The end of summer. A time to get ready for the new school term. Sunlight streamed through the windows and shadows danced on the foyer floor of The Rose Garden Orphanage. I could hear Mr. Hoffman's cleaning music blaring from the speakers, along with the chirping of cicadas.
I dipped the sponge into the soapy water and started to wash the window. Wendy, Meg, Diana, and I were tasked with cleaning the windows and front of the orphanage, while the rest of the orphans cleaned the inside. When we were done, we could play.
I saw Wendy, the Lonely Princess, drop her sponge into the water and pick up her bucket. She started to walk to the door, but stopped and dropped her pail suddenly. She started coughing. Martha, the Queen of Cleaning, appeared in the doorway, picked up Wendy's pail, and ushered her inside. She only stop to give me a disapproving look.
I quickly finished my window and plucked a rose from the bush by the door. I started to go inside, only stopping to realize that I had forgotten my bucket. I ran back to it and picked it up, slopping some the soapy water over the top. The escaping water landed on Diana's boot, who happened to be walking by. She stopped and glared at me. She leaned to me and whispered, "You better not do that again, Filthy Jennifer."
I nodded timidly, almost shakily, as the Duchess stormed off into the house with her pail in hand. As she was walking away, Diana turned a little to said, "Remember to check the Monthly Gift, Jennifer!"
I had no doubt that the Strong Willed Princess was heading the Club House or going to play Airship with orphans who were done with their chores. I shuttered, despite of the warm evening air, at the thought of playing Airship.
I grasped the bucket and started to head inside, but stopped again. I saw the Countess, Eleanor, and the Baroness, Meg, talking. I rarely saw The Wise-Looking Princess and The Cold Princess talk to each other. I saw them giggle and I thought I heard one of them mention Diana. They stopped laughing and noticed me looking at them. They both glared at me, with the Baroness waving me off.
I walked inside to see the Sloppy Prince, Nicholas, and the Gluttonous Prince, Xavier, playing sword-fights on the stairs. They stopped briefly and snickered when I entered. I looked away and set my bucket by the front door. I walked up the stairs and pushed by the two princes and made my way to the Sick Bay.
When I got there, I saw Martha, Mr. Hoffman, and the Frightened Princess, Clara, by the door. Martha headed down one of the many hallways when I approached. The Headmaster and Clara walked passed me. Mr. Hoffman stopped me and asked, "Did you finish your chores, Jennifer?"
"Umm.... Yeah!" I replied.
He gave me a look similar to Martha's, then headed down the stairs, with Clara trailing quietly behind him. I watched them leave and opened the Sick Bay door. The wall of the sick room had several drawings on it. One of the newest drawings had a giant fish being held by some of the orphans.
"Jennifer....." I heard Wendy cough. I turned and sat on the bed next to her. She seemed a little feverish.
"I brought you something," I told her and gave the rose.
"Oh, thank you, Prince Joshua," she said and smiled weakly. She gasped suddenly and said, "You're bleeding!" I looked at my hand and saw speck of blood on my finger.
"It's just a scratch," I replied. I looked up when she coughed again. She looked tired as well.
"I'll let you get some rest," I told her. I got up and walked to the door.
"Wait!" Wendy cried. I looked back and smiled.
I walked out of the Sick Bay and down up the stairs and headed over to the attic. I stopped at the attic door. I shakily opened it to reveal the ominous stairs. I walked up the stairs and to the club house door, and saw the poster.
"An unmarried mermaid," I muttered.
I stood there in the attic and listened to the wind howling around the roof. It almost sounded like a piano and a violin, maybe a cello as well, playing the attic's song. I heard it stop, with the cicadas and the wind returning. I ran out of the attic, frighted by the sudden change of song.
I ran to the bottom of the stairs and looked around. Nicholas and Xavier were still engaged in their sword-fight. I snuck into the kitchen and took a piece of bread. I walked back out into the entrance and slipped out the door.
Warm evening air hit my face as I walked to the gates. I opened them and walked down the road and started to hum a song.
"....Just as innocent as roses in May......." I stopped there, realizing I had arrived at my destination. I opened the door as I heard a whine of a dog and cicadas.
These were the sounds of cicadas and love.