The Calm after the Storm

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She thought of herself, sort of like a butterfly. Underneath the deceiving silk cocoon, she was shriveled up and lonely. That’s what she was, a failed, miserable, butterfly who revealed itself to be even more pitiful than its cocoon.


Her skin was pale and sagging, as if all her youthful beauty has been shredded off to reveal the body of a woman she once feared to be. She remembered, with much grief, that she was once beautiful – envied, even, by other women. The way she held her head high with dignity and pride was like a talent she was born with, but now it was a lost art.


      She brushed tips of her hair with her frail fingertips while eying the grey streaks that evaded her once silken brown hair, now dry and lifeless. She then proceeded to doing her makeup for the first time in ages: someone was visiting her today, so she had to look decent.


The sudden knock on the chamber door startled her quite a bit. A yell of disgust formed at her lips, but not before reminding herself about she promise she made to herself. She glanced at some papers and bottles on her desk, but her eyes quickly averted to the other direction.

 

       A promise was a promise; no more, no less.

       Gathering all the calmness she could muster, she opened the door to see the petrified maid standing in front of her.


The maid’s eyes fluttered from one side to the other.


“The tea packets, ma'am, they have gone empty.”


The servant, who was bracing herself for the wave of anger to wash over, instead received kind smile.
“It’s fine, just buy more from the market. Here’s the money,” she told the maid, handing her some coins. The maid, frozen with a mixture of astonishment and a slight bit of fear, swiftly turned around and walked down the stairwell.


         Now, such event would not be forgotten by this maid. She informed other servants, and soon all the maids knew the story: the news of their owner’s good mood spread like a virus. And that, was even more unlikely than a sunny day in London. The lady, their owner, was always clouded with sadness, which always became the ultimate fuel to her anger.


But then, the servants pondered in deep thought, how was it today that made her storm go away? The lady never told them about anyone visiting, so what was it?

 

         It seemed that her happy mood did not just last for the morning: it lasted, quite miraculously, for the whole day. At night, the lady invited her servants to eat with her, and she even started the conversation. Drinking wine, and eating from plates of heaven, it was as if the lady and the servants were people of equal. It was truly a night to remember, for the maids; but still, they were deeply troubled about the lady’s change of attitude. No one asked, for obvious reasons, because of the fear that it may turn her mood around. Was it a good night’s sleep then? No, the servants concluded, it had to be some bigger force. Much bigger.

 

         When the sun went down, the lady went up to her bedroom, with a bright smile on her face. The smile though, she knew, was of glass. Even the servants saw it. Just as the maids were whispering and finishing cleaning the dishes, the doorbell rang, echoing across the mansion.

 

         From her room, the lady winced at the sound.

 

The servants opened the door to four women standing outside in the cold. The servants were crowded at the door, for the lady had rare visitors and all her relatives were deceased. The maids’ eyes were fixed on the four women, demanding some sort of explanation or greeting or introduction.


One of the maids stepped forward. “What’s happening?”


One of the women, who was dressed white – actually, all of them were in white – cocked her head to one side, looking confused.


“Your lady did not tell you about it?” Looking at one another, the maids all shook their heads.


The nurse explained in a clipped voice:


“The lady is ill. Very ill.”






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