Author's note: My AP Lit teacher gave us an assignment to write a story based on the events of Remains of the... Show full author's note »
BeginningWhere do I start with a tale of such passive woe? It seems as if the beginning would be boring, the middle endless, and the end—unbearable. That’s all goodbyes ever are; unbearable. If I started from the first time I met him, I don’t think you would understand. I barely understand anything myself. It is such a complicated story that needs to be told by such a simple person. I dare call myself that, you see, because I worked so hard to become human. He and I always worked for a greater purpose. We needed to be what everyone else was so we could be unique. Our voices had to be heard, and the only way for that to happen was through the changes. So much trouble for one little alteration. Now I’m making no sense at all. I suppose the beginning would be a good place to start. I might as well, for it might control the surge of memories I am currently experiencing.
It all began with my childhood. I lived on a lonely station in the middle of a planet called…I can’t remember. It had many numbers within its name. Also, it was always night there. An unrelenting darkness that took over the mind and soul to create a species that fed on light. We were the lowest on the totem pole of life forms, but the healthiest. We lived to serve the greater beings. We were controlled by the greater beings. We died while working for the greater beings. I never found out what the greatest of life forms is. All I know is that humans are the third greatest beings of all. I was raised from birth to labor for humans. Looking back, I think how unfortunate that arrangement is. Humans are so full of darkness—pain, agony, dread, deception. Lust. So many things that could lead to their downfall; instead, these awful traits allowed them to climb over other lighter species to get to the single digits on the list of the greatest species. Desiring to get further up, humans turned to lower life forms to destroy their competition. However, no one would dare go against the number one and two species. So, humans settled for spot three. It was the best us lower beings could do for them.
At the age of nine I was taken to a lake house owned by two extremely wealthy human doctors and their three children. They had much influence in the workings of the world. I admired them greatly, and they treated me with a little dignity. I was their nanny, cook, and maid for thirteen years. I received a paycheck of three dollars a week—this was fortunate among my kind—along with boarding. I had to take care of the children while the couple was away, but I never minded. The children were as kind as their parents. They treated me as an equal. I would bathe them, feed them, play with them, and sometimes buy them sweets with the money I earned from their parents. The human doctors never knew; or maybe they did, but wouldn’t admit to it. Maybe they allowed me that one pleasure. They let me take care of the children since I couldn’t have any of my own.
I devoted thirteen years to that family. No point looking on the past, though sometimes it takes over my mind and makes me what to go back to where things were simpler. The doctors had no choice when they gave me away. They were going into debt—I make excuses for them to save my own mind. At the start of my fourteenth year working for them the doctors informed me I was being let go. My kind had been trained not to question their employers, but I had grown so close to that family. “What did I do?” I demanded. Tears poured down my cheeks. The doctors backed away, looking awfully guilty. They explained how they had spent all their money on sending the last child to college. They had no choice but to sell me. The children would be heartbroken, but in order to save the couple I had to go. So I went.
I’ll admit that I was disappointed. I thought they were going to change the world for me. I had discussed my beliefs that the world ought to be a bit different; I suppose they weren’t allowed to listen. The world could not be changed at that point—not even by two geniuses like the doctors. Life was set in stone, and I had to play my supporting role. I decided I would be great to any master I serve. I did not need to be respected, paid, or… or loved. I just needed to be working. As a member of my species, it was the only thing I knew. It was the only part of my life that I could, and still can, truly control. I realized this as I was driven to my new home.
The place was as tall as a mountain and gray as the sky above. Miles and miles of snow lay out in front of me. I have never felt such torment as I felt that day. The particles of snow crunched with every step of my new boots. The doctors bought them for me as a goodbye gift. They had wished me luck and handed me the box full of a pair of boots and an old coat lined with cow fur. I brushed the fur against my chin and breathed in the smell of my old home. I could smell the lake’s scent still clinging to my coat. Mildew, smoke, and a faint smell of dirt remained on the jacket. It was the most amazing smell I have ever experienced. Tears dripped down my unwelcoming cheeks, leaking into my mouth. I wanted to go back to the lake more in that moment than ever in my life. I wiped my tears away quickly as I approached the entrance.
