In Sickness And In Health
“Andrew, can you get off of me, I'm getting uncomfortable,” I requested.
“No,” he deadpanned.
“How long are you going to lay on me?” I asked, wriggling under him to get in a slightly more comfortable position.
“For however long as I want.”
“Please, it been an hour and a half. We both fell asleep.”
“I said no, I need to sleep.”
He said he needs to, I wonder what he means by that. I tried to move his head off of me, so I could wiggle myself off the bed. My hand touched his forehead, I notice Andrew is hot, he must have a fever.
“Andrew, I think you have a fever.”
I touched his forehead again. He just moaned and didn’t say anything.
“Let me go, so I can take care of you”
“Please I want to Andrew.”
He moved off of me, then I quickly got off the bed. He lay back down on the bed on his back.
“I’m going to make you some soup and bring a cool rag, to put it on your forehead. You’ll feel better.” I fluffed up his pillow.
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
I was about to walk away then Andrew pulled on my sleeve of my dress.
“Please don’t go... stay with me.”
My heart melted like ice on a hot day. I felt so bad for Andrew. He’s normally acts like his strong has a bull. Now I see him almost... fragile.
“Andrew I must take care of you. Let me go down stairs.”
He let go of my dress.
After a few minutes I walked down stairs. I saw Lizzy, and slowly walked into the kitchen. I didn’t know if Lizzy knew I was a lady in waiting now, and didn’t know how she would react to it.
“Hi. I have to go-.”
It was short and sweet and to the point. It felt like she was trying not to speak to me.
“I must go. Ms. Edwards needs her afternoon tea. You missed lunch, we had soup.. It's over there”
She held Ms. Edwards tea on a tray in her hands. She was about to walk out.
“Lizzy wait just a minute.”
“Make it fast.”
“Lizzy.... I am a lady...”
“I know. Did you know I’ve been waiting 2 years to become a lady in waiting?”
“No... I didn’t.”
I looked down, she must be really angry at me.
“You don’t deserve to be a lady in waiting. It should’ve been me. I’ve worked here longer.”
She put down Ms. Edwards tray of tea. Lizzy slapped me across my face. I slowly looked up at her. She shook her head.
“I need to take this tray to Ms. Edwards before it gets cold.”
I couldn’t say anything. She should've been happy for me. At least one of us is a lady in waiting. She turned around holding the tray of tea, about to walk out of the kitchen I put my left foot out. She stumbled over my foot and the tray of tea spilled over, all over her maid uniform.
“It looks like Ms. Edwards is going to be late having her afternoon tea.”
Before I walked out I grabbed a bowl of afternoon soup and a washcloth. I walked up the staircase and walked into Andrew’s room. Before checking his temperature with the back of my hand, I put down the bowl of soup beside his large bed. Then checked his temperature.
“You still feel hot, sorry it took me longer than I thought it would. Let me put some cool water on this washcloth, okay.”
He looked at me and moaned. I walked into the bathroom. Put some cool water on the washcloth. I didn’t want to make it freezing cold but cool enough. So maybe it would break his fever. I walked back into Mr. Edwards room and laid down the cool washcloth on his forehead.
“I bought you up some lunch. Just eat a little of it Andrew please.”
I held the spoon full of the vegetable soup to his lips. He glanced at me then at the spoon full of soup. Andrew ate the whole bowl of soup and rolled over, went back to sleep. I sat in the chair beside him and didn’t move. The next day I woke up from the sound of someone moving around in the room. I saw Lizzy put Andrew’s clothes into his dresser.
“ You should wait till you’re married to sleep with someone.”
“We didn’t. I slept in the chair. Andrew was sick all day yesterday. I stayed with him so if he needed me during the night.”
“Whatever. You are no lady in waiting.. More like a lady of the night.”
Lizzy walked out.
I looked over at Andrew.
“I wonder if Andrew’s fever broke.”
I put the back of my hand to his forehead. It does seem like his fever is breaking. Andrew is sweating a lot and he is not as hot as he was yesterday. I feel so bad for Andrew. My heart hurts for him to look like this. I want him to feel better. He does look very peaceful when he sleeps. With my hand on his forehead he began to move around then he slowly opened his eyes. He looked at me.
“You’re still here?”
“I never left.”
I smiled at him. I wasn’t going to leave him when he’s sick. I think I do care for him more than I thought I do and what I am willing to admit.
“Let’s take a bath, it will break the rest of my fever.”
“Okay I wait right here.”
“No Esmeralda, I want you to join me.”
“I want you to join me.”
Across my arms, covering my chest. He grabbed my wrists and pulled me into the bathroom.
“Take your clothes off.”
“Lizzy I need hot water for my bath!”
I didn’t move, I didn’t listen. I kept my arms crossed holding on to my dress looking away. With my cheeks burning red. I turned around, not facing Andrew. Andrew took off his clothes, I didn’t want to see Andrew with nothing on. I’m not married to him. I can’t be in the same bathtub as him, I’m not a lady of the night.
“Esmeralda don’t make me tell you a third time. I’m not in the mood.”
“Andrew.. I’m not a lady of the night.”
“You are whatever I want you to be. Now take off your clothes and get in.”
I didn’t move, I just stood still. Andrew ripped off my dress.
“I said I’m not in the mood. Now get in or I’ll make you get in.”
I did what I was told, I got into the tub with Andrew. I sat behind Andrew. My face still beet red from the embarrassment of Andrew seeing me and being in a tub with a man I’m not married too.
“Now wash me.”
I took a washcloth and slowly washed Andrew back. Andrew lend back to me while I washed his chest. I stopped right there I didn’t want to go any further than that.
“I said wash me and that means everywhere.”
“Andrew... I can’t..”
“Esmeralda, you are a lady in waiting now but, you still have a debt to pay. You are still a slave until that money is paid off. Meaning you still have to do what I say.”
His eyes were dark and cold. I didn’t move I was scared with what was going to happen. How is he going to make me pay it off.
He took my hand with the washcloth and washed his private area. I bite my lip and closed my eyes. I didn’t say anything, I let Andrew guide my hand to where he wanted to be washed.
Andrew was right, I am a lady in waiting now but I still have to pay off my debt to his family. So that I can go back home to my family and community.