage, has really short hair and everybody always makes fun of her about it. Surely Suzanne didn't mean for me to...!
"Not THAT hair!" Suzanne said impatiently, "THAT hair." And she pointed at my crotch. "Ah seen it last naht, yer gittin' awful bushy down there."
It was true. Normally I'd shave and wax, but of course the Sisters wouldn't let a little "child" like me near a razor. So the thick pubic curls had grown back full-force.
Before I could stop her, Makala had lifted my nightgown, grabbed the sides of my diaper, and pulled it down.
"Gawd yer puny!" exclaimed Suzanne. "Ain't she puny, Makala?" Makala nodded agreement, and Suzanne continued. "Cain't have th' Sisters seein' that hairy pussy an' figgerin' out yew really are a grown-up!"
She moved to one side, and Makala hauled me to the toilet and made me sit. Suzanne squeezed around her to block the stall door. There was no way I could get out.
She handed me the scissors.
So I had to trim my pubic hair with both of them watching every moment, God was it dehumanizing. I had to cut as close to the skin as possible with those tiny scissors. It took forever, and I knew Suzanne was enjoying it immensely. I just kept my head down, hiding my glowing red face so I wouldn't have to see their exchanged smirks, and prayed for divine intervention.
It was answered, as I heard someone come waddling in, then Sister Ulalia's voice. "What's going on in here?" Then, "Keilani?... Suzanne?... Makala? Why aren't you girls getting cleaned up?"
Suzanne already had an answer prepared. "Sorry, Sister Ooh-la-lee-ah," she drawled. "But... Kay-Lawny here had 'erself another li'l accident las' naht!"
WHAT?? My mind screamed. That was an outright LIE, and Suzanne knew it!
She continued, "Me an' Makala was tryin' ta help her git cleaned up, so th' others wouldn' hafta know." That manipulative little bitch! She was using my previous bedwetting "accident", which she and Makala CAUSED, against me!
"Shut up!" I yelled, near tears from the unbearable humiliation. "It's NOT true!"
"Now Keilani, be nice," I heard Sister scold gently. "Suzanne is just trying to help. No one else will find out." Then, "Hurry up, you don't want to miss breakfast."
And I heard her waddle back out. Suzanne had scored a brownie point with Sister Ulalia, and I was left looking like an ungrateful little brat. A bedwetting ungrateful little brat! And I knew that, regardless of Sister Ulalia's useless reassurances, Suzanne would blab about this to everyone else the first chance she got.
At least I was done. My privates were left with a thin, soft patch of hair, perfect for a developing adolescent. I knew Suzanne had seen this too, so I stood and pulled my diaper up and my nightgown down with what tiny shred of dignity I could still muster.
Suzanne looked at me, her eyes suddenly icy. "That was too close, Kay-Lawny. Our deal was, yew go along with whatever Ah say. If'n Ah say yew pissed yerself, then YEW say yew pissed yerself. Unnerstand?"
"Fine," I muttered. Anything to get her to let me the hell out of here. I went to push past her, but Suzanne didn't move.
"Ah don' think yew dew. Ah think Ah need ta remahnd yew of the consequences fer not goin' along with what Ah say."
And she dug into her pocket and produced... my list.
My phone list. The numbers of places my parents might be. It was my only lifeline to the outside world, and now Suzanne Calloway had it! How had she...?
"Picked it up las' naht, when yew was busy bein' nekkid," she commented, answering my question. FUCK, I must have left it by the computer and she'd spotted it!
"Give that back!" I demanded, grabbing for it with both hands.
"'s mahn now," Suzanne crowed, "'til yew do ever'thang Ah want."
Suzanne popped the lock and exited the stall as Makala gripped my arms and pushed me backward, landing me with a splash in the toilet. Immediately my cotton nightgown began soaking up the ice-cold water in the bowl, leaving me with a huge wet spot on my ass. It was dripping water all over the floor, so I had to wring it out with my bare hands, God it was disgusting.
Suzanne and Makala left me to shower in peace. I had the whole changing room to myself since the other girls were done by this time. When I came out wrapped in my towel my two tormentors reappeared. Instinctively I clutched the tower tighter to myself, in case Suzanne was going to pull it off like she'd done once before. Not this time, though. She simply gestured back toward the dorm we all shared and informed me, "Gotcher clothes all laid out, Kay-Lawny."
As I approached my bed, my initial outrage at Suzanne going through my stuff quickly gave way to despair at what she'd chosen for me to wear that day. In addition to the normal white blouse, socks and saddle shoes that had become my uniform, she'd selected a black pleated skirt which I recognized as the one that was far too big around my miniscule waist, and...
Those godawful childish underpants with the big smiley-face flowers and matching pink elastic-lace trim. Gail, the prim and proper social worker, had brought them the night she'd picked me up, and I'd been stuck with them ever since. I hated them and felt so ridiculous wearing them, but Suzanne was calling the shots, so I pulled them on, along with the oversized skirt, then began searching around for the safety pin I always used to hold it up.
I couldn't find it anywhere. I was still looking when Suzanne came back to check on me.
"Whatcha lookin' fer, Kay-Lawny?" In a fake innocent tone that told me she knew damn well what I was "lookin' fer".
When I didn't give her the satisfaction of a response, she held up her hand and showed me the big curved pin, and said, "Wouldn' be this, now would it?"
I stood up and made a grab for it... and my skirt promptly dropped down to my ankles.
"Haw-haw-haw!" Suzanne chortled with laughter as I quickly pulled it back up, blushing furiously.
It was clear I wasn't going to get the pin back. This was part of Suzanne's plan, to make my skirt fall down all day, to let all the other girls see my embarrassing underwear. I thought of asking one of the Sisters for another, but quickly realized Suzanne would be with me all day and wouldn't let me have the chance. God, I felt so helpless in the face of inescapable embarrassment. If I were back at home all I'd have to do is walk into the bathroom and get a replacement pin from the drawer, but here I had to rely on the other adults for the tiniest little thing... Just like a child.
As I walked downstairs I tried to fix the skirt so it wouldn't fall, even tucking the top hem into the waistband of those horrible panties, but it was no use, it just wouldn't stay put. I was going to have to hold it up with one hand all day to keep it from slipping.
God DAMN you, Suzanne Calloway, I kept thinking.
Breakfast in the cafeteria was awful, I had to balance my tray with one hand while holding onto my skirt with the other, but I somehow managed to get to a table. I would have lost it again when I stood back up, except Suzanne's impish smirk tipped me off. I made it to my seat in the back row of our classroom and figured I was safe for at least awhile.
Until I remembered what today was.
Today was the end of our algebra section, and the day Sister Bernadette had told us that everyone would have to demonstrate how to solve an equation.
On the chalkboard. In front of the entire class.
