Cuckoo

August 30, 1896
Sarah Waters

The week began on a stressful note. I was late from work in arriving at the train station. The plan was for me to enter the train out of sight from the platform and emerge as though I had just arrived. It seemed simple enough. I was not even fully convinced it was necessary but the young man who had kept me safe for the previous week was insistent that such an appearance was necessary and in fairness to him, I am not certain he was right.

Nothing goes as smoothly as planned though and it was of course another young man who had to nearly destroy the plan entirely. He stepped out into the aisle from nowhere and nearly sent me to the floor as we collided. He did in fact send one of my cases to the floor and the contents scattered. It was only anger that kept me from giving up on the spot.

The man had the audacity to react as if the entire spectacle was of my doing. I am sure I stretched the limits of behavior becoming a young lady of Primrose College but I was not about to allow the young man to ruin my day more than he all ready had. I calmly called him on his rudeness and perhaps succeeded if briefly in changing his attitude. In the end he did at least act in a gentlemanly manner and carried my cases, once they were recollected. Only later did I realize I never learned his name despite giving him mine, perhaps we will meet again under more fortunate circumstances.

Mrs. Carrington greeted me with the rudeness I am now becoming accustomed to at Primrose. My dreams of this place never included feeling ostracized. Still there are positives and I am doing my best to focus on those things.

The surroundings are picturesque. The scent of the ocean carries itself in the air and fills me with a sense of excitement and life. Fields of lavender stretch out in some areas as far as the eye can see. Birds sing from the treetops and the hills glimmer in the sunlight. It is not the Rocky Mountains, but it is America and it is beautiful just the same.

Carrington Manor, the dormitory, is colossal in size and design. The front steps alone can be a dizzying ascent and the entry hall is like a chamber of echoes. The oak floors are polished to a mirror like shine and not a single board creeks under the weight of a step. The staircase to the upper levels and the rooms winds around the outer walls of the front and left side. At the end of the entry hall there are two more hallways leading off into a study hall with dozens of desks and a small library of reference books.

Down the opposite hall there is a door to one side leading to Mrs. Carrington’s den before the hallway opens up into the dining room. There are three extended tables and by my initial count they can easily seat nearly 100 guests. From the dining room another hall extends toward the kitchen, Mr. Carrington’s private study and the Carrington’s family rooms. A back exit through at the end of the hall and another through the kitchen lead to the property’s driveway and the stables are just a short walk beyond. Seeing them, I missed Jasper.

My first stop inside Carrington Manor was Mrs. Carrington’s den. I would have rather settled into my room and met my roommates, but she was quite insistent. Her den felt cold and empty despite its tea room d├ęcor. I entered ahead of Mrs. Carrington and selected a chair to the side of her desk to sit in. She emitted a grumpy sigh as I did.

“I received a letter from your brother just this morning. He was uncertain if you would be arriving here.” She said, taking her place behind the desk.

I remained quiet and waited patiently for her to come to a point.

“You have nothing to say?” She asked.

“I was not aware there was a question to be answered.” I replied.

“I would think it is obvious you have some explaining to do.”

“I do not see why I should explain anything about my relationship with my brother or any other family member to you.”

“You are under my care and responsibility while here. If there are problems in your home life it is my concern.”

“Matters pertaining to my life within this house are your business, outside of that boundary it is my business and none of yours.”

“You will learn to have better manners in your time here, Miss Waters. Now, I expect an explanation as to why your brother would be concerned about your whereabouts.”

“My manners may not be impeccable but I am not the one who is prying into the private matters of someone I do not know. You may expect whatever you wish but in regards to matters between my brother and I you will be disappointed.”

“I am aware of your father’s recent passing and the kind of stress that undoubtedly has placed in your family life, but I cannot help you if you do not talk to me.”

“I do not recall asking for your help.”

“You did not, but your brother has.”

“Then perhaps you should correspond with him. I have no need for your false sympathy or your insensitive probing into matters which do not concern you.”

“You are clearly in need of some sound discipline and if you maintain this defiant attitude you will soon be receiving it.”

“If you think to discipline me for rejecting your rude and obtrusive inquiries into my private affairs, you will not find me a compliant and I doubt you have the same resolve I do. If I break the rules of this house or the college I will willing accept the consequence otherwise I expect to left alone and I am not helpless.”

I stood and decided the conversation was over.

“Where are you going? Sit back down this instant!”

She stood behind her desk and leaned forward over it toward me. I met her gaze and stepped closer to her, unflinching.

“Unless you have something to discuss about Primrose College or the Dormitory, we are quite done. I have no intention of discussing my dead father or its impact on my family with you or anyone else here.”

“It would do you some good to talk about these matters, help you let go of that anger. Sit down and accept the friendship offered to you.”

“Talk is a waste of time, only action has meaning and you do not offer friendship, I wonder if you even know how.”

“You are out of line.”

“No more than you are. We are done.”

I walked out of the den without waiting for her to reply.

I found my room with relative ease, although I was stopped on the way by another young woman who felt it was her job to ‘help’ me as well. Fortunately, the conversation remained short and the woman in question backed down before it escalated into a confrontation.

My roommates had all ready settled in and I was therefore stuck with a top bunk and the bottom drawer of the dresser. In truth it made no difference to me but the fact I had no choice was irritating. The three girls did not take kindly to me from the start. They are from money, as it seems everyone at Primrose is, everyone except me that is.

They decided to take issue with my clothes and my hair. They escalated quickly to declaring I was filthy and even accused me of thievery. Before I knew it they had dragged me from the room and dumped me in a tub of water, clothes and all. I cannot say a bath was unwelcome but the attitudes and method were.

Come Friday, an evening of socializing was scheduled. I attended only after being informed it was mandatory. As I sat in the midst of gossiping rich girls I realized just how out of place I am. I had expected to find a place where I would fit in, but even though I never quite fit in my hometown I realize now that I was a lot closer to it there than I will ever be here. I am the cuckoo in the nest.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Melanie, I'll bet she surprised Mrs Carrington.
Warm hugs,
Paul.