Light footsteps walking across the carpeted floor resonated across the room, coupled with the soft sound of cloth moving up and down a desk. The quiet noise bounced off the walls and reached the injured girl as she began awakening to these first sounds her ears accepted. With much effort, her heavy eyelids were forced open and squeezed shut in a matter of a few milliseconds as the light pierced through her pupils. A part from that, it was near impossible to groan, which was what she wanted to do. Instead, a low hoarse cough escaped from her dried mouth and throat.
“Oh! You’re awake!” The young lady, who had been cleaning the room everyday, jogged across from the mirror she was wiping to the girl on the bed excitedly.
She put one hand onto her bandaged forehead and realised she couldn’t take her temperature from there. Instead, she placed her hands on the sick girl’s cheeks and attempted to work out what her body temperature was.
“Hmmmm… Seems like you’ve cooled down!” She smiled at the puzzled girl’s face. “I’m Sheila by the way.”
Sheila’s beaming face was continued to be met with a pale, emotionless expression. Her smile dropped as she wondered if the girl could hear her at all.
“Do you hear me? Can you understand me?”
The girl tried to nod but her head was too heavy to move according to her will. Even so, it was impossible to speak as the moment she tried to make noise she ended up coughing. It hurt her throat tremendously as she tried to squeeze words out.
Understanding the situation, Sheila immediately went to the dress up table and poured a cup of warm water for the girl.
“Drink this, you’ll feel much better!” Sheila held the bottom of the cup as the girl began drinking from it, knowing that the latter was too weak to hold anything from her lethargic arms.
As the liquid slid down her throat through large gulps, she could feel her throat being soothed and the annoying tickling sensation went away. Her weak arms carried her fingers up to wrap around her neck as she massaged herself and tried to think of why and how this could have happened, but nothing came into mind. Nothing but Sheila’s face.
“So,” Sheila put the cup down, “what is your name? Is it really Amanda?”
Looking as puzzled as ever, the girl repeated the word ‘Amanda’ so quietly that instead of sounding like a whisper, it was more as if she mouthed the words. Yet, she did so for a few times and waited for a bell to ring.
But there was nothing.
“Well I don’t mean to just invent a name for you! It’s just that Beka said your name seems to be Amanda since that was what was written on this card on you!”
Every time she said the word Amanda, all that came into her mind was the face of Sheila and the cup of water in which she drank. She looked up, but there was nothing else that her mind could seem to think about.
“I don’t know…” Her voice came out as soft as a lazy cat’s cry, yet a bit coarse.
In sudden realisation of the situation, Sheila gasped and immediately sat down beside the girl. She held both her hands in her own and took the liberty to look pitifully at the confused girl.
“It’s okay. It doesn’t matter! Doesn’t matter what your actual name is, Amanda will do!” Sheila exclaimed whilst staring into Amanda’s eyes earnestly.
Amanda blinked blankly at Sheila, unable to gather any sort of emotion.
Sheila mistook Amanda’s quietness as depression. She held Amanda’s hands tighter in her own. “You’re still living, which means you can start over, it’s a chance loads of people wish for.”
Rolling her eyes around the room, she nodded her head slightly as her eyes landed back on Sheila. What else could she do? Everything was so unfamiliar… who was this girl in front of her? Whose room did this belong to?
“I don’t know what to say!” Sheila dropped Amanda’s hands and slapped her forehead in frustration.
As her head dropped, Amanda found herself looking at hands and wondered whether they belonged to her. She clapped her hands together and held onto her own fingers. The warmth of her fingers felt so strange yet real.
“Who are you?” Amanda pronounced through her crisped lips.
Suddenly, Sheila found her eyes lighting up. “I’m Sheila!” She cried in a voice too high and at a pace too fast. “I’m a servant at the Meiyars’ household, which is here!”
“Meiyars?” Amanda repeated.
“Yes. One of the wealthiest families in the City of Lumière.”
“Yes! This place you live in right now is the City of Lumière! Although it’s pretty messed up at the moment, since the Prince and Queen have gone missing and the Ministers are fighting to be in charge. But those things don’t really matter.” Sheila rolled her eyes at how messed up the city was.
