“Woman is the origin of sin, and it is through her that we all die.” (Ecclesiasticus 25:25)
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Hmm? What’s this? A visitor? Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to come back later. I’ve had quite a night, you see.
Oh, alright then. Just a moment.
*ahem* Pardon my manners. Edith Plum, and pleased to make your acquaintance. Green-thumbed, over-emotional, absent-minded gatherer and a natural cook—just as a lady should be. I suppose you’re wondering why a delicate flower like myself is sleeping in a hayloft.
Well, tada! This is my new estate. No, I don’t have that in writing. But I fought off the clan of possums that lived here before, so I’d say it’s as good as mine.
Please though, settle in and make yourself at home. I’d offer you a cup of tea, but well, I’ve just been disowned and nearly drowned, so you’ll have to excuse me my disorganization.
Anyway, since I’m up, I may as well greet the day. Dear me, this place certainly looked nicer in the dark…
“Good morning, Miss,” says a strange girl lurking on my doorstep. “I thought you might get bored out here, so I brought you a newspaper to read.”
Just what sort of land have I stumbled into? “A woman, reading?” I laugh. “What an absurd thought!”
“Um, I read all the time,” says the child. “It’s not that weird.”
“Your parents are very careless,” I warn her. “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking.”
“If you’re going to quote a Disney villain, at least pick a good one,” she says.
“What is a Disney?” I ask.
“Jeez,” she replies, “did your parents even love you?”
The child is beginning to irk me. “Why don’t you run along and practise your needlework?”
That ought to steer her onto the right path.
“What a freak,” I think she mutters as we part ways.
But I will not be enticed into dark doings. I put the so-called “newspaper” exactly where it belongs.
However, it’s the talk of parents that has truly unsettled me. You see, there’s something I haven’t told you.
My family suffers from a curse. A thousand years ago, my great-great grandmother (I’m not very good with numbers) followed thirteen black cats under a ladder and forgot to knock on wood. Ever since, the Plums have been forced to start from rock bottom every 250 years, or else be plagued by rotten luck. The last line culminated in my father, a professor of archaeology.
That makes me the start of a new one. It could have been any of my nine brothers, but my father was adamant. “Edith,” he said before he tossed me off the boat, “you are the apple of my eye. But we are the Plums, so off you go now, goodbye.”
This scarf I’m wearing is a sleeve from his sweater. I must have torn it off in the struggle.
So here I am in this strange town where I’ve washed up, with no useful skills and only a few dollars tucked into my corset. The fishing rod I discovered this morning in the hayloft, which explains the mysterious back pains I had all night.
As I’m trying to catch my breakfast, a man in a furry suit marches across my lawn touting some nonsense about women going to university.
I ignore the lunatic and pretend to be a statue.
Just as I thought, I don’t know the first thing about catching fish. I opt to skip a stone instead for the childish thrill of it.
I watch in satisfaction as it sinks to the bottom with a “plop,” confirming my ineptitude once and for all.
How is a useless woman to fill her belly, anyway? Shedding a few pounds would be nice, but I can only go on like this for so long.
Well, there’s only one solution I can think of…
…I shall have to find myself a husband!
Even going as fast as I can, it takes me five hours to get anywhere near the town. This place is all bridges and islands and twisty roads—just the perfect place for an idiot like me to get hopelessly lost.
Ugh, what a bother. It’s late afternoon and the sweat has saturated my underthings, if I may be so vulgar. Perhaps I ought to just turn back.
Or maybe I ought to… No, that would hardly be ladylike of me. But oh, would it not be more improper to die of heatstroke in public?
Ahhh, what bliss! Until last night, I had no idea I could even swim. Figures, my father must have believed in me all along. He’s a wise man, my father.
So much for shedding pounds—my skirts are full of rocks, or as good as. Still, I wonder what’s on the other side of this hill?
Good golly, I’ve made it at last! A miracle if I ever did see one.
“Excuse me,” I ask the only person in sight, “but would you mind telling me where I am?”
“In 1895, by the looks of it,” he says.
Best not bother him for clarification; he looks like he has important things to do.
The market is sold out of produce for the day (just my luck) but they are able to sell me some vegetable seeds. Unfortunately, I still haven’t eaten since I arrived… and halfway through my walk home, I’m so delirious that everything looks appetizing.
Luckily, I spot a fishing rod on the riverbank and pluck up the stamina for one last kick at the can.
I may not have hooked a husband today, but I did drag in a minnow that was swimming around my ankles. Take that, world!
It’s nearly sunrise as I arrive home and light my first ever fire. It turns out it’s not so hard, but perhaps that’s because the possums left a lighter here.
My little minnow looks much bigger once he’s cooked. I wonder now if I am the same: small, wriggling and pathetic until I am skewered and shoved in the flames. My father always told me diamonds were made under pressure. “But you are no diamond, Edith,” he would say. “Oh, no. Diamonds are much more valuable than you.”
All this philosophisizing is hurting my head. I’d better make sure the hut hasn’t been recaptured in my absence. Maybe I’ll take this skewer with me just in case.
N/A: Hello! Yes, this is my take on the Boolprop EPIC Challenge! I’m playing with a whole bunch of optional rules I’m too lazy to list, plus my own self-inflicted challenge of Edith is illiterate and can’t use books or newspapers. Oh, and this is a matriarchy, but you probably caught on to that one. I’m way out of my element with this first-person, actual-narrative stuff, so I apologize if I’m not as outrageously funny as the Gryffindork you’re used to. 😉 The Langurds are still and always my first priority, but I’m hoping to make quicker progress here and write shorter chapters. (Sure, that’s what she always says…)