For Children

Claire Rose Kozak

Out of Thin Eyre

2012 7th-8th Grade Prose Winner

Where was I? Just a moment ago, I had been at the village school in Morton, correcting the sewing stitches of one my pupils, a farmer's daughter. My patience was ebbing; the untaught rustic couldn't even guess at the difference between an overcast stitch and a slipstitch. I was questioning whether accepting St John's generous offer of this post as schoolteacher had been the most prudent decision, when suddenly the room went black. I experienced the most unpleasant stretching sensation, like all my limbs were being pulled in different directions by some cruel giant, and heard a loud crackling in my ears, like a roaring fire in the dead of winter. Then suddenly I was standing in a room far different from the one I had just vacated. I was enveloped in a cloud of smoke with strange chartreuse coloring, and smelling oddly of burnt sugar. As this curious vapor cleared, I examined my surroundings.

The Morton schoolroom had been small, dimly lit, and rather cramped, what with the twenty girls filling a space that was only meant for eight or nine. This room was very spacious, with a high ceiling. It appeared to be some form of a school dormitory, resembling slightly my days at Lowood, though much more richly furnished, with silken bedspreads and four-poster beds with heavy canopies, about ten or eleven of them. The stone walls, though slightly worn, exuded a warm, welcoming aura, and the room was very comfortable.

It had been midmorning in the schoolroom, certainly not past eleven, and yet, standing here, late afternoon light filtered through the few small arch-shaped windows in this very strange room. Looking out, a beautiful, lush valley was visible. The leaves of the trees were the beautiful red, gold, and brown colors of autumn, and even from inside this peculiar room, I could smell the faint hint of cinnamon and pumpkin, as if someone were baking a thousand pies. I could see part of the building I must now be in, a castle-like structure, grander than even Thornfield. I could just make out a small, charming cottage on the grounds, and a very large man with a tremendous black mane of hair. I couldn't see his face, but he was standing outside of the quaint cottage with a black dog, much larger than Mr Rochester's Pilot. My mind must have been playing a cruel game with me though, because for a moment I thought I saw a person flying along through the sky on a broom, such as one would use to sweep the floor.

And finally, whereas the schoolroom had been overflowing with girls in plain frocks and coats, this room was empty, with the exception of one girl standing before me. She was smaller than me, though stronger boned, and not as slim as I still was from my near starvation after I had fled Thornfield. Her hair was bushy, rebelling against the plait with which she had attempted to tame it. Though her front teeth were slightly oversized, and her wild hair was a rather plain brown color, she was still not unattractive. She was perhaps fifteen or sixteen years old. But her clothing was shocking. A girl of her age should be wearing a modest frock, with long skirts, in a dull, unassuming color. This strange girl had on what appeared to be robes not unlike a pastor's; long and black, they stretched nearly to the floor, from which underneath peeked a very strange pair of shoes, black in color. These eccentric robes bore a very odd crest upon the chest, with bright colors of gold and red, standing out against the deep black of the material. I could see embroidered a lion and a snake, but I couldn't quite make out the other two animals. Underneath these robes, a gentleman's tie was visible, quite improper attire for a young woman. This curious girl was staring at me, I realized, with a look of quite unwholesome glee in her brown eyes.

"Brilliant!" she cried, and I jumped. Her voice was quite loud in the empty room. "I wasn't sure about the last section of the spell, and it got a little tricky in the re-animation part, but it worked!"

This seemed a good time to inquire about my surroundings, so I somewhat timidly asked this unusual child, "Would you be so kind as to tell me where exactly I am, miss?"

She looked at me closely, scrutinizing me for a minute, and then said, "Oh yes, you must be very confused. Ms Eyre, I am Hermoine Granger. You are at Hogwarts School of Witch Craft and Wizardry, in the year 2007."

Instead of explaining my surroundings, her answers only perplexed me to a greater degree. "How do you know my name, Miss Granger? And my ears must have failed me; a moment ago I though I heard you say 'school of witchcraft and wizardry'. And how did I suddenly find myself here?"

Hermoine sighed, patiently, and said in a slightly patronizing tone, "Yes, I did say 'witchcraft and wizardry'. I am a witch." At the word 'witch' my mind immediately flashed to the madwoman, Mr Rochester's wife - it still hurt to say that dreadful truth - that he had concealed in his attic. This young girl was nothing like the terrifying apparition I had seen in my bedroom the night before my wedding - again, another word that tugged painfully at my heartstrings. But the Granger girl was still talking. "-and I brought you to life...erm, I mean summoned you here. For Transfiguration homework this week, Professor McGonagall assigned us to bring a character- I mean person... to life in our class next Thursday. And I was just reviewing the spell, since I wanted to practice it before class to be sure I got it right. Ron said I couldn't do someone as complicated as you, Jane Eyre. But then again, he would probably only be able to manage summoning a character as simple as Winnie the Pooh."

The way this girl spoke made my head spin. "You use such unfamiliar words, and speak of very strange things. Who is this Winnie the... pot? And what is this transfigurimation... class you speak of? You cannot possibly be a witch. And how do you know who I am?" The questions poured out, like a raging waterfall that I had no control of. "What do you mean, 2007? I am living in the nineteenth century, I am positive. And how could you possibly bring me to life? I am quite alive already, thank you very much."

Hermoine pressed her lips together in faint annoyance, and enunciated as if she were speaking to someone quite dull, "I had to summon you as an assignment. You're in a future time, the year 2007. I know your name because I've... read a great deal about you." She said this last sentence with a secretive smile, as if she were enjoying something humorous that I couldn't possibly comprehend. I noticed that as she said this, she discretely pushed a book behind a nearby bed with the toe of her odd, impractical looking shoe. I wasn't able to see the title clearly, but my eyes must have been deceiving me, for I was sure that I caught sight of my name, and the name of another woman, Charlotte Bronte, whomever that might be.

Hermoine continued, "If you don't believe I'm a witch, this should convince you." And with that she pulled from her robes a long, straight stick, narrowing towards the top. She flicked her wrist, and muttered something unintelligible, and suddenly a dozen golden birds appeared, as if by magic, chirping and zipping about the room. She brandished her wonderful stick again, and the window banged open. The birds fluttered out into the open air.

I stared after them incredulously, than turned to gape at the mysterious girl standing before me. But just as I opened my mouth to ask a thousand more questions, she muttered, "I really should send her back now... for Thursday's class, perhaps I'll chose a younger version of Jane. Possibly the Lowood chapters would be more useful." Turning to me she said, "It was really very nice to meet you, but I think I should put you back in your bo- I mean, send you back to your time, and wipe your memories too. We don't want this adventure showing up in the wrong places! Before we part, I have one piece of advice for you. Be prepared for a shock when you return to Thornfield. Many... things happened in your absence."

Before I could open my mouth to protest that I would never return to my former love, that I wouldn't be his mistress and lose my independence, she waved her marvelous stick, and cried "Obliviate!" and many other words that I couldn't make out. Suddenly, I felt the strange pulling sensation again, and the room dissolved into smoke, my memories of the past few minutes going with it, making me wonder if any of this had ever happened at all.