As I re-read and reflect on 6. Retrenchment, I say to myself:
I wasn’t always like this. Modern Day Charlotte Lucas’ younger self was definitely not like this.. What happened?
She had a fiery temper and frequently fought, with words and fists. She hated dresses and likened herself to be strong, argumentative and pretty amazing.
I recall a time in the 7th grade, I suppose you could call it an origin story.
Amid juggling studies (ugh Math) and other school activities (endless fights with Mom over the perils of joining the volleyball team), the other thing that was of great attention to other 7th grade girls at the time was either: winning the affections of an older student or having your affections won over by said student.
I didn’t care for it really. I remember firmly telling a boy who sat behind me ‘NO. I DON’T LIKE YOU OKAY?! EW.’ (I ew-ed until I needed his help at the workshop for woodwork. Thanks D, I owe you man.)
Despite not caring, an 8th grade boy did. Immensely. We never exchanged words, I barely knew what he looked like, what with being from a different grade and all, but I had gotten his attention. I didn’t think I was attention-worthy (way to eat that humble pie, Charlotte), considering that the school was filled with, in my mind, individuals who were definitely more beautiful and attention-worthy.
Just like in Austen times, sealed letters were delivered by unwilling friends to inform me of his intentions. The writing was neat, littered with appropriate vocabulary and to the point. A very romantic point.
My friends cooed and sighed at my luck. What luck? WHO is this guy? Is this even real?
One day I caught a glimpse and we actually looked at each other. I felt a slight flutter in my stomach, I could put a face to this potential suitor and a teeny tiny part of me wanted in on this now.
So I wrote back. The wheels were turning, this was happening, I was going to fail 7th grade Math but hey, I’ll have a boyfriend!
I was feeling pretty chuffed about this new endeavour, there was a spring in my step and I didn’t mind the admiration of my suitor-less peers. In their eyes, I had leveled up.
At this point, my affections for this boy also grew, although I only knew him through his writing but for my 7th grade self, it was good enough. My forays into love and dating had begun! I softened, became less aggressive and stopped being, as Mom would say: ‘so unladylike’.
There was one instance where I agreed to meet with a messenger at a specific location in school to receive the next letter, I was brimming with excitement!
Upon collection of the letter, I made my way towards a stairwell, to head back to the ground floor. Whilst walking I carefully peeled open the envelope and began reading its contents and…
*barely audible crunch*
I looked down and there was a slightly crumpled/folded piece of paper on the ground and I had stepped on it.
‘Love your school and keep it clean’ – a mantra that was drilled into us, and I did feel better knowing that I would be helping to keep the environment clean.
As I picked it up and was about to throw it into the bin, I noticed there was some writing on it and I was curious (read – nosy) so I looked around before I opened it up.
It was a letter.
It contained the same romantic writing I had just received from the messenger moments ago. Perhaps an earlier draft? I thought to myself.
But. There was something different about it.
It was addressed to someone else.