12 The greenhouse

Soon she came across a crossroad. It connected the alley to a wider street. Beth was about to step towards the wider road when she heard a few familiar voices coming from behind her. She quickly hid behind a bush, making her presence least known. Two and Three were walking towards the alley from the opposite road. She could hear them clearly in the backdrop of the silence of the area.

"I feel bad for Twenty-three," Three said with a sigh. "One was too harsh on her. The poor thing was new. She didn't know the rules."

Beth raised her brows in surprise. Was the woman sympathizing with her situation? Her heart warmed up, knowing that at least someone had a conscience amongst the gods- not that it helped her much.

"Don't feel bad, Three," Two said, putting a hand around the woman's shoulder. "That girl became a slave because of her deeds. It is not for us to sympathize with her. One has her reasons too, you know."

"Tch," Beth murmured under her breath. "Mean."

Three sighed, putting her head on the shoulder of the man. They looked quite intimate. Were they a couple? She wondered. Compared to Three, Two was barely good-looking. She felt bad for the woman.

"I know. But I feel bad seeing them suffer." Three said, frowning.

Two shook his head. "She brought it upon herself, Three. Let's not talk about that clueless girl." He said, raising her face to his, his finger resting underneath her chin. "Tell me, what do you want to do tonight?"

He leaned forward, their lips almost touching.

"Let's watch the stars." Three said, smiling happily at the man.

"Anything for you." Two said, closing the gap between them.

They kissed deeply, the man's hand raking across the woman's body. Beth gagged. She wished she didn't have to watch her supervisors suck each other's face off like that. Now that image was forever imprinted on her brain! She thought, rubbing her eyes vigorously, hoping to erase it.

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As the two started making out in the middle of the road, their moans grew louder. Beth couldn't take it any longer. She slid out of the bush and rushed towards the wider street, leaving them behind in the alley. But the rustle of the leaves had caught someone's attention.

"Who goes there?!" Three's voice raised.

"Shit!" Beth cursed, running towards the closest hiding place.

She tried to make her presence scarce by sticking her body to the wall adjoining the street. She had nothing to hide behind. The street had no trees or bushes. She could only count on her luck. Beth peeped from behind the place, her heart throbbing nervously.

"Was that Twenty-three?" Three asked suspiciously, raising her brows.

Two sighed. "You must be imagining things, Three." He said, turning her towards him. "That wretched girl has you wrapped around her fingers. Come, let us be on our way."

Three nodded. "I thought I saw her hair. It is a very peculiar shade, you know.." Her sound trailed off as the two gods walked away.

"Phew!" Beth exclaimed, sighing in relief. "That was close."

Making sure that there wasn't anyone else on the way, she got back to her trail, following the wide street. Soon, she came in front of a huge glass building. It looked like an enormous crystal, cut by the finest of artisans. A clear path dotted with decorated stone slabs lead to what she guessed was the greenhouse. Bright green grass covered both sides of the pavement. She could see the silhouette of the plants from where she stood, owing to a dim light coming from inside.

"Finally." She murmured, shaking her head.

She followed the path and quickly made her way inside the building, cautious of any strange presence. But to her relief, there wasn't anyone standing in her way. A gasp of surprise left her mouth as she got her first glance at what lay inside. Small flowering plants dotted the place, filling the air with a sweet scent. The grass-covered ground had paths in between dotted with shiny pebbles.

A small stream ran through the place, disappearing underneath the ground. Next to it were several plum trees in their full bloom. She took her time walking around the place, admiring the beauty of each flower and leaf. She felt like she had been transported to a whole new world. There were just silence and the sound of the stream. It was the closest to heaven that she could imagine.

She was suddenly jealous of the gods who kept all this beauty to themselves. Why didn't they share it with the rest of them?

"It must be greed." She said aloud, putting a little hand inside the flowing water.

Her reflection was that of a very dirty ten-year-old, one whose hair was disheveled and her face smeared with dirt. Beth sighed. Just one day in the lower town had made her look miserable. She quickly washed her face, legs, and hands, rubbing on them vigorously. Looking back at her mirrored image, she smiled.

"There, that looks better." She said, combing her hair with her wet hands.

Beth lay back on the grass, staring at the ceiling of the greenhouse. She felt at peace. This was what she had hoped heaven would be. If there is any way that she was going to get this luxury, then she was going to take it, Beth told herself.

Suddenly she heard a hum from somewhere nearby. Alarmed, Beth got up and hid behind the nearest tree. A man came into her sight. He was dressed in black from head to toe. A bright red floral umbrella hid his face from her. He seemed to be enjoying himself, watering the plants with a golden watering can. His movement was graceful as if he was gliding through the air. Thankfully the man seemed not to have noticed her. She watched in awe as his sweet voice echoed around the place.

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