Grabbing the bread that my father had baked that morning. My sister who was already outside waiting for me, hollered, “ Come on Olivia!”
I stuffed the warm bread into my basket which carried all sorts of goodies. I slipped on my slippers which were a gold rose color. I waved goodbye to my mother who was working on her garden. I walked over to my sister who was holding our horses, Ginger and Spice. I walked over to Spices’ saddle. And tied the bag that carried the food on to the saddle.
“Ready to go Ava?” I called out to my sister.
“I’m waiting for you silly.”
I looked up to see Ava already on Ginger. I smiled towards her and lifted myself up on Spice. Spices back twitched as she got used to my weight. I patted her glossy spotted neck.
“Race to the meadow?”
I gave my sister a grin, ”Why of course.”
I kicked the sides of my horse and off we were. I held onto Spices reins, and clenched my legs to the saddle as she galloped away. Ava stood there surprised before kicking Ginger’s sides. The two of us were off. Our horses galloping along the road path. The clicking of the horses hooves touching the ground made the mood feel even more thrilling. We waved towards people as we passed them. I jerked Spices reins to the right. I regretted this decision right as I did it. Spice took a sharp turn. This was too much for her. She hit the side of the ground with a thud. I felt the sensational pain in my leg. I screamed in agony. Tears started to form around my eyes. I struggled to push myself out of the trap that held my leg. I could feel my skin being torn open as it sliced against the rocks. Spice struggled to gain her footing. I turned to see Ava staring at me on top of Ginger. Her face covered with horror. That was the last thing I saw before Spice gained her footing. Once she was up, she started to lift her hind quarters. Bucking she was. I held on but the pain from my crushed leg loosened my grip. I slipped out of the saddle and hit the nearest tree with my back. I heard a snap. Pain covered my whole body. Thud. I had hit the ground, creating more pain across my body. I opened my eyes to see my sister as she ran towards me calling my name. Her face started to go blurry as I closed my eyes. All I could hear was her calling my name.
“Olivia! Olivia don’t go!”
I felt her hands reach my side. I couldn’t feel any more pain. I knew that this must be the end.
I choked out, “I promise-”’
I stopped as my body started to become limp. It was a fast death. At least I wouldn’t have to feel any pain. I could hear Ava screaming but I couldn’t make out what she was saying. Then I felt my body grow cold and still. I was dead.
I woke up groaning. What a day it would be. Today was July 1st. The day I would start working for the duke. The Duke’s daughter, Hope was who I would be serving under most likely. I, a 19 year old serving under a 9 year old. If I could, I wouldn’t even consider picking up after those scumbags. I rolled out of bed, hitting the floor with a thud.
“Ava was that you? Are you okay dear?” I could hear my Mother calling from another room.
I got onto my knees and called back, “I’m good. Sorry to worry you Mother.”
I quickly gathered myself and changed into my dirty blouse. Grabbing the scarf that sat on my dresser, I tied it around my waist. I walked out of my room, tying my hair up in a braid. I saw a glass of warm steamed milk sitting on the kitchen counter. It was probably for my fathers calf. I glanced to make sure my mother was nowhere near before I grabbed the cup and took a sip of the warm smooth creamy milk. I heard my fathers familiar cough. I slammed the milk down and rubbed my arm against my lips to clean my milk mustache. I saw my fathers smile as I walked over to him.
“Good morning Papa!” I kissed him on the cheek before dancing back to the kitchen.
“I’m glad to see my offspring in such a jolly mood.” He came over and grabbed the cup of milk and took a sip of it. I noticed my mother coming into the room. I strained my laughter under my breath. Right as my father was about to say something, there was a knock at the door. I knew it. Both my parents and I knew what this meant. At this moment, I would be taken from my family, to slave away under the duke’s daughter. My mother scrambled towards the door and opened it. The officer pushed my mother aside and stepped in.
“I’m here to receive Ava Frostlily.” I stepped forward. I could feel my father’s hands grip my shoulders.
“I am she,” I say, trying to hide the quivering from my throat.
The officer stared at me with a blank expression, “You’re coming with me, miss. You’ll be serving under Lady Hope.”
I nodded my head. I turned around and hugged my father. His embrace comforted me. My mother came over and hugged me tightly.
