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Late Nineteenth Century
Western United States
Midsummer

It's early. The sun has risen just above the flat line of land and cicadas are humming in waves that seem to take place only in the distant horizon; tiny fast-paced shaking of maracas which fade into the drone of an electric buzz before ceasing, only to be picked up and perpetuated by a different insect in a varying location.

The sky is wide and electric blue, mostly unobstructed by hills or foliage and speckled with fluffy white clouds that are distant, appearing as if they were at the very top of the sky and exceptionally unreachable.

The edge of the skyline holds rusty mountains and plateaus, pockets of deciduous trees that are scattered about and line the edges of town but mostly they look thirsty and pathetic, needy and defenseless as they drown in the high desert sun day after balmy day.

You can hear people milling about in the road outside of your bedroom window and in the hallway, rising with the sun to have breakfast or shuffle off to work. You've lived in this town for your entire life, never once having traveled more than thirty miles away from town square due to your father's rigid protection over you. You wouldn't quite call it a tyranny, but you don't exactly have a better term for it either.

Your hand fumbles onto your nightstand for your pocket watch, your fingers stumbling across the slinky golden chain first before finding the smooth capsule, sliding it towards you and thumbing the button to pop it open. Your eyes focus on the hour hand before you groan and toss the watch down, throwing your blankets from your legs and rising to your feet with your arms stretched overhead, a yawn bursting from your chest to enhance the arch in your back.

Your nightgown brushes your knees as you pad over to your washstand and bend to glance in the mirror; your hair soft and clean from having visited the bath house just a day prior. Your hairbrush tears through your tresses to land them in a supple heap across your shoulders and back before you rinse your hands and face, studying your reflection in the mirror as you blot your skin with a fresh washcloth.

The sounds of town are heightening outside of your window as shop owners open their businesses for the day; horses and carriages gallop and bump across the rocky, dusty earth and people shout at one another in friendly morning greetings.

Your heart claps like thunder in your chest when you try to remember what day of the week it is, but when your mind replays the events of last night, a tsunami of nausea boils in your stomach and threatens to spill over. You smack your hand over your mouth to hold back vomit at the reminder of the horrid smell and lewd sounds and tears sting your eyes but you refuse to let them spill.

You breathe in deeply through your nose and drop your hand away, silently talking yourself through the comforting knowledge of your oppressive evening being over and having freedom for an entire week if you're lucky enough to stay hidden in the shadows. You rinse your mouth out once more before pulling on a cream-colored blouse with a high waisted calico skirt that is dyed your favorite shade of cornflower blue.

You study your reflection in the mirror, swipe your beloved lace and mother-of-pearl hand fan and your copy of Wuthering Heights from your dresser before poking your head out of your bedroom door. You sleep upstairs where the rest of the hotel guests stay, but your quarters are isolated so that you're able to sleep even if others decide to stay up late. The location of your room also helps divide you from any carnal sounds that have been known to give you nightmares or cause you to be sick to your stomach.

You nod at two male patrons having a conversation a few feet from your door before flipping open your fan and covering your nose and mouth as you pass, taking the stairs quickly and lightly to diminish the creaks that would alert your father to your waking.

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