Today I am sharing a short story I wrote about a year ago. It's rather different from my usual and I'm not sure it has any commercial value, but I thought I'd share it and see what you all think. This is mostly unedited so please don't be too picky about those things.
Millie Rules the World
It was another sun shiny perfect morning in the neighborhood. Millie picked up the pace of her morning walk, alternating a single hand weight and the leash of her dog, Chocolate Chip, from hand to hand in order to get an even workout for both arms.
When she rounded the corner of Blissful Lane she pulled up short. Poor Chocolate Chip yelped when his collar didn’t keep up with his jaunty pace. The dog looked back at Millie, his doggy brows wrinkled in confusion. Everyone, canine, feline and human, knew that once Millie was in motion, whether walking, cooking, talking or any of her other activities, she never stopped until the task was accomplished.
Something wasn’t right. Julia Swanson, who usually dressed impeccably in classic suits and dresses, walked to her car wearing a pair of baggy pants, an untucked blouse, and flat shoes that could have been slippers. Her hair, which usually lay smoothly against her shoulders, was pulled back into a tight, headache inducing bun.
Millie, not wanting to upset Julia, continued her walk giving the younger woman a jaunty wave and wishing her a good day.
But Millie, who many believed had some sort of sixth sense about the people and happenings in Shangri La Estates, knew all was not well with Julia.
She continued her walk, completing the two mile loop that took her down every street of Shangri La Estates, and finished up back at her own house.
“Looks like we’re going to need some snicker doodles today, Chipper” she said to the little dog when she hung up his leash on the hook for that purpose.
Millie liked order and her house reflected that passion in every detail. A series of hooks near the back door held Chocolate Chip’s leash, Millie’s jacket, her purse, a stack of reusable shopping bags, and an empty hook where her husband would hang his coat when he returned from work later that day.
She retrieved a homemade treat for Chocolate Chip from a bone shaped cookie jar on the counter and tossed it to the eager dog. She washed her hands and pulled out a well worn cookbook.
Chocolate Chip scampered after the treat, pulled it out from under the kitchen table where it had bounced, then ran to his white dog bed in the corner of the room where he devoured the goody and curled up for a nap.
“Easy for you,” Millie said to the dog when it stretched and yawned, “I think one of my girls is in trouble and I’m going to get to the bottom of this.”
‘Get to the bottom of this’ she said to herself and snickered a tiny bit.
She busied herself around the kitchen gathering the ingredients for the cookies she knew she needed to make. Out of habit more than necessity, she opened the cookbook to the snicker doodle recipe and ran her finger down the nearly brittle page.
The cookbook was really an old bound ledger book. The recipes were all handwritten in a spidery scrawl by Millie’s great grandmother. She’d never met the woman for whom she was named, but through the ritual of baking Millie felt connected to the women of her past and hoped the results of her baking would help her connect with Julia, who although she wasn’t a relative was still very much a part of what Millie referred to as her ‘family.’
The wooden spoon beat against the sides of the mixing bowl with particular vehemence as Millie considered what she’d observed that morning while creaming together butter and sugar.
To the untrained eye, it might not have seemed like much, but to Millie, Julia’s dramatic change in work attire seemed out of place and signaled a bigger problem. Millie considered the possibilities. A broken washing machine? A last minute spill? Maybe she was pregnant and didn’t want to let anyone know just yet.Millie sighed. There was no point in wondering. She’d find out soon enough.
She rolled the dough into little balls and tossed them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture before carefully placing them on a cookie sheet and sliding them into the oven.
Later that afternoon Millie placed a flowered linen napkin on a dessert plate, arranged her snicker doodles in a gravity defying heap and headed over to Julia’s house.
Julia dropped her brief case in a chair by the front door and headed for the kitchen to start dinner. She caught her reflection in the hallway mirror and stopped to look.
Was this her new persona? Dumpy and sloppy?
She thought about her closet filled with tasteful tailored clothing and sadness gripped her heart. Was it time to donate it all? Maybe she could call one of those groups that help women re-entering the work force. Surely they’d have plenty of women who could benefit from the professional wardrobe that she’d been building for the last ten years.
Resentment and anger replaced sadness. Why was it up to her to look horrible in order to avoid a situation that wasn’t her fault in the first place?