Suzanne, that evil little bitch, had PLANNED it like this, I realized. She'd known about my sneaking around after hours, probably for weeks, and had chosen this particular day and these particular clothes to maximize my humiliation.
God, how was I going to get out of this?
Could I pretend to be sick? No, that wouldn't work, I knew immediately. I'm a horrible actress and an even worse liar. Christ, nobody believed me when I DID tell the truth, about my real age! And besides, if I dodged what Suzanne had planned for me, she could always decide to rat me out to Sister. So I stayed in my seat and steeled myself, vowing to avoid the embarrassment and thus ruin Suzanne's fun. It was all I had.
Sister Bernadette arrived and took her place, and class began. A few of the other girls went up and worked their math problems, and did fine. We were supposed to work on them at our desks too, but I sat in my seat and stewed, hunched over so maybe Sister wouldn't call on me.
At one point Makala got picked and silently did her problem for the class. Then a bit later Suzanne, and I got another evil smirk on her way back to her seat, knowing the remaining students were dwindling, that it was only a matter of time. Time, I thought, might be my savior. Maybe if this went on long enough, classtime would be over and I wouldn't--
I almost jumped out of my seat when Sister called out, "Keilani Akana." I sat bolt upright, guiltily. Next to me, Suzanne supressed a snicker.
Sister indicated the board. "Please do the next problem."
Oh God, here it comes, I thought, clutching my skirt tightly as I made my way to the front of the room, trying desperately to keep my wardrobe predicament inconspicuous. I got all the way to the blackboard before Sister asked me, "Keilani? Don't you think you might need your book for this?"
Scattered giggling followed but was swiftly silenced by Sister Bernadette's stern glare sweeping around the room. Except for Suzanne, she didn't care if she got in trouble. Hell, she liked getting punished.
So I had to walk all the way back to my desk, looking like a complete wa`awa`a. The desks were those flip-top kind you put your stuff inside, which meant using two hands, one to open it and one to take out the book. I was painfully aware of what would happen if I let go of my skirt, so I sat back down in my seat before opening it, well aware that everyone in the class was looking directly at me.
At least I remembered to hold on when I stood up again. And so, with one hand grasping my skirt and the other with my book, I made my way back to the front of the class, and realized...
"Um... which problem was it again?" I asked timidly.
Sister looked at me with disapproval, the naughty student who hadn't been paying attention. She didn't seem to notice my skirt problems as I looked down and shifted my hands, checking to make sure my panties weren't showing. Most likely she just assumed I was a nervous, fidgety little girl who couldn't keep still.
"Problem number seven, Keilani."
Seven. Fucking lucky number seven.
I had to lean forward against the chalk rail to hold my skirt in place as I flipped through the book trying to find what page we were on. Sister pushed me along with directions like "Chapter five... Page 47..." She was clearly growing impatient with me. I glanced up once or twice and caught Suzanne's growing amusement at my predicament. God this was awful! I thought I could put those bad memories of junior high behind me forever, yet here I was stuck going through it all over again!
I finally found the right problem, and turned my attention to how I was going to get it copied onto the board. Using the chalk would take one hand, and holding the book the other, which would leave my skirt vulnerable. I decided the best way would be to try to balance the book open on the chalk tray, that way I'd have a spare hand for the skirt. I stood with my front pressed up against the metal rail too, for extra insurance. I knew I looked ridiculous, but it was better than standing there with my skirt around my ankles.
Okay, I could get through this. I knew the material. Hell, I'd been through this crap ten years ago, and again in my first week of college review. I studied the simple equation I was supposed to solve, and...
My mind... fucking... went... blank!
It must have been the stress brought on by my current crisis, but at that moment I could not remember a damn thing about math. It was like it was in a fucking foreign language!
"Today please, Keilani," Sister chided.
Shit! Okay, I thought, start by copying the problem out of the book. I wrote it out slowly, trying to use the time to think. Two... X... plus... five... equals--
Suddenly the book slipped from its perch and threatened to topple onto the floor. Instinctively, before I could tell myself otherwise, I reached out to grab it with both hands...
...and my skirt slipped off my tiny hips and fell straight down, exposing my panty-clad ass to the entire classroom!
Laughter erupted all around me, the tittering of twenty or so girls half my age. One voice in particular rang out over the others.
"HAW-HAW-HAW! Didja see that, Makala! Kay-Lawny done lost 'er skirt! Lookit them perty li'l bloomers she's wearin'! HAW-HAW-HAW-HAW-HAW!!"
Sister Bernadette made her best effort at restoring order. She called out for silence, took out her ruler and rapped it loudly on the desk, but to no avail. Finally she threw up her hands in exasperation, seeing there was no way she was going to quiet the girls down. Instead she turned her attention to me, and simply shook her head with a mixture of sympathy, strained patience, and -- please let it have been my imagination -- thinly concealed amusement.
"Oh, Keilani..." Her voice had a definite tone of, "What on earth are we going to do with you?"
Sister dug around in the drawer of her desk and produced the safety pin I'd so desperately wanted. If only I could have asked her before, I could have saved myself from this indignity. Sister took hold of my skirt and fastened it in place for me. As if I were a little baby, incapable of doing such a thing myself.
By this time the din had more or less died down on its own, though Suzanne's loud obnoxious cackling lingered well after the other girls had ceased. After all that, I still had to finish the stupid math problem. My mind was still a blank, so Sister had to pretty much walk me through the whole thing. Everyone but me had been able to do it on their own. My face smoldered, tears threatening to spill from my lashes as I made my way back to my seat, between rows of amused eyes, knowing everyone in the class had seen and laughed at me in my stupid flower underwear.
Then I saw the gears turning in Suzanne's head and I realized the nightmare STILL wasn't over. As the lesson continued I noticed her chewing on something, but careful not to let Sister see. A few minutes later a whisper came my way.
"Psst! Kay-Lawny!" Her words were mashed by whatever was in her mouth.
I glared at her out of the corner of my eye, refusing to speak.
It didn't matter, Suzanne took the initiative, whispering, "Tell 'er it was yew."
"What was me?" I stupidly asked.
And with that, Suzanne spat the soggy gob of wet paper into her hand and whipped it toward the front of the classroom. It struck Sister Bernadette squarely in the back of the head with a wet smack. She whirled around, furiously. Everyone gasped.
"WHO THREW THAT?!" she demanded, her flaming gaze sweeping over every student in the class.
I sat perfectly still, trying not to make myself look guilty, but Suzanne kept glancing over at me with an expression that said, "Tell 'er." And Sister noticed. On Suzanne's other side, Makala silently pointed at me in agreement with Suzanne.
She approached my desk. "Keilani?" she asked, in a tone that told me she expected an answer immediately. "Do you know who threw it?"
I held off as long as possible. I'd been on the business end of Sister's paddling switch before, and wasn't at all eager to experience it again. Especially not now, with everyone in the class watching. ESPECIALLY not after what I'd already been put through today!
