This part is a little short, just because I am still deciding exactly where the story is going. I sort of just make up ideas in my head as I go along. :P
Anyway, here is Part #2:
The next morning came after what seemed like forever. Molly put her glasses back on and stood up out of bed. Maggie and another girl were already waiting for her. The room was bustling with many girls all getting ready for the long, laborious day.
"Good morning, Molly," the girl with red hair greeted her.
"Good morning," Molly returned the greeting and then asked, "What is your name?"
"Oh, my name is Charlotte," Charlotte replied.
Molly nodded, "Nice to meet you."
"I see you are feeling better after your rest," Maggie smiled. "Or at least, you had better be, because today is a big day of work - just like nearly every other day. Charlotte will show you around and give you tips for doing all of your chores."
"Will I have many chores?" Molly asked. Molly needed some alone time to plan how to get back home.
"Just some at first, but the list grows and the grows the longer you stay here," Charlotte informed her.
"Oh, well, I won't be here long at all, so I guess I can handle my short list of chores until I'm back home where I belong."
Charlotte and Maggie exchanged a worried glance. Molly noticed it, but chose not to say anything. Charlotte and Maggie had a right to be worried - to anyone, Molly sounded crazy. The truth of all that had happened to Molly seemed unbelievable. Molly couldn't expect anyone to believe her story, yet she still wished that someone would.
The girls ventured up to the attic. "We have to start by cleaning up the attic. It gets rather dirty up here - especially when the older girls leave the window open. They do it on purpose so that us younger girls will have to work harder. I know that when I am an older girl here, I won't be so inconsiderate towards the younger ones."
Molly just nodded. Could Charlotte really have that little hope of being adopted, of having a life outside of the walls of the girls' home? Charlotte was already talking about herself being at the Home years from then! Molly felt awful. This was a temporary situation for her (If she could find her way back to that gloomy evening in her grandparents' attic where everything was normal for the last time). But for Charlotte, this was life. "Maybe you'll be adopted by then," Molly suggested hopefully.
Charlotte shot Molly a stern glance. "We don't talk much about adoption around here, Molly, so I suggest that you forget about it. Sometimes you just have to accept things."
Surprised by Charlotte's outburst, Molly opened her mouth in shock to protest, but just then, at the top of the attic stars, a little girl sat crying. Charlotte rushed to her side. "Mosi, what is wrong?"
"T-they stole my bracelet," Mosi sobbed, "The bracelet from my mother."
Charlotte hugged Mosi tightly. "I'll try and collect money to buy it back for you, Mosi. Don't you worry - we'll get your bracelet back."
"Are you sure?" Mosi asked, still tearful.
"Of course," Charlotte comforted her. "But Ms. Coolidge will belt you if she sees you sitting idle. Go back to your work." With that, Mosi scurried down the attic steps.
Charlotte stood up and sighed. "What was that about?" Molly asked.
"Oh, Mosi lost her bracelet to the older girls. The older girls often steal things from the younger ones and then they sell them each Wednesday during our free night. Some of us spend all year scraping and scrounging for pennies to buy our items back. We find the money scattered throughout the Home - Ms. Coolidge may have loose change to spare, but she isn't very smart about it. The pennies just spill out of her pockets as she walks!"
Molly and Charlotte shared a laugh over the image of the pennies spilling out of the mean woman's pockets. "Does she really belt you?"
Charlotte nodded, "Well, only if she sees us not working a lot. Mosi is prone to not wanting to work, so she is on Ms. Coolidge's bad side. Now let's start tidying up."
"This attic looks like my grandparent's attic. Hey, this is where you found me yesterday all alone, right?"
Charlotte just gave a half-hearted shrug, "I didn't find you - you'd have to ask Mary Grace, since she's the girl who showed you around yesterday. I never could get used to her nickname Maggie. Just doesn't fit her if you ask me."
"Uh huh," Molly replied absentmindedly. She was deep in thought. If this attic was the attic that she had been found in, then maybe it was also the attic she had ventured into at her grandparent's house! Perhaps there was a portal or something inside the attic. Now, usually Molly laughed at that nonsense talk of portals and science fiction, but in this situation, all of that "fiction" seemed possible.
"But as for looking like your grandparent's attic, I know what you mean. I see things around here that remind me of my parents' house all the time."
"This isn't like that, Charlotte," Molly shook her head.
"Sometimes I sit back and remember my old bedroom. I used to sit and listen to the radio. Then, the Depression hit and my parents had to send me here. They just dumped me off and I haven't seen them in nearly a year and a half."
