by Noëlle Lague
(Freely based on "Maid in China" by Barefoot Servant)
II - Dressing Down
At five to eight o´clock the next morning Melanie and Maddie arrived at Mrs. Bronstein´s office. Entering the waiting room Melanie noticed that he chairs she remembered from the day before now curiously were gone. As they stopped standing in the middle of the room, both quiet, the clock passed eight, approaching five past. A sudden buzz broke the silence and a green light flashed near the handle of the door. With another clicking sound the door automatically opened.
”Come here,” Sarah called out in a shrill voice.
Maddie followed behind Melanie who, with small steps, entered the office. Here too, the small chair from yesterday was now gone, replaced by nothing.
”Come, stand in front of my desk, girls.”
The intimidation made Melanie blush immediately.
”Good morning, Mrs. Bronstein,” Maddie heard her mother say with a weak voice, noticing Melanie´s discrete curtsy.
Maddie imitated her mother with a stupefied expression.
”Has your mother told you what is going to happen today Maddie?”
”Er…I…… yes… mum said I will go with you to the Special Unit I think,” Maddie answered.
”You will be introduced to the staff and the students at the Special Unit, that´s what´s going to happen Maddie, isn´t it?”
”Yes, Mrs. Bronstein.”
”But Maddie, what is going to happen before we go?”
Melanie was getting nervous.
”I don´t know, Mrs. Bronstein,” Maddie answered cringing, casting a glance at her mother.
”Uh…Mrs. Bronstein…I´m so sorry, I didn´t go into details yester…”
She was vigorously interrupted by Sarah.
”Details? Melanie, we talked about this yesterday and you were told to explain the situation for Maddie. Now you´re telling me you didn´t.”
”I´m so sorry, Mrs. Bronstein, I…. didn´t mean to….”
”You should be. You will tell Maddie everything right now, and be quick about it.”
”Maddie….I….the students at the Unit have to wear a special uniform and also….. outer…..rainwear for recess……you have to change into that…I mean…also the rainwear…”
”That´s better, Melanie. Continue.”
”Mrs. Bronstein wants…..wants us to pass by your class before we go to the Unit.”
”There you go, that wasn´t so difficult was it, Melanie?”
”No, I´m sorry, Mrs. Bronstein.”
Maddie was agape, looking down. Sarah took hold of a stack of clothes wrapped in clear plastic and handed it over to Melanie.
”Take off your clothes, Maddie, and put on your new uniform.”
Maddie blushed as she began to undress, hesitantly handling over her clothes to Melanie who at the same time clumsily tried to unpack the new clothes. Melanie held up a white nylon blouse for Maddie, exposed her bra, to put on. The blouse had a round collar and three quarter long puff sleeves. Melanie helped Maddie button it neatly up the back before giving her a pink pinafore dress. It looked like a little girl´s dress, it had no waist but a seam just above the bust. It covered Maddie´s hips but finished clearly above the knees.
Its thick, stiff and shiny fabric hang shapelessly from her bust, like a bell or a christening gown, widening enormously toward the bottom. The dress was simply hideous. White knee socks, a large white hairband and a light yellow crew neck cardigan completed her outfit. Melanie looked with a pained grimace at her gaping daughter. Maddie stood at attention poking at her jumper, utterly ashamed. She hated the uniform.
”Help her with her Mary Janes, Melanie,” Sarah ordered, producing a light blue pair.
Melanie promptly went down on her knees and helped Maddie to put them on. She stood up again and started adjusting Maddie´s hairband a little, fumbling with her bangs.
”That´s enough, Melanie. It´s a perfect uniform for you Maddie, don´t you think, Melanie?”
”It looks so childish, Mrs. Bronstein…..”
”It is indeed childish, Melanie, but then, that´s why it suits her so well.”
Maddie looked angrily at her teacher.
”And there´s more to come, Maddie, your new rainwear is waiting for you here at my desk. You will put it on after the visit to your class.”
Sarah opened the door.
”Now take each other´s hands and come with me.”
