Sunday, 16. March 2008

At the same time

I wrote this story as a contribution to a contest of And this is the translation of it.
Thanks to Erin for being my beta reader. You were a huge help! Thank you so much for taking the time!
R&R please! :)

It was a rainy day, so dull and clammy that one could hardly imagine the sun shining anywhere else.
A thin redhead ran across the empty yard of the orphan asylum. The boot nails tapped lighty over the stony ground and the water from the sky and the puddles made big dark stains on the washed out gray, too short housedress of the girl.

"Anne Shirley!" The dissaproving call came from a woman with a gaunt face. She had looked up angrily from her mending when the door was thrown open and the skinny redheaded girl rumbled in, together with a sweep of damp air.
"Where have you been? You were supposed to be here 15 minutes ago. Everybody else was on time. Do you think the others want to do your work as well? Sit down now and begin working."
"I'm sorry, Miss Mason. I completely lost track of time. I was in the henhouse and there I..."
"Be quiet now, you long-tongued, that does not concern anybody here. You have enough stockings to mend left over from yesterdays work. And you will stay longer today and catch up with the work you've neglected by getting here late today."
Anne drew in her head and went to an empty chair at the wall. Once seated she fetched a basket filled with stockings full of holes from beneath that chair and wearily threaded a needle.
"Mending stockings of all things..." thought Anne, while her needle quickly but not too carefully closed the hole in the first stocking. "Is there anything more unromantic than mending stockings? If we have to do sewing work, then we should rather be tailoring the wardrobe of a beautiful princess. How I would love to sew thousands of pink pearls on the wedding dress of a tall, darkhaired kings' daughter. And if my fingers would bleed from the work... or even better it would be, if I, all alone in the dark night, had to hem the bed sheets of a gravely ill priest, about whom I am the only one to know he really is the descendant of a noble man. And while I tend to him he will fall in love with me... and with his shining blue eyes he will look at me, on the day the doctor tells him he is out of danger, an he will say to me..."
"Anne?" Miss Mason was standing in front of Anne's chair and looked down on her. The room had emtied without Anne noticing it. "You are dreaming again, aren't you? Well, at least you are able to do something useful during that, if you only want to. It is all right, you can go now. Run, supper will be served soon. But don't let that happen again, do you hear me!" she said with a tired voice.

Anne put her sewing work back in the basket and hurried to get to the washroom before supper.
Supper didn't deserve its name really. Today it was Saturday, on Saturday they always had the leftovers from the past week, mostly in a muddy, gray soup, and some dry bread to go with it.
After supper Anne, like all girls of her bedroom, had to help in the kitchen, collect the dishes and pots and clean them.
Although Anne almost fell asleep of exhaustion in the kitchen, she couldn't sleep at night. After a short and strange dream she woke up to find her stomach so noisy with hunger she couldn't go back to sleep. This happened to Anne often, in the beginning especially she had been afraid at night in the asylum. Everything was so dark, the old curtains on the windows threw ghostly shadows across the room and the wind, blowing through the yard, made eerie sounds. Altough by now Anne had gotten used to that, many times she lay awake at night while the others were sleeping in their beds and breathing steadily.
Without a sound Anne brushed aside her thin blanket and put her bare feet on the crude wooden floor of the dorm room. Slowly, so as not to run against another bed in the dark, she stole from the room.
Moonlight shone weakly through the bathroom window. Anne cuddled up at a window sill and looked on the blurred mirroring of her face in the window.
"Oh Katie", she whispered to her reflection, "if I only had a cozy home... a bed, from which I wouldn't sneak because it was so cold and uncomfortable. Katie, I think, if at night, after a warm meal - that isn't leftover soup - one could sit with one's family around a warm stove... in such a house that bed simply couldn't be so uncomfortable."
In her thin night dress Anne sat for some time at the window and looked down into the moonlit yard. In her thoughts she was far, far away. After a while she got sleepy and she went back to her small, hard bed, where she finally fell asleep.


Marilla was raking the stove in the Green Gables kitchen for the last time tonight. On such an unpleasant day as today, even the otherwise so economical Marilla could be made to throw another log on the fire. Slowly she sat down at the kitchen table and with her hard going movements and her hurting legs she felt very old.
Matthew entered the kitchen, which still held the faint aroma of the cake Marilla had baked in the afternoon for the church meeting tomorrow. Exhausted from his daily work he also sat down at the table.

