Red Wax and Parchment
Cassy Finkler never worried about friends, or grades in school, or being last to be picked for teams in gym class, or boys, or anything really. For she was never in a shortage of them. She was popular and she knew it.
Cassy was short and had midnight black hair that she wore straight. She liked to hope that the freckles on her nose and cheeks would fade when she got older, but so far, no such luck. Even with her freckles, she was the envy of mostly every girl in Clearfield high school.
Our story begins with Cassy in her room. It was the last week in July and Cassy was about to make what she believed to be the most important decision of her life. Which, of course, was what she was going to wear on the first day of school. Right as she crouched down to pick out the perfect pair of shoes, her mother called up to her.
“Cassy, come down stairs, please. I need to talk to you.”
Cassy rolled her eyes. Her mother was always asking her to do something stupid that she never wanted to do. What could be so important that she had to stop picking out her cloths? The start of term was only a month away! Still grumbling about the injustice of the whole situation, Cassy made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen where her mother was.
“What do you need?” asked Cassy as she plopped herself into a chair and crossed her arms. “I was in the middle of picking out my clothes for the start of term. It is only one month away!”
“Cassy, start of term in only a week away.” her mother said hesitantly. “ And you don’t need to worry about a start of term outfit. You are going to a boarding school.” And with that she pushed an envelope into Cassy’s hands.
Cassy could feel her eyes widen and figured that if she opened her mouth any wider, it would hit the floor. In her state of shock, it felt as if she was in a trance, she could feel her feet moving, taking her back to her room. But as soon as she set foot in her room. The trance broke and in place of it, anger surged through her veins as she slammed the door. Roughly, she turned the envelope over and barley noticed that the red, wax seal was broken. Disregarding this, she yanked the letter from the envelope. It was made of yellow parchment and written in large, loopy cursive. She read:
“It is my dear pleasure to offer you an invitation to Wexly School for the Talented Young Lords and Ladies. This school is of the utmost prestige and would be honored if you graced us with your attendance. The following are the needed supplies for every lady attending.
3 sets of daily clothes (all layers)
1 set of weekend clothes
If this is your first year attending Wexly, please go to the nearest of the seamstresses located below
432 West Governor St.
53261 London, England
291 Peach Rd.
69143 Little Pebble, Nevada, America
Please make sure you go to the seamstress at least six (6) days before the start of term (August 1st). First years will be given there books when they arrive.
If you are not a first year, but you need your uniform altered, visit the seamstress nearest you as soon as possible. Please note that if you leave your altering until the last moment, the adjustments may not be done in time for the start of term
~ Headmaster ~
Cassy woke up the next day to her mother shaking her gently.
“Cassy, you need to wake up!” her mother urged. “We need to go to the seamstress today and no amount of complaining is going to get you out of this!”
Cassy rubbed the sleep from her eyes as her mother left the room. With a sinking feeling se remembered about the letter. Fuming, Cassy got out of bed and looked at her alarm clock. The digital numbers read 7:02, which was, of course, way too early to get up in the summer.
Cassy walked over to her closet and slipped on a pair of jeans and a shirt. Slowly, she made her way out of her room and down the stairs.
Her mother was waiting for her in the kitchen with a cup of coffee in hand. She had made chocolate chip pancakes for Cassy. As she smelled the warm pancakes, she felt her anger towards her mother ebb away. She smiled to her self as she thought of all the cute new boys she would meet there. Perhaps the uniforms and the food wouldn’t be too bad. Of course, the food wouldn’t be as wonderful as her mother’s Cassy had to reason as she finished her pancakes. As her anger disappeared Cassy’s common sense began to kick in again. Her mother seldom made decisions for her but when she did, her mind was set. She figured that there was no real use of arguing. Her mother would win anyway.
“So. Today I was planning on taking you to the seamstress in London. We are so lucky that we are so close. It would be a terribly long trip if you live in Africa of even Italy.” Her mother just seemed to keep rambling. Cassy knew that her mother was nervous. She always talked a lot when she was nervous and, now, it was one endless drone of words.