Molly's bucket of dust, dirt, and ashes fell to the ground; dropped in surprise.
"I'm - I don't know what to say, I'm sorry - about everything," Molly was stricken with sadness for Charlotte and the other girls in the Home. She was also stricken by something else - had Charlotte just said 'Depression', what did she mean by that? No one just dropped their children off at an orphanage - no one within the last 50 years, anyway. What was Charlotte talking about? Were Charlotte and the other girls the ones who were actually crazy?
"There isn't anything to be sorry about, none of it matters," Charlotte snapped. Molly was already too surprised to show much more of that emotion, so she just stared at Charlotte blankly. Charlotte swept a strand of loose hair away from her face and she sighed. "Molly, I didn't mean to snap like that. Sometimes, I just get to thinking about my old life and I get stuck in a sort of rut. I always thought they loved me, but then they went and did, well, you know. It just makes me feel betrayed, you know what I mean?"
"It's alright, Charlotte," Molly shook her head, "I agree - thinking about that could make anyone upset."
Charlotte nodded, "I'm glad you understand. I'm sorry about everything that happened to you, Molly."
"Me too," Molly muttered under her breath. To Charlotte, she just nodded sadly and the two continued to clean up the dirty attic in silence.
After Molly's chores were finished for the day, and Ms. Coolidge had exited the Home on her weekly date, Molly lay in bed.
Maggie took Molly's hand. "Molly, I'm sorry about everything you've been feeling. You know, all the mix-up and you being confused. I know that this orphanage life isn't so great, but I think you'll find that all of us roommates make for some pretty interesting friends."
Molly just sniffled in reply. How could she explain to Maggie that it wasn't just a mix-up in her mind?
"I do hope you'll join us tonight. Ms. Coolidge is gone, and Wednesday night is a lot of fun. We get together and tell stories, eat stolen snacks from the kitchen, and we just dance and party for hours. It's the one time we get to act freely. I don't think you'll want to miss it."
Molly shifted a bit in bed and turned to face Maggie. "Alright, I'll come join you."
Out at the table, a green box sat. Grace picked some papers up out of it. Molly stopped dead in her tracks - horrified. That was the green box that had been in the corner of her grandparents' attic. "Where did you get that box?" Molly nearly screamed in shock.
"We found it in Ms. Coolidge's trash. One man's trash, another man's treasure," one of the girls explained.
"We write creative letters and journal entries and we keep them all in this box. All of us contribute - even the mean older girls. We write imaginary letters to our real parents or we write letters to Ms. Coolidge, and a lot of times, we just journal about the week's events. You can write something if you want."
Molly shook her head, but then she reconsidered. Maybe writing would help her to come to an understanding with her thoughts and all that had happened. She grabbed a stubby pencil off of the table and she began to write all about what had happened to her in the past few days. The words came quite naturally and seemed to just flow from her mind through the pencil, and onto the page.
Eventually, she and the others finished writing.
"What do I do with this now?" Molly asked.
"Well, if you want to share it, you can, but most of us just put the letters in the box. Sometimes they can be personal and we all take a vow not to read the letters of the other girls. We all deserve our own little space after all," Maggie smiled.
"I think I'd prefer if no one read mine," Molly told them and she slipped it into the box.
"Of course," Charlotte smiled warmly.
Then, Eleanor came into the room and bent down underneath the green table. Suddenly, swaying, exciting music filled the air around them. "Now who wants to dance with me?" Eleanor cried out excitedly.
Molly couldn't help but feel giddy and upbeat with the exciting music dancing into her ears. This life at the orphanage maybe wasn't so terrible. She had a great group of exciting friends, she had no annoying siblings or school work. She had exciting Wednesday night parties. Things in the Home seemed a bit harder because of all of the work, but overall, the living seemed a bit simpler. Well, on Wednesdays like these anyway.
The two swung to the music and the others did too. Feet stomped and hands clapped in rhythm to the swinging song.
Just then, an older girl entered the room. "I'm here to auction off some stolen goods."
Molly snorted at how ridiculous that proud announcement had sounded, but the other girls just nodded.
"I have a pair of shoes and a headband!"
"My headband," Eleanor commented. "How about 2 cents?"
"Deal," the older girl replied, handing Eleanor her black headband.
"Oh how I've missed this hairpiece!" Eleanor exclaimed, placing it in her hair.
No one would buy the shoes because they had long since been outgrown by the rightful owner and they were being auctioned off at 5 cents.
"I don't think it is right of you to steal things from other girls just to sell them back! Did you ever stop and think that that could be wrong?" Molly asked as Mosi nervously inquired about the whereabouts of her recently stolen bracelet.