Amanda nodded. She couldn’t quite take in any information that came out of Sheila’s mouth, as her words would vanish the moment they reached her ears.
Sheila couldn’t help but smile dazedly at Amanda. She admired the face that had lost its colour, yet still retained the charm it would have should she have been well. All of a sudden, Sheila just couldn’t help her growing curiosity towards the girl should she be healthy! She wondered whether Amanda was the energetic type of person, or was she quiet and composed? Ah! This was all too exciting for Sheila to handle!
“So, you don’t remember anything?” Sheila asked whilst handing Amanda another cup of water.
Remaining quiet, Amanda drank the water.
But when Sheila opened her mouth to speak more, she was startled by loud knocks on the door. She jumped up with a hunch that it was the Madam at the door. Opening the door, she bowed in an instance when she saw emerging from the widening gap was a tall and beautiful woman. Her every stride carrying a sense of pride and elegance that definitely defined her as a very fine lady. Walking humbly behind her was a man wearing plain clothes and a medical box in his hand.
“Good evening Madam Meiyars! I didn’t expect you to visit so late in the evening!” Sheila followed the Madam from behind clumsily.
“Well, you’re still awake and still tending to her aren’t you?” The Madam replied whilst looking at Sheila with warm eyes.
“Setting those aside, Amanda has awoken! But it appears that she does not remember anything.” Sheila pulled out a chair and placed it beside the bed where Amanda was.
“Oh? Well in that case, Mr. Luluk, I believe you should begin your work.” Smiling politely at the doctor who was standing behind her, Mr. Luluk moved forward and sat on another chair that was closer to the bed, which Sheila had sat on earlier.
Mr. Luluk first took the reading of Amanda’s pulse, then checked her body temperature, and lastly her breathing. As the check-up progressed, a look of relief appeared on the man’s face. Reaching inside his bag, he took out a piece of X-ray scan of what appeared to be Amanda’s brain. Handing it to the Madam, he began to explain Amanda’s condition.
“She is believed to be diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, which means she has lost the memories of who she was and what had happened in her past. But other than that, she appears to be recovering and will soon be in good shape.”
“Amnesia? Will she ever recover her memories then?” Madam Meiyars inquired.
“I can’t say. In some cases, the patients regain their memories through small events or re-uniting with certain people. But the chances of that happening aren’t very high I must admit.”
The Madam looked at Amanda, who was listening carefully to Mr. Luluk’s words. Somehow, the news didn’t startle her or shake her calmness as she was feeling just as lost and as empty.
“Are you feeling alright?” Madam Meiyars inquired as she looked worriedly at Amanda.
The sick girl gave a faint smile as she stared at the Madam with curious eyes. If she were not sick, her behaviour could be deemed impolite!
Seeing that Dr. Luluk wouldn’t be needed anymore, Madam Meiyars thanked the doctor and asked Sheila to accompany him to the door.
“Are you sure you’re feeling alright?” The woman patted the girl on the shoulder.
“Yes I do. Just heavy.” Amanda replied weakly.
“That is a lie. You don’t have any memories and yet you feel fine? Feeling puzzled and empty would have been the correct answer, no?” The Madam smiled amiably at the girl.
Slightly embarrassed that her feelings were so transparent to the Madam, Amanda’s shoulders dropped. Somehow it was slightly comforting to have someone understand her even though she didn’t put her bizarre feelings into words.
“That is great.” The Madam held Amanda’s hands whilst staring intensely into the latter’s eyes. “Let’s forget about your memory for now. Live in the present my dear.”
Amanda’s eyes squinted slightly as she wondered what the Madam meant.
“If you want to remember your past, the only way to regain those once lost memories is to live. Who knows, perhaps you would learn to love your new life here and those memories wouldn’t matter anymore!”
“Here?” Sheila’s eyes widened in pleasant surprise as a broad smile emerged on her face.
“Yes, here.” The Madam was also smiling widely at Amanda. “You may count me in as a selfish person for not having discussed this with you first, but on my own accord, I have decided to have you stay with us until you are ready to leave.”
