Hi, and Happy Wednesday!
Here’s the sixth chapter of my short story, Sorrel’s Story.
If you haven’t read the beginning yet, you can click on the link below.
Sorrel felt her way blindly through the street, tears streaming down her face and a look of pure hatred written in every line on her face.
People got out of her way and she continued on, toward wherever she had come from.
Her face was pale and blotchy. Her slender body stumbled as she seethed with anger.
She had to live this way. What other choice did she have? She was alone. Didn’t that mean she had to be miserable?
Willie didn’t seem miserable. Why couldn’t she be more like him? Why did he have to be so happy?
These thoughts pulsed through Sorrel’s mind as she threw herself onto her bed back at the boardinghouse.
She drifted off to sleep in her troubled state only to find troubled dreams. She awoke with a start from a terrifying nightmare.
She was all alone in the world, she told herself. But then she stopped. Was she? Was she alone? She began to doubt it.
She did have Mrs. O’Keily, didn’t she? Suddenly, she was embarrassed.
Humiliated. Willie and the boarders had all been kind, hadn’t they? And she had treated them as enemies.
Worse than that, she had thought they were her enemies. But they weren’t. They were her friends.
Even though she hated them and gave them rude answers and nasty looks. They were her friends.
She felt ashamed. Utterly ashamed. She never again wanted to see the faces of those who had tried to befriend her.
She felt as if she were the worst person in the world. She felt such remorse, that her heart seemed ready to burst with agony.
Never again would they love her. She had treated them like dirt, and now they would treat her that way.
She was sorry. Sorrier than she had ever been in her entire life. She had wasted her whole life grieving.
Not for her dead parents. Not even for her grandmother. She had spent her whole life grieving for herself.
Feeling pity for herself. Being a victim. She had wasted fourteen years in misery.
She sat down now, stricken with despair. What could she do? Who would love such an awful girl?
She was filled with longing. Longing to be far, far away from this place. This place that proved her selfishness.
Once more, she swung herself over the windowsill. This time, she found herself wishing fervently that Willie might come to catch her. That she could start over. That she could start fresh.
But Willie didn’t appear, though she strained her eyes for him and hoped against hope.
Despondent, she dropped to the ground. She sat there for a minute in pain, but quickly recovered and picked herself up.
Hurrying behind the old building, she slipped into the shadows. Into the shadows and away.
Her heart beating and her eyes as dry as the dusty road, she traveled. Deep into the night, when stars began peeking from the indigo clouds.
All the while she murmured. Murmured a dusty prayer. “I’m sorry. So sorry. I can’t take words back. Sorry. Maybe someday they’ll… forgive me. Help me, God. I’m sorry.”
Her smock was ashen with dust, and her face was drawn and pale. In the lonely night, a wagon rattled by.
The girl kept walking. The man driving the wagon stopped. The moonlight shone on his silvery hair.
“Do you need a ride somewhere, young lady?” he called. She stopped, looking wistfully down the road.
“Yes,” she said softly.
“Where to?” the old man asked her.
“Where is far away from here?” she asked. The man laughed, but then saw that she was serious. He sobered, but the curious twinkle was still in his gray eyes.
“Many places are far away. My farm is down the road a ways. Why don’t I bring you to my wife, and you can talk it out woman to woman?”
Sorrel sighed a lost sigh and nodded. “Yes, please,” she replied. She clambered up onto the seat next to him.
“What’s your name, young lady?” the friendly man asked her.
“Sorrel,” the girl told him absently, brushing off her dress. The old man was taken aback.
“Sorrel,” he repeated. He shook his head as if to clear it.
“Funny thing. I drove a baby named Sorrel, a long, long time ago. Not a very common name. That’s why I remember it.”
Sorrel looked at him openly. He tried not to pry, but asked her, “You’re about how old?”
Sorrel decided to trust him. “Fourteen,” she replied. The man cocked his head and scratched at his silvery beard.
“Hmm,” was all he said.
He pulled up into the yard of a friendly looking home, and the candle in the window testified to his statement of a wife.
She bustled to the door and took in Sorrel at once. “You brought me a companion,” she teased. To Sorrel she said,
“Hello, dear. Come on in. I’m Mrs. Hansom. I’ll fix some tea.”
Sorrel allowed herself to be seated, and watched the woman bustle about the cluttered kitchen.
She watched the man pull of his shoes and shuffle into some house slippers.
The woman was stacking calendars and moving houseplants to make room for the tea.
The home was just the right kind of cluttered – the cozy, relaxed sort. She liked this old couple. She could feel it in her bones.
The woman poured the boiling water over tea leaves and looked up, the steam wafting through the air.
“Now, dear. What’s your name, where are you coming from, and where are you going?” the woman asked, a great deal of sparkle in her old eyes and spring in her old step.
She plunked the tea cup on the table in front of Sorrel, and sat down, hands folded. “I’m Sorrel Fuller,” Sorrel said at once, using her true last name. “I came from a boarding-house, where I worked as a cleaning girl. I don’t know where I’m going.”
Sorrel took a sip of the steaming tea and found that she rather liked it.
The woman, Mrs. Hansom, said, “Well, dear. What had you coming away so quick?”
Her expert eyes took in the humble appearance of the girl, and ascertained the situation as well as any mother could.
“I was irascible to the people there, and now I am ashamed to stay there.”
This came out with more frankness than Sorrel had ever used. It felt good. Clean and simple, somehow. The woman nodded.
“And what about the boarders? Won’t they miss their friend?” Sorrel shook her head.
“I wasn’t a friend. At least, I don’t deserve to be called that.”
The woman looked around the cluttered kitchen, with the red-checked curtains and the disarray of furniture.
“Well, I’m glad you happened by, dear. I do apologize about the clutter. I just can’t keep on top of things. I could certainly use an extra pair of hands. This rambling place keeps me on my toes.”
Sorrel sat taller, seeing what the woman was aiming at.
“And I certainly could use someone to clean up after Mr. Hansom and myself,” the kind lady continued.
“Do you mean to say that you would like to hire a cleaning girl?” Sorrel asked, hopeful.
“Precisely, dear. Now, would you like the job? I could only pay you a couple of dollars a week,” with this, she looked over at her husband, who nodded, “But there would be food and board included in the offer.”
“And,” the old man offered, “This place is far away.” The twinkle in his eye was merrier than any Sorrel had seen, and she smiled in spite of herself.
“Thank you. Thank you so very much,” she said, standing up to give a grateful little curtsy.
She put her teacup in the sink, and turned to the woman. “When may I start?” she asked earnestly.
Perhaps she saw it as a way to start over. Or a way to begin a new life. Or maybe she was just drawn to the sweet old couple who seemed to have so much life still in them.
“Oh, right now would be nice,” the woman said. And she showed Sorrel to the guest room.
That’s all for now, folks! Thanks for reading.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I’d love to hear them 😉