Auntie dear (Chapter 10)
“I don’t understand”
It was just after breakfast three weeks later. Three weeks of dancing, talking, smiling at suitors, and traveling from city to city. I was exhausted. Whenever we weren’t getting ready for a social, we were traveling. I have lost track already of how many suitors I have talked to, their faces blend together in my mind. I think I might die of exhaustion if I have to do this for another month, much less a year.
I have thought of Barth now and again. He may not be the man of my dreams- but he seems okay and I’m not sure I can really do better than okay in this crappy situation. I had gone so far as to ask one of the teachers if there was a way to contact him. Although I am not sure it matters now...
“You will be leaving with my aunt here” Mr Hertilz gestures towards a woman before us.
I shake my head “I don’t understand”
We stand outside on the steps of the building we arrived at only a few hours ago. Before me is a small frail woman dressed in finery and behind her a black carriage-looking contraption without any horses to be seen. People and carriages both meander and rush around on the worn sandy stones of the city street. It feels nice to finally feel the sun on my face after so long, but my enjoyment was short because of the man next to me.
“It really isn’t all that complicated Miss Ivy” He is annoyed, but then again so am I.
“But, you said that I would get to choose...”
“Excuse me Aunt Linda” He grabs my arms roughly and hauls me back through the building’s large wooden doors. He pushes me back towards the wall, clearly trying to restrain his frustration. If I wasn’t so upset with the situation myself I would maybe be concerned about that.
“Listen, this is for the best. My cousin is by far the best you can do.”
“But I thought I would get to pick my partner. That is the whole point of all of these stupid socials!”
“Well you thought wrong” he almost growls, “You will go with my aunt. Trust me when I say it is better if you go willingly.”
His words shock me into silence. We are by no means friends, but he did seem to take an interest in my welfare on several occasions. Ugh, Stockholm syndrome disrupted. Stupidly I had begun to trust one of the alien creatures. I need to be more careful in the future.
I bite my lip and look away. I think briefly about fighting this all the way- scratching at his face and then running through the door, down the street, and to my freedom. I wouldn’t make it. There is no way they will let me escape and even if I somehow managed I don’t know enough about this world to survive. I have to be smart. I need to bide my time. I must figure out the best way to escape this madness.
I look back at the frowning man standing a bit too close and simply nod.
“Good” he barks before grabbing my elbow and dragging me back to his aunt.
Once there I rip my elbow from his grip. He is manhandling me a bit too much today.
“Miss Ivy is ready”
“Thank you dear” the small lady smiles at him, patting his cheek”do come and have dinner when you are next in town”
“It would be my pleasure”
She hugs her nephew before turning to me “Alight honey time to head out” and she proceeds to grab me with her claw–like hands before directing me to the carriage behind her.
An older man jumps out of the carriage and opens the door for us just before we reach it. He bobs his head as we pass.
We enter a space with two green cushion covered benches facing each other. The inside of the carriage is warm polished wood. The windows are covered with elaborately stitched curtains making it dark and musty. I take the bench facing my new jailer as the carriage bumps forward and begins to roll.
As I examine her or I should say glare at her, I realize that she too must be human. A wave of betrayal washes over me but I can’t say why. She doesn’t know me or owe me anything; she’s probably been on this forsaken planet for god knows how long. And from the looks of her elaborate clothing it looks like she has been living a life of luxury. her back is straight as a board. Her expression is a mix of stress and determination as she fiddles with one of several large gold chains around her neck. The others rest on her lace-covered pale purple dress. Her a few wavy tendrils of her pale blond hair escape her low bun allowing large gold earrings to dangle freely from her earlobes.
“It’ll be alright dear” she reaches over and pats my leg.
I simply glare at her. It will not be alright. This is not alright.
“I’ve been there. It’s hard, but it gets better. Without it I wouldn’t have my met my Johna or have my Giddean.” She turns her head towards the covered windows and her eyes glaze over like she is thinking.
I stay silent, brooding on my future as the carriage squeaks and bumps along. This planet just gets more and more messed up, and I am half mad at myself for not putting up more of a fuss just to make their lives more difficult. But I’m not that childish.
“My Giddean is a good boy” She starts again after a few minutes still gazing at the covered window “But he’s had a rough time with it.”
The pressure to politely keep up my end of the conversation is strong. Damn my upbringing.
“Is Giddean your son?” I hate myself for giving into it.
She turns her head and smiles at me “Yes and don’t worry dear, he will make a devoted partner”
I feel dread in the pit of my stomach. This woman is not a friend, she is not an ally, and she is complicit in my pain. She betrays humanity and women for her son. I suppose I can expect nothing less.
“He’s a good boy” She repeats “You’ll see when you meet him tonight”