Katie began her morning as she did most; with her long list of chores. She was up and out of her pine log bed, with it’s lovely but worn quilt her great-grandmother had made for her, at 5:00am. There were eggs to be snatched from the chicken coop, stalls to be shoveled out in the old weathered barn, a cow to milk and breakfast to be prepared by herself, her Ma and her other sister Rachel. Her six brothers had their own list to whittle away on before any of them could fill their bellies at the breakfast table.

Life was hard here in the heart of the Appalachias; always had been, probably always would be. The people were generally poor but decent and honest; they worked hard but took time for play as they could too. And of course there was always church on Sundays; the Sabbath strictly upheld. For all their poverty that the outside world took notice of, they had more than their share of riches as well. They were well blessed in the land their forefathers had laid claim to and worked so many generations ago. The beauty that surrounded them was free for all to drink in and they filled their souls with its inspiration and their music with its melody! Katie particularly enjoyed and had an affinity for the animals that shared their woodland home with her small community. Whenever she had “free time” she would find herself drifting aimlessly in the shelter of the dense woods; inhaling deeply of the earthy pine aroma, daydreaming as the sun beams filtered softly through the lacy patterns cast by the trees. Most of all, she loved talking to her critter friends. She felt safe baring her soul, her hopes, her fears to the gentle creatures that always listened and never disparaged her dreams. In fact, she felt safer here in these woods with them than she did in her very own home; not since her Pa had died and her Ma remarried had she felt safe inside the little log home.

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Her step-dad was a hard man; hard drinking, hard taskmaster, hard to please. And when he was not well-pleased there was always hell to pay! Hell usually came in the form of one of two instruments: either the heavy black leather strap that hung threateningly on the hook by the hearth or the worse of the two, the slender but sturdy birchwood switch. Punishment was delivered in the most humiliating ways her step-father could contrive and usually at the very least involved having your bottom bared; even for an older girl of 17, such as herself!

Katie sat gingerly on the circular stool set out before their cow, Greta. It still hurt to sit from the beating she took last evening and all because she had tried to do what her Ma had asked her to do! Her Ma had made up some chicken stock and wanted Katie to take a batch over to their sick neighbor, Mrs. Cooper, after Katie’s afternoon chores were through. She obeyed and even hurried because on the way there she remembered that her step, as she called him, had told her he wanted her in the house by 5:30pm to help him with something. She came running, out of breath, in the front door by 5:50pm and found her step waiting at the kitchen table with his black strap in hand. She looked up with horror at her step-father and in a rush of words tried to explain why she was delayed and how her Ma had asked her to go do the errand!! But he was having none of it. All he cared about was that she wasn’t in the house by 5:30 like he had told her and it didn’t matter what her Ma wanted, only what he wanted that counted! “And by God she was going to learn that the hard way!”

It was almost suppertime and so all of the kids were sitting around very quietly, knowing what was to come and secretly glad it was not them that had got their step-father all fired up. They each wished they didnt have to be witness to their older sister’s humiliation…..winced as they heard their father give the order for everyone to go outside onto the front porch and gather round. An old wooden table that sat on the front porch was brought front and center to rest in the middle of it. Katie imagined how the scene would play out and for a moment she looked off into the woods bathed in their mellowing sunlight and would have given most anything to be there with her critters, safe and invisible. But there was no way out. A fact that was brought to mind most every day for her. No way off this mountain, no way out of this house that she used to love, no way out of her step-fathers dangerous grasp.

