If We Belonged to the Religion of Jane

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~Not A Novel~

1

We stand in the Brocklehurst Field that day because the children here must be neither seen nor heard. When this happens on Mondays at 8:17 AM, they are lackadaisical and I observe from the trees.
It is here that I find that the way to differentiate languages is by the word butterfly, and it is here that I learn about the murder.
Mrs. Weiland is extremely flustered, her game of Gin Rummy disrupted.
But they do not weep.
In fact, they nearly double negative a smile.
When we are back in, you can tell the television has been hastily shut off (because of the fuzzing snow-storm of shattered electrical waves).
The manor is composed and tranquil. The Macedonian china chatters as an Underground passes.
We don’t say a word, but are led into the parlour by Mrs. Weiland who is now unceasingly retying her apron.
Our mother, whom we call Mrs. Brocklehurst, is organizing antique cutlery while sitting down.
“I am worried,” she says – a spork is laid voluntarily on the place mat. “I am worried that someone in this household” (butter knife)“has died!”
None of us is surprised.
1: * Mrs. Weiland just told us. *
We stare at one another while Mrs. Brocklehurst is inconsolable. Her exotically blond hair frizzes when she is disconsolate, and her mascara is smeared. She is under the impression that the world cares for her sorrows.
“Numbers, go to the kitchen! And don’t come back,” Mrs. Weiland says.
1: * Imagine if we could see ghosts. That would be creepy. *

2

2: * is this exciting or what? *
We wake up lying in the Fields. They have already begun employing their thumbs on some iridescent keyboards. They probably think that one day I will cause the insurrection, the insurgence, the in–
1: * wait, am i supposed to do the dishes? *
2: * idk, do you think it was a *
2: * murder *
2: * ? *
Let us assume for a moment that Mr. W. H. S. is alive. Let us assume that he is not dead, but only deceased.
1: * what is the significance *
1: * of Mr. *
1: * W. H. S. ? *
And I fall asleep to the sound of notifications.
2: * she seems to be doing a l o t of sleeping lately *
2: * what is wrong with her *
1: * obviously. *
1: * murder is exhausting 😉 *

3

That afternoon, we rob a candy shop. It’s childish and technically criminal, but 1’s friend in Oregon made up a dare.
And meanwhile W. H. S. is deceased. It’s uncanny, especially when they tell me to do the honours.
Mr. Askin does not enjoy children, so it is a wonder that he lives in the town at all.
They disable the bell by the time the want me to go. I can’t help but think of the consequences. I can see a thousand things in front of me.
It’s not use, they think to themselves, she can’t turn back.
The don’t watch as I open the door and carefully walk in.The house is old/ The trees are bare…
The walls are lined with crates and Mason jars. I sweep away a strand of dyed hair, and it begins to rain outside when I find the licorice.
“Is WHS dead?”
The voice scares me half to death.
“Mr. Askin. You rattled my bones…” He doesn’t reply but glares rock-hard and reminds me of the former Darcy.
“Yes, he has, unfortunately, as of late, been pronounced deceased.”

Who Asked YOU?

And then there was an earth quake.

4

When my aunt was little, children helped clean the dishes and sweep the floors. When my aunt grew up, there was a war, the government banned clotheslines, and pepsi cans found on the streets were precious things. Also, children no longer played a role in life until they became 17.
So, when my aunt was 16, she decided to go to live in a van out in the field. She called it her bunker, designed wallpapers on her superannuated laptop, and met Mr. W. H. S.
To be quite clear, Mr. W. H. S. did not have blond hair. He had hair a colour the Numbers like to call “noir” and he did not wear eyeglasses.
He had a tattoo of a wagon wheel on the back of his thigh and pray don’t ask me how I acquired that information it is entirely irrelevant.
But these are the facts, and the facts are the clues, and the clues are supposed to make us rich.
So sayth Mrs. Weiland.
Tomorrow the inspectors are coming, but I won’t be there since I’m in custody for robbing some Turkish Delight.
I am allowed to bring one belonging and manifestly I steal Mrs. Brocklehurst’s moldy edition of P&P.
It was purchased decades ago when people still talked.If we belonged to the religion of Jane….

5

When I get to prison, the first thing I discover is that there are such things as ugly models. Also that door-guard 87-B is enamoured by them. I collect these facts and store them up on 122 (a blank page) in P&P. Everything comes in handy when you’re in the ideal circumstance.
The numbers have, for the umpteenth time, become indifferent or perhaps forgotten my existence. One day when they aren’t real I’ll remind them.

6

On the 2nd of May, my cell meets the singing girls. They are all of them dressed in red frocks, and they chant a song about sixpence, and then another about some king starting with a “P”. When they have finished their tedious routine, one of them with an overly powdered face, pushes her chin up to the bars and says,
“Who
Has
Sallied?”
They continue,
“Up and down the road with us.”
And it’s only by the time they’ve moved up 5 cells and are on the chorus that I realize what she was saying.

7

When we were seven years old they taught us how to count for composure.
If a small child misbehaved, the father would say, “Lily, count to five and twenty.”
On the carriage ride back to Brocklehurst manor, that’s what I’m doing while I clutch my copy of P&P.
The inside of the house is in shambles from earthquake Collins, and Mrs. Weiland is frantically dusting the soot and grime from the cracked pottery on the shelves.
I reach the top of the stairwell, and after cordially greeting our house keeper, make my way through some shrubbery until I reach the Numbers’ room.
They are telepathically face timing with their acquaintance in Oregon to relate the happening of two days ago and rant about my imprisonment.
He laughs and says they should have kicked posterior as soon as they caught sight of the first gumball.

Not the END.

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