Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Anjuli Turner! Anjuli was in 7th grade this year and submitted a short story about the life of a Medieval peasant girl. Enjoy!
A Day in the Life of a Medieval Peasant
by Anjuli Turner
Being at the bottom of the social pyramid isn’t all that bad. No, frankly, it is terrible, miserable shall I say. Working sunrise to sunset is simply exhausting!
I am twelve years old and the eldest child of my family. I have two little brothers. They are both six with not a lot of responsibility, which only adds to my never-ending list of challenging chores.
Yes, my brothers are young but why shan’t they each have at least one of my chores? If only I had a wee bit more time to write in my journal each day, especially with the summer months and longer days fast approaching.
16 June 1422
Summer is really such a perfect time of the year. All of the divine, beauteous flowers bud into fruits, the very ones we shall savor over the cold, winter months. And the smell of freshly baked bread from Mother’s oven makes my tummy growl with hunger! I also love …
“Lilli, come hither and help prepare for supper!” My mother shouts.
“Coming!” I holler back and stash my journal in a secret hiding place in the privy and push away my thoughts of summer until perchance the next free moment.
While setting the table, I hear my parents talking amongst each other in hushed voices. They sound pitchkettled and worried, something about past due taxes. Mother reluctantly hands my father her favorite brooch, the one that belonged to her great-grandmother.
“Don’t be such a quidnunc!” Mother barks at me. “Fetch your brothers and be sure they wash their hands.”
At once my family is settled at the table, for not a soul wishes to kiss the hare’s foot and mayhap starve waiting for morrow’s next meal. As Mother offers a prayer, we patiently bow our heads and fold our hands together.
Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.
“Grammarcy,” we say in unison.
We have hardly picked up our forks to start eating when Mother asks, “Boys, did you scythe the hay?”
“Yepperdoodle!” Both answer in a hufty-tufty tone with chests puffed out like roosters.
I giggle a bit. We all know my brothers dilly-dallied the day away and played hide-and-seek in the woods instead. Still my brothers are dear even if a tad lazy.
Mother raises her eyebrows at them, but the rest of her face is blooming smiles. My brothers are off the hook yet again. Where is the justice?
“And you, Lilli, did you plow the fields, trample the grapes, shear the sheep, herd the pigs, and gather up firewood?” Mother asks.
“With not a moment wasted,” I answer.
“Good girl, then you won’t have a problem scything the hay in the morrow,” she says.
My brothers hoot and keak like hens.
“BUT MOTHER!” I protest.
“No buts, Lilli! This is not a question, it’s an order!”
“Prithee, dear Father, surely you have something to say about this?” I plead.
He is wordless! Sometimes he has such a nose of wax!
“This is woodness!” I wolf down the last bite of bellytimber and excuse myself from the table. I don’t wait for Mother’s permission and storm off.
In my escape I let my parents know just how upset I am by slamming the door behind me. I make a mad dash to my favorite tree in the apple fields and flop to the ground. I lie there gazing up at the dusky sky through the branches and green leaves.
And thither under the tree I dream about another life.
Wind-sucker thoughts creep into my heart and imaginings of a new world emerge. I hardly recognize myself dressed in an elegant, velvet dress clutching a bubble-bow filled with gold coins in one hand and a small lap dog in the other. I am even wearing a matching hat with many feathers and lace-covered gloves. My face is washed and powdered. The dirt underneath my nails is a thing of the past along with my calloused, often bruised hands. I am no longer slouching, but standing especially tall in brand new boots made of leather instead of the usual felt. And the blisters that once lived on my feet are also long gone. Words like plow, grapes, sheep, pigs, firewood, and most certainly hay will one day be words from my past, for one day I dream of becoming a Lady and the fairest flower of the field.
Flowers, that’s it! I can make a tiara out of daisies. I gather up all of the prettiest daisies and start weaving my crown.
“Lilli Madison Rolfe,” my mother hollers, “come here this instant.”
“I’m a bit busy.”
“Well, stop being busy and come to me now!”
“MOTHER, I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF I COULD HAVE SOME FREE TIME!”
I hear nothing in response. I guess I have won this battle, or have I?
In the time that the sun has fallen and the moon has risen, I have finished making my crown out of grasses and daisies. I look in the mirror to see a Lady, and see a peasant girl staring back at me. I tiptoe into the kitchen where Mother is washing the dishes.
“Mother, I have something to show you.”
She turns around slowly and the scowl on her face blooms into a smile. “Lilli, you look beautiful.”
Wow, I was not expecting that.
“I’m sorry you have more chores than your brothers, and that they get off the hook sometimes.”
I chuckle a bit.
“You have a big imagination and I want all of your dreams to come true!”
My eyes start to water.
“I just want you to be…” Mother starts to say.
But I cut her off with a big hug. “I know, Mother.”