17 Afternoon Tea Time Pt.2

    With damp sleeves and aching arms, Gyuri heaved the basket of wet sheets from where she was sitting near the stream and started making her way back to the maids' quarters. Three or so hours had elapsed since Madam Zhou had left her and without a doubt, Gyuri knew it was almost time for her to help serve tea to the Kims for the first time.

    "Damn it," she cursed as she set the basket down on the ground while she rotated her shoulders. She sighed as she looked up at the blue sky while breathing in the fresh air. "What the hell am I doing here?" she murmured to herself. "I should be back home studying for my GCSEs..."

    Gyuri surveyed her surroundings and took in the fresh and vibrant greenery of the Kims' household grounds. Currently, she was outdoors near the stream where the laundry maids did their tasks. Normally, Gyuri would take her time to appreciate the natural scenery since, in London, all she ever saw were grey concrete walls. But, in her current situation, all she could appreciate was the few hours of rest after a long day's work.

    "Man, I miss the internet" she contemplated as she lifted the basket again. "I miss Snapchat" she complained further. "And YouTube." She sighed dejectedly, "I miss listening to music and watching TV."

    As Gyuri made her way back, her mind inadvertently began to think about all the things she missed from back home. She missed being in a familiar place; she missed her dad and brother and most of all, she missed just being a normal teenage girl.

    "This is child labour" Gyuri grumbled while eyeing the basket and then inspecting her blistered hands. "I should report them to the authorities!"

    But then Gyuri's usual playful behaviour faded as she was overcome by a wave of anxiety and sadness.

    Gyuri swiftly wiped away the tears that were forming in the corners of her eyes. She didn't want anyone to witness her crying, not even the other maids.

    Even though she had befriended Pho and was sort of in good terms with Mayu, she didn't feel comfortable sharing with them her woes especially when it might impact the future if she happened to reveal too much. And because of such reasons, Gyuri felt burdened and isolated by the secret she harboured.

    "I can do this," she told herself resolutely. "I'm not a wuss" she added while hastily wiping her tears away. "I'll find a way back home somehow. Just like Marty and Doc did in 'Back to the Future'."

    Gyuri continued down the path with her newfound optimism. With every step she took, she tried to keep the doubt that was nagging at the back of her mind, at bay as it threatened to taint what hope she had left with the murkiness of anxiety.

    So many questions flitted through her head, making her uneasy and frustrated at her lack of knowledge.

    So far, all she knew was that she was in the kingdom of Saim and currently residing in the capital, Benkei. Gyuri had tried to figure out whether Saim was an ancient name for either Japan, Korea, China or another country but with little luck. It was during these times that she wished her school had taught her world history rather than sticking strictly to the British history syllabus.

    And to top it all off, there was one thing that really baffled her- why hadn't she time-slipped to medieval Britain? Surely, there was some sort of rule with time-slips that you will be transported to a primitive time in the country you were in? If that was the case then, why had she been sent to Saim?

    "It's because I'm Asian, isn't it?" she mumbled bitterly. "Even time-slips can be discriminatory..."

    As Gyuri continued to hobble with the wet sheets still dripping in her old wicker basket, she suddenly felt a sharp pain at the back of her head as a small pebble hit her. She yelped, "Ouch!"

    Gyuri reached for the back of her head while searching her surroundings wildly. Where had the pebble come from? Gyuri looked up to the sound of rustling and witnessed two birds quarrelling high up in the trees. Could the pebble have come from above? She pursed her lips, "Stupid birds."

    Gyuri kissed her teeth before picking up her fallen basket and continuing with her trudge towards the maids' quarters. But as she did so, little did she know that somewhere, hidden behind the bushes, someone was stifling their triumphant laughter at having hit a bullseye.
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