A few hours more, lost in her thoughts, and then the sun began peek at her from behind the lower mountains. Tilly finally sank relaxed into her bed and fell asleep.
“Tilly! Damn you, Tilly, why do we have to do this every morning!”
Tilly awoke to find Grace looming over her, screaming her usual morning tirade. Once again, Tilly had slept through line-up and was the only child still in bed. It was with great effort that she dragged her sleepy body out of bed and slogged over to the middle of the room where the other kids were lined up. She received two paddles on the rear before Patsy – the oldest child at the home (and he favorite) – was allowed to continue with role call.
Tilly continued through the morning activities like a zombie. All she could think about was nap time, nap time, nap time. The other girls played silly games and teased each other during chores but Tilly didn’t join in – she rarely did. Instead, she’d complete her work as quickly as possible in hopes of finding a few extra minutes to read in the playroom before it was time to go into town.
Unfortunately on this particular day, the girls seemed rather adamant that she participated in their joviality.
Tilly reached her arms out to catch a bar of soap Greta had thrown to her. Greta giggled, “it’s a hot potato! Hurry, throw it to Mindy!” Tilly tossed the soap to Mindy, a confused a look on her face – why is this supposed to be fun, she thought? We should try to hit each other with it. Now that would be fun.
The game continued for several minutes, the soap being tossed from girl to girl with an accompanying shriek. As the girls became more animated, Tilly started to enjoy herself and even managed a giggle or two. She started getting excited and awaited her turn with anticipation. Finally the soap landed in her hands.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!! It’s a fiery hot potato! My skin is melting and dripping to the floor!” She dropped to her knees. “Aaaaaaaaah I’m dying, I can see my blood and guts through my hand!”
She continued making gurgling and shrieking noises, a massive grin spreading further across her face with every moment. She finally fell to the floor, lying on her back to play dead. She suddenly realized the entire room was silent. She sat up and smiled.
“Wasn’t that cool, guys?”
Every girl in the room was staring at her in horror, exchanging awkward glances amongst themselves.
“Did I do something wrong?” Tilly questioned. “What happened?”
None of the girls said a word. Instead, they slowly turned away and returned to their chores, stealing cryptic glances in Tilly’s direction every now and again.
Tilly was confused. She’d been having fun. She returned to her chores as well, a dark and painful ache forming in the pit of her stomach. I did something wrong, and now they’re all mad at me.
The ache in her tummy persisted the rest of the day. She was even more relieved than usual at nap time when she was able to snuggle up alone in her bed and stare out the window. She had a sudden desire more than ever before to be out there – out in the city with the rest of the world. Out there where the girls of the home didn’t look at her funny or say things when they thought she couldn’t hear. Out there in her own house with her own chores and her own room where no one could bother her. Even better, she could escape into The Mountain. No one would dare come find her there. She could find a cave to live in and fight the monsters during the night, living her daydreams and saving the village.
Her thoughts stayed with her as she drifted off to sleep.