The light at the end of the forest wasn’t too far off, and Lydia could make out the faint outline of the town’s mountains past it. She set off, the unmarked trail covered in dry, autumn leaves that crackled under her each step, determined to reach the clearing.
She turned around. Jasmine stood there, carrying a basket of what seemed like potatoes. Lydia felt herself drawing nearer to her, in response to her name.
Jasmine reached into the basket and pulled out a medium-sized spud, handing it to her. She took it, feeling the dense, rough tuber in her hand.
The servant girl stepped closer, and Lydia could almost feel her heartbeat against hers. She felt the usual sense of uneasiness, but also a strange comfort being near her.
“We should go,” Lydia whispered weakly. “Back to the house.”
She felt the space close in, with Jasmine’s body slowly disintegrating and feeling her molecules envelop her like a blanket, perhaps a black hole.
“Don’t you know?” Jasmine’s soft voice floated around her. “Don’t you know that we’re already home…?”
Her eyes flew open. The moon outside shone brightly through the curtains by the bedside. Lydia lay in bed, heart beating rapidly, silently cursing for it to slow down. What did she just dream?
She flipped to the other side of the bed and closed her eyes, trying to fall back asleep. But she couldn’t seem to get back into the state of unconsciousness. After what seemed like an hour, she slowly got up and made her way to the attic.
Her room was just a few steps below the attic, so she didn’t worry about waking up her aunt and Hannah in the middle of the night. She made her way past the decades-old boxes filled with memorabilia from her aunt’s younger years, along with Hannah’s. Not much from her or her family, as most of it had been rid of after they died.
At the end of the room was a small window where she could access the rooftop. Since she moved in with her aunt and Hannah, she would use this place as her sanctuary away from the needs and responsibilities of their potato business. Whenever her aunt gave her a hard time, she would escape here to forget and eventually forgive. This time, she was using it to gather her thoughts.
Lydia lifted the attic window open, and stepped out carefully onto the rooftop. She sat on the window’s ledge while spreading her legs out on the roof tiles, slightly damp from the night’s mist. She welcomed the cool, fresh breeze, as she felt rejuvenated after the strange dream.
Breathing in deeply, she felt the cold, sharp night fill her nostrils before exhaling, releasing a bout of tension in her body. She sat and thought, about herself and why she was feeling this way. It wasn’t because Jasmine was a girl: it was because of her social status. Despite being a servant girl, she was still under the care of a powerful noble family, and was treated with high respect. Lydia, on the other hand, was with her aunt and Hannah, a part of the working class—they often interacted with people of similar background– farmers and gleaners– and they weren’t exactly regarded highly in society. If anything, they were usually ignored if they weren’t doing business or trade.
…and Ben. While Lydia has never met her boyfriend, she knew that it wasn’t right to interfere with their relationship. Jasmine was happy, and there was no need to complicate it. Lydia still wasn’t even sure about her feelings towards the servant girl, how she felt nervous, but intrigued by her whenever they crossed paths. How she felt like being around her, despite being unable to articulate much. How her eyes were so curiously large, her hands so warm and inviting on her face…
Lydia froze. She couldn’t believe that she’d been in denial all of this time, trying to tell herself that there was no possible way that this could happen. But all of it was coming together so quickly she found herself breathless again.
She, Lydia the potato gleaner, was in love.
…to be continued…
— The Finicky Cynic
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