A New Life
She slammed the door shut on her old life. Her house – no, her parents’ house – receded into the distance until the car turned a corner and it disappeared from sight altogether. There was a strange, empty feeling inside her. Sadness? No, she was not sad. She would miss her parents, her sisters — but that had been her old life. That was then. If she wanted to succeed — and only God knew how desperate she was to succeed — she must look ahead.
She turned away from the window to look at the man beside her. He was hunched over a thick book. She had never seen such a big book in her life and she was the scholarly one out of her sisters. She thought longingly of her sisters. It should have been one of them in the car now; she was not the oldest, but he had specifically wanted someone who could read. Why, she was not sure, but she would not disappoint him. She would make sure not to. She put her sisters out of her mind and focused again on the man. They had told her he was a scientist. A Professor. Someone who understands how things work. Her respect for him had doubled.
His hair was in the process of turning white and his glasses sat perched at the tip of his long nose. She had not noticed the glasses before. Perhaps he wore them for reading. They reminded her of her grandfather. She remembered how his glasses had fallen off his nose every time he got excited during the card games they all played together and almost giggled at the memory but caught herself in time. Those days were over now; it didn’t look like she would be playing games with this gentleman. He looked a bit too intense for that kind of silliness but she would soon get used to it.
She yawned. She tried to stifle it so as not to seem disrespectful, but she was tired. She had been up most of the night with her sisters, packing her suitcase. She leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes. The Rolls Royce engine lulled her to sleep, the soft purr taking her further away from home. No. Bringing her closer to home. Her new home.
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She awoke suddenly and realised that the car had stopped. Blinking to clear away the last vestiges of sleep, she looked around. It was dark outside but she could make out a large, detached house. The Professor was heading up the steps to the house already so she scrambled out of the car, smoothed out her skirt and followed him inside.
The hallway was quite large but otherwise plain. It would be easy to keep tidy. She followed the Professor into a large room on the left and opened her eyes wide.
Books! Everywhere! Some were open and arranged haphazardly on the desk but the rest were lined up neatly on shelves which covered every inch of wall space.
“My books,” announced the Professor with a wave of his hand. “They are in alphabetical order and must remain that way.” She nodded vigorously. They would, she would make sure of that. “This is the desk where I work. You must never touch anything on this desk.” Again, she nodded, committing these instructions to memory. She would not touch anything on the desk.
The tour continued. She absorbed all the information carefully. It wasn’t very different to what she had expected. She would clean the house, wash and iron his clothes and cook his food.
As they passed a window on the upper floor, something caught her eye. A young couple on the street corner, illuminated by the yellow glow of the street lamp. They were wrapped tightly in a passionate embrace. She shook her head. Poor misguided fools. She’d been brought up properly. She knew the truth. Marriage was not about love.