Thursday for Caroline Tyler
By Lilith Gray
"Is she almost done?"
"Just a second… There."
"Hooray! Thank you!"
I smiled and handed my little sister Mindy her doll. She'd been begging me to fix her for days now, and today I finally gave in. I'd always found it hard to say no to a pleading four-year-old, so I knew that I would at some point. Why had I been putting it off for so long? I really hated sewing. I didn't know why people expected me to sit around the house all day for the rest of my life doing nothing but sew. Being a woman didn't automatically make me a first-class seamstress. I'd really never been any good at it. But that was what everyone wanted me to do. That was life for women; you were supposed to watch your mother work around the house for the first eighteen or so years of your life, then wait for a man to come and make you marry him. After that your husband owned you. I basically had my whole life planned out for me. I hated it.
Who am I? My name is Caroline Tyler. I am fifteen years old and I live in a small house in Averville, Missouri with my parents, brother, and sister. Averville wasn't the best place in the world to live in, but good enough. It was a quiet town, and the kind of place you'd expect to find in 19th century America, with a church, a school, a generals store, a blacksmith, and the odd little family running around the streets looking for something or other. People would come and go, for many different reasons, mainly to find work, or for a good environment to start a family. The people in Averville were reasonably nice; the employers paid well and the children were always open to a new friend. The school was decent and gave children a fair education. Almost everyone went to church every Sunday, including my family. I didn't mind life in Averville, but I also didn't particularly enjoy it. I would have been much more pleased with it if I was allowed to do something with my life. But no. I had to stay cooped up in my house for the rest of my days. Everyone who knew me knew that I hated how men decided that we were inferior. I had made up my mind long ago that if I ever found out just whose idea that was, he'd be in so much pain that he'd wish he'd never been born. Some women were teachers, and that was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to prove that my gender had nothing to do with my intellect. The only problem was that my father disagreed. He wouldn't let me go to school, so I couldn't possibly teach at one. Maybe our gender did lower our intellect. But that was only because no one would let us learn.
"Mama?" I asked, "Can we go to the store later? We're almost out of eggs."
"The chickens can take care of it," said Mama.
"But they haven't laid anything for a week now!" I protested.
"Which means they're about due for more."
"Well, can't we go out and do something? I'm really bored…"
"Caroline, as much as I'd like to, we can't go anywhere. There's supposed to be a storm tonight. We don't want to risk being outside when it starts."
"But if we go now, then maybe—"
"The answer is no."
I frowned. I could never find anything to do in this place.
"You can play with me, Caroline," said Mindy, tugging at my skirt.
"Alright," I said, "What do you want to play?"
"Help me find Joey," said Mindy, "We're playing hide-and-go-seek."
"I think I know where he is," I said, walking over to the kitchen. Joey was six, but he was the size of a three-year-old. He could fit into one of the cabinets with no problem. I opened each of them one by one, and sure enough, there he was.
"How did you find me?" Joey whined.
"It doesn't take a genius," I said, "That's where you hid when it was bath time a week ago, remember?"
Joey shook his head, but I knew he did remember.
"So when's the storm gonna—AAAAAHHH!!!"
I screamed as I saw a tornado out in the distance.
It figured there'd be a tornado on a Thursday. For most people, it was Mondays, but myself, I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
"What is it?" Mama asked.
"It's a tornado!!" I yelled, scooping Mindy up and heading for the door, "We have to get out of here!"
Mama picked up Joey and ran after me, trying to get away.
"Papa!!!" I screamed, "Papa, where are you?!?!"
But Papa was nowhere to be found.
"Mama!" I called, "Take Mindy! I'm gonna try and find Papa!" I handed her my sister and ran around the house, trying to find Papa before the tornado got too close.
"Caroline!" Mama yelled, "I'll try to find him! You're faster than me, so I need you to take your brother and sister to safety!"
I reluctantly took them, knowing Mama was right.
"Don't stop!" Mama called as I ran off, "Don't turn around, don't even look back! Just keep running!"
After a half hour of running, I collapsed on a hill miles away from Averville. The tornado was out of sight, and Mindy, Joey and I were safe.
"Caroline?" Mindy asked, "Are Mama and Papa coming?"
I was silent. I really didn't know. I didn't want Mindy or Joey to worry, but I didn't want to give them false hope, either. And I didn't want to fool myself. I just didn't know.
I had to tell her something.
"I…" I said, "I don't—"
I gasped as I saw Mama and Papa running up the hill in the distance. The tornado, however, followed behind them. I watched, horrified, as it sucked them up and flung them 300 miles that way.
It then came our direction.
I heard Mindy scream. I turned around to assure her that even though we were all going to die, we were going to a better place, but I realized too late that the high-pitched shriek had come from Joey. He and Mindy were sucked up in an instant, and then it came for me. The rushing of the wind almost sounded like an evil laugh. I flew around and around and around in a swirling vortex of terror. I saw a cow fly by, then a house, then a cackling old lady on a bike.
Then, it was over.
I was dead.
Thus ends the tale of Brian, Judith, Mindy, Joey, and Caroline Tyler.