Before her retirement, an event greeted with a collective sigh of relief, most students regarded Miss Helen Fetters, English, room 4B, as the scourge of the Sycamore Shadows school system. Of slight build and genial features, Miss Fetters could commit genocide with a look. And though she would occasionally overlook the misuse of a semi-colon, and might, with considerable effort, refrain from killing a child who had written in the passive voice, the “Attila of Orthography” could not tolerate a spelling mistake. Students committing such an infraction simply vanished.
As feared as she was in the classroom, it was only when the school day had concluded and Miss Fetters returned to her home on Buttonball Street that she felt unrestrained, able to act without regard for the opinions of parents, the rules of the principal, or the dictates of the school board. Miss Fetters ran a boarding house, known as Miss Fetters’ Home for Respectable Young Females, and there she reigned for 40 years, her charge the lives and chastity of those maidens who chose to live beneath her protective wings.
Although many applied for a room in her stronghold, Miss Fetters accepted few, mostly vestal virgins and vacationing angels. Her house glowed with the light of the purity contained within. Like a sorceress, the Bible her wand and spell, Miss Fetters turned all boarders into forbidden fruit.
Looking for a forbidden fruit recipe? Try this: buy a house, fill it with succulent maidens, add a cup of sugar and mix gently until they begin to giggle, then forbid access to men. Were Miss Fetters’ charges prettier than other maidens? Not at all. Their halos may glow in the dark, but vestal virgins look the same as domestic virgins in the daylight. Miss Fetters’ fruit seemed sweeter only because the orchard was off limits. Like real fruit, metaphoric fruit is temptation aplenty—has been since the Garden of Eden. Indeed, to the young men of the town, Miss Fetters’ house was the Garden of Eden, and Miss Fetters, standing astride the entrance, but an obstacle to overcome. Those who tried committed a fatal mistake. While Miss Fetters did not guard the gates with a flaming sword, her shotgun was an equally effective deterrent.
You may have guessed that with herds of rutting bucks attempting to penetrate the establishment, someone would succeed; one diminutive lady could not cover all means of ingress. You obviously don’t know Miss Fetters. Oh, they tried. A few nearly made it. According to Mayor Chibble, who bought the house when Miss Fetters retired, several young men reached as far as the front porch, dying in sight of the promised land. The story is undoubtedly apocryphal, as is Chibble’s alleged discovery of a torture room in the basement, but one thing is certain: in four decades of operation, some of the fruit may have become overripe and some may have voluntarily went to market, but no one peeled a banana, squashed a grape, or skinned an orange that was under the guardianship of Miss Helen Fetters.