For A Few Pence More

11 year old Amelie lives the life children her age would dream of having, though there's one drawback - she has no true friends. Having to stick to the house's formalities means being civil with both the maids and servants. Yet when Richie - a person of colour among a white household - starts work there, the two strike up a friendship that causes Amelie to realise how prejudiced the world outside her window is

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3. 3.

It was there that mine and Richie's friendship was established. After their argument the previous night, my mother and father avoided conversing with each other, resulting in a stony silence at the breakfast table. Even as I passed the kitchen doors I couldn't hear the usual chatter from the servants. Richie was nowhere to be seen as I buttered myself some toast. 

"Thomas, do you know where Richie is?" I asked as he placed a small pot of jam next to the toast rack. I thought I saw red on one of his knuckles, yet his hand was too swift for me to take a thorough look.

"He may be in his room. Do not worry about him, Amelie" He said, his voice not holding the same cheery tone it usually did. Walking from the room quickly, I tried to steal another look at his hand but failed to notice anything unusual. I wondered for a while what could possibly be wrong with him, and why the red substance on his knuckles looked suspiciously like blood and if it was actually there or not. My mind began to come up with different reasons as to why it could be there. None of them seemed very plausible though, and I didn't want to think about any of the reasons for too long anyways.

Leaving the rest of my toast on its plate, I decided to simply wander around the corridors and explore. Well, that wasn't entirely true - I'd already explored the house three times over. I knew every room and every hidden one too, so there wasn't much to explore. I instead revisited the hidden rooms I'd stumbled upon years ago. My favourites were the one in the library (which was hidden by a curtain), the one in the alcove and off to one side, as well as the one with the staircase inside just across from the bathroom. Today I made my way to the latter of the rooms. Making sure nobody saw me, I opened the door to the staircase and closed it quietly behind me. Chills ran up my spine as I walked up the staircase and entered the room. Cobwebs decorated the corners of the room, spiders sitting lazily in the sunlight that barely filtered through the dirty window on the far side of the room. Old chests and furniture were scattered about the room in various states of disrepair. Dust lingered on every surface, small quantities of it attempting to enter my lungs with every couple of breaths. Despite the lack of cleanliness, I loved the room nonetheless. It was somewhere I could come to be alone, and live in my fantasy worlds, even if it was until I was called away for some reason or another. 

I'm not sure how long I spent in there, looking through the old chests and dressing up in the clothes I found in there. They weren't in too bad a shape, for clothes that had spent Lord knows how many years in some neglected room that nobody used anymore. The dust started to make breathing slightly harder as time went on, so I finally put away all the items I had removed and made my way cautiously down the staircase, in case somebody was passing by on the other side of the door. Pressing my ear against the door, I heard one of the maids pass by. She was whispering to herself, though I couldn't work out who it was or what she was saying. Once I was certain she had passed, I moved my hand to the handle and turned it with care. Peering out from the crack in the now open door, nobody was to be seen. Sighing in relief, I crossed the corridor to get myself a glass of water for my dry throat. I picked up the glass by the side of the sink, filled it up generously and drank as the cool liquid met my chapped lips. I gulped the water down quickly as it trickled down my throat and soothed the soreness there. The only bad thing about being up in that room was the dust. I made a mental note to clean it the next time I went up there.

I splashed my face with water and brushed any dust off of my clothes for good measure before leaving the bathroom and making my way back to my room. At least in there there was next to no dust. I sat there looking out of the window, observing the landscape. It wasn't something I did often, but it was relaxing to watch the world go by. Every now and again a blackbird would land on the windowsill and sit there for a while, then fly off again. A ginger and white cat basked in the early summer sun, stretching itself out lazily on the lawn. Clouds drifted through the baby blue sky without a care as the trees swayed gently in the breeze. For Britain - a country known for it's grey, cloudy skies and cold temperatures, the scene couldn't have looked more beautiful. It was like I'd jumped into one of the wall's paintings and become a part of it. I was content to simply sit there, feeling the warmth of the summer sun on my face and watch as nature continued on doing whatever it did. Time itself almost seemed to slow down, like it always did in books. It was like I was living in that moment and I wasn't growing older. I wished I could stay there, happily watching the skyline draw the sun in until it finally set over the green hedges and be replaced by the silvery moon. However, I felt a heaviness on my eyelids that became increasingly harder to fight. I wanted to continue watching everything progress with the day and watch how the sun leaked like liquid over the horizon, but before I knew it or even willed for it to happen, I allowed my eyelids to finally close as I fell asleep in the remainder of the blissful sunlight.

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