Three years ago
Curled up in a fetal position on the cold hard ground, I let the tears flow. I'd just lost the only person left in this world for me. The one person who'd meant the world to me and the one person I'd taken as my mother and father.
It hurt to think about him lying alone in that grave, six feet under and covered with dirt. No headstone stating who was buried there. Just a wooden cross to indicate that someone was buried there. No flowers. Nothing.
I was homeless now. The money lender who'd borrowed us money all those months ago had come to collect his money but since I'd not been able to pay up, he'd thrown me out of the house not caring that I had nowhere to go.
My stomach growled and I clutched it willing it to stop but there was no use. I'd not eaten for almost two days now and the last food I'd eaten had been stolen. Daddy once told me where thieves went to and I didn't want to go there so I'd gone to apologize to the woman I'd stolen from then worked to pay her back for the food.
I shivered as the breeze started to blow signalling rain and I knew that I was in for a cold night. I slowly sat up, gathered the pieces of a huge cardboard box and used it to cover myself. It did nothing to alleviate the cold but it was somehow better than being exposed to the harshness of the cold air.
My eyelids began to droop as I stared at the rain pouring down from the drainage pipe attached to the roof of the shop where I was spending the night. I kept staring until my eyes closed and I fell into a deep almost deserved sleep. 'Almost' being the key word here.
"Hey!". The first tap on my shoulder stirred me but I didn't wake up.
"Wake up!". The next two hard taps made me jerk awake and jump when I saw the angry look on the woman's face.
"G...good morning ma." I croaked out.
"What are you doing here?". She demanded. "Are you the one those thieves send to scout shops that you want to steal from?".
"What? No!". I cried. "I just... I just slept here for the first time last night. I... I don't have anywhere to go." I was hoping she'd have pity on me and do something nice but instead her brows furrowed more and her eyes flashed.
"So my shop is now an orphanage home eh?". She questioned. "Will you get up and get out of here before I descend on you?".
I scrambled to my feet and brushed past her as she attempted to pick up a stick lying around to throw at me. I was tired and hungry and thirsty too but I had no money to buy anything.
I wished the ground would open up and swallow me so my misery would end but there was no such thing. There was no reprieve from this hell I was in and I couldn't, for the life of me see any way out.
I'd hoped that my dad had family living away from Eisner but I'd searched the house for addresses, pictures and whatever else could've helped me find anyone after he died but I'd come up with nothing. Not even my birth certificate indicating who my mother was and my dad had not told me anything about her either.
My life was so sad. It was one I wouldn't wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I moved around aimlessly for days begging for food or jobs but I got neither.
At this point, I was bone tired and I couldn't move another muscle even if my life depended on it. I laid on the side of the road staring up at the sky with tears flowing down my cheeks. It was a silent cry because I couldn't even open my mouth to yell. I begged the heavens for help - any kind of help but none arrived.
The citizens of Eisner were the kind of people who'd see a dead person lying around and they'd do nothing to bury that person and the same was my case for two days until finally my prayers were answered.
A car parked at the curb and the windows at the back rolled down. I could hardly keep my eyes open as the person kept staring at me without saying anything and then before the darkness sucked me in, two people appeared at my side and I knew nothing else after that.
"Are you seriously going to keep this girl here?". I heard a woman's angry voice ask as I slowly opened my eyes.
"Yes Joanne." An irritated male voice answered. "I'm going to keep her here. She'll be safer here than out there."
"Why? Because of her father?". The woman spat. "You know he was..."
"Hush woman! The walls have ears." The man reprimanded her. "End of discussion."
"You only ever listen to yourself." The woman mumbled and left.
"How are you my dear?". The man smiled at me when he finally noticed me but I could see that it didn't reach his eyes.
"Fine." I croaked out. "Where am I?".
The room I was in, didn't look like a hospital so I probably was still very much alive and the man and the woman were very well dressed in expensive attires.
The bed I was lying on felt like I was sleeping on the clouds and the scent of the flowers permeating the room felt like I was lying in a garden full of roses. I'd always envied people who lived like this and now I was very confused because I was in a strange place with strange people but I wasn't overly concerned.
I was out of the streets and that was all I cared about.
"The palace my dear." The man replied.
I literally choked on my spittle and coughed a little as I stared at the man in shock.
"Pa... Palace?". I stuttered. I'd never in my wildest dreams imagined that I'd end up in the palace one day and I always let my imagination run wild. This information was mind blowing.
"Do you know who is speaking with you?". The man questioned. "Do you know who I am?".
"Forgive me sir but... I'd like to know if I'm still in Eisner?". I winced hoping he wouldn't get mad at me for asking.
"Of course." He was amused.
I let out a sigh of relief. I was home in a strange heavenly place and I felt like a million bucks compared to the last few days.
"You've been out for two days." He informed me. "You were severely dehydrated and you were running a fever. How do you feel now?".
"Better thank you sir." I replied. "I'm afraid that I don't know really know who you are sir." He could be the King's right-hand man or just a very important person also working in the palace.
"That's alright. It really doesn't matter." He smiled at me. "What's your name?".
"Celine." I said.
"Nice name." He remarked. "Do you have parents Celine?".
"No. I'm an orphan sir."
"Sorry to hear about that." He said.
I shrugged not knowing what to say. It still hurt but with time I was sure the pain would fade away and it wouldn't hurt as much. I'd miss him but at least the good memories we had together would be enough to remember my father by.
"Do you have any relatives outside of Eisner who'd be worried about you?". He inquired.
I didn't know why he was asking but I couldn't care less. All I cared to know was if I'd be staying in the palace from now on. I wouldn't mind working as a maid, as long as I had a place to sleep and food to eat.
"My Papa didn't tell me about any uncles or aunts." I answered. "Why?".
"How old are you Celine?".
"You're old enough." He muttered.
"You're not going to send me back are you?". I asked. "I don't want to go back. I'll die out there. Please don't send me back."
"Don't worry, I'm not sending you back." He assured me. "How would you like to work as a maid here in the palace? You'll have a place to sleep and food to eat and you'll never have to go outside ever again?".
"Ever?". I stared hopefully at him.
"Ever." He nodded.
"I don't mind. I can do any work." I told him.
"Good. You'll start tomorrow." He beamed. "Rest all you can now."
If I'd been thinking, I would've noticed the wicked glint in his eyes and the evil smile playing on his lips. But I didn't care that I'd just sold my soul to the devil for a roof over my head and a plate of food in my belly.
I was sixteen and I was allowed to make mistakes.