Finally, when I couldn't put it off any longer, I nodded my head, keeping my face turned down, struggling not to start crying in front of everybody.
Sister leaned towards me, and pressed harder. "Did YOU throw it, Keilani?"
Once again I had a chance to save myself, and once again I chose not to take it. Suzanne and Makala made it two against one, and I knew I'd get even worse if Sister thought I was lying to her. There was nothing else for me to do. So, biting my lip, I nodded, wordlessly.
Sister stood back upright, satisfied. "Please come up front, Keilani."
I obeyed, wringing my hands as I followed Sister back. God she's an indimidating woman. I knew what was going to happen to me, and I tried to mentally put myself somewhere else.
She bent me over her desk, my backside pointed at the other girls, then leaned close and whispered to me. "I know you had a bad time at the board, Keilani. But you can't take things like that out on other people. If you had studied like you were supposed to, you would know the material." Her words barely registered. My face was scrunched up, trying to block the tears that I knew were coming.
"Let this be a lesson to the rest of you," she told the class.
And then, right there with every pair of eyes on me, Sister Bernadette unhooked the safety pin and pulled down my skirt, followed by my flowery panties, exposing my bare rear end to everyone!
"Shouldn' she be wearin' a dahper?"
"SUZANNE CALLOWAY, YOU KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!"
This time there was no laughter. Through tear-blurred vision, I saw Sister produce the switch from under her desk.
From the corner of my eye I saw her step behind me.
I heard a swish through the air as Sister raised her arm.
I heard the tense, collective gasp from the other girls.
I heard the WHACK as the switch found its mark across my little exposed bottom.
It took about a half-second after impact for the pain to fully register. When it did, it absolutely ERUPTED, a streak of searing fire burning across both cheeks, making me gasp sharply. I'd tried to brace myself but I was completely unprepared for the intensity of it. Sister was unrelenting, immediately lifting the switch for a second strike.
I lost it, I fucking lost it. I let go of any remaining inhibitions and just howled, squirming about as Sister rained thrash after thrash upon my poor little ass. Sobbing, I sucked in a shaky breath and let it out again in a loud bawl until I thought my lungs would rupture. Sister held me firmly in place as I wriggled and kicked, arms flailing, tears spilling onto her desk.
I'm sure I heard fucking Suzanne say something, but I couldn't make it out over my own screams and the blood pounding in my head.
It took awhile before I even realized Sister had stopped. She lifted my head so I was looking directly into her eyes. I could barely see her through the tears.
"Keilani." Very quietly, perfectly calm. "Don't ever disrupt my class like that again."
Sniffling, a stream of snot running down from my nose, I nodded my head and whimpered out a compliance.
Sister nodded too, satisfied. "Now go stand over there." She pointed to the corner, at the far end of the blackboard.
I bent over and reached for my clothes, not even caring how much I was showing anymore.
I stopped, looked up to show I was listening, but not directly at her face.
"I didn't say pull your skirt up."
Silently I obeyed, shuffling into the corner with my skirt and panties still down around my ankles, my red-marked bare ass facing the entire class.
"All eyes on me!" ordered Sister Bernadette.
I had to stand there in silence for the rest of the lesson. My hands, my entire body was shaking. Every instinct I had was screaming at me to run from the room, but I knew I was in for another round if I did. I scrunched my face up and put every ounce of strength into suppressing my sobs. Time slowed as my sore little ass throbbed with pain. It had to have been close to the end of classtime, but it felt like I stood there for hours.
After class I waited for what I thought was a good five minutes before I even moved. Finally I forced myself to turn around, and found the room deserted. Breathing a final, deep sigh of relief, which quickly dissolved into a long and pitiful wail, I bent over and pulled the bottom half of my outfit back on. Even the soft cotton fabric of my little-girl panties stung my ass. Eyes red and puffy, nose running, I made my way toward the door, wanting only to get away from any reminder of the horrible experience.
But it was no use. My tormentors had waited for me just outside the classroom. I caught the tail end of Suzanne's one-sided conversation with Makala.
"--was braht red, lahk one o' them zoo monkeys with th' red bee-hinds!" Then she noticed Makala pointing and turned to me, beaming with pride.
"Gawd-DAMN, ya done yerself good, Kay-Lawny!" And she gave me a comradely slap on the ass, causing me to yelp in pain once more. "Ah'm a-gonna be fingerin' mah-self ever' naht fer a WEEK thinkin' 'bout that!"
There were a thousand hateful things I wanted to scream at Suzanne, but I didn't say anything lest the tears start spilling again. My ass was sore for two whole days after that. For the next week I was a fucking nervous wreck. My stomach was in constant knots. I could barely sleep, I couldn't eat. I think I even lost weight, making me even scrawnier and more pathetic than before. I kept waiting helplessly for the next round of humiliation from Suzanne -- that cruel, EVIL little bitch! -- but she seemed to be biding her time, content for the moment to watch me suffer. Suzanne was very careful about keeping my secret, and never told any of the other girls my real age, except maybe Makala, and she never talked. Occasionally I'd pass the two of them together in the hall, and upon seeing me they'd exchange devious smirks, as if they knew something was coming. I could only imagine what they'd been plotting all this time.
After lunch one day (which I didn't even touch), Sister Ulalia caught up with me in the hall and instructed me to come with her, but wouldn't say where we were going. I followed her to Sister Bernadette's office, where the Mother Superior was at her desk, finishing her own lunch. I tasted bile rising in my throat as I saw that Suzanne Calloway was there too.
"So, Keilani," Sister B said after swallowing a bite. "Suzanne says you have something you wanted to tell us."
Ohhhh GOD, she'd told! She'd tattled about me using Sister's office at night, and now Sister was waiting for me to confess to it, just like she'd done with the spitwad in class.
...Or was she? Could this all be a trick by Suzanne, to see if I'd turn myself in?
NO, kokami, I decided, Suzanne's manipulation was over! She couldn't make me admit to anything, she'd have to accuse me herself. So I played dumb, forcing her hand.
That was fine for Suzanne, she knew where she was going with this. Turning to the Sisters, she proudly stated, "Kay-Lawny an' Ah'd lahk ta announce that we're friends."
What the motherFUCK...? I wondered. What the hell was that little bitch up to now??
"Ah've noticed Kay-Lawny's havin' a tough tahm here, an' Ah'm gonna help 'er out. Mebbe we kin git through this together." She nudged me with her arm. "Ain't that raht, Kay-Lawny?"
All this time my jaw hung agape in disbelief. Suzanne was a problem girl herself, that's why her parents had left her here! She'd been causing trouble at Saint Sebastian's well before I ever arrived. She couldn't honestly expect the Sisters to swallow this load of kukae kohola?!
(That means "whale shit", by the way.)
