Purple Peruvian Potatoes
The petite, young girl walked alongside me to show me the directions to my living quarters and the kitchen.
All around us were painted walls of a deep, dark, rich scarlet. Occasionally, we would come across a gilded picture frame of some old painting of people I assumed to be the previous occupants of the Zebeln estate. There was one of a bald old man who wore circular silver glasses that hid his eyes and an expensive black suit...there was one of an amber-haired girl that held up a bright green fan that hid half of her unhappy face…there was one of a dark-haired mustachioed man with an odd smile…there was…
Most of the time, my guide practically bounced up and down in fancy spins and pirouettes. Samantha was the complete opposite of the androgynous driver; whereas he was taciturn, a torrent of words gushed from her mouth; whereas he seemed bored out of his mind, she seemed to find interest in the smallest things.
"Kaki, tell me, where did you come from?" she asked in mid-turn.
"Hmm…reminds me! Have you ever read Don Quixote?" she interrupted.
"Really? Ah, I love that story. Do you know the word for words like quixotic?"
"Eponym, yeah, eponym…Of course, I don't really understand words that well. I like categorizing them. How about you? What do you like to categorize?"
"Oh, of course. You're a chef. Silly me. Why did I even ask?"
Samantha grinned cheerfully, while I felt simply overwhelmed.
It seemed as if every word I tried to get in was completely stifled by her. While her innocent looks brought to mind that of an angel, the expression she brought on in me was more similar to a goldfish, still with their mouth hanging open. After thirty minutes of silence on my part and random blabbering about beans, unicorns, and ponies on her part, she finally noticed the O shape my mouth made.
"Mm…? What's wrong? You look like the subject of the painting "The Scream"." Samantha halted in front of me and stared, her already freakishly wide brown eyes growing ever so slightly.
"Well…"I hesitated, unsure of how to explain to the peppy girl that she was interrupting me and not really helping me. "Well…"
She blinked her long lashes at me. "Oh! I'm sorry! I just have this terrible habit of interrupting people and going off on tangents of my own!" she spoke while covering her mouth with her hands. Samantha suddenly fell to the floor and began bowing over and over again, while repeating her apologies. "Sorry, sorry, sorry…"
Dumbfounded, I stared at the maid, unbelieving that the pathetic figure in front of me was the same who had so blatantly jumped around and spoke just a few minutes ago. She had seemed so rude and annoying, but then she had changed in a split of a second.
"But now, we need to keep going," Samantha said, and perked up her head, taking in the current surroundings. "And…it seems as if I've been leading you the wrong direction all this time!"
"What?!" I gasped, unbelieving. "All this time…we've been going the wrong direction?" My numb confusion instantly turned into a flaring boil of anger.
"Yep…" Samantha laughed, cheerily ignoring the fact we had wasted thirty minutes of time going the wrong direction. "Hmm…wait…unless…I am going the right direction? No, the kitchen has a series of ten pictures of extremely ugly men before you turn left. Or was it the garden?"
"Gah!" I held my head in my hands. "You're lost?"
"Well, I do have a terrible sense of direction," Samantha mused. Before I could retort back with a question of my own asking why in the world she didn't know the hallways yet, the two of us heard a sound.
Footsteps echoed through the halls. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
"Did you hear that?" Samantha asked me, her eyes growing even wider from before.
"Well, I assume that there are more people besides you here." I cocked my head at her.
"Hehehehe…"the girl laughed nervously.
"There aren't?! But what about Louisa?"
"Louisa? Louisa doesn't come in these parts of her estate."
"Hello, there." The two of us jumped at the lower tone of voice.
A boy, apparently about 25 or so, politely bowed to us. He had a strong resemblance to Samantha, with the same honey blonde hair and same wide brown eyes.
"Oh, it's you, Sam," the girl laughed nervously.
He blinked and sighed. "Why are you…Oh. It's you, of course." Sam turned to me. "And you are the new chef, correct? Kaki Prif?
"Yes, I am," I answered, staring at the two of them.
"Well, if you'll excuse my sibling's odd remarks and odd direction, please. Samantha, wasn't Griffin Sol supposed to show her around?" he asked.
"He was? Really? I thought it was going to be me! Then again, I also wondered why Louisa chose me to show her around…"the girl spoke thoughtfully, rubbing her head.
Sam Moineau groaned, and said, "Just leave her to me. I'll do the job."
"Thanks, bro!" Samantha piped up. In an instant, she was gone, leaving the two of us behind.
Sam shook his head after her. "What a foolish child, naïve and quite scatterbrained. Still, she is my sister."
He gestured to me with a flick of his hand. "Come. The kitchen and your quarters are this way.
I had never seen such a luxurious room before. The carpet was made of velvet and the same shade as the walls before, and the walls were tastefully painted a light coffee brown. The canopy bed in the center was a simple white one, and the rest of the necessary furniture was made of mahogany.
