A Fate Unknown
'Is your schoolwork finished yet?'
'Good.' Yumi saw her mother smile in cruel mirth, 'We have to buy you some new dresses at the market today. We simply must be ready for the harvest celebration tomorrow night.'
'Excuse me ma'am.'
'I feel bound to tell you that the child hasn't yet finished today's work and I think we should keep at it until-'
'Well then, she's slow and should have finished it more quickly!'
'On the contrary, ma'am, your daughter is a very bright pupil. Frankly, in some subjects, she surpasses my knowledge.'
'That's lovely Theodore.' Yumi's mother, Tami, was quickly becoming impatient.
Yumi and Theodore exchanged looks: that conversation with her mother had been her last hope. It was now crystal clear that her mother would never realise Yumi needed further education.
Tami yanked on Yumi's sleeve, dragging her from the room and halfway to the market in town whilst Theodore sat, head in hands, trying his best to come up with a way out of this mess for the poor girl.
She can draw a perfect replica, to a given scale, of anything and yet her mother uses her for help with washing the dishes! Yumi is a prodigy but being used as a slave within her own family, a pet to parade before the public. How am I to save her from a lifetime of this? They don't love her. They don't give a damn. The only person in her life who ever has is me.
Yumi could garner her own riches in mere weeks if she so wanted, her skills alone could do that for her: she is not only a spectacular artist but she can sing and dance like an angel and almost all of her subjects she surpasses me in. English has, unfortunately, always been her downfall- the one thing her parents would notice and she's not so good at it. Typical. Maybe it's some coping mechanism that the poor child has put in place? I don't know but I do know it's sacrilege for her talent to be wasted on suds and water. Tami wants her girl's every whim to be that which fashion points her in. This child needs her own life, separate from her mother, more than any child I've ever taught.
'How long is it until legally we are no longer in need of your services?'
'Yumi's sixteenth birthday,' Theodore reluctantly admitted.
'Ah, only one more week of school for her then,' he said, rubbing his hands together in glee. He was probably thinking up more objectionable things for Yumi to do around the house, her newest torture.
'Well…she could go on to higher education. She's certainly smart enough to go to-'
'Balderdash! You know as well as I do that her grasp of the English language, let alone anything else, leaves a lot to be desired. No, we're taking her straight out of school on her sixteenth birthday and we're going to buy that girl lots of dresses and get her all prettied up so that she can be married off.'
Theodore pursed his lips in distaste.
'If that is what you feel should be done.'
'Then who am I to stop you?'
'Right you are, Theo. Hey, Where are you going!' As Yumi's father talked of his plans, Theodore edged out of the kitchen and slammed the door behind him. He knew that he had to do something, for Yumi's sake. She deserved a better future than that.
No one deserved that future.