Melanie and Maddie motioned, hand in hand, toward the door. They were told to walk in front of Sarah. As they approached the corridor where Maddie´s classmates were waiting, the buzzing was getting louder.
Sarah suddenly opened a door to a broom closet.
”Get in here and wait until I come back. Don´t talk.”
She almost pushed the two stumbling women into the closet. Sarah closed the door and locked it with a key from the outside. Maddie and Melanie found themselves in darkness, locked in. Melanie tried to find a switch but couldn´t find any. The closet smelled heavily from cleaning products, humid mops and old dust and dirt.
”Maddie, I´m so sorry I got you into this,” Melanie whispered.
”No, it´s all my fault mum…but, we weren´t allowed to talk she said…”
Both clammed up. In the classroom Maddie´s peers took their seats while Sarah announced the visit.
”Maddie and her mother are waiting in a small room, I will bring them in her in a second. I will ask you not to make too much of a scene, ok?”
Melanie and Maddie listened to the clacking of Sarah´s heels as she approached them.
”There we go, your class is waiting for you, Maddie. Come.”
Sarah didn´t have to repeat the order, Melanie took Maddie´s hand again and all three headed toward the classroom. Sarah opened the door and made a gesture for them to go inside. The classroom exploded with buzzing and choked back laughter as the two women were placed in front of the desk, facing the youngsters.
Melanie and Maddie were both beyond tears, simply drowning in the humiliation they were exposed to, heads hanging. Maddie tried to avoid eye contact with her classmates but with a glimpse discerned Graham. He looked stunned. It was awful, Maddie jerked her head away from him, writhing her body. Graham was the guy she had a crush on. What will he think, Maddie wondered, seeing me humiliated in front of the whole class. Sarah made a gesture with her hands.
”Silence,” she barked.
With her natural authority, she had no trouble in achieving her goal, like as if she had pushed a button the class cooled down. In the silence, Sarah went to stand behind Melanie, putting her hands on her shoulders and leaning forward to catch her attention.
”We´ll start by having you introducing yourself. Go ahead,” Sarah ordered Melanie.
”I´m…Maddie´s mother,” Melanie stuttered with a weak voice.
Sarah turned to the class and, as if correcting her, said: "her name is Melanie.”
Being presented to the class by only her first name was of course an insult. Melanie winced as she felt she was being treated like a little girl, she burned with shame, her face turning beet red.
”Right?” Sarah said turning with an expectant look at Maddie´s mother.
”Yes, Mrs. Bronstein”, Melanie answered.
By submitting to Sarah´s belittling treatment Melanie acknowledged the debasement Sarah exposed her to in front of them. The hierarchy between the two adults was crystal clear to the youngsters. Sarah once again leaned forward to catch her attention and continued with a beaming smile.
”Good, Melanie. I will now tell the class what is going to happen today, why you are here and why Maddie is wearing a new uniform.”
Melanie´s whole body screamed mortification as Sarah now went to stand behind Maddie, hands on her shoulders.
”As a consequence of poor study results and failure at a number of consecutive tests, Maddie´s grades have been falling to an intolerable level. She will retake a year and therefore no longer be your classmate next year. Maddie is also, starting today, placed part-time in our Special Unit, where she will join other students with special needs and learning difficulties. This is why she´s wearing another uniform than we´re used to in this classroom.”
Melanie kept her head down, the shame she felt was unbearable. Maddie saw Jenny sitting at her usual place, hiding her face in her hands. Jenny was obviously feeling shame and pity for her friend. It was awful.
”Maddie´s mother is asked to follow her there and I will make sure she does. Maddie will be introduced to the other students at the Unit and of course taken care of by the staff. I expect you to treat her with the respect that... she deserves, despite her new station at our school.”
The ambiguous turning of this last sentence was perceived by most of the students, though escaping Maddie.
”Now bring out your books, Mrs. Worthington is coming in a minute to replace me while I´m helping Maddie.”
Maddie eventually spotted Skye and glanced at her just before leaving the classroom with Melanie and Sarah. Skye gave her an amused smile before theatrically switching to a condescending grimace. Maddie seethed with anger and blushed furiously.
