Light footsteps walking across the carpeted floor resonated across the room, coupled with the soft sound of cloth moving up and down a desk. The quiet noise bounced off the walls and reached the ears of the injured girl. They were the first sounds she had heard for a week and she was awakening to them. With much effort, her heavy eyelids were forced open and squeezed shut in a matter of a few milliseconds as the light pierced through her pupils. A part from that, it was near impossible to groan, which was what she wanted to do. Instead, a low hoarse cough escaped from her dried mouth.
"Oh! You're awake!" The young lady, who had been cleaning the room everyday, jogged across from the mirror she was wiping to the girl on the bed excitedly.
She put one hand onto her bandaged forehead and realised she couldn't take her temperature from there. Instead, she placed her hands on the sick girl's cheeks and attempted to work out what her body temperature was.
"Hmmmm… Seems like you've cooled down!" She smiled at the puzzled girl's face. "I'm Sheila by the way."
Sheila's beaming face was continued to be met with a pale, emotionless expression. Her smile dropped as she wondered if the girl could hear her at all.
"Do you hear me? Can you understand me?"
The girl tried to nod but her head was too heavy to move according to her will. Even so, it was impossible to speak as the moment she tried to make noise she ended up coughing. It was hurting her throat tremendously as it was incredibly dry. Immediately, Sheila went to pick up a metal spoon from a tray on the dress up table before stirring a cup of warm water mixed with honey fast but carefully.
"Drink this, you'll feel much better!" Just before Sheila passed the cup to her, she realised the cup would just slip right out of her weak arms. So she held the bottom of the cup as the girl began to drink the honey water.
As the liquid slid down her throat through large gulps, she could feel her throat being soothed and the annoying tickling sensation went away. Her weak arms carried her fingers up to wrap around her neck as she massaged herself and tried to think of why and how this could have happened.
"So," Sheila put the cup down, "what is your name? Is it really Amanda?"
Looking as puzzled as ever, the girl repeated the word 'Amanda' and waited for a bell to ring. But there was nothing. In fact, her mind was blank. Apart from Sheila, the room and its objects, there was nothing that her mind could think about.
"I don't know…" Her voice came out as soft as a lazy cat's cry, yet a bit coarse.
In sudden realization of the situation, Sheila gasped and immediately sat down beside the girl. She held both her hands in her own, and looked at the confused girl pitifully.
"It's okay. It doesn't matter if you don't remember anything! You're still living, which means you can start over, it's a chance loads of people wish for."
Sheila continued staring at the girl, who managed to nod slightly.
"In the meantime, we'll stick with Amanda as your name. How about that?"
Even though it had only been a few minutes since awakening, Amanda felt comfortable and rather happy in the company of Sheila. A small grin emerged from her sickly face at the gentle voice of Sheila, and most importantly her hospitality.
Sharing good mutual feelings, Sheila couldn't help but smile dazedly at Amanda. She admired the face that had lost its colour, yet still retained the charm it would have should she have been well.
Disturbing the two girls were loud knocks on the door. Slightly startled, Sheila jumped up and ran to open the door. Emerging from the widening gap was a tall and beautiful woman, her every stride carrying a sense of pride and elegance. Walking humbly behind her was a man wearing plain clothes and a medical box in his hand.
"Good day Madam Meiyars. The girl, who is called Amanda, is awake. But it appears that she does not remember anything." Sheila pulled out a chair and placed it beside the bed where Amanda was.
"Oh? Well in that case, Mr. Luluk, I believe you should begin your work." Smiling politely at the doctor who was standing behind her, he moved forward and sat on another chair that was closer to the bed, which Sheila had sat on earlier.
Mr. Luluk first took the reading of Amanda's pulse, then checked her body temperature, and lastly her breathing. As the check-up progressed, a look of relief appeared on the man's face. Reaching inside his bag, he took out a piece of X-ray scan of what appeared to be Amanda's brain. Handing it to the Madam, he began to explain Amanda's condition.
"She is believed to be diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, which means she has lost the memories of who she was and what had happened in her past. But other than that, she appears to be recovering and will soon be in good shape."
"Amnesia? Will she ever recover her memories then?" Madam Meiyars inquired.
"I can't say. In some cases, the patients never regain their memories until the day of their death. But there have been cases where patients have regained their memories through small events or re-uniting with certain people."
