This piece is titled New Beginnings.
It's around 1,200 words in total
Nattie rose early in the morning, pushing the thin curtains back a little so she wouldn’t wake her ten year old sister, but just enough to see the sun slowly creeping up behind the fur trees at the back of the farm and the frost shimmering on the grass, making it seem like it had snowed during the night, but she knew that one wrong placed foot on the frost ridden grass or cobbles would send you flying.
She shivered and pulled the thin cotton nightgown around her more securely. She tucked her knees up in it and wrapped her arms around them, the colder seeming to creep into every part of the body. She had to move otherwise she would freeze and that would not be a very good start to her first day. Nattie looked over at her packed bag and smiled instantly. As much as she didn’t want to leave her family home, she didn’t want to leave her family behind, it was a new start for her and she had to take it. Her mother had told her that anything could happen with this new position, she had said that a few short years she could make housekeeper. Her brothers had laughed at this and made some kind of snide remark, when don’t they? But she knew that she had her mother’s and father’s approval, even though her father didn’t want her to go into service, he wanted her to stay on a farm and help him. They were short staffed as it was, no one seemed to be going into farming any more, nearly all the boys from her school seem to be going on to university and then going to city to find better jobs that are better paid and the girl seemed to go into domestic service, like she would.
But her mother had pushed her to go for the position of parlour maid at Swift Hall, she had been reluctant at first. Nattie had always thought she would stay on the farm and help out so she could eventually raise a family of own in her family house. But her mother had opened her eyes to new possibilities. Now she was determined to better herself. She was determined to move above the ranks and be something she never thought she would be, she wanted to make her family proud, especially her mother, she was the one who pushed and pressed her to go for the job.
And she’s got it. By some miracle, she didn’t mess up, she didn’t trip over her words and she impressed the head housekeeper. So much so that she was offered the job on the spot. The housekeeper was immensely impressed with her, it boosted her confidence. Now she could do anything she wanted and be anyone she wanted to be.
Nattie leapt out of bed and quickly washed, combing her hair back and put it into a single plait, fixing it with a ribbon at the nape of the neck. She dressed hurriedly, so the cold didn’t affect her too much as she knew the walk to the hall would be very cold and treacherous. It was near on three miles away, which is why she woke up so early, to give herself plenty of time to get there and make herself presentable before she started work. Of course she had to carry her belongings with her today as she would be living in, this meant she would not return home as often as she would like, but it was a chance for her mother and father to advertise for some new farmhands and hopefully by the time she had her first day off, the farm thriving again as it once was during her childhood.
Nattie looked at herself in the small mirror that hung on the wall opposite her bed. She placed the second-hand felt hat on her head and secured with pins and finally wound the scarf the mother had made her round the neck. She smiled broadly and nodded to herself in the mirror, as if to say good luck.
She turned back to the other bed in the room, her sister lay sleeping soundly. It was a shame that she couldn’t have said goodbye properly before she left. But she had reminded Caitlin last night that she would come home on her day off once a month and if the housekeeper liked what she saw, her days off would go up to 2 a month. This made her little sister very happy and her tears dried. Now, Nattie bent her head and kissed her sisters’ golden locks gently. Then she picked up her heavy bag and silently slipped out from the room, closing the door behind her. She ran silently down the stairs, remembering to jump the last step as it squeaked. She didn’t want to wake anyone up, she had said her farewells last night and didn’t want to prolong the pain for anyone.
Nattie dropped her bag and walked into the pantry, grabbing a loaf of bread and a hunk of cheese. Quickly she made herself a small sandwich to eat on the journey. Wrapping it up in a small cloth, she then when outside and quickly drew herself a pail of water from the pump. She dipped a hand inside the ice cold water and drank quickly, repeating the action until she had quenched her thirst.
She heard footsteps behind her and pulled herself up to her full height. She smiled, as her father rounded the corner.
“You weren’t going to leave without saying goodbye to your old Pa, were you?” He set the pail of milk he was carrying down and walked over to her.
Nattie grinned and rushed over to him, hugging him tightly and smelling the new hay from the cow shed on him. He always smelt of hay and cinnamon, it made her feel safe. It reminded her of her childhood.
“Of course not Father, I just didn’t want to wake up the rest of the family. They are upset enough as it is.”
“Aye, we’ll miss you lass.”
Nattie looked up at him and smiled sadly. “I have to go Father, otherwise I’ll be late. I don’t want to get in trouble on my first day,” she untangled herself from his embrace and picked up her breakfast and her belongings.
He offered her his arm and she took it, feeling a little uneasy on her feet and the threat of tears rising up inside her. “I’ll walk you to the end of the lane, lass. Don’t you start getting upset, I’m proud of you for going into service. And we’ll make you proud yet,” he said as they walked slowly down the lane, the sun casting long light shadows on the grass.
She nodded, not trusting herself to speak and they reached the end of the lane. She turned to her father and hugged him one last time. “I promise I’ll visit when I can Father.”
He nodded and her heart broke as she saw tears running down his weathered face. “Aye, don’t get forgetting us. You take care up there, Nattie.”
With that, he planted a kiss on her check and strode back towards the farm. She watched him until he rounded the bend and then turned back to the road ahead of her.
Right, Nattie thought to herself, let’s see what happens today. And with that, she picked up her bag and strode down the road, humming a tune and holding her head high, a smile on her lips.