A New Day
“Ah!” I said, breathing in the fresh air through the window. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining on the cattle in the field. I shook my older sister. “Ellen, wake up!” Yep, you guessed it. I’m that annoying little sister everyone thinks is annoying. But I’m eleven, blond, and funny. I’m not little anymore. Ellen is fifteen, blond, and bossy. The usual traits for an older sister, don’t you think?
My name is Kathryn. Usually called Kathy, but my real name is Kathryn. I think that’s a really pretty name. Oh, and if you were wondering, the year is 1872. Just for your information (They should really come up with a shorter name for that. Maybe FYI).
I got on my clothes which includes a blue calico dress, stockings, and a green calico apron. Ellen was still not out of bed!
“Come on, sleepyhead”, I said, rolling her over. “We don’t have all day.” She finally mumbled something, stretched her arms out, and said to me, “What time is it?”
“Eight o’clock. You slept late again”, I replied, shaking my head. “You have to learn to get up at 6:30!”
“I’m tired! What can I do?” Ellen argued. “Well, let me get up now, then, and don’t make me late for breakfast.”
I grumbled. She just needed to learn how to get up herself, and earlier!
Anyway, I ditched her as she was getting dressed. I went down the stairs and into the kitchen/sitting room. When you walk down the stairs, the kitchen is in front of you which includes the cupboard, the stove, and the table. The sitting room is to the right which includes the two rocking chairs, the center table, and the side table with the oil lamp.
I started to help my Ma get breakfast. We were having sausages. My Pa was out milking the cows. When he came in, he said to me, “Kathryn, go brush that hair of yours, will you?”
Ugh. That was one thing I did not like. My hair. Even though it was a beautiful blond, it was very long. It was beautiful, yes, but it was so hard to take care of! So I flopped up the stairs again.
Ellen was still getting ready. She was buttoning her apron. Yes, she’s that frilly pink princessy-well, not really pink or princess, just that know-it-all sister that wants to be perfect. She actually wasn’t that a pain-in-the-neck. We grew closer. But, from what I remember back then, she was pretty annoying.
I grabbed the brush from the table in our bedroom and started brushing it in front of the looking-glass (they should really come up with another name for that too, for heaven’s sake I’m thinking of a lot of things). I brushed through it roughly, for I was getting tired of it being like this every day. Why couldn’t it just stay in one spot? Maybe they should make something to do that. I bet you it’ll be popular among us girls.
I went back down the stairs and helped Ma get the sausages on plates. I put them around the table and sat down. Ellen, Ma, and Pa sat down, too.
“I have to go after this because I’m going to the market to hear today’s news”, said Pa. He quickly gobbled up his sausages.
“Well, take a coat, then, Charlie, because it is cold outside”, said Ma. She got up from the table and got his coat off a hanger in the shanty. She handed it to Pa and he put it on. Then he went outside and closed the door.
When Pa had left, Ma said, “So girls! Tomorrow school starts!” Ellen was apparently excited about that. I tried to look excited, but I actually was scared. I was scared about what it would be like. That would be my first time going to school.
“We should get your clothes and books ready. You will use my books from when I was a little girl”, said Ma. She stood up. “When you girls are done, put your dishes in the sink and meet me upstairs.”
So Ellen and I quickly ate our sausages, put our dishes in the sink, and met Ma upstairs. Ma was filing through old books on the whatnot. There was the book with pictures of animals, some old books of Pa’s, and there were Ma’s old schoolbooks.
These books were Ma’s mother’s, too. My grandma used them when she was a little girl in the early 1800s.
These books had blank red covers and ink writing on the inside. We would learn to write in cursive and learn about Christopher Columbus. In math, we would learn decimals. The decimals actually looked fun. Then we would learn vocabulary. Each student would write their words on the board.
I thought school would be really fun. But then again I was scared. I really didn’t know what it would be like. I mean, think about it. I’m eleven years old and still have no clue what school is like.
Anyway, Ma took out the books from the whatnot and laid them on the floor.
“This”, she said, “is your English book. You girls should be at the same reading level. This is your math book”, Ma said, indicating a green book. “And this is your history book.” She pointed at a blue book. “I think that’s all. Now, Ellen, will you take these downstairs?” Ella put her arms out, and Ma put the books in them. “And Kathy, can you bring down the slate and chalk?” Ma put those in my hands, and I walked downstairs.
Pa had not come back yet. Ma and I washed the dishes from breakfast while Ellen sewed on her nine-patch quilt. Ellen was a very good sewer. She always had a lot of sewing favors for Ma.
Then Ma swept the floor, and Ellen and I made the beds upstairs. Then we went outside to run through the sweet-smelling prairie grasses, while we picked dandelions and wild roses. Then we came back and gave them to Ma, who filled up a tin cup with water and put them in it.
Pa finally came back, an hour later. “No news”, he said, “except for children to go to school tomorrow.”
Ma made dinner and set it on the table. There were fresh carrots from the garden and duck stew.
While we were eating, the sky grew dark. “Storm”, Pa said, and quickly got up from the table to put the horses and the cow in the stable. He came back five minutes later. “It’s a big one. We might need to go in the cellar.”
We did, in fact. I let Jack, our dog, come down, too. He was my best friend. He had cute, big, black eyes, and he was a bulldog.
The storm passed by very slowly. Soon enough, though, the rain stopped, and we went up to the first floor. Ma started supper. Pa went out to check on the horses. They were fine, and while he was out there, he milked the cow. Now there was fresh milk.
It was now 6 o’clock and supper was ready. There was more of the duck stew, bread, butter, and potatoes. Girls must be seen, and not heard, so Ella and I did not speak the whole time.
After supper, Ma laid out our dresses, stockings, and ribbons for tomorrow. We bathed in the washtub and combed our hair straight. It dreadfully hurt, but I wanted to look pretty. After that, we went to bed, nice and early.
I heard the owls outside, and a wolf howling far away in the distance. But I knew I was safe. The grass rustled in the wind and faint music, a half-mile away, in the town.