The Madam looked at Amanda, who was listening carefully to Mr. Luluk's words. Somehow, the news didn't startle her or shake her calmness as she was feeling as lost as she did even when she was with just Sheila.
Madam Meiyars thanked the doctor, who was accompanied to the door by Sheila.
"How are you feeling Amanda?" The woman looked worriedly at the girl, who hadn't spoken since she arrived.
"Heavy, but I'm okay. Thank you." Amanda managed to smile.
"That is great." Smiling amiably the Madam held Amanda's hand in her own. "You might not feel anything right now about your condition, but when you do, remember these words: Live in the present my dear. If you want to remember your past, the only way to regain those once lost memories is to live. But, if you don't then this may be the best gift you can ever receive. This is a decision you'll make on your own."
Amanda nodded and grinned at Sheila, who had said something similar to her earlier on. "I will Madam. Thank you, I will remember what you said."
"Great. And on another note, you may count me in as a selfish person for not having discussed this with you first, but do forgive me for I believe you will have nowhere else to go if we discharge you here. So I have, in my own accord, made up my mind to let you stay and work here. You may work here until the day you are ready to leave and start another life in the outside world. How does this plan sound to you?"
For a moment, Amanda was speechless. She thanked the Madam and wondered how someone could be as kind and generous as she.
Madam Meiyars smiled in relief and patted Amanda's head lightly and told her to get more rest and sleep before starting work in a week's time. As she got up to leave, Sheila couldn't help but start giggling and jumping up and down at the thought of having a new friend, and possibly a new room mate! All those nights she spent alone in the dark, all those nights she could only consult her problems to the moon or her pillow, they really did begin to bore her.
"Sheila, you should leave the girl to rest too. Accompany me to my room, I'll tell Beka to come and clean up the room." Chuckling at Sheila's excitement about having a roommate, Madam Meiyars thought it would be best to take Sheila away lest she tired Amanda out unintentionally.
"Yes Madam." Sheila pouted a little at Amanda. "I'll see you tomorrow, and when you feel better I'll fill you in with the details!"
With that, Amanda was left alone in a room that suddenly seemed unreasonably big for one person. She snuggled back into her warm duvet and made herself comfortable. She looked out the window into the vague distant as she watched the snow fell slowly. A slight pang of pain developed inside her chest at the thought of losing everything she had, as if it was something important. The clock ticked off into midnight steadily as Amanda's eyes became heavier and heavier to stay open. Despite the uneasy feeling that developed in her, she was fast asleep before she knew it.
The melodic singings of nightingales woke Amanda up. She squinted at the streak of sunlight that entered through the room through a gap in the curtains. She yawned and sat up and soothed her head that ached only a little. Today she would be starting work and she felt happy about it as she was starting to get bored of staying in bed the whole time.
"Oh good morning!" Sheila beamed a bright smile at Amanda as she walked in the room.
"Morning Sheila, you look as energetic as ever!" Amanda smiled brightly in return too.
Through the past week, the two had developed a rather strong bond as Sheila kept Amanda busy with her jokes and her life. She also filled Amanda in with details about being a servant for the Meiyars, a prominent family consisting of the Madam, the master Mr. Michael and the young masters Lim and Adeline. Through these chats, Amanda had also began to slowly regain strength and energy as a living person.
"Here, get changed!" Sheila handed her friend the uniform. "It's six in the morning and work usually starts at seven. But Madam Meiyars said since it's your first day she'll let you sleep for an hour extra."
Amanda took the uniform from Sheila and walked into the bathroom. Whilst listening to Sheila's humming, she pulled over a black dress in which the lower half would be covered by tying a checkered white and pale green apron around her waist. She walked out back into the room where Sheila smiled at the sight of her new friend whose cheeks had picked up a rosy colour. Walking over to Amanda, Sheila began fixing the collar that cupped the girl's slim neck.
"You're petite. Very petite." Sheila chuckled as she looked down at Amanda who was a head shorter.
"No, you're just big!" She said as she jokingly rolled her eyes. The two laughed together.
Weirdly, Amanda felt extremely natural saying that phrase, as if she had always said it. But she brushed away the feeling as she didn't want to dwell with her past. After learning from Sheila that the Madam had found her on the brink of death with a severely injured head and bruised limps, she decided that whatever happened in her past, it wasn't something pleasant. Hence, she didn't want to remember.
"Okay, we should go now. I'll take you to the dorm tonight. For now, we've got work today! We'll be setting out the table for the Meiyars' to have breakfast."
