By Tracey Morait

Children's, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Paperback, eBook

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1 mins


The girl’s face is a blur at first, but gradually becomes clearer. I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful before: her large eyes are a dazzling deep blue and her skin is milky-white, like a statue I saw in a museum once. She’s wearing a long, shimmering purple dress down to her feet with gold-coloured straps across her shoulders, purple sandals and a chunky purple beaded necklace. Her hair is a mass of red-gold curls reaching to her waist. For a moment we stare at one another and I’m so freaked out I can’t stop shaking. Who is she and where am I?
   The girl jumps and drags her eyes away from me.
   ‘I beg your pardon, Mother,’ she says nervously to the woman in the pale green dress lying on the opposite couch. You couldn’t call her beautiful: she’s got a face like a smacked backside. Her dark hair is tied tightly on top of her head and her eyes are painted with heavy purple eye shadow. She’s literally dripping in bling with the gold band in her hair, dangly red earrings, a heavy red necklace and bangles on her arms.
   ‘Take your attention away from that slave girl and pay heed to your tutor!’ she snaps. ‘As a daughter of Sparta you are privileged to receive an education when so many of your sex in Greece are denied!’ She turns to the bald-headed bloke sitting on the stool next to her. He’s wearing a dress, too, a beige one that only reaches to his knees. ‘Continue, tutor.’
Slave girl? Is she talking about me? Then for the first time I notice what I’m wearing: a horrible brown tunic thing made out of what feels and looks like an old sack. I sniff at it and pull a face; it smells dodgy and I feel hot and itchy in it. I scratch my chest and look down at my bare, grubby feet. What’s going on?
   The girl says nervously, ‘My feet are hot, Mother. I would like the helot to bathe them.’
   ‘Mother’ makes an impatient hissing noise and turns to me. ‘Well, what are you waiting for, child? Fetch warm water and oils for my daughter and attend to her wishes.’
   I stay put, matching her glare with my own.
   ‘Are you deaf?’ she bellows, and the girl – Helen – jumps again. ‘I said...’
  ‘I heard what you said, missus,’ I snap back, ‘but you can’t mean me! I’m not a slave.’



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