The Perfect Woman…Part 5

Xandra turned her flashlight on and walked into the woods. She had a vague idea of where the institute was after asking her mom about it. The four of them were walking through the woods for about twenty minutes when Xandra said, “Ah yes, here it is. Just as creepy as ever.”

perfect woman institute

Brittany’s mouth dropped. In front of them stood a two storey building that had bars on the windows, it looked two hundred years old, and had a big sign near the front doors that said “The Perfect Woman Institute.” Brittany gasped, “What are we doing here?”

Xandra smiled, “Well, Brittany, if you want to be in our clique you need to prove how brave you are. All of us have walked through the institute alone at midnight and now it’s your turn. So whadda ya say? Are you in?”

Brittany was torn. On the one hand she was petrified; wondering what would happen if she just ran home. The practical side of her concluded that there was no way these other girls have walked through that institute because when the teacher was talking about it today they seemed like it was the first they had heard of it.

“Yeah, of course I’m in. No problem,” Brittany smiled her biggest, bravest smile despite the feeling of nausea sitting in the pit of her stomach.

“Awesome! Go in the front doors, walk down to the end of the corridor, and flash your light in the window three times then come back out,” Xandra explained.

Brittany didn’t trust her voice so instead she nodded, smiling, and headed towards the front doors. One of the doors had fallen off so she walked through, turning her flashlight on. She was immediately hit with a sense of déjà vu. On the wall to her right there was a big poster that said “The Seven Commandments for The Perfect Woman”, beneath that it said: 1. Obey your husband, 2. Complete chores without complaint, 3. Provide sexual pleasure on demand, 4. Never yell, 5. Never speak unless spoken to, 6. Your husband may punish you as he sees fit, 7. Clothes must be modest.

A chill ran up Brittany’s spine. Her heart felt very sad thinking about all those women who were here, and all the lives that were taken. Taking a deep breath she kept walking down the corridor thinking if she can just make it to the end and back then she will gain the clique’s respect and be IN. She passed a few rooms that looked like administration offices, then, she found a room that didn’t look like a room she had ever seen before in her life. There was a steel table in the middle of the room and all kinds of tools hanging on the walls. Tentatively, she took a couple steps inside and realized those are not tools, they were torture devices. With a gasp she fell back and crawled out of the room on hands and knees. She felt like throwing up. My Great-Great-Great Grandma Holly was probably in that room at some point. She took a shaky breath, got to her feet, and continued on towards the end of the corridor.

The next room looked like a classroom. Curious, she went in. The books on the shelves had titles like, “How to cook the perfect meal”, “How to give the perfect back massage”, and a huge book on a table at the front that said, “How to be the perfect woman”. All of a sudden, she was hit with a vision; a man standing at the front of this classroom who was lecturing a class full of young women about rape. “There is no such thing as rape. A man is allowed to have sex with any woman at any time because women were a gift from the gods and are man’s property.” Most of the women in the class were nodding their heads, but a few had small frowns, one of them looked exactly like Holly. As the vision dissipated, Brittany was slammed back into reality with tears streaming down her face. Heart pounding she left the classroom quickly and decided to get to the end as fast as possible and get out of there.

To be Continued…

Written by Amanda Drover-Hartwick

The Perfect Woman…Part One

The Perfect Woman…Part Two

The Perfect Woman…Part 3

The Perfect Woman…Part 4

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The Perfect Woman…Part 4

When the bell rang for lunch, Brittany was extremely happy to get a break from the constant whispering, and snickering in every class all morning. She had no idea where the cafeteria was, but figured if she followed the crowd she’d make it there. It didn’t take long for the smell of spaghetti sauce to reach her nose.

Brittany sat alone, twirled spaghetti noodles around her fork, and had just put it in her mouth when someone sat down beside her. She glanced over and almost choked – it was the leader of the clique girls. “Hi Brittany, my name is Xandra. That’s pronounced ZAUNDRAH in case you didn’t know.”

Brittany managed to swallow the mouthful of spaghetti and replied with a small “Hi”.

As the other two girls sat down across from Brittany, Xandra pointed at the one with brown hair and glasses and said, “That’s Chloe”. Xandra pointed at the third girl who had long blonde hair, “And that’s Willow”.

Brittany nodded and kept her head down. Avoiding eye contact seemed like the safest way to go.

Xandra crossed her legs, “So, what’s your deal anyways? Where are you even from?”

Glancing up at Xandra, Brittany mumbled, “New York”.

Xandra laughed, “Yeah right, you’re not from New York. You are way too shy and timid to be from New York City.”

Chloe and Willow laughed.

Brittany kept her mouth shut, wishing they would just leave her alone so she could finish her lunch, get through her last two classes, and go home.

Xandra put her arm around Brittany’s shoulders, “Listen, we are looking for a new girl to join our awesome group, we’d love to see if you would be the perfect fit.”

Brittany glanced at Xandra to try and see if she was lying or being sarcastic. Xandra had a big smile on her face and eyebrows raised slightly. It would be good to have some friends here, even if they aren’t the type of girls she normally hung out with. “Sure, that sounds like fun,” Brittany responded.

“Great, meet us at the playground by the woods at the end of Cashin Street at midnight tonight. Bring a flash light”, as Xandra stood up Chloe and Willow followed suit. “See you later Brit”!

After supper Brittany helped with the dishes and had a cup of tea with Grandma Fay. Flipping through photo albums she saw more pictures of Grandma Fay when she was little, Great-Grandma Gabrielle, Great-Great Grandma Scarlett, and Great-Great-Great Grandma Holly. It was truly uncanny how much Holly looked like Brittany.