Amanda opened her mouth to speak, but couldn’t seem to find the words to describe the unfamiliar emotions. Sheila saw Amanda’s perplexed expression and decided to jump in and thank in her place.
“Thank you Madam! Thank you so much!”
“Why are you thanking me?” Madam Meiyars looked at Sheila in confusion.
“Well,” Sheila looked at Amanda with sparkling eyes, “I thanked you on behalf of her. But also because I’ll finally be having a close friend!”
“You two are friends?”
“No Madam, but we will be.” Sheila replied confidently.
Madam Meiyars laughed out loud. “Oh Sheila! How you never fail to make me laugh with your carefree attitude! Very well then, I put her in your care.” Smiling in relief, Madam Meiyars patted Amanda’s head lightly. “Get more rest and sleep. You can start work whenever you feel ready.”
Understanding Amanda’s apparent quietness, the Madam gave her one last pat on the head before getting up from her seat to leave. As Sheila accompanied the Madam to the door, she just couldn’t help but giggle and jump up and down at the thought of having a new friend, and possibly a new room mate! All those nights she spent alone in the dark, all those nights she could only consult her problems to the moon or her pillow, they really did begin to bore her!
“Sheila,” Madam Meiyars turned around swiftly, knowing that Sheila was slightly over-excited about this situation, “you should leave the girl to rest too.”
“Yes Madam.” Sheila replied whilst pouting a little at Amanda.
“Good night Amanda, I hope the next time I see you you’ll be back in full health.”
“Thank you… Madam.”
“And I’ll be seeing you tomorrow again!” Sheila waved goodbye.
As the door closed shut, Amanda found that she was smiling to herself. Even though it had only been a short while since awakening, Amanda was feeling less loss and less confused, even though this shouldn’t be happening. Yet, Sheila’s energy seemed to have transmitted to her. She felt comfortable when Sheila was talking to her and walking up and down the room. Could this be that she… enjoyed her company? Was this how it felt to enjoy something? A weak grin emerged from her sickly face as she recalled Sheila’s bright and cheerful voice.
With that, Amanda was left alone in a room that suddenly seemed unreasonably big for one person. She snuggled back into her warm duvet and made herself comfortable. She looked out the window into the vague distant as she watched the snow fell slowly. A slight pang of pain developed inside her chest at the thought of losing everything she had. But a sea of nothingness was what accompanied that pain.
Closing her eyes, her head suddenly felt ten times heavier and it only took a few seconds before she felt as if she was being sucked into a swirling tunnel. The clock ticked off into midnight steadily as she felt less and less conscious. Before she knew it, she was already fast asleep.
The melodic singings of nightingales woke Amanda up. Sheila squinted at the streak of sunlight that entered the room through a gap in the curtains. She yawned and sat up whilst soothing her head that ached only a little. Today she would be starting work and she felt happy about it as she was starting to get bored of staying in bed the whole time.
“Oh good morning Mandy!” Sheila beamed a bright smile at Amanda as she walked into the room to see the latter sitting upright in her bed already.
“Morning Lala, you look as energetic as ever!” Amanda smiled brightly in return.
Through the past week, the two had developed a rather strong bond as Sheila kept Amanda busy with her jokes and gossips. She also took the opportunity to fill Amanda in with details about being a servant for the Meiyars, a prominent family consisting of Madam Meiyars, Sir Michael Meiyars, and the young masters Lim and Adeline. Most importantly, Sheila warned Amanda of the vicious Gina and her two followers, Gada and Gady. Although Gada and Gady mostly just followed Gina around and didn’t do much, they had also received a bad reputation due to Gina’s tendency to spit fireballs at anyone she saw.
She was pure evil.
Yet, this trio greatly intrigued Amanda.
“So, how are Gina, Gada and Gady?” Amanda questioned as she pulled the duvet off her.
“You mean the Stupid Gs? Why are you always asking about them?” Sheila asked with a serious expression.
Amanda chuckled at her response. “Because they’re evil right? I’d like to know what evil means by learning what they are like!”