The unfairness of it all filled her with rage and she stomped to the kitchen and chopped vegetables with a vengeance.
By the time she finished taking out her frustration on the rutabagas her blood pressure had returned to normal. When the doorbell rang she put down the knife and headed for the front door. Out of habit, she checked her reflection in the hallway mirror and turned away in annoyance before looking through the window by the door to see Millie carrying a plate of cookies.
Millie followed Julia into the kitchen and surveyed her outfit from behind. It was even worse than she’d suspected. Julia’s nicely rounded bottom was buried in an avalanche of fabric that seemed to move separately from the rest of her body.
Julia fussed over the cookies and told Millie that she shouldn’t have. Millie told her it was no problem at all and that she was glad to have a reason to make a batch for someone who would enjoy them. After they dispensed with the niceties, Millie got down to business.
“Julia, something seems different about you. Is everything okay?” She smiled across the kitchen table at the younger woman.
Julia looked away and answered “Oh, everything is fine.”
Millie got up from the table, poured a glass of milk for each of them and resumed her seat. “I like chatting over milk and cookies, don’t you?” She smiled at Julia, but the other woman didn’t smile back.
The lack of response spurred Millie forward. “Julia, you know I care about all the women here in Shangri La as though they were my daughters.” Julia focused on dunking a cookie in her glass of milk, but she nodded in response to Millie’s statement. “That’s why I was so concerned when I saw you this morning. You never dress this way. I hope it’s just because it was office moving day or maybe your washer is on the fritz, but I wonder if there’s something else going on.”
Julia perked up. “That’s it. The washer has been acting up. I’m sure Dave will have it fixed soon and then everything will be back to normal.” Julia stood up as though to end the little tete a tete.
“I’m glad that’s all it is.” Millie stood as well. “But, maybe I can help. I know how busy Dave is and I’m pretty handy with most major appliances. Why don’t you let me take a look?”
Millie saw the look of panic in Julia’s eyes which confirmed her suspicion that the young woman had been lying to her. Millie did not take to lying well, but she maintained a calm countenance. No point in spooking Julia just yet.
“Oh no!” Julia’s voice was a screech. “I’m sure Dave will get to it tonight. Besides, I’m sure you need to get home and start your own dinner.”
Millie smiled. “It’s no problem at all,” she said and walked from the kitchen to the adjoining laundry room. “Besides, I’ve got a chicken stew in the crockpot so dinner at my house is all taken care of. Now let me take a look at that temperamental washer of yours.”
Julia felt panic well up from her stomach, along with a cinnamon taste from the snicker doodles. She’d heard tales from the other women in the neighborhood about Millie’s visits.
Millie was the head of the homeowners’ association and she took her duties very seriously. To be fair, all of the women who had whispered to her of the punishments Millie was prone to meting out told her that Millie’s intervention had been just the thing they needed, even if it hadn’t seemed that way at the time.
Now Julia had the problem which resulted in a major wardrobe shift plus the fact that she was about to be caught in a lie by Millie. It was hard to imagine that she’d be grateful for it, ever.
She pushed past her guest and got to the washer first, twisting and turning the knobs in an impressive display of nothing.
“Dear, let me give it a try.” Millie’s hand on Julia’s wrist was firm and brooked no opposition. For a small woman, Millie was surprisingly strong and she wedged herself between Julia and the washer and pushed the younger woman back with her butt so that Julia’s arms could no longer reach the knobs she’d been turning for dramatic effect.
With the flick of her wrist, Millie had water running into the washing machine. She turned the appliance off, then faced Julia.
“Wow, thank you so much. I can’t believe you fixed that so easily.” Julia hoped her enthusiasm would distract Millie, but this was not Millie’s first time in a laundry room.
“Now,” Julia felt Millie’s eyes piercing hers, “why don’t you tell me what’s really going on?”
“Nothing. Really. Now that you’ve fixed the washer, and I’m sooo grateful to you for that, I’ll be able to have clean clothes for tomorrow and I won’t have to wear these baggy pants.”
To Julia’s shock, Millie seemed satisfied. “Good,” she smiled. “Why don’t you just lean over and look behind the washer to make sure all the hoses are still connected properly so I’m sure it’s still working before I leave?”
