New Dawn

It was decided all the villagers would make our joint departure to Thornton, our trek through the narrow mountain path which connected the two towns, the following morning. I predicted we would not take a step onwards until noon, by the time our ‘parade’ was organized.

I found it hard to sleep that night, my mind so full of thoughts, so crowded with images….and words. I could not shake the previous night from my mind, Horatio….the deep, horrid wrenching feeling that the memory gave lingered in my gut and clouded my mind with sorrow. Yet, after breaking from Marie’s embrace earlier that day, I could not cry any longer.

To the new dawn I awoke, and as every morning was my habit to go to the window, I did. The sky was colored a bale lilac grey, the sunrise hinting through the mask of melancholy clouds. Though none of this caught my eye as did what stood just outside the window pane.

A flower, wearing her sky blue teardrop petals, grew in the barren garden just outside my window, her face almost staring at me. The beautiful, summertime object stood in sharp contrast against the blustery, cold landscape behind her. It was a wildflower from the meadows of what seemed to be my dreams….my memories, that strange reality which I had spent that short, precious, yet terrible time.

Instantly, I considered it a sign. Over my nightdress I threw the nearest coat, racing from my room as softly as I could as I realized my sisters were still asleep.

Just outside my window, I paused briefly before plucking the delicate flower from the ground and bringing it to my nose. It smelled so familiar, so sweet and lovely, sending a certain joy that cut through my melancholy sense of mind which had so haunted me. At that moment, I knew what I had to do. I knew where I had to go.

I ran through the forest paths, the bitter morning wind nipping at the bare skin at my face, the morning dew dampening my shoes. I clutched the flower close to me and continued onwards, further and further.

Finally I stopped, panting, my hair in a mass of tangles and sweat beneath my coat despite the chill of my fingers and cheeks. I gazed about. Heavy disappointment dampened my hope.

Still. I was alone.

Slowly, I calmed my breathing, sniffing back a new gathering of tears. I felt I was crushed for a second time, shattered anew, the pain fresh.

Suddenly, I was furious. I looked to the flower and threw it violently at the ground like a stubborn child. “All you have caused me is pain! You have taunted me with happiness, and only cast me in darkness! I would rather be dead by the hands of true fate, then you ’guarded’ me! You have done nothing to me other then ruin my life!” My voice cracked and I hid my head in my hands, letting the tears dampen my palms. “All-all I wanted….I love….,”

I loved Marie. I loved Ella. I loved my parents. I loved them all as well. I had to stay strong for them. I had to help them. Ella was a child, and Marie was fewer then weeks away from childbirth.

I calmed myself, wiping my face with the sleeves of my jacket. “Yet…” I whispered. “I do have something to live for.” I looked to the flower, laying helplessly on the ground. I shook my head. “You can’t hear me. No one’s listening.”

With that, I turned and walked away, back home, with the intention of never coming back.

I was starting over in Thornton with everyone. Horatio or no Horatio.

No matter what, inside, my feelings may declare otherwise.

~~~~

The path through the mountains to Thornton was hard. The first flurries of the winter was like the breath at our neck which made our hair stand up. It made our small caravan move even faster up the icing roads which only appeared to head toward the mountains capped in their snow-white hats. There seemed to be no way out; we only seemed to head deeper and deeper into the deathly cold. Yet we knew Thornton lay on the other side.

I walked along the narrow road leading Marie, almost dangerously pregnant, precariously perched upon her horse, Ellie at my side as well leading a horse backed with our few belongings. Shepherded by a few village boys, the bray of livestock filled the air, echoing off the mountainsides with an eerie sound. Otherwise, we walked like a mourning parade, our arms crossed, heads lowered against the wind, a sad silence among us. We were leaving the only place we had known, leaving it in ashes.

We made it with little hardship. The elderly Mrs. Darlein had fallen ill during the trip, but as we arrived in Thornton she was greeted by the town’s doctor. Her chances appeared good.

Thornton was considerably larger then our village, Cassadien, or rather, what it used to be. From our first sight of it, the fingers of roads and homes spread quite well over the landscape before it turned to farmland. A steady bustle shuffled through the streets despite the worsening weather, the smoke rising from many chimneys like grey dragons snaking their way toward the sky.

Never before had I met Andrew’s sister, she never having arrived at his and Marie’s wedding celebrations because of an unexpected illness, or I myself been to the town of Thornton itself despite it being days away, just around the mountain pass. I was worried that she may hate us, that she felt a certain bitter emotion toward my sisters and I for relying on them at this time. I could not help feel a flutter of worry, a certain anxiety, at this. Yet Marie, all the while, assured me that she had held a cordial, though short, correspondence with this Sara soon after she was married, and told me that Sara was family, thus pertaining the ability to be trusted.

The house itself was small, crowded between two others which had a similar appearance to it. It would probably appear prettier, or more welcoming, or warmer in the springtime, or whenever the weather was more delightful and less gloomy. Yet the golden light in the windows gave it friendly eyes, and the appearance of the stout, sturdy homes clustered together made it appear somehow cozy, instead of the distant place upon the farm which our family had formerly called our own.

Sara, to my surprise, herself appeared something like the house. She was short, but her shoulders were broad and her build was sturdy, with a strong, stern expression and bright, friendly eyes. The make-up of her face reminded me of Andrew, yet it was more of a feminine fashion, also framed by straw colored hair which he did not possess himself.

She greeted us warmly and welcomed us into her home, small but pleasant. She introduced us to her own husband, Harold, and her little tribe of young children, three of them totaling, rosy cheeked, stout little creatures who lingered at her skirt. The two boys, “Harry” and Leon, had the least fear of their new visitors, yet their sister, Rosalyn, showed a timid smile and decidedly remained silent.

The house was made tight by our arrival, a worry apparent in Sara’s expression that there was enough space, rations to go around to their exponentially larger family was evident and substantial, as much as she tried to hide it with her smiles. I felt guilty, and the guilt in Marie was also palpable. Though it was our only option, at least with Marie in the state that she was in.

