Sal had tried to keep the windows closed in the room. The sun has not yet set but the color seeped of twilight save for the slit where the herb was planted. Her foot bare on the floorboards, promising it won’t be soiled by the dirt from the hallways.
Someone knocked at the door, so Sal immediately pushed a box at it. It kept on knocking, so she kept herself on the corner, as far as possible from the door.
“Child?” It was the long-haired caretaker.
Sal kept herself on the corner.
“I’m sorry.” The caretaker said.
Sal let herself come close by two steps. Curious words. The maid never apologized to her. She could do nothing wrong to her.
“I was desperate.”
Sal leaned in closer.
“Please don’t tell ‘Nay Rosa or anyone else about it.” She pleaded.
Always keep quiet. Never raise your voice. Always do what you are told. Behave. Nothing different from that. “I shall.” At Sal’s reply, the caretaker left.
Her statement was reasonable. After all, telling on her would be trouble. After all, that caretaker is not mistaken. How long will she have to stay here?
Sal buckled at her knees after the caretaker left. She can’t bear to remove the obstacle from the door even after she has left. She shook her head and laid on the floor. Sal stumbled on the letter peeking out of Lea’s basket. And against common manners and polite etiquette, Sal pried it open.
Good Day, Sgr:
The North branch has been closed, as you requested. The workers have all been informed of the changes and their last salary received. The money sent was also enough to allow them to resettle. Your servant implored thm to start anew and not to use their previous connection to you for leverage.
The paper was crumpled. No seal adorned the envelope even and the corners have frayed a bit. The handwriting was a bit crude cursive, but the words can only come from a Mercantile.
Your servant respects your wishes and it may take some time for me to do the final arrangements for the closure. It is my wish to be in your service still, as my token of gratitude.
Though I wholly respect your wishes.
Mi piu Alta Gratis, Signor
To: Sgr. Pablo Geasston Cuorre
Fro: Dario Lehmann
She chucked the letter across the room. It was fire. It was poison. Sal put her hand to her chest, trying to calm it from heaving so fast. Was someone watching her reading it? No one. No one knew of her knowing about the letter. Sal kept ample distance from the paper, as if touching it will blight her.
Up outside, a whiff of smoke entered the room. With trembling hands, Sal wrapped the letter in a cloth and rushed outside the left wing of the Hospicio where the smoke came from.
There, a small ember burned on the dried, blackened leaves. Sal held out the letter and laid it on the ground.
It was a sunset like this too when Sal had first disobeyed the Signor and neglected her veil. She panicked at seeing him come in from the gates. She could still remember the timbre of his voice.
No one was there. She was alone, and yet in the fire, a vague image of the Signor seemed to appear to her, his back turned to her, sitting among the burning leaves.
Her hands seemed to burn too. Disappear.And yet the Signor’s spectre only loomed larger and larger until it was shadow that was too big that it burned her and swallowed her.
Sal withdrew her hand from the leaves for they kept on burning. The heat seemed to crawl unto her arms. Sal screeched and yelled at the sensation and the throbbing in her chest. And yet, the Signor stood there with his back turned, his body engulfed by fire yet unbroken.
Sal grasped the letter in her hand. The Signor was the villain, the bad person in every story that will be ultimately defeated by the hero. She gathered the cloth in her hand and prepared herself to throw the letter in the ember. And yet she waited for the Signor to look at her.
The heat shot up in her arms. The letter flew out of her hands out into the ground. Her hands rimmed red at the fingertips as a familiar voice shouted and flung curses at her.
Lea shook Sal by the shoulders, questioning.
“I was burning it. It was cursed.”
The woman left Sal in front of the pile of dead leaves. The ember had died in them and the sun has already set.
A mysterious letter found