Happy to oblige, Julia leaned over the washer and peered behind the machine. She reached down to feign adjusting the hoses, but before her hand reached the back of the machine, she felt a hard swat on her hind end. Startled, she raised up, but a firm hand on the small of her back held her in place.
Wh-what are you doing?”
“I’m getting to the bottom of this,” Millie said, her voice surprisingly pleasant considering the pain she was inflicting. “First I’m going to give you a few swats for lying to me. How can I help you with your problems if you lie to me? It hurts to know my girls don’t trust me.”
That’s not the only thing that hurts, Julia thought as a few more swats landed on her butt. Even through all the extra material of her baggy pants, Millie was landing some serious spanks and a burn was spreading across her cheeks.
“I’m sorry, Millie. I shouldn’t have lied to you.”
Millie moved from smacking Julia’s buttocks to swatting the tops of her thighs. “No, you shouldn’t have. Makes me think you’ve got more that you need to tell me.”
“Oh Millie, I can’t tell you. I can’t tell anyone. It’s too embarrassing.”
“More embarrassing than being laid over your washing machine and spanked?” Millie punctuated each word with a hard swat in the center of Julia’s butt. Tears started to form in Julia’s eyes, though she wasn’t sure if they were from the pain, which was considerable, or her own frustration and sadness.
It would be nice to tell someone.
But she just couldn’t. What would Dave say if he found out?
She buried her face in the baggy sleeves of her blouse and wept. She knew she should be concerned about getting make up on the blouse, but it was so ugly she didn’t care. Ugly clothes. That’s what the future held for her, especially if she didn’t tell anyone.
Julia felt herself lifted from the cold washing machine and gathered into Millie’s arms. Her face was pressed into a shoulder that smelled of cinnamon and sugar. Hands that had just warmed her bottom stroked her back in soothing circles. “There, there. Let it out. You can tell me.”
Seated back in the kitchen, Julia seemed to have gathered herself and Millie listened as she explained the situation which lead to her wearing feed-sack-like clothing.
“There’s a man at work, Carl, who keeps making sexual comments to me. I’ve asked him to stop but he won’t. I’ve told my supervisor, but he won’t do anything. When I finally told Dave about it, he said that it was probably because I was flirting with the guy and I should not wear such sexy clothes.” Julia’s lip quivered and a fresh stream of tears slid silently down her cheeks. Millie waited patiently for her to compose herself and continue.
“I-I wanted Dave to do something. To take my side. At least rant and rave about the guy being an asshole, but instead he just told me to wear less flattering clothes so now I have to wear these baggy clothes instead of the nice clothes that I love.” She took a deep steadying breath and broke off a piece of snicker doodle to nibble.
“Maybe Dave is right. Maybe it is my fault.”
Anger pulsed in Millie’s veins. She couldn’t decide which was worse, Julia’s situation at work or at home. But, given that her husband was supposed to love, honor and cherish her, it certainly seemed that his actions were the biggest affront to Julia’s dignity and pride.
“Do you think that the clothes you wore invited this man’s comments?” Millie’s spoke softly, as though talking to a frightened child.
Julia finished her cookie and thought for a moment. “No. And even if they did, it still wasn’t right for him to talk to me that way.”
“No, it wasn’t.” Millie reached across the table and squeezed her young friend’s hand. “So, what are we going to do about it?”
After a dinner of Millie’s crockpot chicken stew with snicker doodles for dessert, Julia and Dave had a quiet evening at home.
With Millie’s dinner already prepared, Julia had time to make a mad dash to the mall for the supplies needed to enact the plan she and Millie had concocted that afternoon.
Dave was already in bed watching TV when Julia joined him under the covers. He reached for her without taking his eyes off the screen then suddenly turned in alarm.
“What the hell are you wearing?” He had a handful of flannel in his hand.
During her drive to and from the mall Julia had practiced what she’d say so she could keep a straight face and also so she wouldn’t crumble under her husband’s questioning.
“It’s a new nightgown. Do you like it?”
“Nightgown? It’s like something Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother would wear.” He reached out to touch her head. “You’re not wearing one of those frilly caps too, are you?”
Darn. Wish I’d thought of that. Julia stifled a giggle.