”Come with me”, Sarah ordered them.
As Sarah closed the door, the buzzing from the classroom grew rapidly, high-pitched calls and laughter filled the corridor. Turning into the stairwell, they stumbled into Mrs. Worthington, on her way to the classroom, apparently unaware of the situation.
”Oh, good morning, Mrs. Akers, how are you doing?”
”Good morning, Mrs. Worthington, I….”
Discovering Maddie, she interrupted Melanie and turned to the childishly dressed teenager.
”My goodness, aren´t you a little too old for that …. well, shall we say, uniform, girl?” Mrs. Worthington continued, stroking Maddie on the cheek with a beaming smile.
Maddie swallowed the intimidation, squirming.
”No, as a matter of fact she isn´t Jessica, I´m sure Melanie can explain,” Sarah answered looking expectantly at Melanie.
”I…it´s….in the Special Unit……Maddie has been….. placed part time and……. we´re….”
”I obviously have to help her explain, Jessica,” Sarah chuckled, cutting her off.
”Maddie´s expected to be introduced in a moment at the D-Unit, we will just get our ……outerwear at my office. The staff is awaiting us, the first hour will probably be dedicated to the rules in force at the Unit. I´ve been told that they practice a more strict discipline than we´re used to here, which is a very good thing I think, especially for students in need of intense educational help.”
”Oh, I´m sorry, Mrs. Akers, I hope this won´t be a too humiliating experience for the kid,” Mrs. Worthington said with feigned concern.
Melanie avoided eye contact, blushing.
”I mean, the outfit is already something I reckon your daughter hasn´t chosen herself. Hopefully she will escape catty remarks and harassment from her previous classmates.”
”What you see her wearing Jessica, is the regulation uniform in use at the Unit, I believe the dress code is part of the overall disciplinary program the Unit is following. Students placed there get used to generally not having any say in matters, and Maddie, I suppose Mrs. Worthington is right, you wouldn’t have chosen this outfit yourself, would you Maddie?”
”No, Mrs. Bronstein,” Maddie answered meekly.
”And Jessica, Maddie isn´t quitting her old class immediately, she will next year though, as she´s retaking a year. Her enrollment at the SU is, for the time being, only part-time,” Sarah explained.
”Oh, I see. You will certainly get your usual uniform back for your stay here in this building, Maddie,” Jessica said, trying to sound comforting.
”We will see about that,” Sarah said giving Melanie a stern glance.
”See you later, Jessica, now say goodbye to Mrs. Worthington Maddie,” Sarah ordered, placing her finger under Maddie´s jaw, slowly forcing it upward until Maddie was obediently facing and looking at Jessica. Maddie, subdued, quickly curtsied.
”Goodbye, Mrs. Worthington.”
”Goodbye and good luck, Maddie. And goodbye to you….. Melanie,” Jessica said with an enigmatic expression, smiling at Sarah.
Jessica had suddenly switched to addressing her with her first name, Melanie noticed it. Jessica was clearly much younger than Melanie, it was certainly bad etiquette and offensive, she thought. Overpowered by strong feelings of inferiority in front of Sarah´s colleague, with her inherent submissiveness taking firmly hold of her, smothering her cerebral activity, Melanie complied to the situation.
”Goodbye, Mrs. Worthington,” she gently answered adding, to the woman´s surprise, a deep curtsy.
Maddie winced at the sight of her subdued mother.
”Now I will silence those buzzing kids”, Jessica chuckled, motioning for the classroom.
Sarah, Melanie and Maddie soon found themselves back at Sarah´s office.
”So, Melanie, let´s get back to your lesson before Maddie will get properly dressed in her new clothes. Explain to your daughter what´s going to happen now.”
Sarah handed over two stacks of clothing to Melanie. Maddie looked open-mouthed at the package.
”Yes, Maddie, this is your rainwear that you have to wear for recess…. there are two sets here….er….one…”
”You have to explain clearly what a set means, Melanie,” Sarah scolded her.
