Reading

The were all down on the ground. Dog piled on top on eachother. Every once, and awhile I would see a freckled arm, or leg trying to fight back; to break free.

Thank goodness! A grown came rushing over. The lifted the boys off of eachother, and they used words I didn't know even existed. In a way, I was glad I didn't know what they were saying.

A man that resembled Tom very well helped him up. Then after when he said I knew it was his dad.

"Son, are you alright? What happened?"  Whoa. It was one thing to read about it, but another to actually see it...a family who actually cared for eachother.

For a moment I wished I were in their family, not even knowing everyone in it.

Tom only had a nose bleed. The man helped his son up, and put a hand on his shoulder. Then he looked at me.

I stood there like I had during the fight. I felt guilty for not trying to break it up myself. I was one girl after all though.

"Was she with you?"

"Y-yeah.", said Tom. His voice a little unfamiliar.

"Come then.", he told me.

I noticed Tom limped a little, but it helped to have his dad for balance.

"Those no-good kids.", said Tom's dad. "They ain't noth'in but trouble."

We didn't walk to far to get to Tom's house, but during that short amount of time, it got dark. They walked in front of me, and Tom's father turned his head to look at me.

"Call me Robert", he said. "I made this house, so it's kind of tight, but somehow we all got used to it.", he smiled at me. How much of their family was there?

Then the curtain came apart, and I saw a little face peek out the window. I only saw half of the face, because the child in the house was very little. It was a little girl. She pressed her face against the window, and made it looked smashed.

Then the door came busting opened. I jumped back. The girl from the window disapeared, and came running out.

"Daddy!" yelled the little girl, two more following behind her.  They all looked the same, except for one didn't have freckles at all, or that I could see. They all wore different colored ribbons in their hair. 

"Girls!" he yelled. Why did this feel so awkward? Was it because this moment felt to private to be here? Because I wasn't part of this family? Because I felt like I was intruding something? I don't know. Either way, I didn't want to leave. 

Then I heard a new voice.

"Come in girls! Don't go outside when I just told you dinners ready!"

"It's me!", Robert called out.

Then a pretty lady with redish hair. Came running out the door in an apron. "Tom?", she looked at him. he did not look well. "What happened?", she said suprised, and worried.

"Boys", was all Robert needed to say. The lady groaned, then spoke.

"Someone needs to teach those boys some manners!" 

"Noth'in worse then a nose bleed", said Robert trying not to let his wife get too upset.

"Get in girls. Dinner's on the table. Say a prayer with out us."  The girls weren't a bit concerned about their brother, but then again, they were little. They ran in the house fighting about which one of them would say the prayer.

The lady looked at me.

"Who's this?"

"She was with Tom. Maybe she saw what happened. She'll tell us what happened.", said Robert.

"I can tell you just fine", snapped Tom.

"Not like that you won't!" said the lady, Tom's mom. Then she began to push them in the house. "Go get cleaned up! Both of you!" Then she looked at me again. "Come right in", she told me. "You can join us for dinner."

She showed me to the table, although I was sure I could've found it myself in such a small house.

"Good thing we have an extra seat." she said. Then she smiled. "I'm Charlotte, and these are my daughters, Mary, Anna, and Layla.", she said pointing to each of them. They all smiled at me showing sets of little teeth. I smiled back. "-And ofcourse you know my husband, and son, Robert, and Tom. You are?-"

I was alittle embarrast to say my name, beacuse it was so different.

"Esmerelda", I told her.

"Why, that's a very pretty name!", she told me. I felt a rush of happiness. "Do you think your folks will be worried about you? "

I nodded side to side, to tell her no.

"Well, then. You new here?"

This time I nodded up, and down, to tell a, yes.

Then the little girl with no freckles, Layla spoke.

"I live here!", she yelled at me. She was not shy.  Obviously, I thought. She was the littlest of them all, then me and Charlotte began to laugh.

Soon Robert, and Tom entered the room. Tom looked better, and he had a new pair of clothes on.

"What's so funny?" asked Robert while he sat down at the table.

"Nothing", said Charlotte.

"Doesn't seem like nothing", said Tom. He gave his mom a look, that made me uncomfortable. She didn't deserve that look.

"Oh well," she said "The foods getting colder by the second. Dig in!"

I had no idea what was on my plate. Master always gave me the scraps of left overs that weren't good anymore. Sometimes you couldn't tell what he gave to you at all, but sense I was the one who cooked, I usually knew. But it was better then nothing.

Then Charlotte looked at my necklis. "Why didn't you say she was a gypsy!" Everyone looked at me.

"Are-are they bad?", I asked. Robert put a hand on his wife's shoulder.

"Now, now," he said. "That stuff about them gypsy's problebly aren't true. All men are equal.", he told her. She took a few breaths to calm her down. I would take these necklises off as soon as possible.

On the wall there was a board with a phrase on it. It said, "God bless us." It made me feel...happy.

"I like your..a..sign"

"Do you know what it says?" , asked Charlotte. Then I remembered. Alot of the people here in this town couldn't read. It made me feel smart. But also, sad.