“Please Mandy, you do not want to know what they are like. Let me tell you why. Whenever Gina, or any of the trio is near me, I feel like I get suffocated because the air gets so polluted with their horrifying-ble-ness.”
“I’m sure you made that word up!”
“It’s a legitimate word when it comes to them, Gina to be exact.” Sheila raised her voice as if trying to force the idea that what she was saying was true.
“Okay, I’m sorry. Well I was just curious about their horrifying-ble-ness! Would you very kindly tell me more?”
Sheila sighed as she sat down on a chair. “They’re great. As horrible as ever, and even more disliked by others today.”
“Wait, did something happen?”
Sheila shook her head whilst she handed Amanda a uniform. “Well you have to understand that hatred for Gina grows everyday in everybody.”
Amanda received the clothes from her friend and continued looking at Sheila with agog eyes.
“You’ll understand when you meet her. Come on, put this on! We’re supposed to have breakfast prepared in an hour’s time!”
Brushing aside her curiosity, Amanda took the uniform from Sheila and walked into the bathroom. Whilst listening to Sheila’s humming, she pulled over a black dress in which the lower half would be covered by tying a checkered white and pale green apron around her waist. She walked back into the room where Sheila smiled at the sight of her new friend whose cheeks had picked up a rosy colour. Walking over to Amanda, Sheila began fixing the collar that cupped the girl’s slim neck.
“You’re petite. Very petite.” Sheila chuckled as she looked down at Amanda who was a head shorter.
“No, you’re just big!” She said as she jokingly rolled her eyes. The two laughed together.
Weirdly, Amanda felt extremely natural saying that phrase, as if she had always said it. But she brushed away the feeling as she didn’t want to dwell with her past. After learning from Sheila that the Madam had found her on the brink of death with a severely injured head, she decided that whatever happened in her past, it wasn’t something pleasant. What was the point of trying to remember something unpleasant when she could live happily now?
Sheila turned Amanda around and started playing with her hair. Picking two hairbands out of her pocket, she tied Amanda’s hair up into a bun.
“You don’t want your long hair getting in your face!”
“Yes mom, thank you.” Amanda purposefully put on a childish tone.
“Okay, we should go now. I’ll take you to the dorm tonight. For now, we’ve got work to do so get a move on!”
Amanda couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at Sheila’s serious expression. Knowing this girl, she was definitely doing this to go along with the whole ‘mom-act’!
As the two made their way out to the corridor, Amanda took a good look at the interior of the house. She finally understood what Sheila meant by the Meiyars being a ‘prominent’ family. Their light footsteps on the marbled floor echoed down the hallway until they reached a huge spiral staircase which linked the four floors of the mansion.
As the two approached the kitchen, a stern woman walked out and looked almost angrily at both Amanda and Sheila.
“You’re late Ms. Sheila.” She looked at Sheila with hard eyes.
Gulping, Sheila lifted her trembling finger and pointed at Amanda. “Ms. Campbell! T-This is the n-new girl, Amanda. The n-new girl Madam Meiyars was t-talking to you about yesterday.”
Amanda glanced sideways when she heard Sheila muttering and stuttering. Yet, when her eyes landed on Ms. Campbell, Amanda found herself feeling slightly intimidated by the woman. Sheila didn’t help with Amanda’s fear when she pulled the latter forward.
“Um, how do you do?” Amanda greeted Ms. Campbell with a forced smile, whilst hoping that the angry look was just an expression Ms. Campbell was born with.
Hopefully she would smile a bit, or grin, or nod… or even just making a sound like a cough or clearing her throat would have soothed the tension in the air! But instead, Ms. Campbell scrutinised Amanda from head to toe before storming past them. That was all the acknowledgement Amanda got.
“Pft, typical. Ms. Campbell’s like that. She never shows any interest in anyone!” Sheila explained whilst walking into the kitchen.
“You were mumbling.” Amanda stated plainly as she looked at Sheila fetching for three plates in a cupboard.
