The fire crackled beneath the large utensil with the burning charcoal and the logs of wood which were only added a few moments ago. The girl in the kitchen, picked up the wooden ladle to mix the chicken and peas along with the spices and herbs that she had bought at the local market. Bending towards the vessel, she smelled the aroma coming from it and smiled.
"Smells good," Heidi murmured to herself. Taking the cloth from the front pocket of her old apron, she lifted the vessel to put it away from the fire so that it could cool down.
Just as she finished setting the table in the dining room, she heard the clucking sound of the horses coming to a halt just outside the house. Going towards the window, she pushed the curtain to peep out to see that it was her father and her siblings who had returned home earlier than expected. She was glad that she had prepared dinner before they arrived. Wiping her hands on the front side of her apron, she opened the door to see her father opening the gate and walking towards the main door.
"Did anyone arrive at the door when we were away?" her father, Simeon Curtis asked, taking his coat and handing it to her.
"The postman arrived with a letter for you. I placed it in your study," Heidi informed him.
"I see," he replied without any more words to share and went straight to his room. She felt herself being thrust with luggage by her siblings making her stumble.
"Please get these washed as soon as you can," Daniel her oldest sibling said while he helped his sister, Nora's luggage to be brought in, "Unfortunately, we didn't have time to get the clothes washed at aunt Gertrude's house and we have no clothes to be worn for tomorrow."
"Of course," she replied going to pick the luggage from the ground and heading out to their backyard.
Pulling out the pile of clothes that was stuffed into the trunk randomly, she drew water from the well, her hand's takings turns to pull the rope. As she began to wash, she realized there weren't many clothes and her brother Daniel had only wanted to keep her busy with work. It wasn't the first time though for something like this to happen.
Heidi was part of the Curtis family only by words. She wasn't related to them by blood nor did they did treat her like one inside the house. Her father, Simeon Curtis was a well-respected man in the town who owned a garment factory along with his elder brother Raymond Curtis. Both the Curtis brothers were humans who disliked vampires as they had lost some of their relatives at the hands of the dark creatures. Most of the humans who lived in the north detested the vampires, therefore few towns had their own separate colonies and space. Raymond was a man well known in the higher society as he was one of the famous traders of the north empire Woville. He was a Duke and therefore he had to keep a good face with the vampires even though he didn't like them. Due to odd circumstances, he had taken Heidi home from the street when she was seven and as he had no wife then, he had passed her on to his younger brother on his sister-in-law's request. Heidi's adoptive mother, Helen Curtis was unlike her husband and it made her wonder even now on how she had married her father when they were both so different by nature. She wondered if opposites really did attract each other.
Daniel was eleven and Nora was as old as Heidi when her mother had taken her in with open arms and had loved her as one of her own. But the two children hadn't taken the fact of Heidi being added to the family well, feeling that their mother was sharing their love with another person which led to the gap between her and her siblings from an early stage.
When they were young, Daniel and Nora were sent to school like many other high families while Heidi was refrained from such privileges. Even though Helen had tried speaking to her husband about it, he was adamant about not sending the girl along with his children to study, saying it was for the best that the girl works for them than he spend on her than necessary. This led to Helen teaching the girl secretly when no one was around. Though it wasn't much, Helen taught her from what she knew, and as Heidi grew up she had noticed that the little girl's curiosity was something to be worried about. Often the little girl would be found locked in the attic with no food or with belt marks on her hands as she would have done something to displease her father.
Three years ago, when Heidi was fifteen her mother passed away after falling victim to a disease that was incurable. Helen had spent her last few weeks being bedridden, unable to move or talk much. It was the coldest winter Heidi had experienced when she lost her mother. The grief had stricken to the entire family, bringing more distance between the outsider and the family.
Not that it mattered, thought Heidi remembering her time in the Curtis household while hanging the wet-washed clothes on the string ropes. She had been saving money since her mother's death so that she could leave this house, to start a life anew.
"Good evening, Ms. Heidi," she saw that it was none other than Howard, their family coachman.
"Good evening, Howard. How was the journey?" she asked him while wringing the cloth in her hands.
"It was a peaceful one," he answered picking up the hay for the horse, "I see that you have already been given work."
After her mother, it was him that she usually spoke to in the house. He was a middle-aged man who had been serving the Curtis family for a long time before she had entered the house. His grey beard already showing the sign of his aging. He was a good man.
"Hmm. Better to finish it quicker than later," she smiled picking up the wide empty bucket of clothes and then turned to whisper, "I have nothing else to do here."
"HEIDI! HEIDI!" Both Howard and Heidi heard Nora call for her.
"Looks like Ms. Nora is searching for you again," Howard spoke looking at the walls of the house.
"Seems like it," Heidi murmured to see Nora walk through the back door of the house.
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