"Yeah.", I said. "God bless us."   Tom smiled, while Charlotte, and Robert both dropped their forks on their plates, almost at the same time. It made a clanging sound. They stared at me. Their eyes wide. Was reading really that amazing to them? Was it really that rare to see someone who knew how to do it?

"Ummm-"

"You've got talent then", said Charlotte clearing her throat. She picked her fork back up, and took a bite.

Then Layla jumped from her chair, and ran into a little room.

"Layla! Get in here! We're eating!", said Charlotte. 

Layla came back in with a little story book.

"You read?", she asked.

"Yes, I do.", I told her. She handed me the book.

"Read.", she insisted. I looked around the table. Charlotte smiled.

"After dinner. If it's okay with our guest", she said eyeing Layla.

"Awwww!"  Charlotte gave Layla an even more stern look. "Alright!"

She climbed back on her (too high) chair. I still held the book in my hands, on my lap. I looked down to read the cover. It said, "There Once was a Princess".  I smiled at that. I would actually read to someone!

"I'm curious.", Charlotte. Oh no. "Did something happen?", she asked looking at the huge scrape on my face. I could tell everyone wanted to know. Even Tom was aware, and listening. I could also tell they didn't want to be rude.

Too soon. Tom spoke sarcasticly. He raised his eyebrows, and answered for me.

"An accident.", he said, a little grin on his face.

"Oh well, No need to intrude. I'm also curious about your parents. You said your new here. What's there names? Where are you all staying?" Could I lie to her? Once again, I could tell Tom was waiting for an answer.  I looked at Robert. He was busy eating. Not even listening...I think.

"It's actually just my...dad...and me." It still felt weird to say it. "My...a...mom died along time ago." Hmmmm. That sounded pretty reasonalble. Defenitely possible. I was proud for lying to them.

"Oh. I'm so very sorry, but what about you dad then?" I'd better say the same thing I'd told Tom earlier.

"Well-" I got pretty good at this. "-he's actually on a business trip. I'm here alone, and he's sending me to a hotel where I can stay."  Lucky Tom gave me that tour, or I would have had nothing to say!

"She doesn't even know what a resturant is, and she wouldn't know what a hotel was either, if it weren't for me.", Tom muttered frustrated under his breath. Good thing no one heard him.

I kicked his leg with my bare foot, under the table, and I still managed to hurt him.

"Ow." Charlotte quickly turned her head to him.

"Are you hurt anywhere else?", she asked worried.

"No, i'm fine." Then she turned to look back at me.

"Alone? Your father is sending you here alone?"

"Yep. That's the plan."

"How long will he be gone?" This wasn't good. If I was going to stay here then technicly he'd be on a business trip forever.

"I don't know.", was all I could say.

"He's sending you here, and you don't know when he'll be back?" I could kind of see why Tom was frustrated with his mom. 

I wasn't prepared for my reaction. "Thank you all for dinner." I said not even answering her question.

"But you just barely got here.", Charlottle answered suprised. "You hardly even touched your food." 

"Come on!" said Tom. "Just stay a little longer."

"You still need to read my book!" yelled Layla in her little high pitched voice.

"Look, I really appreciate you all. Really, I do, but I need to go." I set the book on the chair where I was sitting.

I looked up at Layla's stubborn face, with her arms crossed tightly across her chest to show me her anger, and how much she wanted me to read her that book.

"Some other time.", I tolf her.

"Why do you need to go?" asked Tom, right when I reached out to the door handle. Then Robert looked up, wiping his mouth with a napkin, his plate empty.

"You're going?", he asked. "Aren't you going to tell us what happened earlier?"

"Honestly, i'm not sure." I said, and I was gone. leaving them wondering. They last thing I saw was their confused, and concerned faces. 

My jewlry jingled as I walked down the steps. My hair was tangled with the big earings. As I untangled it I saw that there was more people ou then earlier before. Why at this time of day? It was getting darker, and darker. I was heading back to the tree where I had left my stuff.

Familie's, and neighbors talked. Then as I came into view, they all backed away. Holding their children tight, as if I would suddenly take them, and run off with them. They all whispered. Out of all the words I heard, I picked up the word gypsy.

Did I really give it away? Just like that they knew?

Sure, I looked different from alot of the people here. They all had light skin, and light hair. They weren't scared just because I looked different. Were they?

They all made room for me, as I came through.

Eventually I got to my stuff. I ran to my bag, and unzipped the zipper, and pulled out mistresses old, cracked, little mirror.

My skin was darker then everybodie's elses. My eyes were a yellowish color, and my face did have a different structure. I was different. That didn't make me bad. Did it? 

 I had walked through the town earlier, and no one noticed...except for Tom. But that was when nobody was out, and around. At least I got to know the feeling of being normal "free" for a little while. Maybe that was the reason I was a slave. No. Impossible.

Why would master keep me, as a slave, but also keep a wife just like me? it didn't make any sense. Maybe it was just meant to be like this. But what did I ever do?!

Would people except me? Would I need to go somewhere else?

Was it a sin to look different?

The End

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