“We love you dear, come home soon,” Mother whispered in my ear. I pulled away and waved goodbye to both my parents. I stepped into my sisters gold rose slippers that she once wore herself. Tears forming around my eyes, wondering what Olivia would have said at this moment. I walked out the door following the officer. I noticed a wagon filled with a bunch of other young women. To serve under the royal family just as I would. I walked up to the wagon and stared up at the women. Their eyes swollen with tears. Some huddling together whimpering. I took a deep breath before pushing myself up to sit with the others. I grabbed the side of the wagon and sat down besides a young girl probably around 14 years old. I sighed and looked back at my house as the wagon started to drive away. I could make out my mother crying and my father holding her. I sighed and looked down at my hands.
Before I knew it we were at the Duke’s Palace. Women started to get off the wagon as their names were called by guards.
I looked up towards the guard who had called my name. I sat up and jumped off the wagon and walked towards the guard. He had a cold stern looking face. Great, first I had to leave my family and now I have to deal with this guy.
“You’re coming with me, miss, we’ll be heading to your dorm room.”
I only nodded my head and walked with him as he led the way. We walked into the palace walls and into fancy hallways. How was I supposed to figure out where I was going! This place is huge! I sighed. Angry and frustrated. The guard stopped and pointed at a wooden door. I figured that this is where I would be staying. I walked past him and opened the door. Inside were four beds, a closet and what looked like a bathroom. I guessed that I would be sharing it with more women. Might as well pick my bed. I picked the farthest bed. I didn’t have anything with me other than the scarf that hangs around my waist. I untied it and wrapped it around the bed frame. There. Now whoever wants this bed will know that it’s taken. I gazed across the room. It was small but it would do. I grabbed the broom that was sitting beside the door and started sweeping. Humming a song that my mother had sung when she was cleaning. I heard the door click and open. I stopped sweeping and gazed across the room. Two short plump younger girls came walking in. Both had short brunette hair and golden looking eyes. Once the door closed they stared at me.
I smiled, “Hello, I’m Ava. You two must be staying in this dorm as well.”
Tears started to develop around their eyes. They were young and probably didn’t understand why they were here. I dropped the broom and walked over to them. I crouched and stared at the two.
“Hey it’s going alright. Why don’t you two go pick your beds.”
The two of them stared at me before nodding and going to the beds they wanted. I stood up straight and shook my head. How could they send such young women to be slaves under thy lady. I walked back over to the broom I dropped and started to sweep again. Right as I was starting, the door once again creaked open. I stood and stared as an angry looking girl walked into the room. She had brunette hair and blue eyes. She might have been pretty if she didn’t have that frown on her face.
“Hello! I’m Av-” I started before she held up her hand.
She pushed passed me and went to the bed that I had claimed. She grabbed my scarf and tossed it on the ground. I scuffed and walked over to her. Broom in my hand, I hit her upside the head. She fell to the ground and looked back up towards me, rubbing her head.
“Just so you know, don’t touch my stuff, and this bed is already taken so pick a different one.”
I grabbed my scarf and put it back on the bed, and returned back to sweeping.
Later that evening, they had called out all the new servants and had given instructions on what they would be doing here in the dukes palace. After that, it was lights out. Not even a meal before bed! I slipped into bed listening to the growling stomachs of the other three girls in the room as well as my own. Fortunately I fell asleep.
I woke at the crack of dawn. I got dressed quickly and woke the others. I helped the two twins get ready and left Chloe, whose name I found out last night, to her own sources. I walked out of the dorm room and walked over to the cafeteria, where they were serving a small portion biscuits and gravy.
After breakfast, we were given charts of our duties. As suspected, I was to report and serve under Hope today. How fun! I get to be bossed around by a 9 year old. I gathered my things and set sail towards Hope’s quarters. I lost my way a few times but I managed to get there. I opened the door to Hope’s room and as anyone was to assume it was just like a 9 year olds room. Full of dolls and mirrors. I walked in and grabbed the curtains which blocked the rising sun. I pushed them open, allowing the sun to come through.
“It’s not wise to have princesses sleep all day,” I chirped, biting back any sourness I felt towards her. Hope yawned and sat up.
“Who are you?” she said in a tired voice.