When breakfast was done, and the dishes were clean, the pair of them got into the car. It was an old beat-up car with broken seats and a headlight burnt out, but they had that car since Cassy’s grandfather just up and left. He had left when Cassy’s father had died. She didn’t remember what her grandfather or father looked like. She didn’t even have a picture of them. Cassy used to stay up late at night, straining her memory for just a glimpse of either of their faces, but she never could remember them. Her mom just looked away whenever it was mention and quickly changed the subject. Cassy had learned over the years to not mention the matter when her mom was near and being as she never saw any of her relatives, Cassy almost forgot about it all together. She figured that her grandfather had died anyway, but there was always that faint wisp of hope that he wasn’t gone.
Neither of them talked on the trip into London. They lived in a small suburb about an hour’s trip away from London in a town called Kunopolous. Nothing out of the ordinary happened on the car ride Mrs. Finkler yelled at the cars who wouldn’t let her cut in front of them, swore at the traffic lights that changed too slowly and ranted at the crummy roads that needed repaved. Cassy just looked out the window at the passing cars and smiled inwardly as her mother told her to never drive like she did.
When they got to the seamstress on West Governor Street, Cassy’s mom parked a little way from the store and put a couple quarters into the parking meter. The pair walked over to the shop. Outside, there was a wooden sign reading only “Seamstress”. Cassy and her mother walked through the door and into the shop. The door alone was breathtaking. Carved into the wooden door were sculptures of women. The women depicted the different jobs of a seamstress. One of the women was sewing, another was cutting cloth, and still q others were taking measurements of a wide range of people: babies, children, teenagers, adults, and even a king and queen. On the left side of the door was a large brass doorknob. The inside of the shop was lit by candles in brass lanterns that were suspended from the ceiling by heavy brass chains. The floor was polished wood partially obscured by colorfully woven rugs. Off to the left, there was a large wooden desk with a few candles in slightly tarnished brass holders giving off a flickering glow. Sitting at the desk was a middle-aged woman with dark brown hair pulled back in a tight bun. Her fingers flowed gracefully over the paper in front of her. She stopped every few words to dip her quill into the little ink bottle next to her.
When Jess and her mom entered the store, the lady stood up and walked over to them.
“Good Day! My name is Mistress Vivien Seamstress,” the lady stated. “Correct me if I am wrong, but I do believe that you are in for your measurements for Wexly’s.”
Cassy nodded in agreement. Mistress Vivien beamed and told Cassy to follow her. She led her through a doorway off to the right and into another room. This room looked much like the room she just left except that this room did not have a desk. Instead it was donned with a simple full-length mirror and a two-foot square wooden block in the center of the room. Cassy was wondering what the block was for when Miss Vivien told her to stand on it.
For the next hour Cassy stood on the wooden block as Mistress Vivien bustled around her taking her measurements with a piece of string. She took measurements of just about everything imaginable: around her ankle, her waist, her neck, and even the length of her head. Finally Cassy was told that she could step off the block.
As Mistress Vivien led her out of the room she heard the scraping of an armchair. When Cassy turned toward the desk, she saw her mother blushing and looking flustered. Cassy smiled to herself. She knew that when her measurements where being taken, her mother helped herself to Mistress Vivien’s desk and fell asleep. Her mother was a light sleeper, so the sound of both Mistress Vivien’s and her own footsteps must have woken her up. Her mother was always falling asleep. Recently, her mother was extremely tired. She received a pay cut at work, so to make up for the lost money, she picked up more hours. Mrs. Finkler worked as a chasier in a grocery store named Munch n’ Crunch. The store was loosing money and everyone’s paycheck was being cut. Mrs. Finkler had received a good education degree in psychology. The only problem was, there were too many psychologists already, so she was left jobless in that field dispite her persistent search.
Cassy was snapped out of her thoughts by the sound of the chair scraping the floor again. Mistress Vivien gave Cassy’s mother an envelope with a bill in it and told her that will have Cassy’s new uniforms sent to the school for the first day of term.
Later that night, as Cassy climbed into her bed, she thought about her trip to London. She decided that the whole ordeal could have been much worse. It definitely could have taken much longer. Suddenly as if something had just clicked into place, or turned on, Cassy realized that Mistress Vivien’s clothes looked different. She was wearing long, flowing dress. She looked as if she was trying to dress to reenact an era of history. Exhausted, Cassy’s feeble mind decided to forget about Mistress Vivien, for the moment, and was soon sleeping soundly.