Unceremoniously dumped to the floor, my hands clenched scorched bottom. “Ruby!” Mrs. Cleanknockers admonished. “Remove your fingers at once! We are not done punishing you.” I am not ashamed to admit wailing for mercy. I received none: I wanted none. She ordered me to crawl, like a beast of the fields; I did so, naked as Eve, dragged by my hair to the snake. A low footstool—mounted—legs akimbo, scalded hemispheres jutting like sunrise kissed peaks, a red cave yawning open at its base, dripping with moisture. Tap-tap, went the cane, as did my sanity. Roaring filled my ears.
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