Ella crept downstairs. It was only 1am, but she had been checking every fifteen minutes to see if her husband had put her present under the tree yet, before he left for his night-shift at the hospital. He had made her promise to wait until he was back in the morning to open it, but she wasn't going to take it out of its box--she just wanted to see what it was.
Yes. It was there! A big white box with a red bow. She hurried over to the bushy green spruce with the pretty red bow-and-bulb ornaments, and sank quickly to her knees. She started to untie the red ribbon.
"Young lady," came a deep voice behind her, startling her half to death. She didn't even think to drop the ribbons, as she turned around and saw. . . white beard, check. . . red suit, check. . . jolly old elf--well, old elf, check; jolly, not very.
"Young lady, I believe you made your husband a promise."
"Um. . . I. . ."
"Did you or didn't you?"
Ella felt her face crumple. "Yes, Santa, I did. I'm so sorry."
"He and I made a deal tonight: he's going to put out the presents at the hospital, and I brought your present here. Do you think he deserves to have you breaking your promise while he's out working?"
"No, Santa." A tear rolled down Ella's face.
"What do you think would happen if he saw you himself?"
"Oh, no," she said, picturing it.
"He would spank you, wouldn't he? Don't lie, or you'll be on the naughty list next year!"
"Then since he and I have our bargain tonight, I believe I need to teach you your lesson."
Santa brought the little stool over to the tree, and sat upon it, looking decidely jollier. He patted his lap, and Ella, still holding the ribbons of the forbidden present, went over it.
"You'll tell your husband in the morning that you need a spanking, but you don't have to tell him why. I think it will brighten his day, especially if you're as delighted by your gift as I think you will be, Ella."
Santa flipped up the little green skirt to reveal scandalously configured underwear. "Tsk, tsk, tsk," he said, as he began to administer the sort of sound spanking that only he can give. "Sometimes naughty and nice are the same, aren't they?"
(Photo via Casey McKay, from the Busy Bee blog of Cari Bee. Thanks, Casey!)
(If you like these stories, try the Companion to EXPLORATIONS!)