Big House in the Prairie


Dividing them into two groups, male and female, Dan addressed the next major issue—living accommodations. For the sake of propriety, he housed the boys on one side of the house and the girls on the opposite corner. “We don’t want you starting on your next generation until after you’re back home under your parent’s watch.”

Wide eyed with embarrassment the boys stepped away from the conversation. Marjorie’s mouth opened to protest. In the absence of a retort, she closed it and via eye contact engaged in a private conversation with her sisters. It was the first of many times Caitlin witnessed the form of communication they shared and wished she had a sister or a brother.

He guided them to the upstairs portion of the house. Caitlin recognized some of the rooms but was unfamiliar with most of the house. She counted eight doorways. When she lived in it with her mother, there were five doorways. One each for Caitlin and her mother’s bedroom, one for the bathroom they shared and two guest rooms. The lower portion of the house had a craft room and a mini library. 013f71cdd69d120af65ac7411e9f0235ca5d9c256f (2).jpgUsing her fingers to keep tally of the rooms, Caitlin said, “We didn’t have as many rooms.”

Dan took her to a room that was half the size of her old bedroom. Two twin beds, covered in hand sewn quilts, parked against the walls where Caitlin’s desk and dresser would have been. Caitlin wrestled with the odd sensation of being comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. Even though she had just walked in the room, it felt like she had always been there.

Taking on the role of tour guide, she went to the hall and pointed to the opposing corner. “Mom’s room is on the other side of the hall.” Her voice weakened with the memory of their last moments together. “One of the last things I told her was I couldn’t wait to leave her.”

Ella placed a comforting arm around her shoulder. “Mothers know daughters don’t mean half the things they say. I believe it’s those mean things that give us patience when we grow to be parents.”

Dan’s eyes darkened into a more serious expression. “On that note, it seems like now is as good a time as any to remind you to resist the temptation of telling us too much about the future. It isn’t that we don’t want to know. I know from those folks from the 3000’s it’ll make things harder on us when you leave because we’ll start second-guessing our decisions. With you being closer to our decisions, I imagine it’d be even worse.”

As quickly as his expression became serious, it returned to the lighter more thoughtful expression he wore in the first moments he met them. “Next on the agenda is getting you girls some clothes.”

Looking above Andrea’s head, Dan said, “I know the wind must have been harsh to leave a child walking around in her underwear.” Caitlin grinned slightly as Dan’s interpretation of Andrea clothing sank in. Back in the day, or in the time they were in, Andrea’s leggings were the equivalent of the wool stockings they read about.

Until he said something, no one considered Andrea’s outfit. Ever since kindergarten, her choice in clothes differed slightly from her friends. Up until second grade she insisted upon wearing tutu skirts-even if it meant wearing them over her jeans in the winter.

Andrea’s face pinked slightly as she took in her outfit. Caitlin held her hand over her mouth to keep in the laugh bubbling in her chest. Selene, who could have used the moment to say something mean, said, “It took going back in time for me to finally understand the dress code. I bet Mrs. Authry is older than even what we thought.

01fccb955286433b709382d8dda8d0ce58faad23e8“You never know,” Ella crooked her elbow through Andrea’s, “I’ve heard rumors about teachers using fairy magic to extract energy from their students to keep young.”

A thin line of concern formed in the middle of Andrea’s eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“Nah,” Ella’s face broke into a wide smile and she winked. “But I did manage to change the subject. Now let’s go do what we girls do best. Talk about clothes, food and boys and other girls who aren’t in the room.”

She opened the door to a room in the middle of the corridor and waved her hand like a salesperson showcasing a featured item. One by one the girls crossed the thresh hold into a room that held several trunks. Caitlin overheard Angelica’s soft whisper to Marjorie, “I’m beginning to think I’m going to like it here.”

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