"All right", said Marilla resignedly with and an expression on her face that could nearly be considered a kind smile, "you may smoke your pipe tonight in the kitchen. I wouldn't force you out in this weather. And I'll be going upstairs soon, anyway."
Matthew slowly lit up his pipe and looked at Marilla with concern in his eyes.
"Do your eyes hurt again?" he asked carefully. Marilla didn't like to talk about unreasonable things such as pain.
"Yes, a bit. I have a headache, I think I should better just go to bed, it's going to be all right." Marilla supported herself with both hands on the table and got up.
"Good night, Matthew", she said.
"Good night, Marilla", he answered in the same way the both of them had done each night for decades.


The morning sun had barely risen over the tree tops when Miss Mason woke the girls with the loud shrilling of the bell.

"Get up! Get up!" she shouted with her rigorous voice.

Anne and the others crawled out of their beds and hurried in to the washroom, to splash a bit of water onto their faces before going to the church.

After that all the children of the orphan asylum marched together to the cold church a few streets away.

Trembling from the cold Anne sat on the hard church pew. She tried intensely to imagine herself sitting on a sunny summer meadow. But it was too cold and too loud in the church for her to be able to concentrate very long on her daydreams.

Later the children sat morosely in the dining-hall. Sunday morning in general wasn't as bad as any other morning, because on Sundays there was fragrant hot chocolate out of a big hot kettle.

Anne savoured her sips of hot chocolate. This serving had to last for the whole next week, as the luxury of hot milk was not for every day.

After breakfast they went back to church, as all of the orphans had to go to Sunday school with the rest of the children from town.


"Listen, Matthew", said Marilla, without turning around, when she heard the kitchen door being opened. She was standing at the stove and stirring busily in a big, steaming pot.

Matthew, who had entered the kitchen from the veranda, sat down at the table and waited patiently for Marilla to tell him what he should listen to.

Marilla grabbed a bowl and scooped a big serving of fresh hot potato soup for Matthew. She put the bowl on the table in front of Matthew, gave him a spoon and some bread from this morning and also sat down.

"Matthew, I was thinking about what we talked about the other day. We really should send for a boy from the asylum, when Mrs. Spencer goes to get the girl she wants to adopt. He could be a great help for you. And he could sleep here in the chamber behind the kitchen; he could take his meals with us. It wouldn't be a big trouble."

"Mhm", Matthew nodded, rather uninvolved.

"Well, it's done then." Marilla knew Matthew long enough to know that other than that gesture he wouldn't signal more agreement. "You can tell that Robert Spencer in the morning and he can tell his sister."

"All right. I'll tell Robert, that we want a boy."


Anne remained alone in the class room after the end of class. The other children had left already; this one hour after school was their only free time all day long. Anne had been punished with some extra work, because she hadn't known the answer to one question the teacher had asked. Anne berated herself now; she had, of course, known the answer to the question, but was far away, daydreaming about a castle in Spain when the teacher had called her name.

Now she sat on her school bench and was doing the arithmetic problems the teacher had given her.

Mrs. Cadbury, the director of the asylum, appeared at the door of the class room. Anne jumped up and in doing so threw down the piece of chalk.

"Anne Shirley", the director said,"I have good news for you."

Annes eyes got big and she stared curiously into the wrinkly face of the woman.

"I just received a note that an elderly brother and sister want to take in a girl your age." Mrs. Cadbury paused. " I decided it would be you."

Anne stood dumbly in front of the director and looked at her in disbelief.

"Well now, don't stare like that, you don't have to finish your tasks here. Go and get your things ready. You will have breakfast tomorrow in the kitchen at half past four and then you will be taken to the train station. I want you to look tidy then."

"Excuse me," Anne stammered. "But where am I to go to? To a city? Is it far away?"

"You always have to ask questions, don't you? Well, the Cuthberts, with whom you are to stay, have a farm on Prince Edward Island. So it will be a long journey for you. Now run and pack your things!"

Anne's thoughts were in turmoil after Mrs. Cadbury had left the room. It was as though she walked on cotton batting as Anne walked dazedly to the bedroom and began to pack her few things into her old carpetbag.

To read

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