She quietly peeks through the drab brown curtain at the fabulous party taking place below. The beautiful lights, handsome young men and lovely dresses the women wore. She stood at the window in her gray tattered clothing and watched. Dreams spinning in her mind, spinning and dancing just as the couples downstairs.
She wished, once again that she could be among them. Relishing the freedom that came with dancing. She danced fairly well herself, and practiced to the music floating up from the band downstairs. She sighed and drew herself back to the present, but quickly retreated to the closet on the far side of the bare room.
A man's heavy footsteps can be heard ascending the steep spiral staircase. The same staircase she had ascended as a small child.
At first terror consumed her for fear she had been caught peeking through the window, but no. She had been careful. And, besides, the footsteps of the mysterious person did not belong to her torturer. These footsteps were unfamiliar to her.
Drawing herself into a small ball in the furthest corner of the closet, hoping and praying not to be found, she waited. Finally, the door to the attic opened and the mystery person stepped into the room.
The man paced back and forth for a while, grunting something that sounded like the word women a couple of times, but she couldn't be sure.
"Benny!", a shrill, although anxious sounding voice echoed up the staircase. Now a second set of footsteps followed the first.
"Can I get no peace?", the man grumbled. She was caught off guard by that statement, for surely being left alone was a torture in itself. Although, if she groped into the farthest reaches of her memory she could bring forth a memory of happier times. When she was a small child, Mother had been pregnant with her brother. Father was thrilled and took all of us to the sea side for a brief celebration. Brief only because Mother was already very pregnant. She could remember her parents smiling to each other and then smiling at her as they gave her the news of her brother. A sigh escaped her quiet lips at the memory.
And just as suddenly as the memory came, it left, being replaced by fear which lanced through her. She will be found. She cannot be found. She marked the man's approaching footsteps and yet could do nothing. She sat like an animal awaiting the hunter.
Her mind was a wild frenzy. The man would alert the woman, who was still laboring up the staircase. And both would alert the Duke and Duchess, she was sure. Punishment would be her only event tonight. Perhaps all would end tonight. The torturing, the fear. Perhaps death would visit. And with that thought, she suddenly felt faint. Although, she was thankful for the floor being so close so as not to make a thump if she were to fall into unconsciousness.
"Benny! Why on earth are you up here? Are you running away from me?", She sounded young, and frivolous and well bitch*y.
"Of course not, Juliette. I was merely looking for the lavatories, but it seems as though my curiosity for the old place got the better of me." His retreating footsteps begged her for a sigh of relief, which she did not utter.
"Come, Juliette. Let me accompany you downstairs and see if I can find the Duke, for surely he would know where the lavatories of his own home are placed." The woman was already descending the stairs, chattering away like a broken radio.
The man's footsteps, however, came once again towards her hiding spot, "And you I will inspect later." He breathed.
"Benny!", The woman, Juliette, sounded frustrated to have been left talking to no one.
"I'm on my way.", The man answered. And with that the door shut and his hurried footsteps retreated down the staircase.
Once the echo of his footsteps died away, she closed her eyes, that sigh of relief finally coming forth.
After a moment of stretching she inspected herself so as not to be in a bad condition for later. Bad conditions were not tolerated.
Cautiously she opened the closet door. No one was in the attic. She must find a new hiding spot before the man, known as Benny, returned.
She knew she mustn't disturb the room, or he would know someone was here. There was always the laundry shoot, but if she were to slip and fall, it would be the end of her existence.
She hastily made her way around the bare room, looking for anything to hide in, under or behind.
Once she had reached the closet door once more, she sighed in frustration and defeat.
Much to her surprise a masculine chuckle emanated from behind her. This small sound, which should have been merry, froze her in place. She had not been cautious enough. Someone has seen her, caught her.
The punishment tonight would be one of the worst. The Master would not hear excuses. He would simply drive her into unconsciousness, and even that is no longer a place of refuge, for he haunted her there as well.
Terror took hold of her heart and mind. This time the floor was much further away. And this time she could not fight off the impending unconsciousness.