Lilly stared up at the crack in the ceiling and pulled her covers up to her chin, unable to break the connection she felt with the crack that stared back at her. It felt as if all the expectations of the day would slip through it like a rain drop and land on her head. Dead center of her forehead. She had turned in her paperwork yesterday and by now someone was reading it or would be soon. She gripped the blankets tighter and twisted them. She could hear people stirring in the hallways. She’d been awake most of the morning, but didn’t know if she could manage to go through her normal routine. No one else knew what she’d done. Lilly refused to tell anyone. She couldn’t face their nerves plus her own, so she hadn’t told anyone what she was planning. Very few girls ever got accepted to Professor Twilla’s group. She didn’t think the rumor mill would help her either, probably only hurt her chances. So Lilly had been dead silent about applying. She felt that she had an even chance. Either she was in or she was out. Twilla only took four students into his charge every year. She was certainly in the top 3 in her year, but Twilla did not always pick students with the top marks. He was interested in potential. Girls didn’t usually have a lot of potential, or so most teachers thought, but then no one expected much from them in the first place.
Lilly heaved herself out of bed and tugged her blankets and pillow back into place. She stared at the floor and then her day dress and then looked for her bucket of morning water, but could not decide what to do first. Her thoughts bounced around the room as her chest pricked with a thousand doubts. This morning was going to be a blind stumbling from beginning to end. Her friend Heloise called from outside the door.
“Come on Lilly! Or we’re not going to get a sausage with our breakfast.”
Lilly tugged her dress over her head and let her friend in.
“Oh Goodness Lilly! You’re a tangled mess!” Heloise rushed in, her dark waves trailing behind her. She helped straighten Lilly’s sleeves and ties.
Lilly shook her hands out. They felt numb.
Heloise dipped a wash cloth into the bucket and handed it Lilly. “You’re not nervous about that test yesterday?” She raised an eyebrow. “You helped me study and we both know you know more than Sanders does and he’s been teaching longer than you and I have both been alive.”
Lilly shrugged and washed her face and neck. Heloise unbraided Lilly’s dusty colored braid and brushed it. She then in her expert manner twisted Lilly’s hair into a lovely knot at the back of her neck and secured it with a few pins. Lilly smiled into her hand mirror.
“I wish you did my hair every day.” Lilly set the mirror down and slipped into shoes. “You’re the only one who can make it look almost attractive.”
Heloise smiled, her cheeks rounding sweetly.
“You pull it back too severely is all.” She patted her own hair that was the color of the dark ale the boys drank on the weekends. Heloise raised an eyebrow as she inspected Lilly. “Something is wrong. You’re more tense than usual. What is it?”
Lilly shrugged unable to laugh off her friend’s suspicions. Heloise was too good at seeing through her. Lilly was only able to turn in her extra essays and forms to Twilla because she had avoided Heloise the last week, telling her she was getting an early start on her final essays so she could help some of the other girls.
“It’s nothing, probably.” She waved off the idea lamely. “I’ll talk to you about it later. I’m just not ready.”
Heloise pressed her full lips together into a thin line and narrowed her eyes, but did not move toward breakfast.
“You’ve been avoiding me this last week, so it must be something big.” Heloise sat down on Lilly’s bed and crossed her legs and arms. Stubbornly trying to work out all the clues of the last week.
“I will tell you, just not this morning. Please,” Lilly pleaded, keeping herself from falling to her knees by pinching her legs through her dress.
Heloise’s hazel eyes widened, blazing more green than usual. She knows. Oh, she knows. Lilly should have told her from the beginning. Her best friend was one of the most observant and clever girls Lilly knew.
“Oh! I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!”
“Okay. I get it though. You are you, after all.” Heloise unwound her arms and legs and pulled Lilly toward breakfast, shaking her head. “We will talk about this tonight.”
Lilly nodded tried to avoid getting stepped on by Ernest who skittered by with his usual determination around meals.
Writing Prompt: Jittery
Photo Credit: Rocor