Flora felt something heavy press against her body and she found it hard to breathe. Then, she heard the shrill trill of a bird close to her head as a pair of claws seemed to touch her face.
“Mommy, wake up!” Flora heard the small voice of her daughter. Flora pushed her eyes open and realized that Nadi lay on top of her chest, making it hard for her to breathe . The claws that she thought were touching her face were actually Nadi’s small hands trying to wake her up. The bird call was the alarm clock sounding near her head.
“I’m awake, Nadi. You can get off me now,” said Flora, squeezing her eyes shut before fluttering them open. She then covered her face with her hands before picking up her alarm clock to turn off its incessant beeping.
“I woke up first,” said Nadi as she climbed down Flora’s bed.
“Yes, you did,” replied Flora as she replaced the alarm clock on the bedside table
Flora entered the kitchen after leaving Nadi in the anteroom. She had changed her slippers and wore her hairnet. She found Rosa at the table listing the ingredients for the day’s meals while keeping note of the kitchen’s inventory.As Flora tied her apron around her waist, she found Rosa staring at her. She immediately turned to face Rosa who seemed to be looking at her curiously.“You came in alone,” said Rosa.“Yes, Ma’am. I knocked on Eva’s door before coming here, but she said that she’s not feeling well. It was probably the cold, it was extremely cold this morning,” said Flora, tightening the knot of her apron. She was worried at what Rosa might say, concerned about bearing the brunt of Rosa’s anger on Eva’s absence, but also afraid for Eva that Rosa might decide on something that could endanger the sick maid’s employment.“Makes sense,” Rosa said without any em
Flora felt mixed emotions as he watched Pablo walk away towards the door leading to the entrance hall. She was overwhelmed with the volume of work that she needed to do that day but was surprised at the changes that she saw in how Pablo seemed to favor Eva. Flora would do all her chores because she believed that she was being paid to do them. She did not mind that Eva, for some reason, seemed to have gained Pablo’s favor, but Flora did wish for at least some recognition for the work that she was doing.Flora returned to the kitchen and told Rosa that she was supposed to do the laundry in the afternoon. Flora also told Rosa what Pablo said about the guest and Maya returning to Cardena. Rosa took a deep breath as Flora told her the news. She did not seem too surprised and continued with her work at the kitchen table.“Get the breakfast trays ready for pick-up by the other servants and remember the vegetables and herbs that I want you to get from the vegetable
Flora worked fast. After having breakfast with her daughter, she went back to the kitchen to start washing the pots and pans. Without Eva, all of the morning’s tasks fell on Flora’s shoulders. She could only get some consolation from the absence of the master’s guest and that she did not have to work directly under Pablo which she found to be more difficult than working with Rosa.However, the sudden absence of Mr. Renan kept nagging on Flora. When she found him in the south wing, he seemed dazed and confused, and although she could not be certain, his action of reaching out a hand towards her seemed like he was asking for her help. If she had not seen those slender arms wrapping around Mr. Renan and pulling him behind the curtains of the four-poster bed, she would have asked him if he needed anything.Then, there was Pablo telling her earlier that Mr. Renan had gone back to Cardena. Mr. Renan had every right to go if he wanted to, but to Flora,
Flora turned to Rosa who seemed busy at the table preparing for the next meal. They were quite shorthanded at the kitchen, but Flora already prepared some of the ingredients for lunch and would just have to cook them after she got back from the vegetable patch. She waited for Rosa to acknowledge hearing Emil and that she was free to go, but the cook who had her back to the pick-up window did not seem to have noticed the gardener talking to Flora.Flora opened her mouth to speak. “Ahm… Ma’am, Emil’s here to guide me to the vegetable patch,” Flora said.Rosa turned her head to one side, not quite facing Flora and Emil, and seemed to watch Flora using her peripheral vision. Then, she resumed her work. “You may go,” she said.Flora shrugged her shoulders and untied her apron. She took two baskets in which she would place the herbs and vegetables that she would be picking. Rosa did not mind Flora moving about in the kitchen
After Flora had sufficiently rested, she led Nadi down the steps and they soon heard the sound of falling water. The foliage was dense, and Flora could not see far through the trees, but she knew from the sound of water and the smell in the air that they were close to the waterfalls.Soon, Flora glimpsed the waterfalls as they descended the stone steps. It was a glorious cascade of water that gushed between two facing cliffs that were both covered with vines and trees. The water fell into a small pool of clear water that was drained by a river that wound through the tree-covered forest. Flora knew that the river would eventually drain to the sea."It's the waterfalls, Mommy!" cried Nadi excitedly and she pulled her mother's hand who was holding to her tightly."Wait, Nadi. Don't run." Flora warned her daughter whom she had to let go.It was midmorning, but it was still dim at the waterfalls because of its low elevation and its location under the cliffs. T
The three men felt terror rising within them, but they remained where they were within the safety of the cave, thinking that they would be in greater danger if they went out. The wind whistled and the branches of the trees continued to sway dangerously. If they went out of the cave, it would not be the dark figure that could kill them, but trees that get uprooted or heavy branches breaking and falling on their heads.None of the fishermen said a word but went closer towards the fire and tried to protect it from the wind by placing stones around its base. As the fishermen huddled together, they would glance furtively outside at the place where they saw the apparition to see whether it was still there. It was.The fishermen then reportedly saw strange visions that they were in serious danger if they stayed within the cave. One fisherman said that he saw the cave collapsing over their heads and saw them getting buried underneath the rubble. Another saw the waterfalls ragi
Emil led Flora and Nadi up the slope where he said the vegetable patch was located. They walked closer to the mouth of the cave, but Flora could not see far inside. The cave opening was larger than she expected, and she estimated that a few people could comfortably fit stand at the entrance, giving credence to the story of the fishermen. Flora wondered how far inside the cave went, but she knew that these caves could extend kilometers into the earth. How far this cave went, Flora did not know. Some caves get narrower a few meters into the entrance before widening into larger chambers. She remembered entering one of the many caves in the outskirts of Cardena. The cave had a pool of fresh water and was said to be clean after rainwater seeped through kilometers of limestone that acted as natural filters.Flora wondered if the cave had other entrances and she decided to ask Emil.“Emil…” Flora called Emil as she tried to keep up with the gardener. &ldquo
Flora quickly walked towards her daughter and placed her arms around her. Nadi responded and clung to her mother’s arms, but she held on tightly to her doll and did not take her eyes off Emil. Nadi eyed Emil suspiciously, her eyebrows pushing towards each other.Emil saw the angry look on Nadi’s face and turned to Flora. “Your daughter’s doll,” said Emil. “My daughter used to have a doll just like it.”Flora looked at Nadi’s doll which she hugged tightly. “You mean Kay?” Flora asked Emil. “I bought that doll for Nadi last Christmas. I remember that it was quite a popular toy back then.”&ldqu