“I’m assigned to be your head maid for today.” I gave a shortened answer. Hope stayed quiet and just looked down at her hands. She looked sad. What could I do though? I wasn’t a counselor. I didn’t know the first thing about helping people with their feelings, let alone my own. I grabbed a dress from Hope’s closet and set it down on a chair. I let out my hand towards the girl. She looked cautiously at me before grabbing my hand. I pulled her out of bed and spun her a few times. This let out a few giggles from the girl, and I admit from myself as well. I let go of her hands and grabbed the dress.
“Do you need help putting this on?” I asked. Fortunately she shook her head. I handed her the dress. She grabbed it and went behind a screen that prevented anyone from seeing her. I grabbed some slippers and handed them over to Hope. Once she was done changing. We headed towards the dining hall.
“So what is it that you would like to do today?” I asked well, going through some papers walking down the hall.
“After breakfast can we go to the garden?” Hopes face lit up with excitement.
I smiled, ”We can try.”
Once we got to the dining hall. Breakfast was served. I stood near the table writing things down and reading over the letters for Hope.
“Miss-, wait I never got your name?” asked Hope.
I stopped reading, “My name is Ava Frostlily. Call whatever you’d like me.” I continued to read the letters.
“Well miss Ava, why don’t you have breakfast with me. I looked up from the readings. Just as cautious as she was of me earlier. I nodded. Not knowing what to say out of her generosity. I was handed a plate full of pancakes, eggs, sausages and so much more. I ate my food. Glad to have something more than biscuits and gravy. Hope started to ask me a bunch of questions. Then that one question hit, and it stung more than ever.
“Do you have any siblings?”
I know Hope didn’t intend to hurt me but it still did. I shook my head. After breakfast we headed towards the garden. The garden was full of flowers and clovers. It was a beautiful sight. Hope then started to dance around. I smiled, glad that she was enjoying herself. Maybe she wasn’t as bad as I took her for. I remembered a song that my sister would sing to me whenever we were out in the woods. I started to clap my hands, starting a beat. Then I started to sing. My voice didn’t ring out like my sisters, but it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t stop singing. Hope stopped what she was doing and stared at me. She smiled as she listened to me sing and then started dancing again. She danced and danced. Never growing weary. Once I stopped singing, she stopped dancing. We both laughed, as we continued our adventure through the garden. After a while of walking we stopped on a hill that showed the town that laid below it.
“Where’d you learn that song?” Hope asked, breaking the silence.
“My sister sang it to me.”
“I thought you didn’t have any siblings?”
The silence returned but this time it was awkward.
“What was she like?”
I turned my head and stared at the little girl. “She was cheerful, courageous, generous, kind, and polite. Nothing ever seemed to bring her down, even at her death.”
“She sounds amazing, I wish I could have met her.”
Me too, I wish Olivia would be able to do so much stuff with me.
“Ava. Thank you for making it a less gloomy day.”
I turned my head again to look at Hope. She looked forward, trying not to catch my eyes.
“That’s what I’m for right?” I laughed trying to lift the awkwardness that started to form.
“Really? I’ve never had a maid that has treated me as you have.”
That’s when I understood why Hope had looked like she did that morning.
“Is it perhaps that you’re lonely? Is that why you asked me about my sister?”
Hope nodded. I wonder what could be going on in that 9 year old brain. I stood up and held my hand out towards Hope. She grabbed it and I pulled her up.
“Well as long as I’m here, I’ll make sure that your days are never gloomy.”
Hope nodded and hugged me. I smiled, maybe I was what she was missing, and she was what I was missing. I had completely misjudged this child. She was just a lonely girl who had everything she wanted but a friend.
I hugged Hope back, “I promise that I’ll always be by your side.”
It’s been many years since I met young Hope. I’m still always by her side, but now I’m also taking care of her children. I’ve grown wrinkles and my golden brunette hair has started to turn silver. Hope and I still go out for walks in the very garden that I promised her. It was the same garden where she was proposed. She calls it the Great Garden, because everything great happens there. As for myself, I’m happy. The hole that I had in my heart has been repaired. Of course no one could replace my sister’s spot, but it was nice to have someone to be able to substitute for her. I love my sister and I love Hope. Her children are just as lovely as she is, and they bring a smile to my face. My life has been better since I met the Duke’s daughter and I wouldn’t change a thing.