I watched him go, and only emerged from the maze when he had been out of sight for a good ten minutes. I wandered over to the gardens again, still clutching the flowers I had picked.
Just get on with it, I told myself, staring in to the reflection I saw in the fountain. Just get on with it and you can get out of here and take your brother away. And you'll never have to see him again. Ever. But it wasn't that simple. Because when I thought about leaving, I knew I didn't really want to. This life was better than before, better than when I lived in the compound. And Kevin was being looked after. He no longer had to fight with other boys when charity clothes were brough round. Because when I looked back, Kevin had not had a good life since our parents had died. And it would be awful if I took away what he had now. But that wasn't the only reason. I liked it here. I knew I did. And it wasn't because of how comfortable I was, or how well I was fed. It was because of him. The very thing I wanted to leave. He made me feel looked after. And I wanted both to cling to him, and hit him.
A single drop of water splashed on to the reflection of my face, ripples distorting my features. I turned away and wiped my treacherous eyes, then headed back in to the castle.
"They're grey! GREY! How did you do this? WHY?? MY CLOTHES ARE RUINED!!" The princess shrieked in my face, holding up the offending garments.
"I don't know. They went in the wash pink, and now they're grey. I had nothing to do with it." I shrugged, knowing full well that I'd had everything to do with it.
"THIS SORT OF THING JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN!"
"Well I guess it does." I turned and walked away, leaving her angry and upset. Oh no. How sad. NEVER MIND. My brain was speaking to me a lot since my move here. It freaked me out a little bit, but I liked how sarcastic my inner voice was and it made me feel like I was keeping my freedom of speech, eventhough I had nothing here besides my brother. Except...
I turned swiftly and hit the stone wall. Then I pressed my head against the cool surface as the pain rose and began to fade from my hand. It would not do to start having those thoughts. They were strange, unreal, unrealistic, and wrong. Very wrong.
I turned sharply and saw the man I had met whilst clearing up the mirror. What was his name?
"Are you alright?"
"Sure." I lied, looking him dead on. "Why?"
"You just punched the wall."
"Oh. That. I just finished serving the princess."
"Oh. Then I understand. I'd be punching the wall too. I had to serve her food at the feast. I've never seen anyone that drunk."
I smiled, remembering how drunk she'd been.
"The most amazing thing was that she didn't have a hangover the next day."
"That's the least she should get for behaving like that." He smiled. "So, I guess you're free now then?"
"Well I just wondered if you'd do me a favour?"
"What favour is that?" Why does everyone round here need things doing for them?
"I need help choosing what to wear at the servants ball."
"You don't know? We have an annual servants ball. It's tonight. The one night a year where we can wear whatever we want, and dance and drink and eat..."
"Sounds nice." I smiled.
"So will you help me?"
"Of course." It looked like I'd made a friend.
"Excellent. Come on." I followed him down three flights of stairs to his room. There he opened his wardrobe and pulled out three hangers."Which one?"
They were all nice, smart, and surprisingly expensive looking.
"Where did you get these?"
"We all get fitted and made outfits for special occasions. Haven't you got yours?"
"Oh. Well of course you haven't. You're new. And you didn't even know. Maybe one of the other girls could help you... Wait here, choose which one you like. I think I can help." He left and I began peering at the suits nervously. This was not what I had expected. We had a ball?
The three suits were different. Two were grey, the other black. They were all nice fitting, and I could see Tom in them all.
Tom came through the door, dragging a girl the same height as me through the door.
"Kayla, Anna; Anna, Kayla. Anna has two dresses spare Kayla. She says you can choose from them."
Anna smiled shyly at me, and I returned the smile.
"Thank you Anna, that's very kind of you."
Anna bobbed her head and continued to smile.
"Did you decide on a suit?"
"Well, first I have to know how formal this is?"
"Not hugely formal. Just a chance for us to all dress up and have fun."
"Well you'd better save the black one for something formal then. I think this." I picked up one of the grey suits, which was paired with a black shirt. "Did I choose right?" I asked, directing the question to Anna. Anna nodded, still smiling.
"Thanks Kayla. I'm hopeless." Tom took the suit and lay it on the bed, putting the others away. "Right you two had better go and look at the dresses. Oh and Kayla?" He added as I reached the door that Anna had just exited. "Would you like to come... with me?"
"Oh. Um... yeah why not?" I smiled. "Thanks."
"Good. I'm glad." He grinned. "I'll come by and get you at eight then."
I followed Anna down the corridor and in to her room. She opened the wardrobe and took out two hangers.
"Oh..." I breathed, looking at the beautiful dresses. I'd never seen such beautiful things. "Anna... they're beautiful."
"The aliens are not as bad as we think I guess." She said weakly. "They aren't so bad are they?"
"No. I guess they're not." I smiled. "May I...?" I asked, gesturing towards them. She nodded and sat on the bed.I touched the fabric of the two dresses, marvelling at the work. They had clearly been made by expert seamstresses. One dress was a deep blue, knee length and had diamond decoration across the bodice. The other, a mint green was the same length, and had a halter neck fastening. "What are you wearing?" I asked, desperate for help. Anna took out a floral dress, white with pretty pink flowers over it in a similar style to the green. "You're going to look beautiful." She smiled and ducked her blonde head in embarressment.
I looked again at the dresses.
"I think..." Anna began and then faltered.
"What?" I asked gently.
"I think you would look beautiful in the green."
"Thank you Anna. May I try it on?"