Both Sisters were looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to confirm Suzanne's statement. I glanced over at Suzanne, saw that icy look in her eyes that told me I'd damn well better go along with her.
I couldn't bring myself to say it out loud, so I just nodded pathetically. I had no idea what sort of future repercussions this might have.
Sealing the deal, Suzanne put her arms around my tiny frame and gave me a big hug. God it was fucking revolting.
After the Sisters awarded Suzanne yet another suck-up point (even telling ME I could "learn a lot from her"), they shooed us out into the hall and I headed for the nearest bathroom. I didn't have to go, I just wanted some alone time to absorb this latest assault on my dignity. When I'd first gotten here, Suzanne was the troublemaker. How had things gotten so completely turned around?
But of course Suzanne followed, standing in the stall doorway, preventing me from closing it. "Well now," the little white trash drawled, "Bein' we're friends 'n' all, Ah reckon Ah don' need ta keep this no more."
She bent over and reached into her sock, producing a folded piece of paper. Unfolding it, she showed me my precious phone list. I reached out my hand, feeling a glimmer of hope. Was her cruel torture finally over? Had she had enough entertainment at my expense? Was she going to give it back to me now?
But instead Suzanne held it up in front of me, with both her hands at the top, and then slowly and deliberately pulled one hand down, ripping the page in half.
"NO!!" I burst out, pleading. "Stop! Don't! Give it back!!"
Holding the pages over her head, out of my reach, Suzanne put the two pieces on top of each other and tore them in half again. And again. And once more. I jumped, trying desperately to grab them, while Suzanne calmly made her way to the nearest toilet and dropped the scraps into the bowl. I felt sick as she pushed the handle, flushing them away.
AIÂ! It was over. It was all over. I was NEVER getting out of Saint Sebastian's. My parents had no way to contact me, and now I had no way to contact THEM! I strained my mind to recall any of the numbers I'd dialed over and over so many times, even just one, but they were gone, completely fucking GONE.
It was hopeless. Suzanne had taken everything from me. There was nothing left to lose.
"You fucking CUNT!" I felt my hand twisting into a fist, jaw clenching, as I took a deep breath...
Suzanne stopped me before I could do anything. "Whoa now, hold yer horses, Kay-Lawny! Y-Yew don't wanna git in trouble fer fahtin' now, do ya? Not after yew just said we's friends not two minutes ago...!" But she'd held up her hands defensively and I saw the fear in her eyes, she was afraid she'd gone too far. And Makala wasn't around to protect her.
I relaxed my fist. Suzanne was right, I wasn't going to do anything. Yeah, I know, I'm a fucking coward.
Defeated, I slumped back against the stall. "Mom... Dad..." I whined, to myself. God I missed them so much.
Reassured that I wasn't going to attack her, Suzanne fell back into her usual mode. "Oh, mah parents're gonna LOOOVE yew, Kay-Lawny." She paused a moment, pretending to think. "Y'know, Ah got their CELL PHONE NUMBER, mebbe Ah'll cawl 'em t'naht an' tell 'em allll about yew."
"Your mother and father," I muttered viciously. "Are they by any chance brother and sister too?"
For once Suzanne didn't have a snappy comeback. Instead she glowered at me. "It's high tahm you learnt some respect, Kay-Lawny. Don't yew be insultin' mah fam'ly! Don' fergit, Ah kin still tell Sister what yew bin doin' at naht."
Oh yeah. On top of everything there was still THAT. Jesus Fucking H. Christ on a motherfucking CRUTCH.
As if she heard me thinking that, Suzanne continued. "Yew best watch yer mouth, Kay-Lawny. Cuz from this day on... Ah OWN yew! An' if'n Ah got anythin' ta say 'bout it, yer gonna be here fer a lawng, LAWNG tahm!"
The only good thing that grew out of all this shit was that, once we were "friends", Suzanne more or less left me alone for awhile. Obviously she couldn't allow herself to get caught teasing me by the Sisters, who seemed to have bought into her born-again bullshit. Plus I think she realized she'd pushed me absolutely as far as she could before I pushed back, and that she'd better give me a break. Not that this opened any new doors for me. I was still stuck in this awful place. I couldn't even go back to using Sister's phone at night, not without my list. And I couldn't shake the feeling that she had something deeper, even more devious, planned.
I did have one confidant. Oliana, the short-haired outcast girl who hung around with me sometimes, and who was another frequent victim of Suzanne Calloway. She at least was nice to me, never laughed along with the other girls, and in fact always seemed to feel really sorry for me. She'd also noticed the change in me over the last few weeks, as a result of Suzanne's persecution.
I'd been thinking, God knows I'd had the time, and I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to be able to trust another human being in this place. So one day when the two of us were alone on one edge of the playground, I confided in Oliana, told her everything. About how Suzanne was blackmailing me. About how she made me do all those degrading things or she'd rat me out. The only thing I didn't tell her was that I was actually twenty-one. I couldn't prove it, and I didn't want her to think I was making up stories. I needed at least one person on my side.
Unfortunately, while Oliana sat and listened and seemed to understand, she wasn't in a position to do anything to actually help me. And the Sisters, I'd tried and failed with them more times than I could remember. I'd lost the ability to call my parents for help. Only Suzanne could have done something, and she was never going to let me go if she could help it.
And so finally, after weeks of pondering the futility of my situation, I became so desperate I did the one thing I originally swore I'd NEVER do.
I called Akela and Naia.
My two best friends from college shared a small flat in Kāne'ohe, and were spending the summer together. When they first moved in they'd asked me to join them and split the rent three ways, but back then I'd been too afraid of living away from home. God, that sounds so stupid now, after all I've been through.
I settled into Sister Bernadette's chair for what felt like the hundredth time, and probably was. Thank Akua I still remembered their number. The phone rang twice, and I got their answering machine:
"Aloha, it's Akela!"
"And Naia!!" Her bubbly voice, hollering in the background.
"And Naia," Akela reaffirmed. "We're not here right now, but..."
I was getting one last chance to back out before my penultimate humiliation. But I fucking didn't take it. I left them a message anyway.
"Akela... Naia... it's Keilani." I felt strangely uncomfortable talking to them after the beach incident. Like now that they'd seen my unwilling masquerade as a Saint Seb's orphan, I'd become somehow younger than them, in their eyes. I mean, Akela really was six months older than me and Naia was four, but... you know what I mean. "Keilani Akana," I added, in case they'd forgotten who I was. "Look, I--... I just can't take this shit anymore, I really need your h--"
"`E, howzit, 'Lani?" Akela's voice, she'd picked up. "Hey Naia, it's 'Lani!"
"'LANI?!" came Naia's muffled, astonished voice.
"What's going on, where ARE you?!" Akela, sounding relieved to hear from me, but also a bit put out.
