Lily

by Utena_Anthy_Antics

AN: I was actually inspired by my World History class to write this. Who knew what school could do!? ^_^ Just kidding! Anyway, please enjoy.

It was a sad day when I was sold. It was strange, as I was near-grown, and most children were younger when sold into slavery. My mother was crying yet calm on all sides, the smudge of streaked dirt the only tell-tale signs of her sorrow on her cheeks. My brother was comforting her, his eyes stoic. Father was dead, for three months now; I missed his presence. Kichiri, my ever faithful dog, worried my side, whining at my feet. Even his comforting presence couldn't stop the tears that threatened my eyes.

'I'll see you later!' I called as they loaded me into the cart, knowing it was futile gesture. I was jostled into a seat between two younger girls, one trembling and barely older then my sister, dead the past four years. Seeing her reminded me of how we used to play under the cherry blossom trees, and my heart squeezed. The other girl was silent, maybe only two years younger then I. She didn't talk the whole time we rode in the rickety covered wagon, for slaving was illegal yet common in the outskirts of the main city and in the slums. It was fortunate, in a way, that my family had found a buyer for near marriageable girls such as I.

As we bumped and huddled together, tears trailed down my face; I tried wiping them away, but I sneezed as the dirt tickled my nose and stuck to the wet drops. I spent the rest of the ride comforting and hugging the younger girl, knowing that I wouldn't see her once we came to the slavery center.

Once there, we were whipped out of the wagon, blinking at the sudden light. My muscles ached as I had been in the same position for a day and a half, not let out to go to the bathroom and stretch. With one hand, I helped the younger girl walk, stumbling on my own. She had come down with a fever the first night, and I had tried to soothe her with the few supplies I had. I had even given her the water I had been thrust at with and fed her by soaking a clean part of my robe I had torn, knowing I would get stripped down and bathed, having her suck slowly. In her feverish state, she had given me her name, but I didn't give her mine, knowing that to do so would worsen the pang of separation that was shortly to come. Instead, I whispered soothing lullabies my mother had taught me into her ear, gently wiping the sweat that beaded on her forehead away. 'My father misses me,' she moaned, 'My mother too. The festival's coming up, and they will have no one to bring the flowers. The men can't come! They can't come!' I tried to quiet her, finally picking her up and cradling her in my arms, holding her as comfortably as I could, rocking her into a fitful sleep.

She wavered now, wilting under the hot sun, and I finally picked her up, strong from the hard years of working in the fields and building sites. Carrying her on my back, I hurried to catch up to the group, fearing the whips and gloved hands.

She was taken from me then, as we neared the great doors of the building. Two men tore her off my back, roughly pushing her onto her feet. When she fell to her knees, they whipped her, and then whipped her again, causing her to cry out. Hurrying forward, I was pushed back, and one of the men barked at me, 'Learn your place, woman! We're just teaching her a lesson. We're being far nicer then her owner will be!' He laughed, his black eyes cold and hard.

'Can't you see she's sick!? Hurt me instead; I can take it!' I tried once again to lunge for her side, but the man backhanded me, causing me to cut my lip against my teeth, and I felt the tang of blood well up in my mouth. 'As I said, we're being nice. Now leave before you end up dead on the ground, your family's sale worth nothing.' His words stung, and I faltered, giving enough time for one of the wagon drovers to grab my arms and wrench me around, tying my wrists together and leading me over to where the other girls stood, shackled in a row. Tying me to the rope, the man forced his mouth onto mine, his breath foul and ripe. 'Now you're not so innocent anymore!' he crowed, roughly stroking my cheek with his grubby hand. I jerked away, spitting at him as he sauntered away, my split lip burning where his teeth raked. I could do nothing but wash out my mouth with my drying spit, sweat rolling down my face and stinging the wound as we were forced to stand in the sun.

I looked up, but the girl was gone, only scuffed up sand and drops of blood marring the surface where she had been, marking where she had fallen. My heart squeezed again, and I bowed my head, foolishly praying that her owner would be kind enough to wait before he had his way with her; that he had more concubines he could sate his need with. With a start, I realized that I was crying again, knowing that if a little girl so like my sister had no hope, there surely was no room for me.

I dropped my head, once again praying for her well-being, ignoring the sweat that made my robes stick to my skin, and the ropes that chafed and cut into my wrists.