She tried to muster what courage and dignity she could when her step barked at her to stand in front of him but the truth of the matter was she was just plain scared! Almost paralyzed by it. And that made her step have to repeat himself even louder; something that would only make things worse for poor Katie. She obediently but slowly walked over to stand, head bowed, in front of the angry, towering old man. “Katie i will not abide you or anyone else disobeying my orders. Is that understood?!” “Yes, step-father”, she whispered sadly. “Good, then you know what to expect from such behaviour.” He looked her in the eye and reaching up under her simple cotton dress his fingers found her white cotton panties and pulled them ever so slowly down until they reached her ankles. “Step outta ’em, girl!” She did as she was told. In the next minute her humiliation became doubled. Her step-fathers large, weathered hands raised the sides of her skirt and hitched it up to fold into the waist band of her dress thereby exposing, for all in her family to see, her nakedness from the waist down. Her step took a few moments it seemed, to just stare at her; beginning with her bare feet and working his gaze slowly upward until he had reached the barrier of her clothing stuffed into the little waistband. He gazed at her small, slim thighs, and lingered hotly on the exposed feminine beauty of her downy covered pussy; then onward to her smooth, firm tummy. The hint of the soft swells of Katie’s breasts were just showing below the high waistband of her dress. ‘God, but she was going to be a looker!” he thought as he absently rubbed a hand over the tight bulge that was trying to push it’s way free of his work pants.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Katie wanted more than anything to shield her privates from her lecherous, mean old step-father and so was glad when he told her to turn around; but only for a second. What came next was always worse. As she turned, she knew she was baring her nakedness and shame to her sister and Ma and even worse, to her brothers. Having turned around, her step now had a full view of her lovely bottom; it’s feminine curves two creamy soft mounds of rounded flesh that were full at the bottom and tapered up into a tiny waist. Then her agony continued. She felt his hot, sweaty hands eagerly groping her and patting her soft bottom. It made her feel sick in the pit of her stomache and she cringed as she felt those hands skim across and around her flesh. It took all she could do to stand there and just endure it rather than run helter-skelter into her wooded sanctuary. But she knew if she did that, what she was about to go through would be nothing in comparison to the price she would pay if she ran from him.

“Come over here girl and spread yerself across the table; butt up in the air facing yer family….and be sure to grab hold of the edges..yer gonna need the support!”, he chuckled softly to himself before spitting out a wad of chewing tobacco he had been hording inside his left cheek.

Katie did as she was told and waited helplessly for what was surely to come next. She of course had had the strap before; many times since her step had moved in but something told her this time was to be different. She anxiously held her breath; she could feel the warm evening breeze as it caressed her bare bottom and pussy, could hear the cawing of the crows that lived in the trees overhead and tried to imagine the scurrying of the night creatures as they awakened to another “day”….anything to escape if possible, the torment that her mind and body were in, waiting for the first fierce lash of his wicked belt. All at once the fiery rain came down on her quivering flesh, jolting her back to the here and now. “Ahhhh!!” she cried. “Aint nothin’ you dont deserve, girl, so I dont want to hear it!”, her step jeered at her. She saw the shadow of his big arm rise way above his head and then quickly back down it came, thrashing her soft, defenseless bottom a second time. Katie gritted her teeth as best she could. She hated giving him the satisfaction of hearing her cry out. A muted whimper was all she would let escape her throat this time. Again the hand rose and again and again it fell swiftly and harshly onto her abused butt and thighs; 15 times in all before he stopped and approached her once more. During all this her siblings and Ma tried to squeeze their eyes shut and close their ears to drown out the awful scene before them.

“Katie this isnt the first time, by any means, that I have had to punish you like this……is it?!” he demanded an answer from the frightened and aching young woman before him. “No Sir…it isnt,” she replied meekly. “That’s right and I mean to put a stop to this and see that you learn your lesson once and for all.” His words brought on a new sense of fear in the disheartened girl. “You’re a stubborn, stupid child and we would be well rid of ya but the good Lord saw fit to give me you, as a trial no doubt, and i mean to not shirk my responsibilities as long as you live under my roof!” With that he ended his speech and walked briefly back into the house. Katie knew better than to move from the exact spot he had placed her in, though she wished with all her might that she might gently rub the stinging, burning welts the belt had raised on her tender legs and buttocks. When her step came back out she turned her head towards the front door and looked up to see what he had gone back inside to retrieve. The birch switch!! She couldnt help herself but to beg. “No, step-father, Please!!” she cried out through her tears and anguish. “Like I said….it aint nothin’ you don’t deserve child, now get back into position and hold on good.” Her tears fell on deaf and uncaring ears. She did as she was told, well past the place where she could do anything but blindly obey. She was resigned to her fate and just prayed to God it would be over soon.