”I´m sorry, Mrs. Bronstein..… it means that you will wear a raincoat but also rain bib pants. ”
”That´s right Melanie. The bib pants will be worn on top of the raincoat, that way the outfit gives a good protection for outdoor playing, even in heavy rain. Continue.”
”You will get one pink and one blue set…..you can chose if you want to wear pink pants and a blue coat….or the other way around.”
”Did you understand Maddie or was it too difficult for you?” Sarah chuckled.
”I understand, Mrs. Bronstein,” Maddie answered, fuming with indignation.”
”Melanie, I want you to ask Maddie now what she prefers. It will be good for us to be able to say that she´s chosen her outfit herself, don´t you think, Melanie?”
”Yes, Mrs. Bronstein.”
Melanie struggled to hold back her anger, directing it inwards as usual, feeling tears welling up in her eyes.
”What do you prefer Maddie?” Melanie asked meekly, trying to smile a little to comfort her daughter as she unfolded the baby blue bib pants for Maddie to see.
Maddie jerked her head to the side remembering her and Jenny laughing at Heather when she was small, still having to wear rainwear, playing around in her bib pants. Maddie cringed, searching for a way out of the humiliation she was subjected to as her mother put down the blue pants and produced the pink ones. Maddie groaned as her mother unfolded them. She was furious and wanted to scream. The pants were hideous.
”Good, Melanie, let her have a good look at her rainwear.”
With tears welling up in her eyes Maddie, barely audibly, spoke.
”The blue ones.”
”Speak up, Maddie,” Sarah barked.
”I´ll have the blue ones,” Maddie answered, furious but obedient.
”Oh, that´s a good choice Maddie. Put down the pants Melanie and give her the pink raincoat. Hurry up, we don´t have all day.”
Melanie complied and unfolded the pink coat and handed it over to Maddie who reluctantly put her arms into the sleeves, the coat rustling wildly.
”Help her with the buttons Melanie,” Sarah ordered.
Melanie did as she was told, wincing.
”And now the pants. As I said, they are always to be worn on top of the coat. Maddie needs help Melanie.”
Melanie went down on her knees to help Maddie get her legs in the pant legs, she then pulled the pants up past Maddie´s bottom and all the way up on her chest and back. As Melanie carefully tried to attach the shoulder straps to the bib by fastening the snap buttons, she had to pull hard on the pants to get the two button parts to meet. Maddie cringed as the pant crotch mercilessly attacked her genitals, but Melanie pulled even harder to succeed, giving her daughter a wedgie without understanding it. Maddie moaned as the clicking sound finally filled the room. Sarah observed the ceremony with a beaming smile.
Melanie then painstakingly adjusted the shoulder straps and made sure the coat was neatly pulled down under the bib and on the back, the wrinkles taken care of. As a final touch Melanie fastened four snap buttons, two on each side, directly underneath Maddie´s armpits. The result was overwhelming, Maddie looked like a toddler, the bib pants were extremely baggy, the bib almost met Maddie´s neck. The pants were, at the same time, almost too short, the pant legs being held down by elastic foot bands provoking wrinkles all along the legs.
The stiffness of the fabric, probably a mix of pvc and rubber, made the outfit extremely swishy, and the thickness made an indoor wearer sweat helplessly and almost instantly. Being an 18-year old wearer of the kit, on her way to a humiliating placement in a special unit because she was the worst student in her class, made it a living hell. The revolt was building up in poor Maddie. And she was experiencing weird feelings in her crotch, the pants gave her no rest.
”And your rubber boots.”
Sarah produced a pair of pink high rain boots. Melanie helped her to step into them.
”It´s fitting you perfectly Maddie, don´t you think?”
Maddie felt tears welling up in her eyes. She was speechless.
”Don´t you think?”
Sarah repeated her question with a stern look.
”I don´t want these clothes, Mrs. Bronstein….. please. They´re so embarrassing.”
Maddie looked pleadingly at Sarah.
”But Maddie, it is the regulation outfit for the students who are placed in the Special Unit. You know that now, don´t you?”