"What the hell HAPPENED to you, 'Lani?! We thought the tide washed you away!" Naia, clearer now, as if standing next to Akela.
And before I could get a word in, the stream of questions began:
"So okay, you owe us an explanation!"
"What was the DEAL with you on the beach that last time?"
"What have you been doing all summer?"
"With that stupid green suit?"
"We stopped by your house like fifty times but no one's ever there!"
"You still hot for Kahoku?"
"Are you ready for college? What classes you taking?"
That one hit me like a tsunami. Jesus, had that much time already passed? Had I really been here almost the entire summer?!
"I... I haven't signed up yet."
"You haven't??" Naia was shocked. "Well what you waiting for? Classes start next week, you better `Āwīwī, aikâne!" Move, girl.
"Hold on, lemme get our schedules," said Akela, "maybe there's still openings..."
"We signed up for the same things, just like last year!" chirped Naia perkily.
My heart sank even deeper into despair. Every agonizing minute I was imprisoned here, I was missing the signup for the fall semester at U of H! If I didn't get out of this place soon, I wouldn't be going to college at all! My friends would all move on to more advanced classes and I'd be left behind. I'd miss out on all the parties... I wouldn't graduate! And what would Mom and Dad say about that? I couldn't take another lecture about how irresponsible I was, on top of everything else!
And, just like that, instantly, I became DESPERATE to get out of Saint Sebastian's NOW.
Akela and Naia were still talking over each other on the other end.
"Okay, shutup shutup SHUT UP!" I demanded, almost forgetting to hold down the volume myself, lest Sister hear. "Look, I'm at this place, it's..." I took a deep breath. Here it came. "It's an orphanage."
Immediately they started up again.
"Are you volunteering there, or what?"
"'Lani, this a joke?"
"What orphanage, where?"
Finally I just stopped talking altogether. When Akela and Naia get like this, I know complete silence is the only thing that can get their attention back.
It worked. The other end got quiet, eager to hear what I had to say. FINALLY, someone was listening to me.
"I'm at this orphanage," I reiterated, "and I need you to come here -- WRITE THIS DOWN -- It's called Saint Sebastian's." I gave them the address. "I need you to come here and talk to Sister Bernadette, she's the Mother Superior here, she runs this place. Are you writing this down?"
"Yeah, yeah, we gotcha 'Lani," came Akela's voice. I thought I could hear the reassuring scratch of pen on pad.
I closed my eyes to think, to try and cover all the bases. I knew I'd only get one shot at this.
"Now look, Akela, Naia, this is VERY important. They... they think I'm a kid and they won't let me out. I've--"
"A KID?!" asked Naia in disbelief.
"How could they possibly think THAT?" Akela's voice immediately following. The same goddamn question I'd been asking the whole summer.
"Look," I pressed on, trying to keep control of the conversation. "The point is they won't believe you without proof. So. I need you to go get my driver's license, it's in my purse, in my parents' car at the airport. You know which car it is?"
Tripping over each others' words, they assured me they did.
"And bring some of my clothes too, go to my house. Anything, I don't care what. Key's under the potted palm, you know where?"
At that moment I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and, turning, saw a shadow through the glass pane in Sister's door. I had a "perty good reckonin'" of who it might be. I had no idea how long she'd been listening there, but decided I'd better wrap this up before she could interfere.
"Clothes, and my license. Bring them tomorrow. Talk to Sister Bernadette. Saint Sebastian's, are you SURE you've got all this?"
"Yeah, yeah 'Lani," Akela assured me. "But what have you been doing all--"
"Look, I SWEAR I will explain everything later and I will owe you SO MUCH and just PLEASE DO THIS FOR ME! Mahalo nui NUI loa!" I gushed, thanking them profusely.
I hung up without listening to their reply, praying they'd get everything right. Akela's a little spacey at times and Naia's a complete lōlō. Hell, I was the most mature of the three of us... emphasis on "was".
Suzanne wasn't in the hall when I left Sister's office. She must have skipped out when I'd twigged on her eavesdropping. I wondered if she was still awake and watching me when I climbed into bed. I knew I'd have to be extremely careful tomorrow.
The waiting the next day was sheer agony. I woke up at five and laid awake in bed until Sister Ulalia's morning bell. I figured it would take Akela and Naia awhile to drive to Honolulu, find my parents' car and get back. Breakfast and my morning classes seemed to drag on eternally. The hardest part was constantly trying not to look over at Suzanne to see if she was doing the same to me. I absolutely did NOT want her fucking this up for me. That had to be her plan.
My stomach was so knotted I didn't feel like eating. I skipped lunch and went straight outside, and stared through the bars of the tall metal fence surrounding the playground. It wouldn't be long now and I could be OUT of here. My freedom was so achingly close.
"Psssst! 'Lani! Hey 'Lani, is that you?"
"Aiâ, it IS her!" squeaked Naia, as I spun around. My two friends were right there, peering through the fence at me, in my little schoolgirl outfit. Akela with the red streak in her hair, and Naia with all the different tan-lined symbols down her arms and legs. God it was good to see them again, but still...
"What are you DOING here?!" I hissed. "Go inside!" I pointed them towards the entrance, then looked nervously over my shoulder. Some of the other girls had finished lunch and were starting to come out for recess.
"We were. No one's at the front desk," explained Akela.
*Sigh*, of course not, I realized. Between the lunchroom and the playground, all the nuns were minding the girls. Why, oh WHY did they have to come right at this particular time?
Naia tried to hide a laugh but didn't succeed. "'Lani, why are you wearing THAT?"
"I TOLD you! They think I'm a little girl so they're dressing me like one." I felt like an idiot standing there in a long-sleeved blouse, pleated skirt and saddle shoes with knee socks, in front of my friends and their more risquè midriff tops and tight jeans. Instinctively I tugged my skirt down a bit in back so my childish panties wouldn't show. Today I was stuck with the old pair Sister Ulalia brought back from my house that time we went there, the pink ones with little hearts at the end of rainbows. They were my only clean pair.
"Heehee, she looks so cute!" giggled Naia.
"Just like my kaikaina," Akela agreed. Good God, she was comparing me to her kid sister, who was like eight!
As I turned my gaze downward in embarrassment, I couldn't help but notice both of my friends now had their belly-buttons pierced. That was something we'd all planned to go and get done together, but because I'd been stuck here the whole summer I'd missed out!
And then I happened to look past them, and my heart... fucking... STOPPED.
Waiting across the street, leaning against Akela's car, was Kahoku. The cute guy from college, who I had the hugest crush on! Standing right there in a sleeveless shirt and cutoff shorts that showed off his muscular arms and legs. Christ, what did they bring HIM along for?! He was staring at me with a mixture of amused disbelief and disgust. Like he was looking at a circus freak.
Akela noticed, and looked guilty. "Oh... We ran into him on the way. And Naia kinda... let it slip that we were going to see you. And he wanted to come."
