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Pilgrim Problems

"You can't wear sunglasses while you're working. This is Colonial-era New England. There are no sunglasses. Our visitors deserve an authentic experience, Katherine."
Kat got in one last eye roll from behind the safety of her sunglasses before she took them off and stowed them in her apron. "Sorry. Won't happen again."
"It's not even sunny," her supervisor said.
Kat rubbed her bleary eyes. "I'm kind of hungover a tiny bit."
"You're a Pilgrim. You can't be hungover." Her supervisor glared. "Why can't you be a little more like Nathaniel, huh?"
Kat shot a glance over at Nathaniel, perfect Nathaniel, who was solemnly showing a bunch of kids how to milk a cow. He had the usual mournful expression on his face and was doing his dumb British-sounding accent even though Kat was pretty sure the Pilgrims had been American.
"So I should sew my own costumes, too?" she asked. "Want me to pretend to not know how phones work and freak out when people take photos?"
"That would be authentic, yes." He shook his head. "God bye you, Katherine."
"God bye to you too," Kat said. "See? I'm trying."
Her supervisor ambled off, game face back in place, ready to cheerily welcome more families to the colony and ask them which ship they'd been on and whatnot.
Kat sauntered over to the cow. The kids had wandered off, leaving Nathaniel working the udders in silence. "Yo, Nathaniel."
Nathaniel blinked. "Good morrow, Kat. How be you?"
"I be all right," Kat said. "How do you do it, huh? How have you managed to put up with his no phones, no sunglasses schtick for three whole summers? I'm ready to quit already. It's so dumb."
"I concur."
Kat hadn't been expecting that. "Yeah?"
Nathaniel nodded. "Tis a farce," he said. "All a farce. I come here to wish and pretend and while away the hours. I dream myself home. But still the sun always falls, and the great rattling carriage arrives, and back to the foul city I go."
"Dude, you're impossible," Kat said.
Nathaniel watched her leave, then returned his attention to the cow, who was lowing impatiently. He patted her side, gripped her udders. As he milked he let his mind drift. He pictured his little Agnes, greeting him with arms outstretched. His beautiful Sarah, laughing over the awful patchwork he'd made of his breeches.
Someday, he would find his way back to them.
Someday. Somehow.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 22nd, 2021
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