~~~~

It did not take very long to “settle”. Soon, everyone in the town knew us and we knew them, though I found it hard to remember some of the names and the faces that were to match them.

There was plenty of things to do and work to be done to keep myself occupied; and in the bustling house made merry by the rambunctious boys and the petite Rose who I found so fitting for her name. It did well for my mind not to linger; I did not wish for my mind to wander.

In daytime, it was moderately well. But as night settled, my body and fingers restful, I could not settle my head and it “wandered” into the areas which caused me so much pain. While Ella snored peacefully at my side, I felt alone, lost in the darkness. It was the perfect time for despair to swallow me whole, for thoughts of Horatio to dominate my mind. Such time had passed--Marie was day-by-day closer to delivery and it seemed weeks had passed.

It was the end. He had abandoned me. Once and for all.

The thought was torturous. It wreaked havoc on my heart, tore at all emotion inside me. I could not restrain tears to myself, when no one was looking, no one was watching. When the sun was up, I masked my agony with smiles and choked up laughs, yet it all felt fake. When I was alone, I released my feelings into my pillow.

I woke one dawn after one of my horrid dreams, the haunting eyes, and like every morning, brushed my misery aside. I convinced myself with something of an angered will that I did not need him to be happy, to live my life. This morning, it resonated fiercely within me, almost as a determination. I told myself that I wouldn’t let him or my experience with him ruin my life, and it bolstered me up, slightly. It gave me a light where I could only find darkness and despair.

I greeted Sara in the kitchen and, with something of a spring in my step, I informed her that I was going to take a brief walk.

Still early, the frost laden streets were empty, on occasions a few persons passing me by and quickly giving me an acknowledging nod. But there was one passer-by who caught my attention--or, was, rather, caught my me.

“Alyssa? Alyssa Thyr?” a young man paused before me. His face seemed strangely familiar, especially his eyes. So I paused as well.

“Yes?”

He furrowed his brow, something of a smile upon his face as he moved closer. “Have we met before?”

“You know my name,” I made my reply. I was intrigued by his overall character, by the simple fact that I could not place him in my mind. As if he was a face from a dream, or a distant memory I could not completely recall. Though I could not place that carrot-hair upon his head, certainly an aspect that was memorable. But most of all, I found myself gazing at his eyes. They had something of a dark, deep knowing, which seemed so….recognizable…yet were too hinted with an appearance a brilliance, a playfulness which too I could not recognize. Though not perfectly handsome, he was overall good in appearance and an interesting spectacle, with his tall, wiry figure, his somewhat long, wane face. I could not believe I could not remember who exactly he was, or where I remembered him from.

“Perhaps I have heard it around,” he held that charming half smile which lit up his face and made his eyes sparkle like a jewel and all its facets placed under the sunlight. “I am sorry, I am Lupin.”

Though that was as far as our conversation went, we somehow ran into one another almost daily afterwards. I wondered if it was on his purpose, and I began to look forward to seeing him. His charming, light-hearted manner was contagious and made me laugh, made me forget for a brief time. Little did I know about him, excluding that he was a traveler, caught in this town for the season since winter had already started to set in. Marie, though very close to bedridden, seemed pleased and suggested that Lupin was my courtier and we should soon be married, and she appeared to be happy at that thought. I did nothing to deny his affections, giggled at all his jokes, blushed when he tried to grasp for my hand. I accepted his flirtations, and maybe, even returned them.

My whole being wanted to be in love with Lupin. But I felt torn.

Though he was not here, with me, Horatio still had a hold on my heart.

The End

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