School had ended for the day, and sister’s Lottie and Eva Shtupenhausen were finally free of their academic confines. The two had been hard pressed to sit still throughout the course of the day, requiring their teacher Miss Rhody to separate them on three different occasions. The first time had been when Eva had leaned out of her chair and smacked Lottie across the ankle with her ruler. Eva was a brilliant tactician and knew that Lottie had a spectacular blister fussing inside of her boot. One hard, well aimed smack delivered to the outside of Lottie’s boot would slow her down just as effectively as a glass of prune juice consumed prior to a trip across state lines.
Upon receipt of the ruler’s smack, Lottie had quickly shoved her fist into her mouth in an effort to stifle the scream which had forced its way up her throat and into the dark caverns of her maw. She looked at her sister from the corner of her eye and made it clear that retribution would be swift and painful.
Eva didn’t care in the least. She was determined to do whatever it took to disrupt the long effortless strides of her older sister. Lottie’s legs were six months in to a gargantuan growth spurt and were capable of out running her even while suffering the effects of an angry blister being rubbed raw by poorly tanned leather.
The girls had jogged home, keeping pace with one another until the moment their house came into view, at which point they broke into an all out sprint. Lottie, having been forced to a slower pace by the aggravated blister, sought to level the playing field by reaching out and grabbing Eva’s shoulder, twisting her dress as she pulled her backwards, gaining the lead. Undeterred, Eva grabbed a hold of Lottie’s wrist and twisted as she worked to break free of her sister’s grasp.
The two were neck and neck as they stormed up the front steps of their house. Lottie grabbed a hold of the door and yanked it with all of her mite. Fearing her sister’s victory, Eva reached forward and pulled on Lottie’s braid, causing her to lose her grip on the door’s handle, but not before pulling it free from two of its three hinges. Unable to fight the momentum created by her own strength, Eva found herself falling backward off of the porch, while bringing Lottie along with her.
Lottie, who had landed on top of Eva, was the first to get up and on the way, managed to grab a handful of dirt which she threw into Eva’s eyes. She made her way confidently up the front steps, but forgetting that her younger sister was made of extremely stern stuff, had slowed her pace considerably. Wiping dirt from her stinging eyes, Eva ran blindly past her sister where she collapsed on the floor, just inside the door. She felt around the floor frantically in her blind state until she found that which she was looking for. Dirty tears streamed down her cheeks as she grabbed the book and began to pull it into her chest.
Eva sat on the floor desperately trying to wipe the dirt from her eyes with one hand, all the while hanging onto the book with the other. Lottie pretended to have given up and began to turn her back on her sister. Feeling that success was finally within her grasp, Eva relaxed her grip on the book for a moment which was just enough time for Lottie to continue her rotation and tear the book from her sister’s hand.
“I had it first” screamed Eva kicking her feet against the wooden floor.”
“Too bad” laughed Lottie as she balanced the book on her arm and began rifling quickly through the pages, looking intently at each one before turning to the next.
By now Eva had recovered her vision and stood over her sister’s shoulder watching the pages fly by.
A grin of excitement began to form on Lottie’s face as she got closer to the page she sought. The corners of her mouth had started to curve upward, and small beads of perspiration had begun to form over her upper lip. Her hand slapped at the pages as she turned them faster and faster. Suddenly her smile disappeared completely as she looked down at the spot where the sheet should have been. Instead, all that remained was the tattered edges of a page that was no longer attached to the book’s spine. The girls stared at the book in complete horror.
Suddenly their anguish was interrupted by the sound of a quiet snickering. The two sisters looked up to discover their mother standing in the door way to the kitchen. She stood before them, her hair pulled back in a tight bun, sleeves rolled up neatly and her apron tied firmly around her waist. She smiled at the girls, while in her hand she held up a sheet of paper which had until recently been attached to the very book that Lottie held clasped to her chest.
Eva’s hands flew to her ears as if she were in the throes of an excruciating headache, while next to her, a solitary cry issued slowly from her sister’s mouth. Their mother raised her eyebrows as she held before them a page torn from the latest Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogue.
Displayed in the picture, standing for all to see was the Prince of Prairie Town, none other than local male model Jesse Taylor, decked out in the store’s latest frontier apparel. The caption below read “No girl can resist the supple leather wrist lets and elegant chaps made from Alpine goat fur worn by a rough and tumble snake hunter.”
The girls sighed as they watched their mother fold up the picture and stuff it into her linen chemise, forced to wait an entire year for their next opportunity.