When we arrived at the cottage we were basically frozen. Courtesy demanded to offer someone who came to the cottage door a cup of tea – but I would have offered it regardless of etiquette because the girl was in need of one. She gladly accepted and entered the cottage. The old people were at the Sunday meeting still and so I got busy rekindling the hearth fire and put on a kettle with fresh water to boil. I knew Aunt Melissy would approve of the church elder’s daughters having tea with me.
The girl had readily slipped into the bench at the window and had pulled her sock feet up to wrap her long skirt around them to warm up. As long as the fire wasn’t going it wasn’t too warm in the cottage either, but it was nicer than outside, and my feet started thawing.
The girl had put her chin on her kneecaps and looked at me without much expression, a bit as if we had been friends for a while. After a moment she lifted her head a bit and said: “I’m Fiona. Don’t tell me your name. My mom says I shouldn’t know you. So, if you don’t tell me your name I don’t know you, right. “ Fiona grinned. “She didn’t say we couldn’t have tea.”
She hugged her legs tight, I could see she was still cold. But there was something on her mind. As long as we were alone. “It’s difficult, to make rules.” She added gravely. As if she was not the one looking for loopholes. Or maybe as if looking for loopholes was her special function in the system of making good rules. “I mean,” she added “to make rules that are to be followed to a point. Not to forget anything. Though you know they will be looking for a loophole. And you have to make the rule as tight as possible. But still workable.” She took a deep breath. I had no idea where she was coming from. Why she was telling me this?
“Why would they?”, I asked. “Why would they look for loopholes, I mean.” Maybe it was an ignorant question but it was the first thing that came to my mind. I didn’t even now who “they” were supposed to be. “Why wouldn’t they?” Fiona retorted. “Doesn’t everybody crave freedom? Just everybody? And especially those who are bound by a contract to obedience?”