Clearing her throat, Sheila tried to sound normal when she replied, “No, I just didn’t want to speak too loudly since it’s the morning!”
“You were also stuttering.” Amanda added nonchalantly, enjoying the tease.
“That is not true! I was merely… like… stuck on words! Like now!” Trying desperately to defend herself, Sheila found herself unable to look Amanda in the eyes as she handed her three plates.
“What ever you say.” Amanda replied whilst trying to minimise her giggling.
Squinting her eyes menacingly at Amanda, Sheila let out a moan as her hands clenched into fists. “Fine, Fine! Yes I was speaking like I had speech impairment, I admit it okay?”
“I didn’t say you had to.”
“Well, somehow I felt annoyed with your teasing so I will! But I can’t help it! She keeps everything ordered and organised so she’s always being a pain in my back! A pain in everyone’s back for that matter.”
“Ordered and organised?”
“She is the housekeeper. She’s in charge of everyone who works for the Meiyars. So if you ever do something wrong, she’s the one to face! And it won’t be nice, I guarantee you that.”
“I’d like to experience that.” Amanda replied whilst waiting patiently with plates in her hand.
Sheila stopped moving with eating utensils in her hands. “You are kidding me.”
Amanda stuck out her tongue as she shot Sheila a silly smile.
“Amanda you are crazy! You were scared of her too right? You were right?”
“Well, yes. But only a little bit.”
“Then why would you want to spend any time alone with her at all!”
“It might be exciting to see how mean this woman can be!”
Sheila’s eyes were stretched so wide opened they looked as if they could fall out if she stretched them any wider. “I wish your memory loss could have taken away your ability to think too so I could carefully nurture you into a normal human being.”
Unable to keep her laughter at Sheila, Amanda mumbled a ‘sorry’ that didn’t seem to attach any particular meaning to it.
Sheila sighed and shook her head. Deciding to drop the subject about the horrible housekeeper, she looked around the big kitchen that was perfectly equipped. When she saw that there was nothing else to take, she led Amanda out into the dining room.
“Are we the only two in charge of the Meiyars’ breakfast?” Amanda asked, trying to kill the silence.
Sheila began setting out the plates and butter knives as Amanda did the forks and napkins.
“Well, usually when the Meiyars are having breakfast, some will be in their room tidying things up. The rest will be tidying other rooms up, like the study rooms, the play rooms and just all the other rooms. There are too many to name.” As Sheila explained, she began setting the spoons out.
As she walked around the table to set out the utensils for the other two seats, she failed to notice someone standing behind her and stabbed the spoon into the person’s stomach. Her eyes shot up in shock and the spoon dropped right out of her hand when she noticed he was the young master, Lim. Her jaw dropped to the ground as her face stretched long.
“I am, really sorry Mr. Lim…” Sheila whispered in a voice that clearly defined her fear and guilt.
Amanda stood by the side not knowing what to do. Instead of helping her friend out, she found herself looking back and forth from Sheila to Lim. Her passivity seemed to have been brought upon due to Lim’s rather amiable appearance.
Lim bent down and picked up the spoon and stared at it. Sheila took his silence as some sort of a silent wrath. She dropped her head and squeezed her eyes tightly shut.
“I am really sorry!” She suddenly exclaimed in a voice rather too loud. “I am really sorry Mr. Lim! I didn’t see you! I was talking! I was being stupid! I was blind! I was unprofessional! I simply couldn’t believe I didn’t see your shining body and walked straight into you and stabbed you with an unharmful spoon! I was being so -”
“Sheila, look at me.” The young master decided to stop Sheila’s emotional outburst despite finding himself quite enjoying it.
Yet, Sheila’s head remained still. Amanda felt amazed at Sheila’s rather creative way of apologising but pursed her lips as she tried to stop herself from giggling. This would definitely be an inappropriate time to do so and it would probably worsen how Sheila felt.
So she held it in even though it meant clenching her fists tightly and trying to stop her torso from shaking.
But when she glanced across to Lim, she found that he was looking at her. What surprised her and made her giggle slip out of her mouth unintentionally, was that his cheeks were slightly puffed up from him trying to stop himself from laughing too! Yet, the two managed to control themselves by not laughing out loud.
