Friday, February 6, 2015

Ms. Huck Finn. Story by Miranda Levin

Travelling down the dark roads at night always got Huck thinking about his life. Yes, Huck was rather young, but thinking about all the choices that had been made calmed him. While thinking about his life, Huck began to consider when his hunger for adventure had all started.

Since birth, Huck had been thrown into pretty dresses and forced to play with dolls. Sitting still in Sunday school was never Huck’s thing. Manners, curtsies, all of these typically girly things never worked well with Huck. She always wanted to play outside, the pretty dresses now covered in dirt, dolls kidnapped by pirates. Huck’s parents did not take it very well. This tomboy behavior forced Huck’s parents to accept that their daughter was not going to be their typical child. Hayley soon turned into Huckleberry, then shortened to Huck. The family moved away, hoping to not be recognized, a little ashamed that their daughter, who should be girly, was more of a tomboy. Huck preferred playing baseball to dress-up. However, Huck’s parents continuously tried to suppress her tomboy habits.

After running away from home, Huck became who he really wanted to be. He always wore baggy, boyish clothing, cut his hair short, and his hands grew calloused and dirty from living in the woods so often. Although the living conditions were not ideal for a young child, Huck felt that he could really be who he wanted to be here, in the middle of the woods. He was free from judgment, and no longer Hayley. Hayley would be stuck in silly outfits and going to Sunday school, spending those warm summer afternoons inside because going outside to play was not “ladylike.” Now, Huck was free to run around and play until the sun had set. Huck soon realized that it does not matter the way you are born but what you do with the character inside.

It felt so strange to be back in a dress. Jim had tightly fit the dress around Huck’s lanky body, and Huck winced as she remembered the restraint of dresses, missing the freedom of pants. As Huck walked into the old woman’s house, she repeated her backstory over and over. “My name is Sarah Williams. My name is Sarah Williams,” Huck told herself under her breath. As she walked into the house, the old woman started asking questions.

“Where ‘bouts do you live? In this neighborhood?” she asked as Huck sat down.

“No’m. In Hookersville, seven mile below. I’ve walked all the way and I’m all tired out.” Huck realized that over the time spent pretending to be a boy, she had developed an accent that did not sound very girly. Huck cleared her throat and crossed her ankles, attempting to sit up straight. The old woman attempted to have Huck take off her bonnet, but with Huck’s hair having been chopped to a boy-short length, she kept it on.

The old woman continued to go on about Tom Sawyer, Huck herself, and the six thousand dollars, except the old woman said it was ten thousand. Eventually, the topic of Huck’s “murder” came up, and the old lady asked curiously, “Who done it? We’ve heard considerable about these goings on, down in Hookersville, but we don’t know who ‘twas that killed Huck Finn.”

It was weird for Huck, hearing others talk about her as if she were dead. “Well, I reckon there’s a right smart chance of people here that’d like to know who killed him,” Huck said, lowering her voice to a dramatic whisper, “Some thinks old Finn done it himself.”

“No—is that so?” the old woman asked, clearly taken aback.

Huck didn’t know what to do. She just wanted to go back home, all of a sudden a strange urge overcoming her to make her want to storm out the door. She hated pretending to not be herself, but she was already doing that. She had been pretending to not be herself by being who she actually wanted to be and not the person she intended to be. She was interrupted in her thoughts by the old woman asking, “Come, now—what’s your real name?”

“Wh-what, mum?” Huck’s voice trembled.

“What’s your real name? Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob?—or what is it?”

She had figured Huck out. She had figured out that Huck was really a boy, or really a girl who had been pretending to be a boy for so long so that she practically was a boy. Attempting to cover it up, Huck stammered, “Please to don’t poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum. If I’m in the way, here, I’ll—”

But she was cut off, “No, you won’t. Set down and stay where you are. I ain’t going to hurt you, and I ain’t going to tell on you, nuther. You just tell me your secret, and trust me. I’ll keep it; and what’s more, I’ll help you.”

Huck breathed deep. She was safe here, about to spill everything to this stranger, but the woman continued talking:

“You see, you’re a runaway ‘prentice—that’s all.”

What? Huck’s mind stopped and words ceased to make sense. This was one of the most absolutely confusing things she had ever come across. Huck didn’t know what to do. For once in her life she felt sensitive, almost in tears, because at that moment she realized that no one would ever be able to know the truth. This was the life she had chosen, and now that her decision had been made, she needed to stick with it. A runaway child is one thing, that happens rather often down South here. Meanwhile, a runaway child who wants to be a boy but is actually a girl is completely unheard of. Huck felt as if a big, black wave of truth was crashing down on her, leaving her forever drowning in her own pool of lies, the very same pool she had started to fill on her own in order to attain her happiness.