Amanda couldn't help but let out a chuckle at Sheila's excitement. As the two made their way out to the corridor, Amanda took a good look at the interior of the house. She finally understood what Sheila meant by 'prominent' family, probably even the most. Their light footsteps on the marbled floor echoed down the hallway until they reached a huge spiral staircase which linked the four floors together.
As the two approached the kitchen, a stern woman walked out and looked almost angrily at both Amanda and Sheila.
"Good morning Ms. Campbell, this is Amanda. The new girl Madam Meiyars talked to you about yesterday." Not helping Amanda's slight fear of the intimidating woman, Sheila pulled her forward.
"Um, how do you do?" She asked whilst hoping that the angry look was just how Ms. Campbell looked. Hopefully she would smile a bit, or grin, or nod… or even just making a sound would have soothed the tension in the air. But instead, Ms. Campbell walked past them with no acknowledgement of Amanda. She left standing wondering whether she had said anything wrong.
"Pft, typical. Ms. Campbell's like that. She never shows any interest in anyone and is always cold to us. But I mean, she does keep everything ordered and organised so I guess her method is working?" Sheila explained, whilst handing Amanda three plates.
"Ordered and organised? What do you mean?"
"Well Ms. Campbell is the housekeeper. She's in charge of all the servants and workers in the house. So if you ever do something wrong, she's the one to face! And it won't be nice."
"I can totally see why it won't be nice!"
Amanda waited patiently with the plates in her hand as Sheila fetched the eating utensils. She looked around the big kitchen that was perfectly equipped.
"Is it just us two to set out the table? What about the others?" Amanda asked with curiosity.
Sheila began setting out the plates and butter knives as Amanda did the forks and napkins.
"Well, usually when the Meiyars are having breakfast, there will be two people in each of the bedrooms to do the cleaning. Whilst the other pairs each work in other rooms… You know, like the study rooms or something." As Sheila explained, she began setting the spoons out.
But as she walked around the table to do the other two seats, she failed to notice someone standing behind her and stabbed the spoon, that wasn't harmful, into the person's stomach. Her eyes shot up and the spoon dropped right out of her hand when she noticed he was the young master, Lim.
"I am so sorry! I am really really really sorry! I am so so so sorry! I didn't mean to! I'm so very extremely most sincerely sorry Mr. Lim!" She found herself unable to lift her head up.
Amanda stood by the side not knowing what to do. She felt amazed by Sheila's apology. And when she looked at Lim, she realised she wasn't the only one amused from this, supposedly, serious situation.
Lim bent down and picked up the spoon. He looked at Amanda, who immediately stopped chuckling. Lifting one of his eyebrows whilst grinning, as if to say 'this is quite funny isn't it?', he coughed to clear his throat before saying "It's okay Sheila. It wasn't a knife or a fork, so I am unharmed." His voice was deep, yet carried a gentle tone.
Though, Sheila still couldn't lift her head up as she still felt ashamed.
"Sheila, look at me."
Despite it was against her will, Sheila reluctantly obeyed the young master. Although she found herself unable to look into his eyes, her worried face was now in plain view.
"Do you think I am weak? Do you think something as soft as a cushion could harm me?" Spreading his arms out, he enquired Sheila.
As if the question had shocked Sheila, her head shot up and looked seriously at the tall young man who was waiting for her to answer.
"No! No way young master! You're so muscular, so toned and so fit! I mean just look at your abs that look like a bar of chocolate! You've got the best body in the house how could something like that ha-" Her sentence was broke off at the sudden realization of what she was talking about. The abashment built up extremely fast, shooting up to her cheeks that began to flare.
Spectating the whole situation, Amanda couldn't hold in her laughter hearing Sheila's sudden outburst of confession. She tried hard not to laugh at that moment, as that would probably embarrass Sheila even more. But it was getting increasingly hard, so she had to use her hand to cover her mouth. Lim felt just as amused as Amanda.
"Thank you for that very honest answer Sheila. Well then, believe me when I say I am completely fine because of my, you know, very muscular, toned, fit and chocolate bar-ed body!"
He brought laughter to the room, as Amanda couldn't hold in her chuckling any longer. Sheila looked at the laughing young master and her friend, and let out a small chuckle at her embarrassing confession, as if that could hide her will to dig a hole in the ground where she could hide herself in.
"Well then, Sheila and…"
"Amanda." Amanda filled in his gap.
