Alice stared, her jaw gravitating towards the marble floor. Before her eyes was the handmaid. Alongside the handmaid stood a bucket of brown muck surrounded by a pool of dirty water. A wrangled mop lay cast aside. In the pool was a whole raw chicken drenched in the swampy fluid.
Lady Hazel was stationed before the woman, her lean arms folded across her puffed-up chest, the raw chicken abandoned between them. What did I just walk into, Alice thought, a cup of tea in hand, and stared like a deer in the headlights. She was not quite sure of how to disappear before she got sucked into yet another one of the Lady’s many fiascos.
Despite the snow around them, there was a fiery energy trapped in the greenhouse and emanating from the scene before her. Alice could not help but gaze in awe at the sparkle of the glass that ricochet off the Lady’s ears. The winter sun bounced off her silky red hair and danced across her feminine figure wrapped with her fluffy nightgown. Feathered kitten-heels adorned her pale slender feet. Alice imagined a flock of fairies frolicking around the Lady’s aura of Chanel No. 5. She was a fallen angel.
The air thickened. Alice snapped out of her momentary mind-float.
Lady Hazel was barking down at the woman. The handmaid mumbled something in a language that Alice did not understand, and by the looks of it, neither did the Lady. Alice had not interacted much with the woman apart from the common courtesy of a greeting in passing. The woman was burdened by a limp and had varicose veins across her plump legs. When she trotted past, a musky scent remained in her trail. Yet her countenance was kind and non-threatening. She is just trying to make it in this life, Alice reflected. The woman had been working without a break since the start of the great war. She walked a great distance from her village to the Castle clothed with the same discoloured blue cardigan every day.
The Lady shrieked at the woman, “Did you really think that you could sneak off my property with this?” The woman began to weep. She dropped to her knees and a crumpled photograph of her three little kids fell to the marble floor. Lady Hazel flinched away from the woman, almost losing her balance in doing so.
“You sicken me,” snapped Lady Hazel. She called for one of her housekeepers to clean up the mess before her and ordered that the raw chicken be thrown into the garbage.
Later that day, Alice overheard the Lady chatting with a friend over tea and macaroons. They mocked the handmaid and debated how someone could eat chicken that had been soaking in a bucket of filthy floor liquid.