Brittany said good night to her parents and Grandma Fay and headed up to her room to wait until they all went retired for the night so she could sneak out. Brittany has snuck out before, when they lived in New York City, but never to go into the woods. She tested her flashlight to make sure it worked and put new batteries in just in case.

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The house became very still and quiet when everyone else went to bed. Brittany waited for twenty minutes before tip-toeing to her window, pulling it up, and climbing out. Turning on her cell phone she opened the GPS app and typed in “Cashin Street”.

It didn’t take long to get there. She sat on one of the swings to wait. Rogues Hallow was so quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of New York City. She couldn’t hear any horns honking, or sirens. Instead, she heard crickets, trees rustling in the evening breeze, and an owl. Brittany wasn’t sure if she had ever heard an owl hoot before. Even though she missed the city and her friends tremendously, she had to admit to herself that this was actually nice. Five minutes later, three figures could be seen down the road walking towards her. She wasn’t sure if she should feel relieved or nervous.

Xandra sauntered up and said, “Well, well, well, color me surprised. I honestly didn’t think you had it in ya New York. You have passed the first test. Follow me, and we’ll see if you can pass the second.”

To be Continued…

Written by Amanda Drover-Hartwick

 

The Perfect Woman…Part One

The Perfect Woman…Part Two

The Perfect Woman…Part 3

The Perfect Woman…Part 3

The next morning Brittany woke up, had a shower, got dressed, did her hair, looked in the mirror and took a deep breath. “You are a great and you will make new friends.” Her reflection didn’t respond.

Apple, Education, School, Knowledge, Apples, Red, Book

Arriving at school wasn’t nearly as chaotic as Brittany had imagined. The first day of school is normally really busy with excited students happy to see their friends, but this time everyone else already had a month to get into the routine and weren’t so happy to be at school this early in the morning. Her mom came with her to the office to make sure she was registered and get her schedule, gave her a big hug, and wished her luck. Brittany made her way to her first class, late of course, just like in the movies.

The teacher waved Brittany in, “Class, I would like to introduce Brittany Radford. Welcome Brittany we are happy to have you here. Please find a seat,” Mrs. Daniels gestured toward the seats.

Brittany gave a small nod and quickly found a seat. The eyes of all the other students were watching her every move. A group of three girls snickered, and whispered behind her. Brittany took a deep breath, and daydreamed about her friends back home. Her attention was suddenly snapped to the present when Mrs. Daniels said, “Over one hundred women were believed to have entered the institute, only twenty made it out alive.”

Was the teacher talking about the same institute her Grandma Fay told her about? Glancing at the board behind the teacher, the words “Perfect Woman Institute” were written in big letters with the dates 1888-1899, and “The Cult of Poseidon.”

Mrs. Daniels continued, “The Cult of Poseidon was a group of men who created the institute believing it to be a school where young women would be able to learn how to become the perfect woman. They would then be forced into arranged marriages. Some of their parents supported the idea, but the vast majority of women who were recruited were orphans. All of the women at the institute were tortured, many were raped, and over eighty women are believed to be either missing, or killed. The government shut the institute down in 1899. You can read more about the institute in Chapter twelve, and then write a report comparing their idea of the perfect woman to what you think our society considers the perfect woman today. Thank you for your attention, class dismissed.” Just then the bell rang.

 

As Brittany stood up and started gathering her things, she was knocked over. She didn’t need to turn around to know it must be the girls who were snickering behind her the entire class.

A stuck up girl’s voice confirmed her suspicion. “Nice shoes Brittany.”

The three girls brushed past her, glancing back to give her the nasty eye. Brittany waited a few seconds before making her way to the door. She hoped and prayed those girls weren’t in her next class.

To be continued…

Written by Amanda Drover-Hartwick

Read Part One Here: The Perfect Woman…Part One

Read Part 2 here: The Perfect Woman Part 2

The Perfect Woman…Part Two

After supper Grandma Fay invited Brittany to come look at picture albums over tea while Uther and Elizabeth washed up the dishes.

“Your Dad is a good man Brittany”, Grandma sighed as she sat down next to me on the couch.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Uther has always helped your mom with the household chores that many men consider a woman’s job. He respects her, and encourages her work, striving for equality for women.”

Brittany looked away, thinking of her father in a new way.

“Here, look at this picture of your mom when she was little. And that, is my mother, your Great-Grandmother Gabrielle,” Grandma Fay said with a smile on her face.

No matter how many times she saw a picture of her mother when she was younger, Brittany was always surprised at how much she resembled her. In fact, all of the women on her mother’s side looked a lot alike.

“Your Great-Grandmother Gabrielle also tried to improve equality for women. Her mother, Scarlett, told Gabrielle all about Scarlett’s mother, Holly, who was one of the survivors of that institute that was shut down, and that motivated her to want to help and improve the lives of women.”

Brittany glanced at her Grandma Fay, “What institute?”

“Oh yes”, Fay nodding her head, “You are too young to know the story of the institute.”

perfect woman institute

Just then Brittany’s parents walked in. “What are you two talking about?” her mom said and she plopped down on the couch next to Brittany.

Fay quickly said, “Nothing”, giving Brittany that don’t-tell-them-what-we-were-talking-about look. Brittany smiled.

Her dad laughed, “So, do you have everything you need for your first day of school?”

Brittany let out a loud sigh. “Please Dad, don’t remind me. I don’t have any friends, I don’t know my way around the school, and I don’t know any of the teachers either. Going to a new school really sucks.”

Elizabeth jumped up. “How about we make cookies then?”

Brittany laughed. That was her mom’s way of fixing everything – cookies.

To be Continued…

Written by Amanda Drover-Hartwick

The Perfect Woman…Part One