“Sheila,” Lim pronounced as he cleared his throat, “It’s okay. It wasn’t a knife nor a fork, it was just a spoon.” His voice was deep, yet carried a gentle tone.
Though, Sheila still couldn’t lift her head up as she still felt ashamed. “I’m still very sorry!”
“Sheila, look at me.”
“I am too ashamed to look at you Mr. Lim!”
“Sheila, look at me.” Lim repeated, but this time he made sure he sounded more authoritative.
Despite it was against her will, Sheila reluctantly obeyed the young master. Although she found herself unable to look into his eyes, her wrinkled forehead and quavering lips were now in plain view.
“Do you think I am weak?” Lim asked whilst looking into Sheila’s eyes.
“No Mr. Lim.”
“Do you think a spoon can kill me?”
“No! Of course not!” Sheila cried, surprised that Lim had asked such a question.
Amanda and Lim exchanged curious looks at Sheila’s rather emotional response.
“Oh?” Lim crossed his arms across his chest, purposefully pretending not to have believed Sheila. “Why so? You were acting as if you had stabbed me with a knife earlier.”
As if the question had shocked Sheila, her eyes shot wide opened and she knew that this feeling of meaningless impulsion spelt trouble.
“No! No way young master! You’re so muscular,” Sheila knew she had to stop, but the words of truth just kept tumbling out of her mouth! “…so toned and so fit! I mean I saw your abs and they look like a bar of chocolate!” She continued rambling without taking a breath, “You’ve got one of the best male bodies I’ve seen! I wouldn’t dare think that a spoon could pierce through your abs that look as strong as an armour!” Sheila finally stopped and felt herself panting slightly from speaking too much in one breath.
Lim and Amanda felt their chest on fire and they could no longer keep their laughter to themselves. They burst out laughing whilst Sheila stood looking at the two in puzzlement. Why were they laughing at her like that? She was apologsing! Sincerely! She was merely speaking the truth about-
It was at that moment that Sheila’s words came hitting her like rocks falling off a cliff and mercilessly onto her head. She felt as if she was getting slapped as she recalled the things she said. Standing as still as a statue, anyone apart from herself might not have been able to guess that deep inside, she wished she had the magical powers to open up a hole in the spot she was standing at so she could disappear on the face of Earth. The abashment built up extremely fast, shooting up to her cheeks that began to flare.
Seeing Sheila’s rather petrified body, Amanda held a hand over her mouth as she tried to stop herself from laughing anymore. She walked over to Sheila and placed a hand on her friend’s cold body. Yet her attempt to comfort Sheila was shattered when she found herself giggling at the sight of the young master.
Lim found himself laughing even more when he saw Amanda giggling uncontrollably whist still trying to speak. He coughed a few times to clear his throat, but every time his eyes landed on Sheila’s expression of horror, he just started giggling again.
“Th-thank you for that very honest answer Sheila!”He exclaimed whilst wiping a tear away. “Well then, believe me when I tell you the spoon did not leave any mark on my armour!” He cried whilst patting his toned stomach.
Sheila’s shoulders dropped and she felt her chin dig deeper into her chest as her eyes remained wide opened. If only she could dig a hole. If only she could freaking hide herself in that hole. If only she could freaking disappear by being in that hole!
Lim wiped another tear away as he stabilised himself. He placed a hand on Sheila’s solemn head. “Well then, Sheila and…”
Amanda met with Lim’s quizzical gaze and filled in his gap quickly, “Amanda.”
“Yes, Sheila and Amanda. Thank you for the energising start to my day, I’d like to sit down and have my breakfast now.”
Sheila kept her head down but still managed to bow slightly before leaving… more like galloping straight for the dining room to fetch bread and butter from the kitchen. Amanda was a step slower than Sheila, but she followed in her friend’s footsteps hurriedly by running straight into the kitchen so that she could spend a few moments alone with Sheila!