"I think that means he still likes you, 'Lani!" giggled Naia, as if that was supposed to make me feel any less humiliated.
"Who still lahks Kay-Lawny?" came a sudden hateful voice from right behind me. Suzanne was there, along with Makala, and she looked absolutely delighted.
"Go AWAY!" I demanded. She was going to ruin everything!
"Yew cain't tell me what ta do." Then she saw Kahoku and waved, "Howdy, Kay-Lawny's boy-friend!"
"`E, I remember you," Kahoku said, coming over to us. "From the beach." God, he was talking to HER! But not to ME!
"`Ae, when Keilani was wearing that awful green baby lole`au`au," Akela added.
Shit, they'd all remembered every excruciating detail! I'd been trying so hard to forget!
"Hey what was that you called her..." said Naia, "Scrawny Keilani?"
Oh GOD, they remembered THAT too! I turned my head down to hide the rising blush in my face.
"HAW-HAW-HAW! Scrawny Kay-Lawny!" Suzanne chimed in. "That's her aw-raht!" The other girls, sensing something was about to happen, were starting to watch us from a distance. This was not going at all like I had planned.
"She does look pretty thin," agreed Akela. "Is she getting enough to eat?" She was talking about me like I wasn't even there! Like Suzanne was the older of us, and I was just a stupid baby!
"Come on," I told her, desperate to get this train wreck back on track, "go find Sister and talk to her."
Suzanne picked up on this immediately. Turning, in a loud voice, she proclaimed to the rest of the playground, "Hey! Sister! Kay-Lawny here's got somethin' ta say to ya!"
Oh HELL... If one of the Sisters came over here Suzanne would provoke me until I misbehaved again!
"Come ON!" I urged my friends. "Go back to the front office and wait!" Of course in my current outfit it was hard to take me seriously. I looked like an impatient little brat, demanding that the adults do what I said right now.
Naia stifled her giggles enough to ask Suzanne, "So are you staying here with Keilani?"
"Tha's raht," she announced proudly. "An' we're best friends, lahk two peas inna pod. Ain't that raht, Scrawny?"
Christ... I just wanted to curl up and fucking DIE...
Makala nudged Suzanne on the shoulder and pointed across the playground. Sister Ulalia had noticed the commotion and was waddling over to investigate.
Suzanne slapped her knee. "Aw-RAHT! This is gonna be fun!" She pulled me close, and whispered, "When she gits here? Yew tell 'er she's a fat, stupid toad-faced cunt."
"What?!" No way. No fucking way, this was NOT happening!
"Ah know yew got it in ya, yew done called me that th' other day."
She was right, I had. In the bathroom when she torn up my phone list, I'd lost my temper and called her a cunt. And now it was coming back to haunt me.
Sister Ulalia was approaching. Aiâ, how was I going to get out of this mess?
The answer, of course: I wasn't.
"Tell 'er," ordered Suzanne, "else Ah'm blabbin' yer see-krit!"
Naia's eyes lit up. "Oooh!" she squeaked. "What's 'Lani's secret?"
Suzanne got the biggest grin. "Ohhhh, Kay-Lawny's bin a bad, BAD li'l girl! Sneakin' 'round at naht, breakin' inta Sister's office..."
"Is that true?" Naia asked me.
"No!" I answered defensively. "I mean, yes, but it was just to call my Mom and Dad! And you guys!"
Throughout all of this, Kahoku stood silently, glowering, debating whether I was still worth talking to after the last time. It didn't look like the deliberations were going in my favor.
Right about then, Sister Ulalia reached us. She noticed my college friends on the other side of the fence and, looking from one to the other, asked, "What's going on over here?"
Akela and Naia exchanged looks that said, "Well? What do we tell her?" They leaned in toward each other and whispered, trying to decide.
Anxiously, with pleading eyes, I mouthed the words, "Tell her I'm twenty-one!"
"Don'cha got anythin' yer s'pose ta say ta Sister?" Suzanne prodded me.
Sister looked to me for an explanation. "Keilani? Who are these girls?"
Both of them started talking at the same time.
"We're Keilani's friends from school."
"We all go to U of H together."
"Yeah, she's actually our age."
"But she's here by mistake."
"So could you please, you know, let her go with us?"
"Nuh-uh!" Suzanne joined in. "They're them cawlidge kids she was talkin' to on th' beach that tahm. Tell 'er, Kay-Lawny!" She looked more insistant now.
"Auē! Here! Look! We brought her driver's license!" Akela took it out of her purse.
"Yew had 'em make ya a fake I.D.?!" Suzanne, in pretend shock.
"No, it's real!" I protested as Sister snatched the card from Akela's hand.
"Ah heard 'er talkin' 'bout it, Sister! She said they done made it for 'er, so she could git outta here!"
FUCK! Suzanne was going to sabotage my only means of escape if I didn't give in to her demands!
Sister Ulalia frowned at my license briefly... before tucking it away inside her habit. She'd apparently chosen to believe that stupid hick's version of events.
Seeing she was on a roll, Suzanne just kept going. "She cawled them two here, Sister," pointing at Akela and Naia. "Know how Ah know that?"
But Sister's attention was focused squarely on me. "Keilani, I think we need to have a little talk." That's right, a "little" talk for a "little girl".
I wasn't about to take this quietly. "A`ohe!" I hollered. "A`OHE!! Give it back! It's MMMMIIIINNNEEEE!!!!" I clawed at the folds of Sister's robes, trying to get the license back.
She grabbed my wrists and pushed me away, warning me, "Keilani... Uoki." Stop it.
Kahoku's voice. "Akela. You told me she would be different from last time." I couldn't bring myself to look at him. I realized how stupid my pureile behavior was making me look.
Akela and Naia decided to try and salvage this.
"Okay, okay, we're not really Keilani's friends!"
"It's true, Sister. We're, um, her sisters." Akela, looking to Naia for confirmation.
"Yyyeah... her sisters," Naia nodded stupidly, trying to do her part to solidify Akela's story.
It might have worked too, if only it hadn't been Sister Ulalia. She was the one who'd actually been inside my house before. She took me there the one time to let me get some of my stuff, and she'd seen the pictures of my family. So she was the ONE fucking person at Saint Seb's who knew for a fact that neither of these two girls was my sister. She fixed Akela and Naia with a highly dubious look.
"Nuh-uh!" Suzanne of course chose the most inopportune moment to pipe up. "Kay-Lawny's tryin' ta git these two ta help 'er git outta Saint Sebastian's. She said ta fib, an' per-tend ta be her relations, so she could git outta here! Ah heard 'er!"
"Keilani? Is this true?" Sister looked suspicious. After all, I was a troublemaker with a history of trying to get away from them. Oh, and as she asked that she kneeled down to my height, like she was addressing a child.
