I seldom looked up. Meet the eyes of a guard and you were likely to be dragged behind a building and raped, especially if you were young, as I was. So my eyes were to the ground when the disturbance broke out: a woman’s curse shattering the monotonous grunts of those of us lifting and pulling and pushing; the angry shouts of men. Furtively glancing out the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a gold-trimmed robe disappearing around a corner.
“Keep moving,” we were ordered.
Usually the corpses we stepped over belonged to our sisters who had fallen from exhaustion or malnourishment. This time we were shocked to see the dead body of a guard.
In the days that followed whispers passed among us. Mosiah, step-daughter of the princess, had heaved a rock at a guard and killed him. She had fled the city, a regiment of soldiers in pursuit. “After all I’ve done for her,” the king was heard to say. “I should have known she’d turn out to be like the rest of them.” The rest of them referring to women like me, foreign women who had for generations lived in captivity.