"Yes, Sheila and Amanda. I'd like to sit down and start enjoying my breakfast now."
Amanda and Sheila bowed slightly before leaving the dining room to fetch the bread and butter from the kitchen. As they were doing so, they heard the Madam's voice, and a girly voice belonging to the young lady of the house, Adeline.
"Well, that was interesting to watch!" Amanda remarked, purposefully bringing back the memories Sheila so wanted to be erased out of everybody's mind.
"Stop it! It wasn't! I can't believe it… I can't believe I actually just blurted those things out! I blame it on nerves." Sheila hid her face in her hands as she felt the embarrassment all over again.
"It was really funny." As Amanda began giggling again, she received a glare from Sheila.
"Okay okay I'm sorry. No more!"
With the food on the trays, they walked out to the living room to be greeted warmly by the beautifully made up Meiyars.
"Thank you very much Amanda. How are you feeling today?" Madam Meiyars asked as her she looked at the girl who just put down a basket of freshly baked bread onto the table.
Her eyes were sparkling, a trait Adeline had inherited. Amanda wondered how someone could look as pretty as the mother and daughter in the morning. She remembered that in the morning, when she looked into the mirror and thought she was looking at medusa with her electrocuted hair flying in all directions. 'Life, so unfair' she thought.
"I've been great Madam. Thanks for asking."
Collecting the trays, Amanda left for the kitchen. As she was walking away, she heard the conversation between the Madam and her children.
"Why won't she be well?" Lim asked his mother as he looked at Amanda. He wondered what could be wrong with her when she looked so happy and lively.
"Oh, have I forgotten to let my son and daughter know that Amanda is new here? I found her on the pavement around two weeks ago, lying almost dead. Severe head injury which has cost her her memories."
"Amnesia? Well, she's very brave and very strong! I see she's doing quite well. Don't you think Lim?" Adeline commented.
Amanda grinned secretly as she realised that not only Lim and the Madam who were nice, but even Adeline. She entered the kitchen to where Sheila was. She walked over to her friend who was taking three cups from the cupboard.
"Amanda, could you help me boil some water with that pot over there? Madam Meiyars and Ms. Adeline like to have tea in the morning. Whilst Mr. Lim likes to have coffee."
"Mr. Lim?" Giggling, she continued, "Why would you call him that? It's kind of… weird isn't it?"
"Well, he wouldn't let any servants address him as Master Lim, or Young Master. And we didn't know how else to call him!"
"Oh, he doesn't like to be called 'master'?" Amanda's interest in the young master grew more and more.
"Yeah. Really the whole family is like sent from heaven. Everyone's unbelievably nice it's actually a bit scary. The whole family treats the people who work here extremely nice. You'll see what I mean in no time!" Sheila smiled sweetly as she felt happy to be working for such kind-hearted people.
"Oh crap, there's no more brown sugar!" Sheila complained. As Amanda approached Sheila with the pot of boiled water, she looked around the kitchen and wondered if there would somehow be some brown sugar that was left over. "Could you do me a huuuuuge favour and go to the little red hut at the backyard? That's where all the stock is!"
"Red hut?" Verifying where she was meant to go, Amanda left the kitchen from the back door.
She noticed a stoned pavement amidst the grassland that led to two huts. She jumped from stone to stone like a child, counting her steps as she did so. By the time she stopped, she wondered which road to take. To the brown hut, or to the red hut. Suddenly realising that she had forgotten which hut she was supposed to go to, she also felt too lazy to go back to the kitchen and ask Sheila. Hence, trusting her own instincts, she went with the brown hut. Still jumping from stone to stone, she finally reached the door of the hut.
"Should I knock the door… I doubt anyone's in there though, whatever!" She said to herself.
She opened the door slowly and stood in amazement. She had definitely taken the wrong path as she found herself staring at a large area covered with thick mats. The exterior of the hut was rather run-down, no one would imagine that the inside was so spacious and well-kept.
Amanda wondered to herself whether the room was for the young lady to do gymnastics in… or perhaps for yoga. Unknowingly, she began taking a few steps into the hut. Though in the midst of her admiration and apparent interest in the room, she was thrown down onto the mat in a second. And as she struggled to get back up, a man suddenly caged her by slamming his hands beside her head and clamping her legs with his own. He stared straight into her eyes with fierceness.
"Who are you?" His voice coming across as dangerous as an angered lion.
NEXT: Meeting new people should be... exciting?!