Cassandra Hannigan, Casey to any sane individual, figured she should feel like Cinderella and expect her fairy godmother to show up and grant her a prince (well, a good-hearted man, regardless of status), a kingdom (her own house would be better, and less stressful), and make her vile parents clean said castle (Yay!). With no help. And only one food break. Bathroom breaks. . . well, Casey was not that cruel. If one has to pee, it is utmost torture to make one dip ones hands in warm water and wash the bathroom floor(or in the case of a castle, floors).
Her parents made her do it. Daily. She hated them, for obvious reasons.
Cooking she did not mind. Tasting the concoctions was half the fun, the other spitting in her parents dishes. A primitive but highly satisfactory practice.
Mending clothes was another way to get back at her mother. Mrs Hannigan had bad eyesight, so Casey sewed slightly different patterns or colours where she could. The end results made her mother appear to dress like a classy clown. Or at least, a clown that tries to be classy. Mr Hannigan had sharp eyesight, but as Mrs Hannigan had sold all his hunting trophies a few years ago to buy jewelry, he was not about to tell his dearly loved wife she looked like an imbecile.
To punish her father, Casey enlisted the help of the gardener, Mara Justine Smith. Mr Hannigan loved animals - shooting them and watching the life drain from their eyes seemed to be a good pastime. However, he hated dirt. Vegetation grew in dirt, so he despised that as well.
Mara Justine was brilliant at her work. She could make anything grow anywhere. Including in Mr Hannigan's underwear drawer. Mr Hannigan was convinced his wife was doing it, in retaliation of auctioning off her jewelry to buy guns, to replace his trophies.
So despite the fact that Casey had a crappy life, she found deep joy in the oldest pastime in human history : revenge.
At this moment, Casey was doing dishes. Mice were dutifully pooping and peeing in her parents dirty dishes.
"This must be why Cinderella loved you little creatures," Casey told a fat one. It - she, probably, as it must be pregnant - blinked up at her then nibbled a corn.
Casey's dishes, for reasons she guessed divine, were always void of mouse droppings and urine. Perhaps she really did have a fairy godmother.
"Casey?" Mara Justine asked from the doorway. The kitchen had two doorways actually, one that went up and into the house, the other going out into the lower garden. The house was built on a hill, you see, and the architect thought it would be funny to construct the house in a fashion that made it hard for people to cook meals, then bring them to the dinning hall. Casey hoped the turd was eating cow manure.
Mara Justine was in the door to the lower yard.
"Eh?" Casey answered. Her parents thought 'eh' was beneath them, and their household. Apparently if everyone said something, it was wrong. Naturally, Casey, Mara Justine, and Charles (the only guard on the premises) took every opportunity to say it around the employers. Casey was so used to saying it, being around her parents more than the average person, that it was part of her everyday vocabulary.
"Charles said the mailman dropped off a letter for you. He has it down at the guards' hut. Figured you'd want him to hang on to it instead of handin' it over to them."
Mara Justice walked away. Casey shooed the mice away, then hurried down to Charles. He was waiting, or rather napping, at his post. Ivan, a great German Shepherd, lay at his feet, snoozing softly. Casey tapped on the glass.
"Hmmm?" Charles snorted. "It's under the barn door, rotting with the turnips."
"The green cat?" Casey asked, seriously.
"Ahm, yes, and the purple stars, toooooooo."
Casey tapped the glass again.
"Charles. I want my letter, and if you don't tell me where it is I'm coming in and snooping myself."
"Yule?" said he.
He opened his eyes and glanced over. "You want your let'r?"
"Under Ivan's dish. Now excuse me, I was chasing rotten turnips because they where spoiling the cabbage in the barn!" With that, Charles fell promptly back to sleep.
Casey went digging under Ivan's dish, the German Shepherd watching her closely, no doubt making sure she didn't do anything to his food or his owner. Letter in hand, Casey trudged back up to the house, slowly tearing the envelope. An immensely satisfactory ripping nose echoed throughout the grounds. Another rule of the household was no annoying sounds. Paper ripping was an annoying sound.
Reading the letter while walking into the Kitchen, Casey didn't notice the last employee of the household, Petre, testing her soup. He noticed her, of course.
"Cassandra!" he greeted in a booming voice, meant to scare whoever it was he was talking to. Most occupants of the manor were used to his pranks (save the employers) but since Casey was deep in her letter, the sudden noise made her jump.
"Petre," replied Casey. She stuffed the letter in her pocket. It might be until bedtime before Casey could continue reading, but that was fine with her.
"I've never known you to leave dishes undone, and a soup simmering. Lucky your parents didn't catch you."
"I know," Casey said. Actually, she did not think of her parents coming in to an empty kitchen. Generally, they left servant rooms to the servants. A dumb thing to risk, but Casey wanted her letter.
'Who was it from?' you may ask. Casey's parents were part of two very wealthy families. In extension, so was Casey, but she never considered herself rich. Would you? Casey had numerous aunts and uncles, her grandparents on her mother's side, and her great-grandparents on her father's. Plus tons of great-aunts and great uncles, and one stubborn great-great-great aunt that lived in a castle.
The letter was from her Aunt Rachel, who resided in a small cottage, preferring to invest her money in animals instead of herself. Casey knew Aunt Rachel's land was more of a wildlife preserve than anything else, except for a few acres where her aunt had decided to tend a garden. Unlike everyone else in the families, Aunt Rachel never married, and never had children.
The letter was a request for Casey to become Aunt Rachel's sole beneficiary. If - and only if - Casey would keep the land as a sanctuary. The small bit of land that Aunt Rachel had for herself would go to Casey as well, but Casey could do what she wanted with it as long as it did no harm to the animals.
