Continuing on from yesterday’s prompt!
Ten years ago...
Kitten trailed her kid gloves across the dusty surface of the mosaic inlaid map table. Just Fletcher had created the table in the second or third year of the Palace’s tenure. The mosaic depicted Mount Olympus, in classic Greek style. Just’s surprisingly delicate artistic sensibilities gave the scene a vitality and power that spoke to her even through the coating of dust. When you peered closely at the scene, you could see the foreign intruders, picked out in tiny pieces of colored glass. Frey and Freya. Epona. Ala. Chaung-Mu. Her father’s deities.
What delight Connor Graves experienced naming the new arrivals; crafting their personas. Did he know that he had empowered them? Sex workers, who were accustomed to being used and forgotten, elevated to the role of Goddess, of Hero. Did he know how they had grown, learned to read and write, how so many of them had become businessmen, land-owners, travelers and philosophers? Did he look down from heaven and see the good he had wrought in almost direct opposition of the usual pattern for brothel owners?
Kitten dusted her hands together, scattering the dust motes of the past. She decided to ask the workmen to bring the table when they delivered the taffrail. Now, however it was time to get to work. She crossed the room in a few efficient strides, pressed her fingers into a hidden recess in the paneling, and sprung the catch that sealed to door into the Captain’s bedchamber. The panel slid aside soundlessly, revealing a room bathed in the last rays of the setting sun. She had been dawdling. It was time to retrieve what she had come for and then leave the past behind.
Tucking an escaped wisp of pure white hair back into the neat chignon at the base of her neck, Kitten pulled off her gloves and dug into her purse for the key. The slender brass key was sculpted to resemble the bodies of a man and woman entwined in lovemaking. The key and the lock it fitted were another example of Just’s meticulous art. Form and function married to metaphor.
Stooping next to the box-bed, Kitten folded back the mattress, revealing an inset panel. Then she felt along under the edge of the railing until her fingers brushed against the keyhole hidden from view. Using her fingers to guide the key to its seat, Kitten counted the clicks as she alternately lifted and twisted the key. Part of the ingeniousness of Just’s design was that the key had to be inserted in a very specific pattern. When she felt the last bump click home, she turned the key and the panel in the base of the bed slid open.
The book was there, still wrapped in its oilskin protective wrapper. Ten years ago, Kitten had written the final log, and placed the journal safely into its resting place. She had not thought to want it ever again, and yet now, as she entered her 8th decade, she found a desire to read the entries, both those in her father’s hand, and those she had written herself. Duty Fletcher, Just’s exuberant grandson, had been after her. He thought there was a book to be written. About the Palace. About Connor Graves. About Kitten’s life. Kitten didn’t know about any book. But she did know she was ready to reclaim her past.