Dave threw back the covers and looked at his wife, covered from chin to ankle in flannel with her feet stuffed into fuzzy socks.
“Is this a joke?”
“No, it’s not a joke at all.” Julia was proud that her voice hadn’t wavered. “You told me I needed to wear more baggy clothes, so I’m just following your instructions.”
Dave sat up, the television forgotten, “that was just at work, not at home.”
“Well,” Julia was all sweetness, “if you’re concerned about me inviting unwanted attention at work, I figured you’d want to make sure I didn’t do the same thing at home. You know there are lots of good looking men in the neighborhood. I’d hate to tempt or be tempted.” Julia smiled at her husband and reached for the bedcovers.
“I don’t want you to dress this way for me. I’m your husband.”
“Well, if you’re my husband, then act like it. If you want to make sure other men stay away, why don’t you make sure they know I’m your wife instead of just making me go around in ugly clothes? What the hell is wrong with you? What happened to the fierce, protective man I married?”
With that, she pulled the bed clothes up to her chin, rolled over and went to sleep.
The TV was still on and Dave tried to make himself interested in the show , but while his wife slept blissfully by his side, her words echoed through his head.
Damn. She was right. When had he become such a wimpy yes man?
He remembered a time when they were first married and Julia had attended an office party with him. His own supervisor had flirted blatantly with Julia. Dave, unconcerned for his professional aspirations, had socked the man in the eye. Fortunately for Dave, the owner of the company was a woman of good sense who admonished him for his use of violence but secretly praised him for watching out for his wife.
Now the same thing was happening at Julia’s job and not only was he not there to protect her, he’d basically blamed her.
What had happened to him? Where had Dave gone?
Julia woke up the next morning surprised at how well she’d slept. Maybe there was something to this flannel nightgown after all.
Dave wasn’t on his side of the bed, but he often got up before she did to go running, so she didn’t give it much thought. She showered and returned to her room to dress. When she reached for the clothes she’d laid out the night before, a denim jumper two sizes too large that could double as a maternity dress and a long sleeved blouse, they were missing. In their place she found a favorite black dress.
Although she’d never believed in clothing elves, she wondered if they might be responsible for this change of plans. Regardless, she donned the dress and her spirits soared.
Despite wearing a flattering dress, Julia’s confidence withered away on the drive to work. What if Carl, the guy who’d been saying all those icky things, made another comment? What would she say?
Was she over-reacting? Maybe he was just being nice.
Her gut told her otherwise. That creepy feeling she got whenever he was around wasn’t wrong.
Still, her tummy fluttered as she pulled into the parking lot at work. The fact that Dave hadn’t come back from his run before she left also made her uneasy. They hadn’t exactly followed that old adage about not going to bed mad.
Why did men have to be such pinheads?
If I had an answer to that I wouldn’t have to work here every day.
She grabbed her briefcase and strode toward the front door.
Movement next to the building caught her eye and a silhouette caught her attention. She’d recognize that stance anywhere. Dave.
Stepping cautiously into the alley next to her building she moved toward Dave who waved her closer. Muffled sounds drew her attention to the left and shock and horror coursed through her.
A man was kneeling over a bench. Was that a bare butt? It sure wasn’t attractive, just sort of white and pasty. She felt a little bit of her breakfast moving up her throat.
“Dave, what the hell is going on here?”
Dave prodded the bare assed man with his toe. “Carl, say good morning to Julia.”
Carl turned to look at Julia over his shoulder. His eyes were wild and his usual bravado was long gone. “Julia, help me. He’s crazy.”
Julia looked back down the alley toward the parking lot. What if someone saw them? Maybe Dave had snapped.
“You were right when you told me I’d turned into a wimpy yes man so I decided to do something about it.”
“And you thought that forcing a man to go around bare assed in an alley was the way to do it?”
“No, that wasn’t my first thought. My first thought was to strangle him and bury the body parts in various fields around town, but then I decided that I should share the fun with you.”
“You want me to help you spread the body parts around?” Maybe he had snapped.
Dave gave her an exasperated look. “No, I just thought that since you were the one who was wronged by this douche bag, you ought to be the one to inflict the punishment.” He handed her a paddle with a long wooden handle. “Your target is that large doughy white blob over there.”