“Well that was certainly amusing to watch!” Amanda remarked as she helped Sheila with the cups. Admittedly her intentions were not exactly nice, since she had purposefully brought back the fresh and painful memories that Sheila had just begun to erase!
“Stop it! It wasn’t! I can’t believe it… I can’t believe I actually just blurted those things out! I want to dig a hole!” Sheila hid her face in her hands as she felt the embarrassment all over again.
“It was really funny.” As Amanda began giggling again, she received a glare from Sheila.
“You’re being a really good friend right now you know?”.
“Anytime!” Amanda gave Sheila a silly smile.
As they were doing so, they heard the Madam’s voice. Without wasting any more time, they put the the food on the trays and walked out into the living room to be greeted warmly by the beautifully made up Meiyars.
“Well well, I was just wondering why it was so noisy down here just a while ago!” Ms. Adeline, the young lady of the household, commented as she saw Sheila and Amanda approaching.
When Lim opened his mouth to speak, Sheila tripped on her own leg and almost fell over. She stabilised herself and apologised for her clumsiness whilst cursing for continuously acting like a clown!
“Oh my, are you alright Sheila?” Madam Meiyars asked with a genuinely surprised look.
Sheila placed the basket of bread on the table whilst nodding shyly.
“Good. And how are you feeling Amanda?” Madam Meiyars spectated Amanda’s rather lively face.
“I’m good Madam, just curious about Sheila’s tendency to make people laugh.” She replied whilst shooting her friend an amused look.
“Oh, I assure you she is an expert at that!” Lim replied.
Sheila closed her eyes and bit the inside of her lip as she lowered her head into her chest again, wanting to hide her face from Madam Meiyars and Adeline’s intrigued eyes.
“It’s good to see you so full of life Amanda. I do apologise for not seeing you in your room, but I hope you understand that I have been very busy.” Madam Meiyars explained whilst spreading butter across a piece of bread.
“Please don’t say that! I already feel blessed that you were willing to take me in!” Amanda looked upon the Madam in disbelief.
“Anyone would do that for a sweet girl like you. Well, I hope you spend a good time here. If anything seems wrong, you can talk to Ms. Campbell or come to me directly.”
“Thank you Madam. But I am settling down really well thanks to Sheila.”
Sheila’s head jolted upwards in an instant. Those words were surprisingly extremely uplifting!
“Seems like you two really have become close friends!” Madam Meiyars commented in joy.
“Sorry to interrupt but what is going on? Why did you go see Amanda mother?” Adeline looked at her mother, Sheila and Amanda in confusion.
Lim nodded his head, showing his interest in the matter as well.
“Ah, it’s a long story. But let’s just say I found Amanda on the streets and decided to take her in. She’s a bit lost and confused at the moment, so I’ve offered her to stay here until she feels ready to leave and face the world alone.”
Whilst the Madam was explaining her situation to her kids, Amanda took the opportunity to observe Lim and Adeline. She noticed that they had both inherited Madam Meiyars’ eyes that had a certain twinkle to them, further enhancing their caring and hospitable personalities. Their smile was also extremely soothing and warm to receive!
“If you need any help Amanda, you can come to me any time as well!” Adeline offered, feeling sorry for the girl.
“Addy, that’s stupid. Don’t you see she’s doing well?” Lim looked at Amanda with a smile.
“I was just trying to offer my awesome warmth and friendliness Lim.” Adeline gave her brother a flat smile.
Lim chuckled and held up his hands as if to surrender. “Well, she seems too healthy to be sick and too happy to be sad.”
Amanda was slightly surprised to hear that, but accepted the words as the truth. She was adapting pretty well. Amanda found herself smiling at the pair of sibling. For just a slight moment, Amanda wondered whether she had any siblings and what her own parents looked like?
“I’d like to have a cup of coffee, could either of you do me that favour?” Lim asked.
“No problem! I’ll be right out with it!” Sheila cried, not letting the opportunity to get some fresh air go easily.
“I will help her!” Amanda added before rushing behind Sheila. For some unknown reason, she didn’t exactly want to stand alone in the room with three people whom she found relatively… uncomfortable and awkward around despite their kindness.
