How do you become evil? Jane's human years.
1. Chapter 1
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Are people born Wicked? Or do they have Wickedness thrust upon them? --- Gregory Maguire
Don’t think without being told. Don’t breathe when you’re not asked, or when it isn’t convenient. Remember, you are a thing, not a person. You exist for the will of other people. When you are causing them pain, not pleasure, then anything at all can happen.
I’m bent over the floor, scrubbing at the tiles, trying to get out the dirt that has been tracked in. I am going to concentrate on somewhere, something else, I decide. I’ve been nearly constantly told to simply accept where I am, but nobody can get to my thoughts, and I’m grateful for that. I hear footsteps coming behind me.
“Jane?” A clear, disdainful voice sounds behind me. It’s Frances Sand, the daughter of the house. She’s not supposed to even speak to me, but she makes an exception for torture. I don’t say a thing, but continue to scrub. I feel a short kick on my leg. I must not lose my temper. I must remember the last thing. I feel the fire rising in my chest. No. No.
“Jane, don’t you know to speak when you’re spoken to?” she sneers. I continue to say nothing. It’s a contest, a fight. She can say what she likes. I have to sneak in my disdain. Many would say I was already being too bold. I can feel her eyes on me. My anger is too quick to show. Perhaps I am growing red. I do not blush, per se, and never out of embarrassment, but when I grow angry my entire face will be on fire. I am not going to hit her. It’s not for me, I remind myself. If I slap her, I will be dismissed. It will hurt me more than her.
“Jane?” Her voice pretends to be angry, but I can hear the underlying laughter.
“Yes, miss?” I draw myself up off my heels. My words may be polite, but my tone is curt. Frances will not win.
“Why did you not respond when I first spoke to you?” she sneers. She is only a year older than I, but towers over me. I am impossibly small. I despise it. I would do anything for power, to be frightening, towering over her.
“I didn’t hear you, miss.” I’m lying, and I hope she knows it.
“I was a foot away from you, Jane.” Frances insists.
“My hearing is not so good.” My hearing is excellent. I hear more footsteps, and involuntarily turn my heart instantly faster. It is what I hoped, and yet feared ever so slightly. Thomas Sand. Frances’s brother, four years older than I. He moves into the room with perfect grace, as ever. I let myself look at him, tall, fair-haired, sea-eyed, before tearing my gaze away and dropping to the floor to scrub yet again.
“What are you doing, Frances?” Thomas asks his voice low.
“Nothing, just setting Jane in line.” Frances says.
“What did she do?” I hope that suspicion in his tone is for her. I haven’t done anything.
“I heard her muttering, I could swear she was putting a hex.” Frances stands up straighter.
“That’s nonsense, Frances. She’s just a girl. There are no witches in this house.” He reprimands. Oh, how I wish he were right and I were truly just a girl.
“William, I swear she is! Her and that brother both. They have the evil eye, the two of them.” Frances speaks up.
“That’s ridiculous. Leave the poor girl.” And then he is gone, quickly as he came.
“I’m watching you, Jane.” Frances spits and then leaves, leaving me to scrub even harder. My hands will be bleeding by sundown.