“Dave! I can’t do that. He’ll have us arrested.”
“Don’t worry honey, Carl and I already talked about it and he’s agreed that this is a much better way to handle things. Besides, if he has us arrested, his wife will find out why we had to take such drastic measures and you don’t want that, do you Carl?”
Carl, who had been silent since using the C word to describe Dave, shook his head. “No, please don’t tell my wife.”
Was that a quiver in his voice?
“Come on Julia,” Dave touched her elbow and gently moved her into place. You know you want to. Just think about all the horrible things this man has said to you. How that made you feel.”
It was so tempting. The weight of the paddle felt good in her hands. But no. She couldn’t.
“Carl,” Dave called out to the now whimpering man across the bench, “remember what we talked about.”
Carl took a deep breath then said “Please spank me Julia. It’s what I deserve for being such a pig to you.”
Dave gestured with his head toward Carl and his pale behind. “You heard what he said.”
Julia reared back with the paddle and let the weight of it fall downward and make contact with Carl’s ass. It wasn’t a hard swat, but the man yelped in surprise.
“I don’t think he really thought you’d do it, Julia.” She could hear the pride in Dave’s voice. “Carl, did you know that Julia was the district champ in tennis when she was in high school?”
“I bet you don’t really know anything about Julia except the fact that she’s an attractive woman, do you?”
“Sure, I do.” Carl’s voice sounded unsure but desperate.
“Well, I’m a fair minded man,” Dave said walking around the bench so that Carl could see him. “If you can tell me three personal things about Julia that have nothing to do with her appearance, you can pull your pants up and get the hell out of here. But if not, my little tennis player is going to go all Martina Navratilova on your big bare ass. What do you think of that?”
“O-okay,” Carl sounded hopeful. “She’s an only child.”
“Wrong!” Dave’s voice sounded like a buzzer from a television quiz show. He pointed at Julia and gave a nod and she swung the paddle and connected with a ‘thwack’ that echoed through the empty alley.
“Care to try again?”
“Uh, she, she was a tennis player in high school!” Carl’s voice sounded triumphant.
Dave shook his head, chagrined. “Carl, Carl, Carl. I just told you that.”
He signaled his wife and this time she swatted with even more enthusiasm. That bastard had worked down the hall from her for three years and didn’t know one damn thing about her. She gave him an extra swat just because she felt like it.
By now, Carl was whimpering and his butt was turning a rosy shade of red.
“Last chance Carl,” Dave said. “I bet you can’t even name one thing about Julia.”
“She’s married to a crazy man.”
This time Julia didn’t wait for Dave’s signal. She let fly with the wooden paddle. “Nope, Carl. He’s not a crazy man. We’re just a couple of crazy kids in love and we’re not going to put up with crap from you.”
She punctuated her words with steady swats. The wooden handle felt good in her hands and with each swat she reminded Carl of the demeaning statements he’d made to her.
“Maybe the next time you call someone ‘sweet cheeks’ you’ll think about this instead.” She landed a wallop that went across both cheeks of his ass.
“And the next time you think about peeking down a woman’s blouse, I want you to remember this.” Another smack across the ass. This time the sound of Carl’s sniffling echoed through the alley.
“Reaching across me at the conference table and brushing your arm against my breasts.” Smack.
“Sending emails to everyone in the office with your ignorant sexist jokes.” Kerwump.
“Leering at the interns.” Crack.
Julia had no idea how many times she landed the paddle on Carl’s rear end, though eventually she was exhausted, but exhilarated.
Dave had stood up for her and she had stood up for herself.
I wrote this in response to a situation a friend of mine had and my frustration over her husband's behavior. Sadly, my friend's husband never stood up for her (it wasn't a sexual harassmment thing but something else where he was a total wimp and didn't come to his wife's defense).
- How often do things in your personal life inspire a story?
- I have ideas for other Millie stories where she goes around spanking people for bad behavior, mostly all the things that annoy me. Would you be interested in reading more? If so, would you be willing to pay to read more? Seriously, you won't hurt my feelings. I'm curious.
- Should Julia have given Dave a few swats too?
- What's your favorite cookie?
- Any other thoughts on this story? I'd really like to know what you think.