“I really wanted to die in there. You’re seriously not being a great help with this whole issue!” Sheila complained whilst pouting like a child.
“I’m sorry Lala. On the bright side, you should be happy we are all laughing so much because of you!” Amanda tried to reason and find an excuse for not being such a great friend.
Sighing, Sheila shook her head.
“Mandy, could you help me boil some water with that pot over there? Might as well make tea for Madam Meiyars and Ms. Adeline also.”
“You know, I don’t get why you address them as Mr. Lim and Ms. Adeline. It’s weird isn’t it?”
“Well, neither of them would allow any of us address them as ‘young master’ or ‘my lady’!”
“They don’t like formalities?” Acting normal, Amanda found her interest in the young master grow.
“Yeah. You should have noticed how nice everyone is right?”
Amanda nodded without hesitation.
“The whole family is like sent from heaven. I wouldn’t want to work for anyone else!” Sheila smiled broadly as she dropped a cube of brown sugar into the hot, brown liquid. But whens she wanted to fetch for another cube, she realised the pot was empty. “Oh crap, there’s no more brown sugar!” Sheila complained. “Mandy, could you do me a huuuuuge favour and go to the little red hut at the backyard? That’s where all the stock is!”
“Okay, I’ll be back soon!” Amanda left the kitchen from the back door.
“But don’t go to the brown hut. It’s off-limits to everyone!” Sheila added whilst she stirred the cup of coffee carefully.
With a nod, Amanda left the kitchen through the backdoor. She noticed a stoned pavement amidst the grassland that led to two huts. Snow had finally stopped falling and the melting snow someone made the air smell good. Hence, as she jumped from stone to stone, she made sure she was taking in deep breaths, relishing the fresh morning air. Brown sugar for the kind young master! The young master she was interested in knowing more about.
Amanda paused in her steps as she was suddenly faced with a split, one leading to a brown hut and the other to a red hut. Although her memory was a bit hazy, she certainly remembered Sheila asking her to fetch brown sugar from the… brown hut? And she most certainly shouldn’t enter the… red hut.
No, it was the red hut! She was supposed to go to the red hut and not the brown hut!
Yet the moment she took a step towards the red hut, she stopped and thought to herself, ‘Brown sugar in the red hut?’ On the third time this question repeated in her head, Amanda found it made less and less sense. So, trusting her own instincts, she made a brisk turn for the brown hut. When she finally reached the door of the hut, she hesitated before turning the knob.
Red hut or brown hut?
She suddenly doubted her own judgement. Turning her head around, she found that Sheila had left the kitchen already, leaving Amanda on her own to figure out the instructions she was given less than a minute ago! Amanda squinted at the door of the brown hut and groaned in frustration. She convinced herself that her instincts should be right, since she remembered Sheila telling her about the accuracy of a woman’s instincts.
She opened the door slowly with the streak of light widening as her own shadow came into existence. When a third of the room laid in the sunlight, there was little Amanda could do but to stand in amazement. She had definitely taken the wrong path. Because why would there be sugar in a room covered with thick mats? As if it were prepared for people who would fall onto the ground harshly? Her eyes wondered around the spacious and well-kept interior in which was hidden behind a rather run-down exterior.
Amanda wondered to herself whether the room was for the young lady to do gymnastics in… or perhaps for yoga. Perhaps for fighting? Or maybe it was a playroom for children to run freely around in!
Unknowingly, Amanda’s curiosity had brought her to step forward. Then take another. And another.
Though in the midst of her admiration and apparent interest in the room, she let out an abrupt scream when she suddenly felt a strong grip on her shoulder. This hand was unfamiliar to her. It was so big and so warm… it couldn’t be Sheila’s! Amanda immediately formed a plan in her head to run away. Yet before she could, she was thrown down onto the mat in a second. And when she struggled to get back up, she was horrified to see a man suddenly caging her down by slamming his hands beside her head and clamping her legs between his own.
He stared straight into her eyes with fierceness that made her unable to speak.
“Who are you?” His voice came across as dangerous as an angered lion.
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