I was led into a room filled with cold water and damp stone. Thought not shackled anymore, three men with whips ordered the seven of us to disrobe and bathe, making no show of trying to conceal their nasty leers and looks. One of the women resisted; she was beaten and whipped to the death of her. The rest of the women and I avoided her as we took the ice cold water, ignoring her muffled sobs, too proud to admit her pain. I clenched my teeth shut, trying to stop them from chattering, the cold of the water numbing the pulse of my lip. My body burned as I felt the gazes of the men upon me, and I tried to duck under the surface as much as I could, but the cold forced me back up again. The cold brought the tears back to my eyes, and I tried sniffing them back, but a few still escaped.

After throwing scant towels at us, and allowing us to dress once again in our filthy robes, the men led us into a room with a hard looking middle-aged woman, her hair drawn back in a tight bun, the edges turning gray. The men left us here, one giving me a disgusting sneer. The woman surveyed us with her hard beady eyes, the lines on her face so deep they looked like they were etched in stone. She reminded me of the witch woman who lived on the outskirts of the small village I grew up in, and I shivered. The woman noticed, and she drew closer, her robes of silk showing touches of disrepair. The way she walked dared anyone to comment. 'You there,' her voice was deep and scratchy, 'Do you know why you were sold?' I nodded, swallowing under her cold glare. She leaned close, her breath smelling of the fine mints available to those with money, the scent of peach blossoms wafting up from her clothes. She inspected my bruised lip and roughly grabbed my chin, turning my face back and forth. Her hands were cold against my still goose-bumping skin and she almost laughed at the look on my face. 'I'm afraid you're too used to the good life. Here, you will know the true horrors life has to give, and you will learn to not necessarily love it but like it. You must always be attractive, even when you are giving birth if the roots do not work or the Gods will it. You will learn to take what is given to you and not ask for more. A slave's life is hard, but you will embrace it. If you do not, death awaits you.' She clapped her hands, and a group of young girls walked in, one grabbing my hand, her face impassive.

I was dressed in the finest of robes I had ever had, my hair was scented with perfume, and jade had been forced through my ears, the blood wiped away and the holes plugged. While powder was applied to my face and hands, my feet were bound painfully tight. I could not help biting my lip to take away the pain from my throbbing feet, grateful for the root they had given to me to stop the swelling of my lip. The girl had taken away the necklace I had always had around my neck, a gift from my father when he was alive, and replaced it with a strand of glass beads. I did not feel like myself at all, and tried to stop the tears again, the bump I had on my head still stinging from where they had slammed the brush down, warning me to stop crying, to not smear the makeup. They wrapped up my hair, twisting it into a tight knot on my head, and I stared at the reflection of myself in the mirror they had propped up. I wondered if the girl was getting the same attention as I.

The matron walked by, suddenly forcing my chin up and kissing me. I wrenched away, almost falling off the small stool. 'Foolish girl!' the old hag hissed, 'You will learn to give anything to people with power, whatever the want may be; you are there to serve. Even female owners have needs.' I ached to wipe the filthy residue off my lips with my sleeve, but that would ruin my makeup and I would risk a beating of a whipping. I settled with glaring sullenly at her, wisely keeping my mouth shut. She smirked and walked away, her girls following her out. I raised my head, and the other sold women averted their gazes, shamed with me.

I wanted to beat the floor, to throw the rugs, but I knew I would be surely punished, so I kept my movement to a minimum, my body trembling, my hands clenching the long sleeves of my silk robes. A soft hand suddenly touched my shoulder, and a younger girl smiled at me. She gently dabbed at the drop of blood the woman had made at the corner of my mouth with a silken handkerchief and then applied another layer of the paint onto my lips. Her smile trembled a bit and she sat down next to me, the silk rustling around her. 'You're very beautiful; I'm sure someone will pay a lot for you.'

That girl became my friend, and I confided all my fears to her, yet never revealed my name, nor did she. It was something I did to shield her and me from more heartbreak; to tell one's name makes the bond stronger. She was only one year younger then I, and the silk robes she was forced into swamped her, though she was careful to never mar or tear them. 'I come from the city,' she said, 'and Father's a farmer.' 'Mine too,' I replied, though did not mention he was dead.

