At The Window

Wacton church window


She’d drag her trunk over every time she was left alone. It did not happen nearly often enough, so she faked head-hurts when her need got too great.

She’d drag the trunk over and place the foot-stool atop it. Gather her skirts and climb to stand precariously on it, balancing on tiptoes.

It was the only way to reach the window.

It was the only way to look out.

The only way to see the fields. The light upon the water in the distant pond. The green or bloom or brown or white of seasons. The birds. The trees. The world outside.

She didn’t know how long she’d have to stay confined to the Women’s Tower. Probably till she was of age to be married off and be conveyed in a shuttered carriage to the Women’s Tower in some other lord’s estate. The curse of her birth.

Highborn girl-children did not go out of doors very often. They did not spend time in the courtyard after infancy and were never unveiled or unaccompanied. Their chastity required they not be seen.

She watched the peasants’ children frolicking. She watched the girls work the fields, herd the geese, chase stray ducklings, spread seed for the hens, milk the goats, cut the hay, grind the wheat, slap cloth against the rocks at the sparkling stream. She could almost feel them breathe, though when she tried to draw breath herself it only let in suffocation. So much so she sometimes did not need to fake a head-hurt after that.

The latticed windows did not open. Two narrow slats near the corners of the tower room did respond to her mother’s lock in fine weather to allow air through cracks barely as wide as her wrist. Not that she was allowed to try and push an arm through them. It would be unseemly.

Still, she tried. Once. The marginal openings met a stone ledge’s resistance after a few inches’ opening.

Protection from invaders and wild-men, she was told.

Guarantee against escape of any kind, she thought.




For Crimson’s Creative Challenge


29 thoughts on “At The Window

    • It is based on traditions in older Russia. Where aristocratic women were held in the Terem. The Terem was often a cloistered apartment within a home/castle, usually on an upper story or in a separate wing, where contact with unrelated males was forbidden. Daughters were often born and brought up solely within the confines of a Terem, where they were isolated and except for short excursions (veiled and covered), women did not leave their quarters until marriage and their move to their husband’s Terem.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d answer possibly to both, cos I don’t know. I know the time came when the Church refused to accept children beneath a certain age as nuns/monks, but the girls were sent for education, and to keep them safe from men. I would 7 would be the usual age, since that’s the age a boy was sent to a higher lord to train into knighthood.

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      • Yes, seven would be quite young (though it was, also, around the age where kids began apprenticeships and when at around the same age or a year or so more, when children in Europe were sent to boarding schools …
        As for what the future had held for those girls in the convents – I would hope that they’d have had some years to experience the outdoors before the convent, and that while the convent, even if supervised, they had some opportunity to be outdoors – though you are right that we don’t know, and perhaps for some girls it was moving from cloistered upbringing to cloistered upbringing to cloistered life later on.
        Certainly not a time when many women had any rights at all, and where high-born women sometimes had even less freedoms in some situations …

        Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it!
      I wish it was just imagination … (though there was certainly some of that in it), but the reality described wasn’t totally imagined, in the sense that this WAS reality for many girls and women in high-born households in old Russia in the 16-17 centuries (and in other cultures, too, depending on the time and customs and social norms). It is also, to some degree, the reality of some girls and women in countries that do not allow girls and women outdoors unaccompanied (and that require them to be completely veiled besides, under risk of flogging or maiming or death).


    • Thanks, D.!
      It is sad, and sadder still to me that it is based on some real history. No matter some of the privations and difficulties many of us face today, there were realities women managed (and in some countries in the world, still manage; and in too many places even near to our world, some wish to recreate) that would be just impossibly oppressive to contemplate.
      I’m glad to be a woman living in these days, in the places that I live, where even if stuff drives me bananas, I can have a voice, and a vote about it. And … write stories.
      Thank you for the comment! 🙂


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