In the bathroom, the floor shone a brilliant gold color. The gigantic bathtub made of granite stood to the side, while various jars of extremely expensive toiletries cluttered the ornately carved sink. On it, there was a note: "Choose only what you need."
And all of this…all of this…was mine to use for a thirteen-week period? I fainted straight away on the floor, blackness eating away at my vision.
"Is she awake yet, Uetoresu?" a hazy, concerned voice entered the darkness that was my mind.
Why…where was I? Something…I think it was…oh, yes. Fainting, and a lot of sound, and someone picking me up and laying me on something soft…for some bizarre reason, I wanted to tunnel in the warm darkness forever.
Suddenly, the sheets of the canopy bed were ripped away by an extremely muscular and block-like woman. "OI, WOMAN. YOU GOTTA COOK NOW. AND I MEAN NOW." She roared, shaking me violently. My teeth rattled against each other from the force.
Her companion, an almost delicately built, teenage boy with blazing red hair, sighed deeply. The only way to describe him in three words was a very beautiful boy. "Please, Uetoresu, treat her more gently. Unlike you, she must not have gone through military training. And what of her first impression of the place?"
"Who cares about her first impression of the place?" Uetoresu snarled. "She's late, and she's supposed to be working for us! And I'm pretty sure a 'pretty boy' like you didn't go through any military training, either, Griffin. "
My mouth did not feel like working, and my eyes just watched the nasty woman mow over the completely indifferent teenage boy with her words. Why was I here again? To cook?
"What time is it?" I finally spoke. The two of them stared at me.
"5:00," Uetoresu replied.
"Why are you in such a hurry, then? Most people don't eat until much later." I asked.
"The thing is…the preparation time for Louisa's breakfast is always quite long." Griffin spoke. "She requires a full-course banquet for practically every meal consisting of new and unusual tastes. Before, she was able to try about 75 new tastes every day, but now, she is attempting to balance it out more. Her stomach has gotten less powerful as it was 20 years ago, partly because she tried almost all of the most horrible tastes those years ago. However, you do have the special distinction of having the last thirteen tastes to cook."
"Last…thirteen tastes?" I asked, but then, I remembered.
"I believe, by the end of your term, she will have tried all the tastes in the world…"
"Yes. It's quite a unique feat…" Griffin said, bringing me out of my reminiscing. "However, she will let you decide whatever you want to cook for her with the ingredients given to you, so long as you include the taste for her that week. And this week? I believe it's Century Eggs.
"Uetoresu?" I called. "I'm done. You can take the food to Louisa now!"
I looked upon my work: seven Century Eggs, seven different types of steaming bacon, seven gigantic salty sausages, whole milk, and toast. Surely she would be satisfied by this? This was all I could find in the refrigerator, and certainly much more than I could eat.
The burly waitress walked in and glanced at the food with a greedy eye. "Well…all I can say is good job. None of the chefs from the interviewer before were bad, but they all refused to come back after their term. Who knows? Maybe you'll be different."
She lifted the food and piled it up on one arm, and she was off.
It was quite odd, really. All over the past two weeks I heard about Louisa and cooked for her, and I hadn't even seen her, heard her, or even watched her eat. The person I imagined her being was an incredibly obese, old, anosmatic hag with a decent amount of money and pictured in black and white.
One day, I was walking past the glorious garden and admiring the scenery.
"It's beautiful, isn't it? Griffin did a wonderful job," a voice spoke softly. I turned to see a person I had never seen before in the estate. Then again, the estate was so large, I hadn't seen Samantha again in all this time.
She was incredibly thin, and her skin shone with the color of cream. Her age, I estimated, was perhaps around 25 years, perhaps a decade younger than I was. She was clothed in rich red silk finery, but tastefully done, not like so many others. Her dark hair was tied up in a fancy bun, and she hid her face behind a white fan.
"I suppose so," I answered, not really listening. "It certainly smells better than the kitchen."
"Do you notice it, still? The smell?" she inquired.
"It's odd, really. It used to overwhelm me the first week, and it was unbearable agony. But now? I can still detect it if I focus, but it feels as if it's not there anymore."
She laughed quietly. "Anyways, I must send a small warning to you, Kaki, from my master. Tonight, lock your doors."
"Mm? Why?" I asked, my curiosity piqued.
"We have a visitor tonight, one of my relatives. He often gets drunk, and often enjoys scaring the servants. He thinks it's great fun, although the last time he tried it, he tried it with Uetoresu, who then proceeded to threaten him with a knife. Disappointingly, he did not remember the night, so he probably still will do it. He will arrive at midnight, and you will probably be asleep by then…but just lock your doors for the next seven days. He will be staying us for the rest of this week."
"Thanks," I told her. "I'll keep that in mind."
As she turned to walk away, I suddenly realized that I had no clue what her name was. "Excuse me, miss? What's your name?" I called after her.
She stopped, and she looked at me. "Louisa," she said. "Louisa Zebeln."