And what the hell could I do? Suzanne had completely wrecked my chances. I'd run out of plausible stories. There was nothing left to say.
"I think you girls had better leave," Sister Ulalia warned them, "before I call the police."
Their eyes widened, they looked intimidated by her threat. Glancing nervously at each other, they turned away toward the car. Oh GOD, I thought. This was my absolute, final, VERY LAST CHANCE, and it was slipping away!
"Hey Sister, y'know what else Kay-Lawny's bin up tew?"
"What's that?" Sister looked very interested to know.
"No," I begged Suzanne, "please don't...!"
"Yew done had yer chance. Now 's mah turn ta tell," she replied triumphantly. "Kay-Lawny's bin--"
I am so ashamed of what I did next. But you've got to understand, I was at the very end of my rope. I'd just lost Akela and Naia's help, and I'd probably lose my phone priviliges too, if Suzanne told Sister everything I'd been doing after dark. Which meant I'd never be able to call them again and maybe scrape a second chance. There was only one option left, and that was to do exactly what Suzanne Calloway wanted.
All of this shot through my mind in an instant, and before I could react differently, I turned to Sister Ulalia, and I shouted as loud as I could:
"LEAVE US ALONE YOU FAT, STUPID CUNT!!!"
And just like that, the entire playground went dead silent.
A split-second later I heard Suzanne whisper, "She fergot toad-faced, Makala."
Sister Ulalia stopped in her tracks and just stared at me. There was genuine hurt in her eyes and I felt absolutely terrible. I was furious with myself for being so mean, and with Suzanne for making me do it.
My friends heard it too, of course. It was amazing how fast the tide turned against me. Akela stared at me, bewildered. "Keilani... Why would you say such an awful thing?!" Naia looked equally shocked.
"Does she always act this way?" Kahoku, clearly growing weary of this. He said it to my friends, like I wasn't even there.
Sister managed to compose herself, and made the Sign of the Cross. "Well," she said quietly, shaking her head. "I have never in my life heard that kind of talk from the mouth of a twelve-year-old."
At those words, the last, final ounce of my self-control drained away.
"That's because I AM NOT TWELVE!! LIKE I'VE TOLD YOU A MILLION, BILLION TIMES!!" In my tantrum I jumped up and down, stomping hard with both feet as I screamed out each word, "I!! AM!!! AN!!! ADULT!!!!" I practically screeched that last one.
There was laughter behind me. Red-faced, panting heavily, I turned to see Akela... holding her camera phone at arm's length, pointed in my direction. She and Naia were snickering as they recorded my infantile outburst. Some friends they were turning out to be! God, I'd never be able to show my face at U of H again, not once those pictures started circulating! That's assuming I ever DID get out of here, which was looking more unlikely by the second.
The tears started welling up in my eyes as Sister said, "Keilani... come here."
I hung my head in shame as Sister took my wrist and pulled me over. And then she did what any adult would do with a child who had just spoken the way I had. As if genuflecting, she knelt down on one knee, and leaned me over her other one. I struggled but she held me there. Sister Ulalia's stronger than she looks.
This brought about a new round of laughter from my friends, and I heard Naia exclaim, "Auê noho`i ê! Look at her undies!"
"Cute rainbows, 'Lani!" Akela teased.
Then those went down, and my little olive-skinned ass was revealed in all its glory.
"A-ha-haaaa-naaaa!" my friends chanted, "'Lani's gonna get it!" Suzanne joined in, naturally.
After that came a SWAT. Followed by more. My mind struggled to take in this new affront to my dignity: My best friends AND my worst enemy had ringside seats as my naked, jiggling ass was spanked in front of an entire playground full of preteen girls!
This time I didn't scream out. I even stopped struggling. I just laid there across her knee with my naked ass sticking up in the air, and whined and cried bitterly, my face a scorching shade of red. The punishment itself wasn't painful... hell, she didn't even hit that hard. I think what made this time so awful is that Sister Ulalia had never spanked me before. She was the nice one, the one who'd always sympathized and tried to understand me. And now I'd gone and yelled the most horrible insult at her, so I'd earned exactly what I was getting. That hurt worse than even the humiliation of knowing my friends were watching it all, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, along with the guy I really liked.
Then I suddenly realized, with a sickening horror, that my LIPS were exposed! You know... BACK THERE!! I was flashing my private, most intimate parts right at Kahoku! Jesus, we'd never even been on a date yet, hell, we'd barely even talked before! And now he was seeing EVERYTHING!!
"`Aikola, Keilani!" taunted Akela. "Serves you right!"
Through it all, Suzanne Calloway stood off to one side, clutching her sides and positively bellowing with laughter, like this was the funniest thing she'd ever seen. And to her, it probably was.
Finally, after what felt like ages, Sister let up. "Now go sit down, Keilani," she pointed. "You've got a time-out."
Jesus MotherFUCK, a "time out"?! Could there BE anything more completely babyish?
I wrenched myself away from her, pulled my underwear back up, stomped over and plunked down against the fence and pouted, refusing to look at anyone.
Sister Ulalia addressed my (former) friends. "You three, leave. And don't come back here." Then, after giving me one final look of complete and utter disappointment, she went back to her normal playground duties.
"See ya, Scrawny Kay-Lawny!" called Naia, in a mocking imitation of Suzanne's Southern accent. Mocking ME, of course.
Before following them, Kahoku, who through all of this had said about as much as Makala, leaned down close to me and muttered, "Keilani... you're pathetic."
It felt like my heart had been stomped on. The guy of my dreams now hated me. My best friends were now making fun of me. And I was never, EVER getting out of here!
I hated EVERYONE! Stupid Sister Ulalia, my stupid friends, stupid Saint Sebastian and his stupid orphanage, stupid Sister Bernadette, stupid Gail the stupid social worker, the stupid boss who fired me from my stupid job, my stupid parents on their stupid trip, stupid EVERYTHING!!!
But most of all stupid fucking Suzanne Calloway.
I'd had it. I had FUCKING HAD IT!!
I stood up, breathing hard again. The hatred in my chest burned so hot it physically HURT. My clenched fists were rumbling like a volcano on the verge of eruption. I was apoplectic with rage.
Akela and Naia were getting into their car, but had to stop to see what I was going to do next.
Suzanne was so preoccupied with her own guffaws that she didn't notice me making a beeline right for her. Makala gasped and pointed as she saw how quickly I was bearing down.
"Whoa now Kay-Lawny, take it easy, Ah was just--!"
"You fucking haole BITCH--!!"
And I hauled back and I POPPED her one, right in the mouth. HARD. A lot harder than I ever thought I could, but I was so mad I didn't care. I wanted to hurt her, and I did. And it felt really, REALLY great.
For about three seconds.