"I don't think it is right that all of us have to be in this orphanage or 'Home for Girls'. Did you ever stop and think that that could be wrong?" the girl retorted smartly. "And as for the whereabouts of that bracelet," She looked at the crying Mosi. "I guess I'll give it back free of charge. It wouldn't fit around my wrist and it's all chipped up anyway. Sorry I stole it."
Mosi grabbed her bracelet and slipped it on her wrist as the older girl prepared to leave.
Just then, the girl grabbed Molly's glasses, "10 cents next week!" She shouted.
Molly grabbed ahold of the girl and wrestled her to the ground. "You give those back," Molly shouted, prying the spectacles out of the girl's greedy hands.
The girl got away before Molly had a good enough grip on the glasses. "I can't believe it!" Molly cried out.
"I've never seen Sam and the others do something as disgusting as that act," Charlotte shook her head, "Can you see very well without them?"
"I can still see alright, just not as good. Luckily I don't need them all the time."
"I'm sorry about all of that," Maggie touched Molly's hand. "But don't let it ruin the festive night. I'm sure we can scrounge up 10 cents for next week."
Molly just nodded weakly. All the girls could see she was a little shocked.
"As exciting as it can be around here on Wednesdays, life here is pretty hardscrabble too, Molly," Charlotte informed her. When you get those glasses back, you had better guard them carefully."
"If we can get the money sooner, can we buy them back before next week?" Molly asked hopefully. She wanted to leave and didn't want to spend one more week here waiting to buy back her glasses.
"I guess we probably could, since you do need them," Maggie nodded. "We'll try as soon as we get all of the money."
"Shhh," the other girls said, "The evening news! Then a Little Orphan Annie radio show talk! Then another show maybe if it isn't too late! Let's all tune in - the night is just beginning!"
Molly and the other girls all leaned in towards the radio as the announcer's voice filled the room. "Oh, it's my favorite announcer tonight!" Charlotte cried. "Listen, listen!"
"Tonight is a beautiful night, folks, this beautiful March 23!" the announcer cried out. "I daresay it is the nicest night of 1935 so far. All of you out there who agree with me will surely enjoy this song we're about to hear. Listen up folks!"
Some music filled the air, but Molly was deaf to its swinging sound. The girls all smiled at the lyrics, but Molly was blind to those smiles. All she could hear was the number '1935', all she could see was '1935' flashing before her eyes. Was that the year? "It has to be a joke - a prank on the listeners," Molly shook her head, thinking out loud.
"Shh," the girls around her put fingers to their lips as the latest hit continued to play on the radio.
"Was that a joke - you know, 1935?" Molly whispered to Charlotte, sitting next to her.
Charlotte stared at Molly strangely, "What do you mean by 'joke'? He was just saying the year. What's funny about that?"
"Nothing, nothing," Molly replied, looking away, overcome by all that she had just heard. What did it mean?
Then, it hit Molly. The old fashioned radio that worked like new. The vintage clothing that didn't seem so out of place. The orphanage. The mentions of The Depression.
She had traveled back in time somehow. It explained how the attic suddenly looked different. Sometime after sitting back to take a rest, Molly had travelled back in time. Now she had no idea how to get back - she didn't even have the beginnings of an idea. Would she be stuck as a Home resident forever, and then as a poor girl with no future? Would she ever see her siblings, parents, grandparents, or anyone familiar ever again?
Molly couldn't help it. Everything was too much. She felt tears begin to fall. She had nothing else to do but cry about all that had happened.
"It didn't happen," Molly shook her head in disbelief. "It didn't happen."
The song had just ended, and all of the girls around her came to comfort her. None of them understood, but Molly was grateful for their attempts at making her feel better.
"Don't worry, we'll buy your glasses back as soon as we can!" Maggie touched her back soothingly. "I bet that I have ten cents stowed away somewhere.
"You mustn't be upset about all of your confusion over the past few days," Charlotte comforted her firmly. "It may seem scary, but I think it is rather natural."
"We all miss our parents sometimes too, Molly, and our old lives," Eleanor assured her. "We understand."
"It didn't happen, it didn't happen, it didn't happen," Molly continued to shake her head as though she was in a trance. It couldn't have happened. She could not be right. None of it was true.
"I promise that we understand," Eleanor hugged her. "We all know how upset you must feel right now. Sometimes it can be hard to believe that it happened."
If only you all did understand, Molly shook her head, wiping away tears.
Whatever would she do?
Part #3 coming soon! I'm super excited about this photo story series! It may be my favorite yet!