A young woman sleeping

This work was done by Petaundklau last year.


(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) (1656-1657)



I have to take my time to enter the little key in the lock because of all the things that I am taking with me. I have taken some plates from the dinning room that were left by the lady of the house, a carpet from the hall that I have to wash, several glasses and a mug with wine from the welcome party of the baby. I leave everything on the table of the kitchen before doing the washing up.

I still have my new clothes on; I did not even take off the expensive earrings that the master gave to me in my birthday. It was supposed to be a present but I consider it more a consolation prize. I have worked as a maid in this family for ten years. The house is not very big and that makes it easier but now I am also in charge of the children. The nanny left a couple of years ago and the master did not want to take another maid because of the gossiping of other aristocrats, so I had to take all that burden on me.

I sit down on a leather covered chair. I take my hands into my head and I rub my forehead with my hands in a vain attempt to erase every sign of grief. I do not feel better and I gaze the mug of wine shining in the light that comes from the window. I can take just a sip of wine before I wash the carpet. It will be just to taste the unattainable flavour of happiness. I pour the wine in a glass with golden brim. I approach the glass so slowly that I make a ritual of it. I can see the deep purple drink standing still, so dark that I feel that I am looking into my own soul.

I drink the glass of wine. I look again into the bottle. I do not think that neither the master nor the mistress will miss the wine that was left from the party because yesterday was a very happy day and I could notice that in the master’s breath. It was a welcome party for the last child in the house. It is a lovely little girl. She has bright blue eyes and her skin is as smooth as the touch of a cloud. I like listening to her gurgling in her cot and I sometimes get up at night just to see her sleeping.

I am absorbed by my own thoughts and I have not noticed that I had almost drunk the whole mug of wine. I feel calmer while the wine slips through my throat.  I lay my head in my hand slightly bent to the right while I caress the cashmere like tablecloth. I remember leaving the door opened. In other days I would have closed it but there was nothing to hide now.  I leave myself in Morpheus’ arms.

Memories come to my mind. I can see myself. I was young. It was my first year in the house. My blue eyes were alive and I could look into the daylight without feeling fear.  Even a shy smile could be outlined in my face. I was brought into the house because my father had died and I was the elder of five children, so I had to help my mother earning money for the family. I was quite happy that I could find a job. But that entire dream turned into a nightmare quite soon.

I had noticed that the mistress of the house had changed, she began behaving strangely. She was like a little child, vulnerable and disable. This brought so much sadness and sorrow into the house. The master also changed. But he changed towards me. He began looking at me from the doorframe while I was working or taking care of the children. Several times he touched smoothly my hand in such an inattentive way that it could seem nothing but an accident if it would not have been accompanied by a lewd glance.  I could not understand why he did this and I was not sure whether all that was just part of my imagination.

I got my answer one night.  I was almost asleep in my bedroom next to the kitchen when I heard that someone was approaching the door. The door handle was moving while my pupils were becoming bigger in fear.  I saw a shadow of a man. I could not move, the fear had paralyzed all my muscles as if I was in the middle of the freezing Artic.  He moved closer to my bed. He took off his pants and he pulled out the rough blanket. I wanted to shout, to escape, to run away from there, I wanted to fight the threatening figure but I could just close my eyes. Even my blood was inert and I held my breath to prevent my lungs from being spoiled with the foul air in the room.

This did not end up that night. It was hell coming to earth every night. I was raped during nine years in the eyes of a mad wife and of three little children. There was a time when my blood thickened and I had no tears to wipe, no smile and no brightness in my blue eyes. The girl was my only salvation. Nine months did the whole family keep the secret. It was not difficult to keep it because the mistress did not go out of the house. The pain of those nine years was nothing compared to that of watching my own child in the arms of others.

A noise of breaking glass awakens me alarmed. I see pieces of glass in my hand and blood is flowing from them. So many things come to my mind in a second. I can hear the little girl crying. Oh little child of mine, do not cry for your unhappy mother, it will be better to end up with all this as soon as possible. I slit my wrists with the already broken pieces of glass. I lay again my head in my hand while blood is slipping on my arm. What is done can not be undone