Hush Girl

By Zara Quiter, TIWP Student

Cordelia Campbell lived in the tallest house in Woodbury town, on top of the hill, the forest of animals and plants starting at its gate, unruffled by the humans who lived nearby. Cordelia Campbell lives with her papa, and her mama, and her four older brothers. Cordelia Campbell was spoiled, her father was a merchant, her grandfather was a merchant, and her great-grandfather was a merchant, and so on. Cordelia Campbell lifted her chin every day as she practiced sewing and baking and cleaning with her mama as her brothers tumbled past the kitchen window every hour, dirty, tossing around a football.

Cordelia was sitting on the brick steps with a ball of yarn, trying over and over again to get her mama’s new technique right. She just could not get it, and her mother warned her time and time again, “Ladies must learn, and they must learn fast, how to be a lady and how to give care. My mother taught me this, I teach you this, and you will teach your daughters this. It is the task of a woman to do as such.”

Cordelia didn’t think much of this. She didn’t much fancy the idea of sewing all day. She would much rather strike it rich and pay for a maid to do all this nonsense for her. Cordelia would much rather spend the day at the coffee tables with the other ladies of the town. Her mama could, but for whatever reason, she didn’t. Cordelia’s mama didn’t spend the time getting herself a pearl cigarette holder and an old, gold table for smoking and tell the maid to bring her tea and biscuits and laugh around the table all day with her lady-friends.

Truth be told, sometimes Cordelia thought her mama was the slightest bit boring. But she never whispered a word to anyone. She was grateful for her mama, especially on days they went out to town.

On papa’s break day he would take the whole family out to town in their nicest clothes and best purses and umbrellas and top hats and canes and parade them around the town. But the best days of the week was when mama took only Cordelia out.

She would put on her most formal gown possible, hoop skirt required. And for the last four years, ever since Cordelia was eight, she would wear the tightest top possible, with the bottom a hoop skirt as well.

Even though the reason for mama’s field trip was to show Cordelia off to possible suitors, Cordelia much enjoyed the time with her mama that wasn’t spent learning how to be a proper lady. And after walking the distance of miles, Cordelia and her exhausted legs would be taken to a nice cafe where she was allowed to pick one treat.

After much time spent thinking about what to do with the needle and ball of yarn, Cordelia threw it onto a rose bush with a huff. She didn’t give a second thought to leaving it there, knowing the groundskeeper would pick it up for her.

She walked back to the antique door, and knocked obnoxiously until one of the maids opened the door. Cordelia walked through the door, accidentally knocking over the basket of laundry the maid was holding.

Cordelia walked straight to the parlor. “Someone make me a cup of tea and get me a biscuit!” she shouted, knowing someone would hear her. If mama heard that, Cordelia would be in great trouble for making much more of a cacophony then she was allowed.

Cordelia was sitting, tapping her foot against the metal table impatiently. She had much better things to do than sit around and wait for someone to get her something to eat. She hadn’t eaten much of anything besides the berries she had the groundskeeper go through the thorn bushes to get at 3:00, and it was already 4:30! Cordelia wasn’t really hungry, frankly, she just wanted someone to do something for her.

As Cordelia heard the whistling of the tea pot, she also heard something coming from outside. A whisper, Cordelia couldn’t quite make out coming from behind the gate to the woods. Curious, Cordelia got up from her chair, knowing she would be back before the infuriating maid got her food ready.

She walked outside and onto the small field, bees buzzing around her. She walked through the plot of flowers and to the gate to the forest. No one set foot there; legend has it many evil things wandered those woods, but for some reason Cordelia had no second thought.

She clicked open the gate, closing it behind her. Now she could hear the whispers much more clearly.

“Come girl. Hush, girl. Look in the bush girl.”

Entranced, Cordelia’s eyes went straight to the blueberry bush across the thicket. She looked down at her brand new expensive high heels papa had bought just for her, and without thinking, she threw them into the stream, not feeling any regret.

“Come girl. Hush, girl. Look in the bush girl.”

Cordelia ignored the pain as she walked barefoot over the pine needles, acorns, and spiky leaves. She just felt an instinct to go to the bush, to listen to the voice.

“Come girl. Hush, girl. Look in the bush girl.”

As Cordelia moved closer, a breeze pushed dirt into her eyes, but she just blinked it away. She was so close now, and she could see the juicy, ripe and shiny blueberries on the bush, waiting to be picked.

“Come girl. Hush, girl. Look in the bush girl.”

The voice was so compelling, Cordelia forgot about her food. She let out a short giggle, thinking of the annoyed maid having gotten her food ready for her, and seeing her gone. Bossing people around was Cordelia’s favorite thing, but now she was listening.

“Come girl. Hush, girl. Look in the bush girl.”

Cordelia touched the leaves, which were strangely steaming hot, and her fingertips started to blister. But Cordelia just let out a curious gasp, not alarmed at all. Cordelia reached for a leaf, her mind feeling foggy, but determined.

“Come girl. Hush, girl. Look in the bush girl.”

Cordelia reached for a branch, ready to lift it up.

“Yesssss, yessss.”

Unfazed by the spooky whispers of satisfaction, Cordelia got even closer and a flash of uncertainty crossed her mind, but it quickly faded.

“Come girl. Hush, girl. Look in the bush girl.”

Cordelia lifted the bush, and time seemed to slow as a shiny silver dagger flashed out of the bush. Realization of how stupid she had been her whole life crossed her mind, as a red blood soaked through her pale pink dress, and all she could feel was the anger of the maid that answered the door for Cordelia just minutes before, and pain. Horrible, horrible, pain.

Cordelia Campbell
Found Dead In The Woods
Daughter and Sister

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