After a long day of mathematics at the Charleston Academy for Girls, Lilly retired to her room. It was the evening just after six and the sky was a bright golden orange around the powder-blue clouds. The block 10 girls (ages 16-19) had just finished their supper and had been dismissed until the next day's lesson.
Sitting at her dark cherrywood desk, Lilly boredly stared out the window. Of course. The girls at the Rowanberry Wifely School for Girls were out playing catch. Charleston Academy and Rowanberry sat directly opposite each other with nothing more than a dirt road to separate the two. Lilly watched the girls with envy. They always seemed to be laughing and having fun at Rowanberry. At the Charleston Academy for Girls, it was always about studying and school work. Even friendships were discouraged; everything at Charleston was competitively centered around competition and rank.
Before Lilly had been sent to Charleston Academy at the age of 14, she would always hear her parents speak of what wonderful wives Rowanberry produced. Lilly always wondered what the girls studied. What exactly were the components of a good wife? As a little girl, she was sure she would attend. Rowanberry was a school for girls who were assigned a wealthy husband at a young age; before marrying at 19, they would attend Rowanberry where they would learn and practice the ideal customs of a wife.
As much as Lilly wanted to marry, her parents had found it more suitable that she attend Charleston, gain an education, and become a teacher. Teachers weren't allowed to marry, yet made enough money to be self-sufficient. Her parents cared little about her producing a child; for Lilly already had two older sisters (Kara and Irene) who had attended Rowanberry and produced children. Lilly had eventually concluded her fate at Charleston was because no man had asked for her hand in marriage
Lilly sighed miserably as she watched the Rowanberry girls, noting the rich maroon color of their Rowanberry uniforms in stark contrast to the dark navy blue of her own. Her sister's uniforms were maroon ... growing up, she had always thought hers would be too. Lilly was about to draw the curtain when suddenly, a man clad in a maroon jacket, tan trousers and a blue scarf emerged from the Rowanberry school. Lilly had seen him often on their terrace and heavily pondered his position at the school. He approached the laughing girls and joined their game. Even from afar Lilly could see the newly overjoyed smiles on their faces. Further intrigued, she opened the window a crack, soon enough, their laughter arrived warm and faint across the grassy terrace.
Unable the repress the urge any longer, Lilly collected her math materials and left her room to finish her homework on the terrace. Sneakily, she crept down the steps and out the door. If a teacher had seen her, she'd have been told to return to her room immediately. Quickly, she darted across the Charleston lawn to a large elm tree close to the road. She ducked in its cover, hoping to blend in among the dark brown of the bark.
The laughing was now much more clear. Lilly sat against the trunk and began her math exercises; the robust guffaws served as a soothing background. When she was about halfway through her second sheet, she noticed there had been an exceptionally long period of silence. She looked up to find the two girls slowly returning to Rowanberry with the ball. Lilly hadn't realized it had begun to grow dark. She was about to pack up when she noticed the man in the tan trousers slowly walking towards her. Nervously, she stayed put. Had she done something wrong? Was she too close to their terrace? The man was now about 50 paces away. His size and facial features were beginning to become more clear. He crossed the road and was now a mere 20 paces away. Lilly shrunk away uncomfortably; she hadn't been around a man in over 4 years. Her breathing had become labored, and soon he loomed over her. His clothing was of rich quality, and his face even nicer. He was unnervingly handsome with a grin full of money, a blond buzz cut, a triangular shaped head, full pink lips ready to kiss, and moderate freckling across his cheeks and nose.
"Hello," he said with enthusiasm, his hands tucked in his pockets.
From below his towering figure, Lilly felt small and petty.
The man's luxuriant smile failed to fade, "I'm Mr. Rowanberry, Head of the school." He kindly outstretched a hand to help her up. Hesitantly, she took it. Even standing he was still much taller than she.
She stared at him suspiciously, "Isn't the head at a girl's school usually a woman?"
He laughed lightly, "Yes, usually. My grandmother unfortunately had all sons. My father was chosen to continue the position, he died five years ago, and as his only son, I was left the successor."
He suddenly took a small step forward, "I noticed your blue uniform; what made you choose Charleston, if you don't mind my asking?"
Lilly shifted, uncomfortable in such close proximity, "Well, I didn't really choose Charleston; my parents did. My two older sisters went to Rowanberry."
"Ah! What a shame your parents decided a different fate for you! We would have loved to have had you at Rowanberry. What's your name, sweetie?"
Lilly blushed, unused to slight sweet-talk, "Lilly."
"Mmmm, Lilly, how old are you?"
"Well," he began, "if you really wanted some education at Rowanberry, there is an option for you to complete your current year at Charleston, gain your certificate, and spend your last year at Rowanberry."
"I really would love to be at Rowanberry sir, but I'm afraid the curriculum would be too different."
Mr. Rowanberry studied her for a few moments before finally asking, "Do you really see yourself as a teacher for the rest of your life? Don't you see a marriage of any kind?"
"Well ... yes ... perhaps after I teach."
"Well then Lilly, you'd best think about taking classes at Rowanberry. I knew a few graduated students of Charleston. They said the last year's curriculum was simply preparing for a life of celibacy and discipline. If you don't desire those lessons, you could talk to the Head and arrange to have your degree this year."
Lilly widened her eyes in shock, "They do that?"
"Yes Lilly, I know for sure."
As Lilly contemplated the new option, Mr. Rowanberry stepped even closer.
"Lilly, the darkness is befalling us. Surely you could sit in on a class at Rowanberry right now, to see if you liked it."
Lilly looked across the road, heavily considering. The school looked like Charleston; large and brick, but half the size.
"Could I really?" She wanted more than anything to leave Charleston, even if just for a few hours.
"Yes, the lesson I'll be teaching tonight is Bedroom Activities. It's a lesson unlike any other, yet one of the most useful."
"Okay," Lilly finally agreed. How excited she was, she had not left Charleston in over 4 years! She would experience freedom, although brief, and would finally learn something about wifely duties; not math, or science, or grammar (all of which she already knew quite well).
"Great!" Mr. Rowanberry proclaimed. He glanced at his wristwatch, "The lesson begins in just 10 minutes, lets hurry over!" He smiled boyishly, and together they crossed the road onto the terrace of the Rowanberry Wifely School for Girls.
After having jogged across the terrace and through the splendid arched entrance of Rowanberry, Lilly was quickly whisked to a closet at the side of the large marble-floored parlor.
"Perhaps we should get you a maroon jacket," Mr.Rowanberry mused as he searched the jackets for one her size.
Lilly stood flabberghasted as she stared down the corridor. While Rowanberry was much smaller than Charleston, Rowanberry was far more splendid. The large cement arches on the outside of the school additionally continued within the school along the corridor. Beyond the marbled parlor, the corridor was floored with a royal maroon carpet speckled with flowers. On either side of the parlor were grand cement staircases which hugged the rounded walls and joined together at the top. Beyond the right-most staircase was an open door. Laughter emanated from within.
"We don't want you to stand out too much," Mr. Rowanberry said as he handed Lilly a maroon jacket. She quickly switched and followed him to the door emanating the lively sounds. Upon his entrance, the girls quieted some, Lilly quickly followed. To her relief, the girls took little notice of her. She eyed an empty seat at the back of the class, and quietly made her way to it. Upon sitting down, Lilly noticed two very beautiful girls; one sitting directly in front of her, and the other to the right. She glanced around the rest of the classroom to find that all of the girls were exceptionally prettier than those at Charleston.
.... There is more of this story ...