Reads: 22

"Oh," the mother lamented, sitting down beside her daughter of 12 on their dirt floor. The dusty ground seemed the perfect place for her to settle her old skirt with its unraveling threads. 

"What is the matter, Mother?" her daughter asked, stopping her tracing in the dirt. She traced symbol: some of those strange and fascinating symbols they called letters. They were strange because she did not recognize them and fascinating because they seemed to hold the secret to thoughts, ideas and a million other things.

"Oh, nothing child," said her mother. "Only today is Market Day, you know. If I had enough coins, I should buy you all the beautiful dresses and coats to keep you warm, and fancy foods. You'd never go hungry again."

"I know what I would buy!" said her daughter. "I would buy from the paper-making man some papers and a pen—like the scribes do."

Her mother's face froze; for how could she explain to her daughter? "Oh, child" she said. "We do not read or write. We are peasants. Only men, special ones like priests and scribes read and write, maybe some royals, too. I don't even know." 

Her daughter ignored her, proceeding to draw more symbols in the dirt. "When I grow up, I'll learn it, too," she said. 

"Little one, you're a girl!" Her mother scoffed a little a this point. "It just does not work that way."

"Someday, it will," said the little girl, in a sad dreamy tone, still forming her dirt letters. "Someday, it will."

Submitted: November 12, 2022

© Copyright 2022 B.J. Vancheyson. All rights reserved.


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