I thought I had never felt so clean before.
Stepping before the mirror, I saw the reflection before me, barely recognizing the girl staring back. Feeling so different on the inside, so far away from my usual self and that person who lived on the farm, I was almost surprised to see that I looked the same, excepting the fact that I appeared just a little more worn. I did not know why I was expecting any change. I suppose I had seen, had changed, so much.
Shaking away my thoughts, I reached for the provided comb and ran it through my dampened tangles. Brushing out the mangled knobs of hair was harder than I thought, wrestling through the neglected mess to a point I was nearly sweating with exertion once more. I panted angrily, for a brief moment considering lopping it all off it one, careless stroke.
Nellie joined me at the long mirror, eyeing me halfways amused. "I shouldn't even try my own." She glanced at her own reflection, wincing as she ran her fingers through her knotted strands. "I wish I had brought a comb myself so I could have taken care of this. Though I believe it was in this state to begin with."
She said it with all seriousness, but I couldn't help laughing - laughing at the both of us. She joined in, grinning at our ridiculous matting of frizzled hair, and for a moment, everything felt normal.
A knock on the thin wooden door made us pause, returning us to reality. Jon called from the other side, "Are you girls almost done? We need to get moving soon."
"Almost!" returned Nellie, taking the comb before her for a second, only to sit it aside. I gently picked a few tangles from my own hair before I hastily tied it back and followed her from the bathhouse - cleaned, dressed, and feeling better than we had in a very long time.
We met Jon out front, looking much cleaner and crisper as well. "Well, don't you girls look pretty," he offered, in a mood diverging from his usual serious nature as of late. He met my eye, and suddenly embarrassed, I smiled, trying to push down the warmth spilling into my cheeks.
"You look pretty good yourself," I answered, trying not to act as the foolish, girlish person I felt like at the moment.
"Thanks." He smiled, giving a casual shrug as he glanced down at himself.
Something of an awkward pause settled between us, until Nellie finally seemed to step in and break it. "So...," Nellie began. "How about we get some horses?"
Jon nodded, almost laughing at their waste of time, moving them in the proper direction.
By the time we had retrieved our horses, it was nearly nightfall, a velvety grey twilight settling over the small village. Though we wanted to push forwards, the garrison just at our fingertips, we were all sleepy and it was collectively decided it would be best that we at least get a few hours of sleep at the local inn before we set out once again. We ate our small dinners and retired to our rooms without incident.
Nellie and I crept into the small bed to share. Jon resolved that he would return downstairs as he could not yet find sleep, and perhaps he could gather a bit of the latest information from the other travelrs who gathered there. It was not long before Nellie drifted off into a deep slumber, her eyes closed in a peaceful, dreamless sleep. As tired as I was, my mind was restless, and I quietly slipped out from my covers and moved to the window. I stared into the darkness, the soft silver glow of the stars and moon, and continued to wonder over family, friends, our enemies, and what tomorrow may bring.