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The Accomplice: Chapter 11
That morning as she rose, a thousand worries entered her head. The cold hard floor of the kitchen didn’t help her sleep and one of the other cooks snored very loudly. Determined to make use of the day, Alex washed her face with cold water and an indomitable face. She went about her chores like a mad woman, attacking each chore like a lion attacks its prey. All the other slaves were astounded at her proficiency. Alex didn’t know why but for some reason, she felt as if it were necessary to her very survival. By afternoon, she had finished all the tasks assigned to her and even some extra ones the other slaves asked her to do for them. She was in the kitchen, chopping cucumbers for a salad the cook was making when there was a knock from the door. One of the maids opened it and in walked a young woman, not much younger than Alex. She had dark hair and eyes the color of the cucumber Alex was chopping. Her high cheekbones gave her a young, yet wise look. She had kind eyes that suggested her gentle behavior.
“Lilianna! We thought you would never come! What did you bring us this time?!” Squealed the young maid. Alex suddenly felt a little light headed as she stepped back into a chair near the back. All the staff took turns talking to the stranger and asking her questions. From what Alex had gathered, Lilianna seemed to be the Baker’s slave but often snuck out when he was drunk and came here. The slaves here all talked to her like an old friend. The girl laughed often with a light, breathy voice. Suddenly, Alex dared to think something almost unthinkable. “Could this be my Lilianna?”
“Lilianna?” Alex said, just above a whisper. The girl heard her all the same. She turned toward Alex and her smile didn’t waver.
“Oh, umm hello. I don’t believe we have met. I am Lilianna.” The girl introduced.
“Lilianna. Its Alex.” The girl looked at her for a moment with a polite smile but obvious puzzlement. Then, it seemed to register.
“Alex. Alexandra. Is, is it really you? Tell me I am not dreaming!” The girl exclaimed.
“It’s me, Lilianna. I, I can’t believe you’re here!” Alex cried.
“What is she talking about Lili?” One of the maids asked.
“Ladies. I would like you all to meet Alex, my sister.” Lilianna said. Gasps and whispers spread throughout the room like wildfire. Alex and Lillianna just stared at each other and through their tears, managed to hug. Suddenly, footsteps approached from the east corridor, very close to the kitchen. Wide eyed and frightened, the whole staff was in a frenzy shoving Lilianna out the back door, hiding the goods she had brought from the bakery and returning to their work. Alex walked dreamily back to her station of cutting cucumbers. The second she started to return to chopping, the door swung open and in walked the Sheriff himself. All the maids and cooks looked up at him but didn’t give away a thing. Alex’s tears were still visible. Unfortunately they didn’t escape the Sheriff’s notice.
“Why are you crying.” The Sheriff demanded more than asked.
“I uhh, just finished chopping onions sir. They would make anyone’s eyes tear up.” Alex said pleadingly.
“I see. Well, get back to work you filthy scum. I expect my dinner no later than seven. If it is later or earlier, it will be someone’s head.” He said. Alex sighed with relief as soon as he left the kitchen. All the other slaves gave her thoughtful looks, as if they were inspecting a sculpture. It was so silent in the room; you could hear a pin drop. Finally, Alex broke the silence.
“How long have you all known Lilianna?” All at once, they started telling stories of her and themselves. Alex found herself almost jealous that all these strangers had spent the last many years with her sister while Lilianna was but a past wish of Alex’s.
“How often does she come here?” Alex asked.
“Oh, ‘bout once or twice a week.” A maid answered. Suddenly, Alex had an idea. One solution to all their problems.
“I, I have to find her.” She thought aloud.
“Well, the bakery is just down the street but getting out would be quite the challenge.” Sonya, one of the maids, answered. “But if I was you, I’d just wait a nother couple days and see if she turns up.”
“Thank you.” Alex said to all of them.
“No problem, any friend of Lilianna’s is a friend of mine!” Cara, a cook, explained. For a long time, all of the staff was talking and joking around with Alex. They shared gossip and stories about the soldiers and other tidbits of information. She learned that Sonya’s husband was in this very prison and that she snuck him extra bread every time she went to feed the prisoners. She also learned that Alice, a healer, had been tricking some of the guards to get information of her friend’s whereabouts. Alex saw how trustworthy these girls were. She knew she would need their help if she wanted their plan to work.
“Everyone, I have something to tell you. In a few days, some friends of mine and I will be freeing each and every one in this prison. That includes all of you.” Alex said slowly. For the next hour, Alex explained the plan and everyone’s task to perform if it was to work. Lucky for her, Cara had been here for a very long time and knew each prisoner and which ones were slaves, and which ones weren’t. All of them were overjoyed to hear of their freedom. Even some of the girls were crying for being so happy. For the first time in a very long time, Alex felt a little hope that they might actually succeed.