Twisted rage

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Our closeness was visible and it could not be mistaken. The way we hovered comfortably around each other, master Li He does not hesitate with how freely he spoke and how close he got. He treated me not a slave but a family and I felt welcome to speak to him however I wanted. Curse him out when he deserved it, grinned when he said something funny.

He helped me out with my chores, he understood the house was too big for me to clean, and I was having a tough time with it. His wife was no help although I made no complaints about her. She's the wife of my master and it would be wrong to do so.

I pushed master Li He at times and told him I didn't need the help. His time at home needed to be with his wife not helping me wash windows or rake leaves or do laundry, but he insisted, he told me he'll get me to help soon enough.

All these time, I had a feeling mistress Jiaying watched us from behind the windows of the manor, getting more and more enraged as master Li He spent his time with me rather than her.

The thought of her rage and my punishment made me nervous. No woman wanted another woman spending this much time with her husband.

"You need to go back inside, master Li He," I told him as we rake a pile of leaves together at his massive yard.

Li He turned to me, it was already getting dark and it was his first day back for his short weekend. "Are you telling me what to do, Hui?" He breathed, catching his breath from dragging the rake. "You're forgetting I'm your master, you don't get to tell me what to do."

"But, mistress Jiaying might be wondering when are you coming in."

He straightened up and stretched his back, master Li He isn't used to this type of work, he looked at me and then glided his glance over to the manor. "Don't worry about Jiaying, she should be cooking supper right now."

"Then you should help her make supper instead."

His glance returned to me and raised a brow. "If I'm not mistaken, I think you're trying to get rid of me."

My grin flashed without shame. "Was it too obvious?"

"I see, I see…" He said mocking offense. He leaned on his rake. "...afraid, it's not that easy to get rid of me."

I sighed, my worry laced the way I exhaled. "You should take a bath before she gets done with the cooking. I'll have your bath ready in about twenty minutes."

"Eww, that's disgusting!" He grimaced. "No, thank you! I could get my own bath water ready, Hui." He snorted and pushed harder on his lean and stared at me. "I don't even want to think about you touching my bath water, it makes all my hair stand up. GROSS!"

I was in a nasty scowl by the time he finished and I could see myself slapping him clear across the face. "Get away from here, Li He! Seriously, you perv! I didn't even mean anything like that!...EWWW!" I made an equally disgusted face just to show how he appalled me the same way.

His serious face twisted into a grin. "Go, get cleaned, you're done for today as well."

I called dibs on the hot water and took off before he can protest.

****

Screams and argument erupted that evening the same way it did last week. I tried convincing myself I was not the reason for it, but I had the nasty feeling that I am. The door to their bedroom slammed, and I heard thudding footsteps departing from it. Based on his gait, I could tell it was master Li He who walked out of their bedroom.

I opened my door to a narrow slit just so I could see what's going on. He carried a blanket and a pillow with him. He knew I was spying as he walked by darting me a pointed glare. "Go to sleep, Hui." He grumbled and walked over to the wooden sofa, plopping uncomfortable in it. His back turned away from my bedroom.

I pushed away from the door, and back to my bed, somehow feeling safe that he's only a few feet away.

With him there, I knew nothing is going to get to me, no one is going to hurt me, not even his wife, and I'm glad he decided to stay instead of running away again tonight.

A wave of high tension silent treatment consumed the husband and wife the next day, and I took it upon myself to stay invisible as long as master Li He and mistress Jiaying are not talking. They're like a ticking bomb waiting to explode on each other.

I wished they'd speak or do whatever it is married couples do when they make up after a fight, but they seemed to be holding out on each other to see who could last longer. It was foolish and all too childish, but I couldn't blame them, I've seen older couples fight worse.

The weekend came and went and they never made up until the night master is leaving. He gave her a peck on her lip and that was it before he turned to the rickshaw to leave for his work if he's going to make it there by the morning.

I, on the other hand, was already in bed. Deep in my sleep when I felt the sting of a whip slapped my skin, waking me up violently from my slumber. The whip slashed across my back numerous times before I fully awakened myself to what's happening.

Then everything came clear when I finally rolled on the edge of my mat, trying to protect myself from the barrage of pain. My head inclined upwards and it was my mistress who towered over me with her arm raised, the whip gripped tightly within her hand. She's shaking with rage, and at this moment, she didn't look like an elegant daughter of a wealthy family. She looked like a twisted woman, possessed by the devil, enraged by jealousy, fuelled with a false assumption and she's taking it out on me.

The whip lashed my skin a few more times, hard as she can wallop her scrawny arm across the small space of my bedroom before she's satisfied with it.

Drunk with anger, she turned around, still with gritted teeth, and glazed eyes as she walked away, trembling wild with tremors while I felt the stream of tears fell uncontrollably.

Not once I was beaten by any of my masters. Master Li He's father had treated me like I was his own daughter and he loved me as one. He'd given me clothes and toys, celebrated my birthdays and carried me in his arms while I was young.

He didn't care whether I did chores around the house, I was free as a bird to play with his only son. When he died, it was master Li He who took over protecting me, but he was young then and when my mother passed away, the mistress of the house wanted me gone. So, I was sold. But even my old master was kind to me. He was a friend of master Li He's father. Not once he put his hand on me.

*****

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