All around me, they're all here again. The soldiers, the fighting. I can't go back there, not without James, my wonderful Jamie. I try calling his name but it hurts too much; it just comes out as a hoarse cry. I try over and over again. James, James, James! I scream it now. I scream until the name makes its way out. Then I see him in the midst of the charging crowd of a battlefield. I see it happen all over again. Time seems to slow down. I see the shrapnel heading towards him, just a few feet away from me. I scream his name again, sitting up with a start.
Sweat soaked my face as I stared to the wall in front of me - a dull, greyish white colour, calming. I slowly began to concentrate on my breathing as it became a slower, more normal pace.
Three loud bangs sounded on my wall as the man inhabiting the room next door shouted angrily. It wouldn't matter for much longer; I wasn't staying here. I was leaving in just a few hours. My bed was now drenched in sweat, as was the rest of my tired, aching body. I swung my legs over to sit on the edge. My Jamie is still gone, I sighed as I thought to myself.
It had been several years since the end of the Great War, and I hadn't seen James for what felt like twice as long. Our love had been unwanted, even illegal, but nobody knew and now nobody ever would.
I looked over at my clock with a sigh, 5am. No point in going back to sleep, I'd have to leave in an hour, and anyway, I'd only have the nightmare again. I got up slowly and ready for the new start at Ellis Manor.
Soon, I found myself knocking on the door at the back entrance of a grand, intimidating building. The outside was built from stone, which shone a warm yellow colour in the morning sun as it towered over me like a lion before its prey.
Mr Everson, the Butler, opened the door; I had met him during the interviews. He was an aging man, balding and overweight with stern, grey eyes. "Ah, Samuel, you're here. Come on through." He greeted me, leading me through a long, narrow hallway that opened out into a small servant's hall.
There were about 7 servants in the hall; they all stood up simultaneously as we entered the room and Mr Everson nodded for them to sit down before he spoke, "Everybody, this is Samuel. He is going to be the new second footman."
My smile faltered slightly, "Second footman? I thought I was being offered the place of first footman?" I asked him quietly, so that only he could hear.
"Yes, well, I decided to give George the job of first footman since he has been with us for several years and I thought he had earned it. You don't mind, do you?" He announced loudly, completely destroying any point of hushed tones.
I laughed nervously, turning to everyone else in the room; their indicting eyes were all on me. There was one set of eyes in particular, that I assumed belonged to George. They scowled rudely, glinting emerald green. "No, of course not." I lied quietly, heat rushing to my cheeks.
"Good." He said with a smile. "I don't have time to introduce you to everybody, so you'll all have to do that yourselves." He was addressing everybody now, "And can somebody show Samuel to his new room. The house will awaken and want breakfast soon, so be quick."
They all seemed quite friendly, with the exception of George who was insistent on pretending that I didn't exist, but I had no intention of getting along with him. The house maids, Stella and Freya, offered to show me to my room, but Mrs Brown, who was there superior, hastily reminded them that they weren't allowed in the Men's corridor so Mr Charles, Lord Barrington's Valet, offered to show me instead.
When we got to my room I thanked Mr Charles and let him get on with his other jobs. I was surprised to have my own bedroom, granted my new room was quite small, but in all my other jobs, I'd had to share a room with one of the other servants. There was a small window, except I had to stand on top of my bed to look out. I had a chest of drawers at the end of my bed and a wardrobe against the wall opposite, I even had my own table.
After looking around, I decided to get dressed, ready for serving breakfast. Mr Everson had asked me to help, just to introduce myself to the family. I was nervous, of course, but ready.
I followed George up the stairs to the Dining Hall. Everything in the room was decorated, from the gloriously patterned ceiling to the pretty glassware carefully placed around the room. Lady Rose, Sir Robert and Lord Barrington were all there, of course, but Lady Barrington was having breakfast in the bedroom as a married lady. "So you're the new first footman? Tell me, how are your first impressions...?" Lord Barrington greeted me, searching for a name.
"Samuel, my Lord." I filled in for him, "And, actually, I'm only second footman now." I looked to George, where I was met with a wry smile.
"Oh?" he questioned. "I thought that was George's position?" A small frown formed upon his aging face.
I smiled modestly, but as soon as it appeared, it was gone as George said, "It was, my Lord, but Mr Everson thought I was more deserving of the place since I have been here so long."
"With all due respect, George, I don't think that's quite fair. I mean, Samuel thought he was signing up for first footman, and he has probably had more suitable training." Sir Robert joined in, a frown identical to his father's upon his younger face. Lord Barrington thought for a moment, then nodded and looked to me for an answer.
"Well I - er -" I looked at George, who now glared at me. "Yes, I have. I was the first footman in my last job, my lord." His glare intensified; I smiled smugly.
"Right, well I shall speak to Mr Everson and see if we can sort this whole mess out." He said conclusively.
"Yes, my Lord. Thank you, Sir." I thanked them before leaving the room swiftly.
"Oh, and George, I hope you don't mind." I heard him add, as if George wouldn't care.
"No, not at all, my Lord." George replied, a fake edge in his emotionless reply.
I hadn't walked far down the Hall before George had managed to corner me. "Listen here! I have been waiting years for this Job and you're not going to take it away from me." His seething face was inches away from mine. Almost growling, he reminded me rather of an angry poodle, especially with his styled blond hair.
"We'll see about that." I replied, deadly serious, before smirking and walking away.