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The tea party was downright exhausting. Pretending to be some hired maid, you served the girls who would shoot you dirty looks every so often. They were loud and their giggles filled the entire room. You weren't even allowed to leave either; stepmother had forced you to stand in the corner with a teapot, serving anyone who would holler for another drink. It was actual hell and so much worse than going out to work at the market.

For once, you agreed with Rosa... those girls were annoying — even more annoying than your stepsisters, if that was possible.

At least it was over. Tiringly walking into the familiar storage room, you flopped down onto the hard mat and laid there in the darkness. Hard, stick-like material supported your head and body, but you were so used to it by now. Your [e/c] eyes staring up ahead at the grainy ceiling, you listened in to the rhythmic sound of the grandfather clock. Physically, you were tired, but mentally, you were quite awake. You had a lot on your mind, especially with what happened with Rosa and stepmother today.

"Does she truly know where I go?" you murmured quietly, interrupting the silence of the room. You wished to find out. How much did stepmother know? Was she assuming because of the lack of money you've been earning lately... or was it because she found you somewhere you weren't supposed to be? How were you going to deliver this letter to Ira if you couldn't leave the house?

Sighing to yourself, you wrapped your arms to yourself in disappointment. One problem always led to another. If only you didn't let your jealousy get the best of you and wrote a letter beforehand.

Maybe the only thing you could do now was wait patiently. She relied on you to sell the fruits after all... she thought of herself and her daughters too highly to be roasting outside at the markets. Nodding and comforting yourself with this idea, you decided to get some shut-eye.

A scraping sound caused you to flutter your eyes back open. Heart racing and vision immediately alert, you pushed yourself into a sitting position and looked around. You were pretty sure it came from outside. Carefully standing up, you padded across the room and fearfully looked out of the small window facing the back garden.

You scanned the area and saw nothing. Sad flowers and snarls of roots and weeds sat sullenly upon the soil, but all was still. The moonlight providing the small light to see, it was empty... as far as you could tell. Perhaps it was a random rodent.

Before you could return to your 'bed', you heard it again. Jumping in fright, you poked your head up to watch the garden once more. Not to your surprise, there was nothing out there.

One thing left to do then. Breathing in and out for a few seconds to keep yourself from panicking, you shook your limbs out to get the nerves off. You straightened yourself up and walked over to the door that led outside. Yes... you were going to inspect the sound outside. Were you stupid for this? Perhaps. But were you too curious to care? Yes.

Unlocking the knob slowly, you twisted the rusty metal around until it clicked. Pushing it open, you nervously stepped out into the garden, trampling upon grass underneath you. Crickets chirped in the dead of the night and an owl hooted in the distance. The ghastly glow of the setting filled you with unease. You glanced at your surroundings; no such movements could be detected...

Something brushed your shoulder and another thing placed itself over your mouth. As you were about to let out a muffled scream, you were whirled around to come face to face with the man in the infamous top hat.

Widening your hues in shock, you waited until he released your mouth to speak. "What the hell? What are you doing here?" you hissed as quiet as you could.

He grinned at you, his lips stretching wide. His pearls reflecting in the dim light, it became the brightest thing in the garden. "I came to see you, of course," he said, winking at you.

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