Casey knew there was more, but alas, she could not read it yet. So she did the only thing she could do : she went to her soup, and smacked Petre's hand.
"No testing, you fiend!"
"Owwww. I like your soup," protested Petre.
"Thanks, but no testing. What did you want?"
Petre was the repair man. Apparently he fixed things, though Casey never waited for him. If something needed to be mended, Casey did it herself. It was quicker, and for some reason whatever it was lasted longer than if Petre fixed it.
"High and Mighty Mrs Hannigan said the heater was broken in her room. I looked at it, and its fine, but you know how she is. So I said I'd go and look at the main heater, and well, I smelled your delicious soup, and I'll be darned, it was unattended. I did the manly thing. I tasted it."
Casey tried to squash a smile, but Petre saw past the twitching. He flashed her a goofy grin, and that did it. Casey game him a full-fledged smile.
Petre left then, 'sneaking' a bit of soup, and whistling. Casey missed his hand. Her aim was not bad, she just simply did it half-heartedly. Today her mood was high and even the clouds would be envious if her spirits could be seen. Oops! The author apologizes, she forgets quite often that people do not like analogies anymore. Why? Art is unappreciated. Either that, or readers are much more stupid than past generations, and they simply do not have the intelligence to understand the artistic sentence.
Back to the story at hand! Casey finished up the soup. (Wow, that was entertaining, wasn't it?)
She filled beautifully crafted bowls with her invention, and spat into two bowls, careful to keep them separate from the third. After the soup she had steak and potatoes scheduled, but she wasn't going to eat them. She wanted to finish that letter. But one must eat, after all.
Ten minutes later (Casey's record for drinking soup is a minute, but her parents wanted to drill into her head she had to clean the main hall before bed.) Casey is up in her room, locking the door, and putting her music on loud enough not to hear any knocking. The itch to read something of yours that you have not read is a great itch, and one Casey couldn't ignore as long as she had thought.
Snuggling into her bed, and throwing her ugly brown shoes far from her, she opened her letter. Skimming the contents she had read already, she dug right into the bit she hadn't been able to read. It was a small bit, and Casey read it fast.
'Furthermore, you have to come live with me, as I need to train you in the ways of caring for the land. I have sent a ticket for you. Please do not miss the plane. If you wish this responsibility on someone else, come anyway for a visit. I haven't spent any time with you. How dreadful! You are my niece.'
It was sighed with so much fanciness Casey wondered if that was really her aunt's signature, or if Aunt Rachel had decided to get creative with her name.
"Ticket?" Casey whispered. She had no ticket! Snooping through the envelope confirmed it : no ticket. How was she to know what time the plane left? How was she to get onto the plane? Oh, how dreadful! (In the words of Aunt Rachel.)
Perhaps Aunt Rachel had forgot to send it? Not normally a forgetful woman, but everyone has their days when nothing goes right. Ah, that sucks!
What to do now? She could call Aunt Rachel. It wasn't like Casey couldn't get to a phone. Or maybe Ivan had it? The letter was under his dish, after all. Unless it was part of the envelope. Aunt Rachel was a shrewd woman, maybe she knew how Mrs and Mr Hannigan treated Casey. Perhaps that was the entire reason Aunt Rachel wanted Casey to come live her.
Or perhaps Casey was thinking too much.
The envelope was empty. Ripping it gently (if there was a ticket she didn't want to wreck it), Casey peered inside. White. Plain white, no ticket, this is the worst gift ever!
Time to see Ivan.
Trooping gingerly to the first floor, Casey cunningly avoided her parents on the staircase. How? By pretending to clean the walls, and being behind one of them at all times. People tend not to look closely when they think all is the way they think it should be. According to Mr Hannigan, Casey is suppose to clean all the time, so . . . she cleaned. Well, made the motions, anyway. But let's not tell Mr Hannigan. Shhhhh!
Ivan was drooling all over his doggie mat. Charlie was reading some magazine with a very pretty girl on the cover, and when he saw Casey, he snapped it shut and sat on it. Like Casey didn't know what he was doing!
"Did anything else come for me?" Casey asked.
"Nope," Charlie said with a grin. Ivan woke up, shaking his head and sending spit everywhere.
"Ewwwww!" Casey pinched her nose. Time to blow this joint!
Ivan settled back in for a good drooling.
Now what? No plane ticket, no way out! Casey pouted. She could just leave and walk to her Aunt's house, but her feet would be aching a block from home. (Blocks in this neighborhood were larger than most country blocks. They have to be with the large estates.)
Trotting off to the front gate (the guard's hut was about half way up the large hill that thought it was a mountain.), Casey decided she could hitch a ride somehow. Taxis were always coming and going. Rich men tend to have many guests of the taxi variety. This was good for someone who wanted to get to the city.
Casey had slowly took money from her parents. They were so rich and so stupid they did not miss a hundred dollars going missing every once in a while. When they did notice, they blamed each other, both thinking the other was lying. Casey used to feel sad for having to steal from her parents, but it was because she hoped to leave someday that she did. So in time, her sadness turned into a type of disappointment that her parents were so awful. She also used to be angry. Slowly she realised they did not hate her - they hated the world.
Casey slivered between the gate's bars, and then she stood outside her parent's land for a few minutes, thinking. This was the first time she had ever been out of the house's grounds without Charlie. She could take care of herself, there was no doubt there. But she didn't want to be alone.
Sometimes one has to go on alone to be healthy. With that in mind, Casey began walkin'.