BFF #228 - 500 Words or Less
So early, even the birds had yet to awaken. Wind barely rustling the leaves of the trees. Dew drops hanging from fern fronds just waiting to be brushed aside, loosening their droplets onto the yet dry ground. Pearl laden spider’s webs cross the walk path.
Drawing fresh water for morning coffee, tea and bathing. Fresh water for the household of the Lord and Lady and of course, all of their guests. The house was filled with well wishers for the bride and groom. Relatives from all over the county came to stay for the festivities.
This was the best time of the day. Her time of the day. No one else around. No mistress, no cook, no one ordering her to “get this” or “fetch that” nor “be quick about it girl”. Esmeralda had the mornings to herself to think as she liked about what she liked. And this morning, she thought she might like to take the first bath in the water. Since the bath water is always shared, until it’s so scummy even she wouldn’t bathe in it, she would need to be extremely careful. Drawing more water than normal would not be noticed since the entire house was full.
Perhaps it was this very reason she didn’t notice the shadow near the well. Resting her yoke on the uprights, she began to draw the water bucket upward. The bucket swung back and forth, tipping much of the water out, as she drew it upward. Hand over hand; she pulled on the well ropes. The water bucket inching it’s way ever upward. Finally, the bucket drawn to the top, Esmeralda carefully poured the water into her ewers. Once they were filled, she shrugged the wooden yoke back onto her strong, flat shoulders, and toted the water to the kitchen for heating. She would fill the vats several times for all the baths to be taken this day.
Back to the well Esmeralda scurried. She was already anticipating the warmth of the water as she would slide into the metal tub. She had sparked the fire for the stove, wrestled with the privacy room divider encircling the bathing tub and then piled a nearby table with all the soaps and lotions she could find. Many were mere slivers she had rummaged out of the trash, but they still carried some fragrance therefore she was going to use them. Contemplating the benefits of using lavender over lilac, Esmeralda startled when something dark dashed across the path in front of her.
“Damn cat, always getting underfoot. Like to trip you up and hurt yer self if yer not careful like.” Esmeralda muttered to herself. Talking out loud seemed to calm her nerves. “Getting gittery will only make you do something stupid, like drop the water and run.” Laughing, she shook her head at herself.
A thick spider’s web had sprung up across the path. “So quick, these bugs. Must be hungry too.” Balancing the yoke with empty water ewers, Esmeralda reached out a hand to brush the web out of her face and hair. In the pitch black, she could not see the shining eyes looming at her. She had paused too long.