The sound of a bell startled her awake, earning a yawn from the young woman. She checked the time on the clock, swearing quietly when it was only seven thirty in the morning. She stretched her sore muscles and sighed in satisfactions when she heard a soft pop from her back. Layla got up from her bed and walked over to the closet, taking out her uniform for the day. A simple baby blue dress with a white sash tied around the waist. White stockings and black shoes came with and Layla hated the stockings. They were so itchy and the felt like something kept on biting her but all that was there when she took them off for bed were angry red lines from when she stopped to scratch herself.
Layla pulled her dirty blonde hair back into a pony tail, securing it with a blue ribbon. Checking herself in the mirror, Layla deemed herself ready and headed towards a door, opening it to another room. Layla stepped in, maneuvering around in the dark to the windows while trying not to hit anything that was in her way. Once there, she grabbed hold and drew the heavy curtains, wincing as light blinded her eyes. She heard moaning coming from behind and turned around, blinking rapidly to clear her vision, and saw a lump on the bed shift under the covers. Layla shook her head and walked over to the bed, gently shaking the lump.
“Sophie?” Layla sweetly said, “Sophie, time to get up.”
“Screw you,” a groggily voice state underneath the coves.
“Yeah, no.” Layla grabbed hold of the covers and wretched them away.
“Nooo.” Sophie patted the bed beside her, her hand searching for the covers to pull them back on.
“Not my fault your father chose for you to be up at this time.” Layla moved away from the bed and toward the closet, opening it to an array of dresses. She searched through them before picking out a yellow dress with thrills on the bottom. “How does yellow sound today?”
She heard a short laugh and Layla put the dress back on the rack.
“How about something a little more dark?”
“Ok.” Layla shifted through the dresses. “How about green?” She turned around to show Sophie but stopped, clenching her mouth to keep herself from laughing.
Sophie was sitting up on her bed and her hair was a knotted mess. Some strands stuck up straight or where bending in weird angles and others looked like the strands tied themselves together in giant knots. Sophie looked at Layla and narrowed her eyes when she saw Layla was trying not to laugh.
“Don’t. You. Dare. Laugh,” Sophie threatened which made Layla snort before she covered her mouth with her hand. With the state Sophie was in, it was hard to take her seriously, especially with her messy hair.
But it wasn’t long before Sophie started cracking a smile and then she burst out laughing and Layla followed behind her. Sophie ran a hand over her hair and started calming down at the feel of it. “Ooh, I hate my hair,” breathed Sophie, getting up from bed. She headed towards her vanity and sat down on the cushioned seat. Grabbing a hairbrush, she started to tackle her messy hair, starting at the ends and brushing out the tangles as she worked her way up. “And yes the dress is fine.”
“Don’t say that,” Layla said, laying the dress on the bed. “Your hair is fine. It just needs some…extra care.” She walked over to Sophie, grabbing an extra hairbrush and working on the other side of her head. Layla glanced up from her work, catching Sophie staring at her through the mirror. “What?”
“I’m just imagining what you would look like with that dress on. I bet you’d look beautiful.”
Layla stopped mid-stroke, blush forming on her cheeks as she thought about Sophie’s statement. She glanced at the dress and tried to imagine what that dress would like look on her. A fuzzy image appeared in her hand of herself twirling around in it, the dress spinning with her but as the outline came to her, it quickly left as she realized how stupid it would be. “Don’t be silly, Miss, I-”
“You’re doing it again.”
Layla looked at her. “Doing what?”
“You’re calling me ‘Miss’ when I specifically told you to call me by my name when we’re alone.”
Layla adverted her eyes and she went back to brushing Sophie’s hair. “I apologize, Mi-Sophie, I forgot. You just caught me off guard for a minute.”
“Layla, you know I value your opinion, more so than my brothers and sisters. It’s ok to speak your mind when it’s just us.” Sophie finished brushing out her hair and set her brush down before looking at the mirror to watch Layla brush her hair.
Layla ran the brush through Sophie’s hair one more time before moving to the back, running the brush throughout her hair to make sure she got all the tangles out.
“Hey, Layla,” Sophie started and when Layla hummed, she continued, “Have you ever thought of what would happen if the roles were reversed? If I was your maid and you were my miss?”