Slave owners came by every day; we were supplied with beds and dinners, the exhausting routine of beautifying repeating over and over again each day. Each time the men came, ranging from short and stout to lean and craggy, they poked and prodded, caressing; one time a man licked me from ear to ear. I wanted to cry after that, but the girl grabbed my hand and held it tight, fixing my makeup after the man had gone.

'I had a pet rabbit,' she said once, 'I wonder how he's doing.' 'Fine,' I whispered back, playing with her hair in the nightly ritual we had established. She smiled at me, finally crying into my shoulder, and I was the one to fix her makeup. The next morning, she was gone, sold to the man who had licked me. I spent the rest of my time at the slavery center alone.

I was finally sold a week later to a man rumored to be a cruel master. I had not seen him personally because only an envoy had come, but he had also purchased two other women from my group. I was loaded into another covered wagon, squished between the other two women. Along the ride, the riding authorities were spotted, so we huddled together, the smell of our fear thick in my nose. When nothing happened and the authorities rode off, the wagon started again. I was mixed which was a better fate.

We arrived at the man's estate in a week and a day, sick with fear and exhaustion because we had stayed awake worrying, having been done crying a long time ago. We were herded in through the servant door, and led to the master's mistress quarters, where we were once again bathed and perfumed. The only thing that kept me from breaking down was that the bath was warm and the silk and perfume expensive. I sat and waited, a literal painted doll.

I was second to be called. The master, eager to be fulfilled from his want of need, ordered for me a day after the first woman was called. Though I begged to be told, she wouldn't tell me anything, so I was led with a heavy heart and equally heavy step into his bedchambers. He waited upon silk pillows, his eyes clouded and piercing. The act was hard and painful; he bruised me places no one had ever touched me before, and I felt something inside of me break. Between my legs ached, and when I was led back, I spent two hours in the bath, scrubbing myself and trembling, my tears mingling with the warm water, evaporating. The Head Wife presented me with a bitter tea that stung when it went down and cleaned inside of me. 'The burning will stop in a couple of days if left alone,' she explained, gently smoothing back my hair, applying cleaning oils to the length. She treated me the nicest of the other slaves, saying I reminded her of her younger sister, and took to calling me by her name: 'Lily.'

He called for me again the next day, causing the burning to be worse, though I grew accustomed faster, moving slightly against him as I was told to do. He seemed to enjoy that and finished faster. I spent two more hours in the bath, crying myself to sleep. The next time, he asked me my name. I replied: 'Lily.'

Three years passed by this way, and I slowly made my way up the ranks of his mistresses. I had grown to love my master in my own way, though he was hard and demanding. Whenever he slept, his face smoothed, and those were the times I could love him. I didn't love him in the way a wife loves a husband, nor did I love him passionately. I loved him as something constant in my life, though there were times his interest would stray to other women, but I loved him that he always came back to me. I loved that I was needed. He was kind to me, and though I didn't enjoy the acts we did, I had learned ways to get him done faster. The Head Wife had died two years ago from a premature birthing, and he had turned to me to raise his infant son. So most of all, I loved him for granting me the chance to raise little Kayo.

The act of raising Kayo brought back memories of raising my sister before she had died, and brought me closer to the home I had left. I could finally come to terms with the choices my mother had had to face as a mother, and I as the daughter. Selling me had been the last resort; with the royalties she made off me, she could easily take care of her newborn and the farm. I didn't hate my mother, but I was resigned to the fact that I was leading a better life then she could ever hope to have, and I wished that for her. To sell one's child must have taken a great amount of love to justify to both you and your child the actions you take, trusting that they will soon understand.

I got summoned again and gently handed Kayo to my assistant nurse, softly ruffling his shorn hair. Rising, I smiled as the familiar sound of rustling silk surrounded me, and I turned to answer the servant who had brought the call. 'Miss Lily,' he bowed his head, though I knew he didn't really mean the honor. Stepping out of the threshold of my quarters, I smiled and held my head up proudly, not caring what anyone thought.

My master held out his hand and drew me into him, 'Lily.'

'Yes,' I answered, surprising him. Usually I am silent, playing the diligent mistress.

'What?'

'Lily. That is my name. Your Head Wife did not know how well she chose it.'

He smiled, 'The name fits you. It is only proper that you have the name given to you at birth; that is the way things should be.'

I smiled into his chest, once again starting the old ritual. It was a sad day when I was sold, yes, but I have an even better future. And for now, I am content.