”Yes, Mrs. Bronstein, but please…..it´s uncomfortable and humiliating, I don´t want to be seen like this….my classmates.. it´s awful, I….”
Maddie burst into tears.
”Yes please, Mrs. Bronstein, this is ridiculous, you can´t let my daughter be humiliated like this, she will be a laughing stock in her class if they see her, I will not……”, Melanie intervened.
”There are no buts here and that´s the end of your pathetic sniveling both of you. I will not hear a single word from you again,” Sarah barked.
Sarah slowly approached Melanie and, lowering her voice, continued.
”As a reprimand for you, Melanie, for not doing as you were told yesterday and for your ridiculous complaint about the outfit Maddie´s offered, you will be wearing rainwear yourself today.”
Melanie´s eyes grew wide at this outrageous suggestion while Sarah stared at her with a triumphant smile.
”We´re having a perfect occasion to try out the other combination that Maddie didn´t chose, don´t we? Blue coat and pink bib pants it is for you Melanie. And you will both curtsy and apologize to me immediately for your impertinence, Maddie first.”
”I´m sorry, Mrs. Bronstein.”
Sarah briskly produced the blue coat and resolutely put Melanie´s arms into the sleeves and buttoned it.
”Here, your pants, Maddie, you will help her.”
Melanie complied hyperventilating, avoiding eye contact with her tutor. Maddie quickly obeyed, getting down on all four. Her rainwear rustled wildly as she moved. Sarah snickered.
”Oh, that sound from your outfit, Maddie, is simply hilarious.”
Maddie stood up struggling to help her mother with the shoulder straps and the snap buttons. Melanie became another victim to the crotch adventure before quickly stepping into the blue rubber boots Sarah produced. Melanie´s genitals were squeezed with every movement, making her experience weird sensations, a mixture of heat and shame.
”That´s better. You look like you´ve always been wearing children´s rainwear Melanie,” Sarah chuckled as she placed a large hairband on Melanie´s head, uncovering her face.
Melanie could no longer hold back her tears.
”Now both of you, look at each other.”
Maddie and Melanie obeyed. Maddie, seeing her mother so humiliated, was sobbing uncontrollably.
”Take your daughter´s hand, Melanie.”
Melanie complied quickly.
”I´ll wait for you to stop crying girls, then we have a few things to settle before we go to the Unit. Here, dry your faces now and come with me.”
Sarah handled them handkerchiefs, went to the door and opened it.
”You should know, Maddie, that when it´s wet or raining you will also wear a sou’wester and rubber mitts. For today, as the sun is shining, this will do.”
Once again mother and daughter waddled in front of Sarah, down the corridor. Sarah´s phone rang.
”Sure, just come down to the entrance, we´re just about to go to the Unit.”
”It was Jessica, Mrs. Worthington for you, she had ah….. some documents she had to give to me, she will be with us in a minute.”
Sarah motioned them to continue down the stairs. Melanie was desperate, being seen by Mrs. Worthington in the ridiculous rainwear was awful. Was there any possible way out of this humiliation? Her thoughts were interrupted by Sarah´s determined voice.
The rustling noise from the outfits was simply amazing. Just as they arrived at the entrance door Jessica opened it and came towards them. She stopped agape.
”Oh geez, Sarah….”
Jessica stared perplexed at the two rubber clad women. She struggled to hold back a laughter.
”My God, Sarah…this is..”
Jessica suddenly changed from a shocked and cheerful expression to a stern look.
”Yes, Jessica, this is the outerwear required at the Unit, and yes, it is quite restrictive in fact.”
”I´m beginning to understand Maddie is facing a hard time, but……. I´m also beginning to think it´s good for her. I want her mother to tell me why she is dressed the same way.”
”Go on Melanie.”
Melanie looked aside, squirming.
”I…….. had to …..put on the rainwear…..because I was questioning Maddie´s outfit………….. I´m sorry.”
”I can see Melanie is repentant, which is a good start, but I think it´ll be necessary to discuss further corrections for her.”
