She likes mornings, when the first sunrays tickle her eyelids and she has yet to sense anything. That second before reality begins building around her, before exhaustion and anxiety start to sink in and she draws in that smell of forest, before she remembers the exact reasons why she will get up. Before she feels her sore throat – it has been sore for a couple of weeks now. That split second makes mornings different and she has learned to appreciate it.
Days start early for the mill workers. Mundane conversation washes away the last traces of sleepy dizziness; a casual comment about tonight’s dream, sometimes. Nothing too concrete, since there are always important things to do, and time passes quickly. She chats superficially with the women— one has to talk about something, when there’s not much to talk about.
Nobody ever asks about her family; less because she’s alone, and more because of what everyone knows without anybody saying. Her brother’s involvement with the militias are a kind of thing she won’t discuss unless in hushed, hurried whispers. Said whispers have kept her going sometimes.
That, and some rare instances – the place has its moments. There is little Ofélia, who wraps herself in a mental fairyland and compelling tales of fauns and pale men, of underground passages where she urges to crawl down in hopes of unveiling secrets she'll rather keep unsaid.
There's rare people who know how and when to listen. Ferreiro, for example; the good doctor is to the people in the mill what mornings are to days. Leaving aside the lot he’s done to help her, the subtle twists and turns he pulls risking his life for the cause, it’s a blessing to have his rational intuition—kind enough to retreat at times, or be the shoulder to cry on whenever she can hardly take it anymore. He keeps her down to Earth when she doubts her sanity. Which she does, a lot.
She doubts her sanity as she brings the Captain’s coffee every morning. Short of scalding, like he'll never get tired of remarking he dislikes it—
This coffee is burnt, Mercedes. I thought I told you to be careful.
…yes, sir. It won’t happen again.
It wears her out, and he’s oblivious to the disgust, even though it’s obvious and one could almost feel it in the complete silence…
…a silence only broken by the ticktickticktick of that watch he cradles with an almost fetishistic need.
She has seen it; she has also questioned her sanity while watching from her casual position in the shadows, watching as the ticking interrupts a lonely, mundane moment. Something casual, such as Vidal staring from the mirror at Vidal as he shaves, is interrupted by a sound as mechanical and severe as the Captain himself – it confronts him, absorbs him, swallows him for full minutes, until he looks away, and she looks away.
She hates that slash on the mirror because, much like his reverie at the ticking, it makes him a bit human. He still is the Captain, Vidal the military man, the asshole. But even a monster has his quirks – he wants to destroy the watch and to cut himself up in pieces, yet both stay there, still and untouched, in discipline, in order.
This sentiment is shared. She is the one person to hate Vidal more than he does. They both have seen too much of him; their resemblances end here, and neither of them will ever know.
There is one thing she knows and he doesn’t. The fact that she, as well, carries everywhere a copious amount of self-hatred – and a knife in the folds of her clothing. Mercedes the coward, Mercedes the fool, clinging to the hope that someday there will be no reason to carry it anymore, while the watch won’t go anywhere.
He's oblivious to all that. He's the object of her disgust while she's just some woman who can't make a good coffee to save her life.
One that waits.
There's not much else left to do.