Can we ever truly know someone?
It is a question I ask myself a great deal, and the answer, inevitably, is ‘no.’
Oh, yes, we can certainly predict someone’s actions. Perhaps even know the reason for most of their decisions. But to know the person, to understand what it is they wish to accomplish via certain acts or choices? No, that is an impossibility.
Take, for instance, the schoolmarms of Cross, Massachusetts.
Like many New England towns, Cross employed a number of young, unmarried women as schoolmarms. It was the custom of the time to provide a job for a young lady who had not yet wed. As the years passed more of these young women came from a now-defunct establishment in Concord. When the town was in need, a request was sent out, and within a matter of days the new marm would arrive.
Rarely did I interact with these young women. They had a job to do, and I had my own chores which needed doing.
Recently, members of the historical society decided to write a piece about Cross’ marms. In order to accomplish this, they went to the one-room schoolhouse to examine it. What they found was unpleasant, to say the least.
In what was once thought to be a root cellar beneath the school, an entrance to a second chamber was discovered. Within its dark confines, the society discovered the skeletal remains of hundreds of young men. Each one had a torn open chest, some with obsidian chips still embedded in the bone.
I don’t know who the marms were or why they needed to butcher so many young men. I’m merely happy I never had to deal with them.
School marms frighten me.
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