Melanie felt tears welling up in her eyes. Maddie observed her mother´s humiliation, petrified.
”Yes, Jessica, to begin with she will remain in her rainwear for the rest of the day with her daughter at the Unit. It will remind her of the importance of showing respect to her superiors. Understood Melanie?”
”Yes, Mrs Bronstein.”
”Make her curtsy every time she addresses you , I would suggest, Melanie needs just as much as Maddie to be disciplined.”
”Good idea. Repeat and curtsy Melanie.”
”Now, Sarah, a student in class found this in Maddie´s desk, I think you have all the reasons to show it to the staff at the Unit.”
Jessica handed an envelope to Sarah who discretely opened it and took a look at the content. It was a thin pornographic magazine, it read ”Bondage perils” on the front page.
”Well, well, Maddie´s visit to the Unit doesn´t start to well does it? Sarah hissed with a stern look, handling the magazine over to Melanie.
It was all, of course, a well-directed theatre piece, Sarah had no doubt Maddie wasn´t even close to being capable of hiding porn magazines in her desk, the whole thing was obviously a fix up, occurring perfectly apropos in Sarah´s perspective. She had already prepared a strongly disadvantageous presentation of the two unlucky women, this was going to considerably emphasize the picture of a daughter having serious attitude problems and an incompetent and deficient mother. Melanie, now frantic, turned to face Maddie.
”Maddie, you…….how dare you…” Melanie squealed holding up the front page for Maddie to see.
”Quiet Melanie,” Sarah bellowed, ”I wasn´t asking for your opinion.”
Maddie writhed desperate and agape turning toward her mother.
”But mum, it wasn´t me…..”.
”Shut up both of you,” Sarah barked snatching the magazine from Melanie.
”You will learn to speak only when spoken to by superiors for the rest of the day, believe me, the headmistress at the Unit has a very low tolerance threshold when it comes to following rules. Understood, Melanie?”
”Yes, Mrs. Bronstein, I´m sorry.”
Sarah approached the now crying youngster, suddenly taking a firm grip of her ear.
”And for you Maddie, denying your outrageous misconduct will exacerbate your situation. I will make sure your classmates get to know you´re accusing them for it, they´ll probably not appreciate it, you will visit them dressed in your full recess attire and recognize your disloyal stupidity and confess your guilt in front of the whole class. ”
Again, turning toward Melanie.
”I will also inform the direction at the Unit about Maddie´s attempt to blame her classmates for her own despicable and intolerable behavior.”
Melanie, crushed, looked crying at her daughter who knew only too well who was behind this trap. Maddie wanted to scream but the humiliation held her in a firm grip and she remained silenced. The only sound she produced was the rustling of her rainwear as she was now squirming uncontrollably.
”I will bring this up with the staff immediately, tell me Jessica, who was the student helping you to find it?”
”It was Skyler.”
”Well, please thank Skye so much will you, for exposing Maddie´s abominable behavior, and thank you for acting promptly.
With that Jessica opened the entrance door and held it open for Sarah who made a gesture to Maddie and Melanie to follow her out of the building. The sunshine struck the two already sweating women mercilessly in their plastic prisons, Sarah naturally enjoyed the beautiful weather.
At the same time in Maddie´s classroom, a couple of students were eventually looking out the window. The by now calmed down ambiance was all of a sudden interrupted by one of the girls.
”Oh my God, Kimmie, look!” Courtney almost screamed.
Kimberley, followed by a whole group of the class rushed to the window. The scene was priceless, seeing Maddie and her mother in their ridiculous attire was too much for most of them. The classroom was instantly filled with raucous laughter when Mrs. Worthington came back. She was having no chance to calm down her students, and actually, she didn´t find any good reason to do so. Jenny couldn´t hold back her curiosity and finally went to the window.
Discovering Maddie´s walk with her mother over the schoolyard on their way to the ”Dunce-House”, overpowered her, she literally collapsed in laughter. Letting the tension pass she still felt pity for her friend and tried to calm down her classmates, to no avail.