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Flightless Bird

There was darkness all around. Silence shrouded the gloomy attic room. Where all of us shoulder to shoulder lay on the dank ground, us the cooks, smiths, butlers, ironers and cleaners. All compact in a small attic.

We lay so still only the soft murmur or stir from the Mistress’s baby could be heard. I knew I had to sleep, to rest before another exhausting long day of assisting Cookie’s cooking. But I couldn’t I was restless and thinking of all those times the Master shouted at his maid to give me a licking. The ringing of her pan-like hands smashing on my skin still vibrated in my ears. And I feared another day of work. I couldn’t stand it. The bruises were seeping all over my skin the dark mauves and blues that mocked my hazelnut skin. The skin colour almost everyone hated these days.

Next morning I woke to a hoarse bellow and a harsh slap. I rose abruptly looking around. It was a nightmare but it was also early morning. So I sat and watched the yellow sun rise up in pink clouds. I hated to think a new day had started. Suddenly the trapdoor slammed open and the housewife stormed in kicking our legs and yelling in our faces. I hurried to the kitchen and waited for Cookie to come down stairs. I daren’t say a word. Soon all of them raced down the stairs running to their jobs where they needed to be. Cookie and I made the Master’s and Mistress’s breakfast avoiding a lamping and succeeded we shared a crust of bread for breakfast and started on the lunch. But the Mistress called me back to collect the plates. So I did but they started getting heavy and I dropped a metal fork it hit the floor with a clang. Master stood up faster than a bullet and let the dogs on me. The scraped the flesh off my face a dragged me along the floor. The Mistress couldn’t watch any more she screamed in despair and pulled them off me. She quickly picked up the plates grabbed a hot rag and dabbed my cuts. The stung so much but I bit my tongue. I wanted to scream out in pain but I couldn’t. I bit my tongue so hard I felt blood trickle out. But I have to thank the Mistress one day because I swear if it wasn’t for her I’d have died.

I still knew I had to run away.

The night drew in quickly silencing everyone in the attic. I gathered some pillows and stuffed them under my sheet, which is my duvet, and raced down the stairs more than two at a time. I sprinted to the nearest door. Locked. I tugged at the handle until it was near to breaking off. I tiptoed to the back door and it was locked. I hurriedly spun around the room looking for an escape route.

I was panicking now. My heart pounding in my ears. My head spinning. Beads of perspiration dripping from my forehead.

My eyes darted over an open window and as quick as a flash I had thrown myself into the dark night.

I sprinted about a mile away before I heard raised voices shouting and all the lights were switched on. They were looking for me hunting me down. They knew I was a runaway maid.


Jessica Sandhar


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