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The sound of a bell greeted your ears first thing in the morning. Quickly being followed by stepmother's shrill voice, you awoke with a start. Your arms sticky with sweat upon the cloth and cold metal, you let go of the mannequin that was hugged tightly throughout the night. Instinctively shoving the makeshift mannequin back into the dark hiding spot, you then pulled yourself upwards. Hit with another headache, you took a few deep breaths.

Stumbling through the room, you reached the hallway and found the woman's towering figure near the end of the narrowed space. Suppressing your shivers as much as you could, you stood obediently in front of her. "Would you kindly tell me why the laundry is still dirty and unwashed? It was supposed to done yesterday."

"I must have forgotten," you said weakly. You were too tired to think of the consequences of your actions, but it shouldn't have been surprising when she lunged for your hair at your response. Maybe it would've been better off if you kept your big mouth shut.

Her nails wrapping around your [h/c] strands firmly, they pulled at the roots that left you bursting of pain, especially when combined with your already hurting head. It yanked your head back and lifted your face up so you were staring straight into her malicious eyes. "Watch your words, child. You would not want to get on my bad side so early in the morning," she spat. "Hurry up and do the laundry. You still have your other chores waiting for you."

Through your clenched teeth, you responded calmly, "Yes stepmother."

Releasing her talons from you, she brushed her dark dress off nonchalantly. Letting out a wicked laugh, she analyzed you slowly with a knowing expression. "You're sick, aren't you?"

Your shoulders tensed and you couldn't seem to move a muscle. Nothing could pass under such hawk-like eyes... except for your dress. Was it possible for her to know about your secret dress? Why haven't you been caught in trouble for it then?

"Well, off you go. Have fun in the sun," she said, smiling with her canines showing.

Warily glancing at her, you slowly walked away from stepmother. Her stiff posture and aura of fear faded into the background, leaving you feeling a little less suffocated. You picked up the basket of laundry with a shaky grip and headed to the front of the house. Slipping shoes onto your dirty, ashened feet, you opened the door and nearly shied away at the contact of sunlight. The pounding against the side of your head worsened, but you tried to ignore it. Walking to the side of the house, you reached the tub of water that basked outside.

Taking the bar of soap from the laundry basket, you dropped it into the water and bent down to grab the metal washboard. You took out the first piece of clothing and drenched it into the warm water before you scrubbed it against the rigged surface. While doing so, you furrowed your greasy forehead in deep thought.

For some eerie reason, something in the back of your mind was telling you that you were missing something... something important and could deem useful to you in the future. Did you have a dream last night? Because your body was telling you you did dream of something.

Unfortunately, it seemed you have forgotten it all the moment you propped your lids open.

Footsteps sounded behind you and looking over your shoulder with a blurry vision, you could make out two people. It was Rosa and Delphine... here to bless you with their presence. You knew that stepmother sent them after you. She did this every time you were caught with something and no matter what, it would somehow worsen this already hellish experience.

"So I heard little Cinder is ill," Rosa cooed. They stood in front of your crouching form with pleased smiles on their small lips. Her right hand was grasping something - the sight of it was bad news. Eying them suspiciously, you tried to ignore them, hoping they'd go away soon. If you showed no reaction, they would grow bored easily and leave. So stay calm like you always do, you silently told yourself.

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