Forever Young (Chapter 6, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 6

In the meadow, Samantha and Prudence stood in line to receive their lunch. A girl almost as fat as Prudence lorded over a box of sandwiches, moving the line along with brutal efficiency. "Next!" she barked after shoving a sandwich wrapped in paper to Samantha.

"Who's that?" Samantha asked.

"That's Phyllis, the cook," Prudence said. They sat down in a secluded spot near the trees, away from the whispered conversations of the other girls. Prudence unwrapped her sandwich and took a greedy bite. Samantha took a cautious nibble of hers, swallowing the tasteless, crusty bread and salty bit of meat with difficulty. She wondered how Prudence got fat eating such terrible food. "She makes all our meals."

"But she's younger than I am."

"We all have to take part in chores. Otherwise the town would fall apart."

"What do you do?"

"I'm the seamstress. After lunch, we'll go to my workshop and you can help me."

"I don't know anything about sewing."

"I'll teach you." Prudence lowered her voice. "Everyone has to contribute something if they want to stay."

"So if I don't work, they'd make me leave?" Prudence nodded. "That sounds pretty tough."

"The reverend has to be tough, because the grownups are gone. We can't afford to have people who don't want to work."

"What if I can't learn sewing?"

"Then we'll find something else for you to do. There has to be something you're good at."

"Apparently I'm good at getting in trouble."

"It's your first day. You're bound to make mistakes."

"Not this many. I think I'm cursed."

"Don't be silly." After eating a quarter of her sandwich, Samantha decided she'd had enough and offered the rest to Prudence. "I shouldn't. That would be gluttony."

"Either you eat it or it goes to waste."

"No wonder you're so skinny. You eat like a bird." At this, Samantha flapped her arms and cawed like a sick crow. Prudence stifled a laugh with one hand and used the other to yank Samantha down. "Don't let Miss Brigham see you doing that or you'll get in more trouble."


"Frivolity goes against The Way. Games, jokes, and singing are all forbidden."


"It distracts us from serious matters."

Samantha pointed to the other girls talking amongst themselves. "But I hear them laughing. Isn't that against The Way too?"

"It's excusable if the laughter comes about from normal conversation during designated relaxation periods."

"What does that mean?"

"It means it's all right during breakfast, lunch, or before bed if you're talking about something that happened. Like you getting in trouble with Reverend Crane."

"You think that's funny?"

"I don't, but they do."

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