Piece of Heaven in this Hell: Introduction
Servitude was all I had ever known. Ever since my dad had died when I was four years old, I had been working for my family, if you can even call them my family. My dad had been married to his wife for years. They were a rich couple, already with a few kids, and seemed happy enough to many who saw them. But my dad had a secret, he had been having an affair with the housekeeper, my mother. She had been beautiful, it was no wonder dad had fallen for her, but she also loved him, and he loved her. I could tell that dad had fallen out of love with his wife, even afterward when I was only a few years old and just beginning to figure things out in the world. My dad didnt look at his wife the same way he looked at my mother, like there was no one else around, like she was all he ever wanted to look at. He didnt talk to his wife like he talked to her, going on about pointless subjects just so shed stay awhile longer, savoring every word she said like it was the sweetest music hed ever heard. He never touched his wife like he touched her, though I was never meant to have seen that. It was an accident, when I still believed that his wife was my mother.
I had been having a bad dream when I was a little over three. I went to find my dad, but he wasnt in his room. His wife was asleep, and I knew better then to wake her up. So I wandered down the hall, and when I was nearing the end, I heard soft voices. The door was slightly ajar, so I held my ear up to the crack, listening to the voices of my dad and, unknown to me at the time, my mother. She was telling him how they would get caught sooner or later, that someone would figure out. She doesnt look like your wife, she had told my dad. I had no idea they were talking about me. Sooner or later, shell put two and two together, and when she does, well be in trouble. When I leaned my face close to the door to peer inside, what I saw surprised me. Even at three, I knew my dad shouldnt be touching another woman like that, shouldnt be kissing another woman like that, and shouldnt be with another woman wearing that little clothing. He quieted her worries with a long kiss, and I looked away, leaning against the wall. I stayed outside that door for a very long while, and sooner or later, my dad came out, fully clothed again. By that time, I had fallen asleep in the hallway. He carried me to my room, and when he set me down on my bed, I awoke again.
Lizzie, he said to me in a low voice, what exactly were you doing last night?
I had a bad dream, and I was scared, so I went to find you, but you werent in your room.
What did you see?
I saw you and the housekeeper, I replied, unable to say more than that.
Listen Lizzie, you cant tell anyone about what you saw, do you understand?
But Daddy! What about Mommy?
No, you cant tell Mommy, he paused, especially not Mommy.
So I stayed silent about their secret, wondering all the while what exactly they had been talking about.
A few months after that, his wife found out. I dont know how; maybe one of her sons saw and told her, but I awoke one morning to shouts and bangs. When I ran down the stairs, it was to find his wife throwing pots and other objects across the kitchen at the house keeper, screaming the whole time. My mother left that day, and she had never returned.
His wife did figure it out a little while after that. She grew cold and distant towards me, told me not to call her Mommy anymore. I didnt know what I was supposed to call her, so most of the time I just avoided her. Daddy still loved me though, possibly even more then his three boys, her children. On days when his wife was being especially cruel to me, sending me to my room without meals for saying the wrong thing, or tracking dirt into the house, Daddy would always come up, food with him, to see me and comfort me.
One day, while he was upstairs talking with me, he remarked on how much my dark hair looked like my mothers. But Daddy, I said, she has blonde hair.
He sighed, a deep troubled sigh. Lizzie, shes not your mother. Chelsea was- is your mother.
Chelsea, the housekeeper. Even at the age of four, I made the connection back to that night I had seen more then I was ever supposed to. Daddy loved Chelsea, and that was how I was born. I wasnt a genius kid or anything, I had no idea how babies were made, but I did know that two people were supposed to love each other, and that the way my dad treated Chelsea, they must have been in love. Just a little bit after that, my dad died. I remember the funeral, a huge affair with all the most important people around at it, because that was the type of people they were, rich and important with lots of connections. They said he had some type of disease, but I still think it may have been that he couldnt live without his love, my mother, Chelsea.
Right after he died, I was moved out of my big room. She moved me to one of the old servants rooms. She made me do simple things back then, cleaning wood and glass surfaces, sending me out to get things from the store or the woods, anything a four-year-old could handle. As I got older, the tasks got harder. Now, a month short of sixteen, I was just as useful as any trained housekeeper. I could cook and clean, do any errand, mend clothing, or anything else that was asked of me. I was taught to stay out of the way. I quickly learned I was no longer to be considered a child of the family. Even two of her boys started regarding me as no more than a servant. Only one person in the house remained friendly to me, her middle child, Kaelan. At the time my dad died, Kaelan had been eight, and he would always play with me before his mother learned the truth. I always waited during the days for him to come home from school, and when he did he would go straight to the stairs where I waited everyday. After his mother knew about Chelsea, Im sure she told all her children to stay away from me. That of course didnt stop her oldest, who was six years older than me, to taunt and tease when he got the chance. They all knew that if they asked something of me, I had no choice but to do what they told me too. I was ordered around not only by their mother, but also by the youngest and oldest boys. Kaelan would call me to his room, but more often then not, it was to sneak me a treat or a toy. I was not allowed to go to school when I got to be the right age for it, so Kaelan would teach me with his old school books how to read and write. When I got a little older, I became fascinated with books, reading anything I could get my hands on, secretly of course. Kaelan would always pick up books for me, bringing them home as presents, leaving them wrapped on my bed for me to find later. Of course I didnt have much time for reading. I would work through the whole day, and by the time I was allowed to return to my room, more often than not I would be much too tired to do anything but sink into the warm blanket and fall asleep. Once I learned how to sew well enough, I was told no more clothes would be bought for me. I would have to make my own clothes from then on. I quickly worked to improve my sewing skills. My birthday was no longer celebrated, and if it werent for Kaelan I probably would have forgotten what day it was long ago. But every year, on August fourteenth, Kaelan would always come to my room when he knew I would be almost done working for the day, with a special present. He gave me gifts all the time, from books and pencils, to candy, but on my birthdays he would get me meaningful things, objects I would always treasure. For my last birthday, my fifteenth, he got me a pair of diamond earrings, small so no one else noticed them, and a beautiful green journal. The small book had a silk cover, embroidered with twisting vines covered in purple flowers. It locked, so I was sure no one else would read my secrets, and had a spot to place a pen, which he supplied for me. He also gave me a chain to wear the small key on around my neck, that way I could be sure I would be the only one to read it. He would also buy a small cake from the bakery on his way home, hidden from his mother in his jacket, just big enough for the two of us to share. It was the moments like this that stopped me from going mad.
It was about a month before my birthday, on a Tuesday I believe, when I was called down to the living room along with the two of her boys still living at the house. She told us then that we would be housing an additional person, her nephew. His parents had just died of some sort of illness, within days of each other, and the boy needed somewhere to stay. Her brother had been even more wealthy then her, I knew that from the few times they had visited, but they had never brought their son with them, preferring to leave him with their servants. I was told to prepare a room, my old room, for him. I was to make sure he would have everything he needed to feel comfortable. I didnt know how I was supposed to make him feel comfortable, losing your parents wasnt something you seemed to ever feel comfortable with, and I would know. Still, I ascended the staircase and walked down the hall to the room I hadnt entered in many years. Everywhere I turned, memories flashed before my eyes. I could remember my father sitting on the edge of the bed with me, handing me a piece of cake left over from dessert. I could recall perfect images of Kaelan building towers out of blocks with me on the floor, right in front of the window where the sunlight warmed your skin in the late afternoon. But it was nighttime right now, and there was no sunlight, or happiness, and most definitely no father. I got to work then, preparing the room for our knew resident.