Things used to be different.
As I get older, the good times get farther away and so do the memories of them. There are no more of them, at least not with the people they used to be had with. But, I can’t dwell on that. I know they wouldn’t want me to.
My parents loved me very much. Even if my father did make a rather large mistake in taking this woman as his second wife before he, too, passed. We both knew no one could replace mother, but he knew I would need someone. I think he expected Madam Malvolia to be a better woman to me than she knew how to.
I try to remember as much about my mother as I can; I was very young when she first got sick. I do remember how much faith she had in me. Before she passed, she told me to always live my life, to be happy, to love, to be brave. I’ve tried so hard to be the girl she wanted me to be. But I know I have to be letting her down.
I try to be kind and calm, happy and friendly, and I love as much as I can. But bravery? I wish I could be. To stand up to my step-mother and step-sisters would bring not only my mother joy in Heaven, but also the other servants and maids at the estate. I can’t even recall the amount of times they’ve tried to get me to take back my rightful place in the house. But every time I even imagine it, my ability to breathe quickly leaves me, my throat tightens like I’m allergic to the air around me, and I break out into a hot sweat. I can’t imagine what would happen if I actually tried something. No, I’m much better off to quietly go about my duties and curl up in my nice attic room or by the fireplace. There, I win all of the arguments and I defend myself just the way my parents would want.
Things always go much better in my head than they do in real life.
But now I am in real life mode and I have way too much to do to be thinking of how I wish things were. I’m not going to get anywhere by wishing. At least not right now. No, all I can do is work hard, bide my time, and maybe one day Malvolia and her two tittering daughters will let me walk away. Maybe if I told them I didn’t want any part of the estate, the money, anything of value, they would let me go.
A bell rings and I hear the distinct voice of my step-mother. “Ella! Have you still not gone out to gather the herbs for dinner and the flowers to decorate? I can hear you piddling around down there. Do you not want our dinner to be ready on time? You know I detest eating late.”
I resist the urge to roll my eyes, even though she wouldn’t see it. I grab my saddle bag and rush out the door to get my horse from the stable and off we ride, away from the house, even if only for a brief moment.