And then, the horrifying reality of what I'd done started to sink in. In that moment I'd actually become a bratty little kid. Not because of everyone else's beliefs about how old I was, but through my own actions. I'd just punched a child, someone eight years my junior. Suzanne may have been mean, but she had never, ever, done anything outright violent to me.
The worst part of it is, everybody else still thought I WAS a spoiled brat acting out. Only I knew the full extent of my crime.
Oh, and Akela and Naia. And Kahoku.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as I took it all in with helpless clarity. My hand hurt like fuck-all. And my stomach.
Suzanne reacted immediately, in a way that made me feel even worse. She didn't fight back. She didn't sic Makala on me. Instead she sank to her knees, she covered her face, and she BAWLED.
It was NOT fake, just to get me in trouble. Those tears were real. I was there, I saw it. Her lip was split and bleeding, and I could see a big bruise already starting to form where my fist had impacted. It was the most awful thing I'd ever witnessed, and I'd caused it.
Beyond the fence I heard a gasp of, "Oh my GOD!"
Makala put herself between me and Suzanne until the Sisters got there.
"KEILANI!! What the HELL are you doing?!" I'd never heard Sister Bernadette talk like that before.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm SORRY!" I wailed. I meant it, too. I would have given anything if only I could take that swing back. My hands were shaking, I was practically hyperventilating. It took every ounce of will to keep from crying myself, but I felt I no longer had the right.
Sister Ulalia went straight to Suzanne. "Let me see, dear," she whispered, trying to pull the injured girl's hand away from her bruised jaw. Turning to me, "Keilani... Hitting other people is kapu!"
Suzanne recovered enough to point an accusing finger at me. "Kay-Lawny's bin breakin' ALL yer rules, Sister!" she cried, loud enough for everyone on the playground to hear. "She's bin sneakin' inta yer office at naht, an' usin' yer phone, an' lookin' at dirty pitchers, AH SEEN 'ER!" She sniffed, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and glared at me with an expression of absolute rancor. "Kay-Lawny Akawna... AH HATE YEW!!"
"Hush, keiki," soothed Sister Ulalia, wrapping an arm around the sobbing girl and leading her away.
Sister Bernadette wasn't nearly so gentle with me. She GRABBED the back of my blouse and physically dragged me across the playground toward the side entrance. "Keilani Akana, you are INCORRIGIBLE!"
The last thing I saw as I was hauled away was Akela, Naia, and Kahoku, on the other side of the fence, all staring at me with utter contempt. I knew they weren't even going to TRY coming back to help me get out, not after what they'd seen me do. I felt completely hollow inside.
"Sin is a stain on your soul, Keilani," Sister lectured as she pulled me along through the halls. "God can see it."
She took me past her office. I didn't dare ask where we were going.
"I want you to see it. I want you to remember, every time you look in the mirror, what you did to your friend."
Yeah, that's right. On top of it all, the Sisters now believed Suzanne and I were "friends".
We had come to the small room where I'd had my medical exam the morning after I'd first been brought here. Sister released me and motioned me over to the padded table.
"Fine," I said very quietly, bending over it, "Let's get this over with." I knew this time I deserved it.
"Don't you DARE tell me how to punish you!" hissed Sister Bernadette in the most dangerous whisper I've ever heard. She was livid.
I swallowed hard. If I wasn't getting another spanking, what was going to happen to me?
Sister began rummaging in a drawer for something, while reciting my new punishment. "You are confined to the orphanage until further notice. No outings, no recess, in bed by 7:30. You will do the Stations of the Cross TWICE every day. You will write a thousand-word essay on why what you did to Suzanne was wrong, and why you are sorry, and when it is finished you will read it aloud in front of the entire class."
"Okay," I answered meekly. I deserved every bit of it and worse.
But NOTHING could have prepared me for the "and worse".
Sister slammed the drawer shut, in her hands a small pair of scissors. She turned me around, facing away, and took hold of my long, black hair.
Now you've got to understand, the Hawaiian cultural tradition is to let your hair grow as long as possible. Some women even let it reach the ground and wear it up, continuing to let it go untrimmed. Being a native here, I'd basically been growing mine out since I was five. A few snips from Sister Bernadette's scissors was all it took to undo that, it was GONE.
Feeling queasy, I reached my hand back, almost afraid to touch it. I felt bare skin on the back of my neck. Yes, I still had hair, but it was now short, ending abruptly at the base of my head. I could feel the cold breath from the air conditioner against it.
I forced myself to look at my reflection in the wall mirror, and let out a shuddering gasp... I look like a fucking BOY!
I look like... Oliana.
Oh, God, I just had the most horrible thought. What if this is WHY Oliana's hair is so short? What if Suzanne abused HER to the breaking point before I came here, until she lashed out and got this same punishment? Maybe that's why Oliana never talks about it, because she's too beaten down...?
I can't ask her, even if I wanted to. Oliana's scared of me now. A lot of the other girls avoid me... I think I'd rather be made fun of than shunned entirely.
After this incident, Sister decided I should be isolated from the rest of the girls, so she led me down a corridor I'd never been through before. We passed rooms with crucifixes above simple beds, and I deduced these were the Sisters' sleeping quarters. Finally she opened a door and told me this was where I'd be staying until my parents came for me. Near their own rooms, where they could keep a closer eye on me.
Sister didn't sound at all apologetic when she stated, "It's the only other bed we have."
Only... it wasn't a bed.
It was a fucking PLAYPEN!
My new room was the nursery, where the Sisters kept any orphaned babies they took in, only there weren't any at the moment. There were, however, big and colorful toys, and a mobile with different colored fish hanging from the ceiling. And my playpen. The cushion at the bottom had an absolutely babyish pattern of blue and pink teddy-bears, and the bars on the sides were just tall enough that, with my small stature, I'd have difficulty climbing in and out without help.
I stared at it for several seconds, thinking, "You CAN'T be serious...?!"
Sister noticed my reaction. "Keilani, if you are going to act like a big baby, then you are going to be treated like one."
And that was that. I was sent to bed without any dinner that night, God I was so hungry! Sister Bernadette lifted me up over the playpen's railings and set me down inside. I found if I lie diagonally in the crib I can stretch out and still fit. It was still far too early to go to sleep, so all I could do was lie awake, cover myself with a yellow blanky, suck my thumb, cry, and think about what a bad little girl I am.
Yeah, they're still making me wear the fucking diapers, too.
I'm not calling Akela and Naia again. I can't face them, not after this. I'm sure they both hate me.
Sister Bernadette keeps her office locked now. But I've found another computer. And I'll probably still keep writing about all the shit that's been done to me. It's cathartic, the only solace I can get.
So... why haven't you done anything yet? You know where I am, why the hell aren't YOU helping me?
You're... you're getting off on this, aren't you? You never intended to get me out of here, did you? You just enjoy reading about my ongoing humiliations!
(Copyright © March 2007 by ToddCheese.)