Layla had thought about that, so many times. Truth be told, she didn’t know much about her younger years. The earliest she could recount was being found in the woods by villagers over ten years ago. She was only fifteen and she had no memory of where she was or where she was going. She only remembered her name and that was it. Since she had no family in the village, they automatically put her in with the slaves to learn how to become on. She’d served many masters, some of them treating her fair and others were to the point where they would have raped her if they got the chance. Thankfully, laws for slaves were…fair enough. It was unlawfully to rape anyone-slave or not-but the punishments were different. For slaves, there was a ban placed on the offender to refuse them the right to own anymore slaves while the slave went to a different household. But for those who were free, the offender was placed in prisoner for a maximum of up to ten years or even death. It all depended on the status of the victim, meaning it they were from a higher or lower class.
For Layla, she never encountered anything as extreme as that but she did have an option to be requested to another household if she didn’t feel comfortable. Of course, it wasn’t until she worked at the household for sixty days that she could be transferred somewhere else if she didn’t like it. Luckily, Layla was found by Sophie one day and Sophie brought her from her previous owner. At first, Layla didn’t know what to expect from Sophie since she was the chief’s daughter but she was kind and always asked Layla of her honest opinion. After a few months of working, Sophie told Layla to start calling her by her first name when they were alone. Layla has been working as Sophie’s maid for two and a half years.
Layla jumped, looking at Sophie. “Yes?”
“You’ve been quiet for a while. You ok?”
“I’m fine, Sophie, just thinking.”
“About what I said?” Layla nodded. “And?”
“I think I would rather know about my past then change the situation.”
Sophie smiled sadly at her. “If I could help you, I would. What if you’re from a different village and your parents were looking for you all this time?”
“If so, I think someone would have found me by now.” Layla lowered the brush and placed it on the vanity. She gathered Sophie’s hair and started to twist the strands into a simple braid. She took a step back when she was done and watched as Sophie checked herself in the mirror before going to apply her make-up. Layla walked over to the dresses, opening the middle drawer and taking out nylon stockings. She carried them over to the bed and laid them on top of the dress and headed back to the closet, bending down to look at the variety of shoes Sophie had. “Comfy or style today?”
Layla grabbed a pair of silver flats and placed them on the floor next to the bed. Sophie got up from her vanity and walked over to the bed, taking off her white night-gown. She handed it to Layla who took the garment and added it the pile of laundry in the basket as Sophie started putting on the clothes. Layla came up behind her after Sophie put on the dress to zip it up, connecting the latch together at the top. Sophie stepped into her sandals and gave Layla a smile.
“Ok, I’m going to have breakfast with my family. Meet me in the sunroom around ten thirty.”
Layla nodded in confirmation and Sophie walked out of the room. Layla grabbed the basket of laundry and headed towards the laundry room. Her mind reeled as she walked, thinking of her to-do list for today, when she tripped over something on the floor, falling face-first. The basket of laundry spilled around her and as Layla slowly got to her feet, she heard snickering coming from behind her. Oh no, she thought to herself and looked behind her.
Isabella and Derric stood behind her, smirking down at the fallen maid. The sister and brother were the second and third oldest, respectively. Isabella was engaged to be married to a wealthy man across town while Derric spent most of his time going to extravagant parties and liked to show off his wealth. Both siblings have the ideal that slaves are inferior to them and treats them like the wasted space they are, as they put it. They are worse to their own slaves than they are to everyone else’s and Layla pities the ones that have to serve either of them.
“Are you ok, peasant?” Isabella mocked, the sarcasm basically dripping from her voice.
“I’m fine,” spat Layla, turning away from her. She started to gather up the fallen clothes and put them back in her basket.
“My, my, what an attitude you have,” Derric said and then turned to his sister. “Should we teach her how to properly behave?”
Layla gathered all the clothes and stood up with the basket in hand. She turned to the siblings and slowly the pride within her, she bowed before them. “Excuse me, your highnesses, I need to go do my Lady’s laundry.” She straightened and walked away as she heard laughing coming from behind. Something within her lashed out, wanting to go attack the two and tear them apart. She could feel it crawling up and she took deep breaths to calm herself down. In these fits of rage, Layla always felt something trying to get out, wanting to attack anyone that pissed her off. She didn’t know what this feeling was but she always kept it in, in fear of lashing out at someone she cared about. Layla hoped she wouldn’t lash out anytime soon for if she did, and hurt someone from a high-class family, the punishment would be death.