“Welcome to the House of Huse, Miss Anna Louise Gaubens. I hope you are able to make yourself comfortable,” an old, human woman with a cold voice greeted me at the large, metal doors. I had never felt less sedate in my entire life. She led me through the hallways into a crowded room full of other members of my species. For the sake of the story, I will refer to my people as the Service. That is what we were—all we were. We worked for humans and served them until the end of our lives. Anyways, a Servant boy glanced in my direction. He smiled at me with an odd grin that almost gave me hope. The flicker of comfort ignited in my stomach, so I attempted to walk to the boy. He shook his head quickly. His voice boomed in my head.
“Don’t,” and I was scared once again.
My room was as chilling as the old woman who had welcomed me into the House of Huse. There was nothing else in my room except a small, steel bed with a lumpy mattress and empty walls. I sat down on the bed, but refused to weep. My feelings were never supposed to be shown in public. I had made the mistake to display them to my former masters. They sent me to this place. I should not even have cried when walking into the House of Huse. It showed weakness. Never again, I promised myself. Never again.
Life passed on quickly in the House of Huse. It made me stronger, more able, but it made my insides cold. I would get up before dawn, eat breakfast, work for the Huse family—they were lawyers of the greater beings—and go to bed. Most of the time I would mend old clothes or cook deserts. I was never allowed to prepare main courses, despite my years of experience at the doctors’ house. I don’t think the Huse family ever trusted me with their meals. I don’t blame them. I was not loyal to them. During the first couple years of service I would remember the Servant boy. The spark of hope I felt on the first day when watching the boy was gone. I wished it would be absent for good because it made it easier to exist without the flame. Except, the boy kept turning up in my life.
He would show up unannounced in the kitchen while I bake pastries, or in the dining hall when I was serving food. He watched me closely, always smiling that awful smile that made me feel the spark again. I wanted to beat him senselessly with my plate whenever I saw him. How dare he fill me with false hope? It was useless, embarrassing, and it hurt my spirit. His smile of red, thick lips surrounding bright, white teeth made my head cry out in joy. While I wanted to hit him with a hard object, I also felt the desire to grab and kiss him. What a fool I was. The day I finally met him was the day my mistress divulged her darkest secrets in me.
“I have a strange feeling I can trust you, Anna,” the Lady Huse addressed me as she applied her thick mascara. She gave up, and handed me the thin stick. I quickly painted her face with the awful colorings that made Lady Huse’s face turn even paler than before. I figured that was how Lord Huse preferred his wife’s face—hidden by monstrous mask of cosmetics. I felt no pity for Lady Huse and her blessed life. I curled her bright blonde hair and placed small red bows in between each strand. I helped her into a matching red dress that reached the floor in an elegant, superior way. “How do I look, my dear Anna?” Lady Huse asked pleasantly. I thought, a bit over easy, ma’am. I said,
“Absolutely gorgeous, ma’am.” She beamed at me. I smiled back. What a mistake to lie to my master, I thought. Lying will bring no good.
“Now, Anna, could I tell you something without you judging me?” Lady Huse brushed an invisible strand of hair from her face. I bit my lip. I saw the Servant boy standing in the door. He pressed in index finger to his lip in a universal sign to be quiet. “Oh, never mind. You are just a Servant. Like you could ever judge me!” She laughed at her own wit. I giggled as well. I can’t fight back, I told myself. Let it go. Lady Huse continued to tell me about her affair and how her daughter was not actually a Huse but… I should not continue. It was a great speech where Lady Huse explained how completely demented the family of Huse was. I was not surprised by the woman and her many mistakes. The great woman hugged me, told me I would go great places one day, and demanded I leave her sight at once. I left with my chin and shoulders drooping. I doubted I would ever go anywhere except this cold, metal palace.
My room was freezing when I returned. Apparently, Lord Huse had demanded the heat be all pumped into the party room where his lovely daughter—or not—would be having her twenty-seventh birthday and wedding party. I sat down on my smelly old mattress and rubbed my old coat. I wrapped it around me. No tear fell from my eyes. My mind was silently moaning when I heard a noise in my room. The boy was standing there, the door wide open and tempting. “Would you like to leave with me?” He asked me, his voice radiating through my head. He reached out his hand. I looked around me. This family, the Huse, I could never be anything but inconvenient to them. I should leave for them. They needed for me to leave; they wanted me to escape. They would suffer if I stayed. I convinced myself of this as I took the boy’s hand and fled.