Her step-father walked up behind her and nudged her legs apart with his knee; he nudged until she was uncomfortably spread open. From this position all behind her, particularly her step-father, could see underneath to where her pussy showed….her tender young mound untried and unused to being open like this. The embarrasment just brought her further into herself. Her body was turning scarlet, not just from the fresh beating she had taken but suffused with the hot burning color of shame. She herself had never suffered under the switch, though her brothers had and she remembered now the stories of agony they had told her about it. She wondered how awful it would be. In that second of wondering she found out and nothing could have prepared her for the blistering sting the tree switch left across her left thigh. This time she couldn’t help the keening cry that erupted from her throat. It hurt worse than anything she had ever felt; especially on top of the fresh marks left by the belt! ‘How many times was he going to lash her with this horrible whip’, she worried? Just then another pass of the switch sliced across her punished bottom; lower this time and the way she was bent over the table it was dangerously close to finding her pussy. She cried out again and begged once more for it all to be over. “It’s over when I say its over, girl!” her step-father bellowed. This time, as if reading her mind, the switch found her sensitive pussy. Katie howled like a wounded animal, out of her mind with the searing pain on pain of the vicious switch. Five more strokes sliced across her legs, buttocks and lower back and burned into her brain until all her world consisted of in that moment was a fiery throb pulsating like hot needles up and down her backside.

Towards the end her oldest brother, Billy, spoke up, “Pa, that’s enough!! She’s been punished enough!” “Oh you think you know what’s best, boy? Are you darin’ to question me??” he said in a deceptively quiet voice. Billy immediately looked contrite and backed down. After the eighth stroke her step-father laid the switch on the table where Katie’s figure lay limp and sobbing quietly. He wiped his brow and told everyone to get back to ‘doin’ whatever yer supposed to be doin’ and then just walked back into the house leaving everyone standing there, a little stunned and solemn. Ma knew how her husband was handling the family was wrong but she was just too tired and too intimidated to know how to change it. Well, soon her daughter would be getting a husband of her own no doubt and would be able to move out and her torment would be over….one down, seven more to go she thought sadly. Katie’s sister Rachel was brave enough to gently put an arm around Katie, help her stand and smooth her dress back into place and then walked her back into the room where they and two of their brothers shared beds. As exhausted as Katie was from the ordeal, she still found it hard to find a position that didn’t hurt so much so she could fall asleep. When sleep finally took her she slept fitfully and tossed and turned all night trying to find a cool place on the sheets to soothe her wounded body.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Katie shuddered now as she relived it all while milking Greta but it also made her hurry about her chores so as to keep her step from getting angry with her again. When she came into breakfast later that morning everyone gathered around the kitchen table and helped themselves to what was laid upon it. It was during breakfast that her Ma announced that this Sunday after church the Carter family reunion was going to take place down at Horseshoe lake. This was something they all looked forward to every year. It was a day when even her step-father couldn’t crowd out her joy at being with members of her extended family. They came from many different areas across the map to catch up with one another; see how big the kids were growing, who got married, who was expecting and it was always a lot of fun! They had a huge potluck dinner, swimming down at the lake, canoeing, games and for once her step usually minded his manners and didn’t raise too much fuss with the kids. Katie always suspicioned it was because, if any of her relatives from outside the Appalachias saw the shameful way he treated her Ma and the children, they would raise quite a fuss so it was just easier to stay quiet….at least for the day. The day after the reunion things always went back to normal and a whipping or two were usually handed out to some unfortunate child who had unknowingly provoked her step-father.

Katie remained quiet this morning but Rachel piped up and said she hoped Aunt May would bring her famous applesauce cake again this year. “I don’t know about that, Rach but what I DO know is that your Uncle Robert is going to be there for the first time in twelve years!” her Ma said dramatically. Now this was big news indeed!! Katie had heard all the hushed stories about her Uncle…..how he had left the mountain as soon as he turned eighteen and had left the church behind him at the same time. And Katie had overheard some interesting stories she wasn’t meant to hear about “the strange attitudes and ‘things’ her Uncle did now that he was a heathen and all!” They related stories and hinted at things Katie was too naive to possibly understand. All she knew was that the whole family had pronounced her Uncle as ‘bad people’ and it made Katie wonder if he was crazy or something. When she heard the news about her Uncle coming she felt revolted and curious at the same time. She lay awake later that night pondering over just what Uncle Robert was really like and fell asleep with him on her mind. She only had five more days to wait until she found out.

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To be continued