Susan stared blankly through the cold, cracked panes in the flaking, whitewashed windowframe, situated at the end of an occasionally quiet corridor, in a small, tucked-away nook, behind a small, worn table that held a small, porcelain vase. So much of Susan’s universe could be identified by its smallness. Ever so often, when the rest of the household was preoccupied and could not possibly miss her absence, Susan could slip away so she might free the caged, racing thoughts that crowded her mind and were muffled by a sea of domestic wailing. She stared with the intense hope to see another world, half believing it possible. She stared to break away.
Susan stared, stared, stared.
Dared for just a moment to block out the noise that swept through the entire house and reduce it to a humming buzz so that she might experience the closest feeling she could manage to solitude, before it was absolutely necessary for her to rejoin the family. Then, she would dare to be loudest of all. If she could not escape the ruckus, at least she could master it–overtake it and bend it to her will. If her mother had ever given her anything, it was a set of pipes, and oh, could she howl.
Susan dared simply to be. She dared only to know the sensation of her own humanity, to exist for some purpose other than utilitarian. Even the loathsome housemaid, Rebecca, was given a small, pittance of affirmation. She received payment for her labor, and, if she performed poorly, a complaint or sneer was in the very least a form of acknowledgement. But Susan remained unnoticed, answering only to the endless, disgruntled shrieks for assistance.
Susan dared, dared, dared.
She cared with an energy that radiated throughout her. She cared deeply for the elder brother and sister that obtained the freedom and independence she so desperately craved. Cared with a fullness of heart intensified by the love waiting and wanting to be given, and—oh! So much loneliness was she rewarded in turn. She cared for careless younger brothers and a temperamental younger sister in the flagrant absence of parental guidance. She cared to obtain the polished refinements of admired young ladies who inherited something other than the responsibility of running a disheveled household. Girls with marriage prospects from fine, courtly gentlemen, and whose suppleness of skin had not been scrubbed away into the sudsy waves of countless basins.
Susan cared, cared, cared.
And yet, despite her caring, daring, and staring, she was on the verge of being swallowed by the repetitive monotony that surrounded her. She suddenly became aware of a feeling of suffocation. She closed her eyes and prepared to take a deep breath, when she abruptly heard a loud shrill in the distance, “Susan! Why haven’t you taken care of the fire?”