She had been forced to hurry. First light had broken half an hour ago, and while she’d dressed as fast as she could, the corset had refused to buckle. Her shaking hands had struggled, but she had not dared to ask even a maid for help – for fear of alerting the farm of her intentions.
Now, with a few slices of cake in her petticoats, and the dreaded court transcript in her hand, she stole out into the light, careful to keep her bonnet down low. The crispness of the air smacked her skin, and cooled her cheeks into ruddy apples. A dog stirred on its chain. She smiled, scooped down low and cooed in a soft voice – and he did not bark.
As soon as she was out the gate she felt freedom push her forwards. She hurried along the trail toward the old elm forest, looking carefully over her shoulders. She didn’t allow her eyes to pause – searching in every shadow, every slip of light an ever present danger.
Gunfire, only too recent a memory. The flash of gold. Red, warmth and love flowing freely. Her tears, his protestations. Police and chains. The recollection filled her with adrenalin, and rather than allow the fear to stop her, she ran. She ran toward her lover.
Ahead she saw the spot. She turned her head, looking for his outline. Of course he wouldn’t wait out in the open.
“Why has this fear spread over every moment now?” she questioned. It was a cancerous rust filling holes in their teeth. It made them whisper. Plan. She gripped the transcript tighter to her chest. “Nothing is more important,” she said.
A twig broke and she snapped her head to the side. She still could not see his form in the silhouettes. Instead, a book lay on the heather. It was obviously meant to be read. A feather stuck out of the top. She bent down to inspect it closely.
The leather glowed, and the gilded title urged her to open it.
She gasped, and stood up with a start.
“Yahooo!” she squealed, spinning in a circle, kissing the book and throwing that dirty life wrecking transcript into the air. She lowered the book to reveal a wide smile. With her fingertips, she traced the large, hand inked words covering the text of the book, as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“I’m free!” the black ink proclaimed. She need not hide, nor run. But looking around at the forest and wiping away the salt from her eyes with her sleeve – she knew that it was far from truly over.