“Too bad there isn’t a key for this, a button that could make all our tasks happen without thinking. The mechanisms of the brain formed into a system that knows exactly what to do without us telling it…” Lydia moaned, tucking her hands back into the warm confines of her apron pocket.
“That brain of yours is far too advanced, don’t let anyone hear you saying such non-sense, you might get us all arrested, or worse, fired....”
“Oh mother, you worry too much, and besides, one-day you will see, there will be such contraptions that written words can be typed at the tips of our fingers and our voices will be forever played on a loop—it will be as simple as pecking keys on a keyboard or plucking strings on a violin. Speaking of—those things had to come from somewhere they didn’t just fall from the sky. A person made those things possible. Maybe I can be such a person. Imagine how much our lives would change, you’d never have to work again…”
“Lydia, my dear child…not that I don’t think you have it in you but…those are things for men and young boys to derive. Not well-to-do women such as yourself. Don’t go tinkering with things that others might contrive as magic it’ll make you crazy. You know what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Pottersnack from up the street. Their neighbor reported them, something about scrawling, rapid writing— letters and numbers all over the walls, a wide assortment of vials and bubbling flasks; and to think, they were just making cleaning supplies. Turns out it was all very normal, run-of-the-mill, benign work. Nothing dangerous or sordid…and here you come, my own daughter, my very flesh and blood wanting to create contraptions that record voices or mass-produce pages for print. It’s foolishness. We are and will always be resigned to our allocated work…and you better get used to it, and besides, Ms. Eugenia is in a ripe old mood. I wouldn’t cross her today. She’s been up for hours pacing and creating more work.”
“One-day,” Lydia began, a smile creasing the edge of her lips. “This work will be here long after we’re gone, someone else would be in our place as though we never existed.” She was right, she wanted more.
“Work smarter, not harder—isn’t that what you always say?”
“Lydia, my heart—you are taking my words out of context, I meant that missive regarding your work, your daily jobs. It’s a saying—always be professional, always keep abreast of the work, always make sure to stay one step ahead so you don’t fall behind…that sort of thing. My word, I can’t imagine you being the one to take things out of turn. At least I expected it of your two brothers, but not you.”
Her voice trailed off. Lydia’s mom was one of the strongest women she knew and yet, here she stood afraid of the future, afraid to go against the grain. In a time when it was needed the most.
“Well I can’t do this sort of work forever—cleaning a house that’s never messy, ironing piles of stuffy fabric, toiling in a grass-less yard, making beds, cooking food, carrying bags of groceries up and down rickety stairs. It is not the life I envisioned for myself, nor you for that matter. I thought you would want better…”
“You should consider yourself—and me—quite lucky. We could have it so much worse with the other stories I hear at church. It’s quite humbling. Some houses don’t have electricity or running water. Some places don’t have mattresses or even beds to sleep. Extra clothes to change into, the sorts of luxuries we have been afforded. We are the lucky ones…don’t you ever forget that in all your clouded day-dreams, please…I beg of you…”
“Lydia,” a shrill, piercing call came from three floors above. No amount of padding could muffle Ms. Eugenia Wards voice. She was always the loudest woman in the room and in all her haste Lydia admired her still. She was self-made, self-created and an absolute visionary.
“Well don’t just stand there, grab her tray and go,” Lydia’s mom hissed, nudging her on. “She doesn’t like to wait, you know this.”
Lydia held the gilded, mirrored tray straight out in front of her as she took the stairs two at a time like a waddling crab as she narrowly avoided tripping on the edges of her hoop-less skirt.
“Careful Lydia, my goodness—don’t be sloppy. Slow down,” her mother called after but it was no use, Lydia would do as she wanted.
“Lydia, please, my breakfast.” Ms. Eugenia Ward sat in a state of discontent on the edge of her bed. It was clear Lydia’s mom had been in at some point that morning to make it—the linen was crisp, too crisp.
“What is that,” Eugenia began, nodding towards an empty spot on her glass-topped vanity. A few handled mirrors, powdering kits and a hairbrush lie as they always did—neat and in perfect symmetry off to the side.
Lydia smiled, looking again for something she might have missed.
“I, I don’t see what I’m supposed to be looking for.”
“Exactly, it hasn’t been invented yet…”
Lydia blushed. Her cheeks growing hot as they boiled over.
“But that can be changed…” she paused, a clever smile flickered across her aging face. "I'm looking for something small that can emit tiny glowing orbs of light similar to the sun." She began, her eyes glazing over as though she knew something Lydia didn't.
“Anyways, it's no matter. I'm sure your ideas are better...keep something in mind. Always remember I can hear everything that goes on in this house, and I do mean everything but I have to say—I was pleasantly surprised by your enthusiasm. That’s something that can’t be taught. I knew there was a reason I’d hired you and after today’s conversation I would like you to work for me, with me…Instead of being a maid, I would like you to help me run my company, to take over when I'm gone. I’m getting old and am in dire need of someone with fresh, new ideas—you know—to keep in line with the times. I don't have any kids or heirs that meet a smidgen of your drive and desire. The same spark of fire I recognize within my self...in fact, if you don’t have any more tasks maybe take the rest of the afternoon and get some ideas together so we can get some plans drawn up… I will talk to your mother and draft the necessary contracts…What do you say?”
Lydia could barely respond, practically floating up the stairs to the fifth-floor attic where she looked down over the dreary street. The world seemed alive for the first time, draped in colors she’d never seen. It was as though she'd just been handed a new life.
About the Creator
Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.
& above all—thank you for your time