Anna's body ached all over.
The mock battles she had been fighting with Shireen over the past week had been tough, but somehow she was still alive.
"You're a lot better," Shireen said at the end of their last session "I actually worked up a sweat this time.".
That really didn't make Anna feel any better. After stripping off the armour and taking a nice long soak in a hot bath, she willed herself to move and head back to the bedroom.
Every muscle screamed bloody protest as she made her way down the twisting corridors that made up Shireen and Elma's home. She had gotten lost a few times, ending up at various dead ends, locked rooms, and even once in the exact same spot from where she started. It hadn't been terrible though, whenever she lost her way, it seemed that Shireen or Elma would show up and show her the correct path. Teak, of course, would make a rude comment about Anna's sense of direction.
Anna twisted the knob and slowly opened the door into her bedroom. She wasn't sure when she had started to identify the room as her own, but it disturbed her that she was becoming normalized to the situation.
She had cried the first three nights. After spending the day training for combat (an idea Anna found absolutely dreadful when first presented to her), she would take a hot bath, return to her room, clutch the pillow tightly, and sob. Anna could only imagine the state her mother would be in. The worst part is that her Father and brothers wouldn't be home for over a month, and there would be no way to get word to them while they worked on the schooners.
It was on the fourth night that Anna had realized two things.
The first thing was that her mother would not give up on her. She knew her mother would be combing the woods, forming search parties, calling the authorities, and doing whatever she could to find some trace of her daughter. Of all the things her mom was, a quitter was not one of them.
The second thing was, in a very roundabout way, she had gotten her wish.
The village and the surrounding coastline had been all she had know her entire life. Year after year Anna would look to the sea and wish that something from the outside would would wash ashore and bring a little excitement to her life.
She knew the outside world existed. It lived on the radio, in the mail-order catalogues that came, and in the voices of the come-from-aways that would drop into Overwinter brook for the summer.
It was her first time away from home, away from her relatives, away from a place where everybody knew everyone's business and that..... well that was freeing.
And that sensation of being free is what made her feel so..... guilty.
Anna sighed, flopped on the bed and stretched her arm out to the ceiling. She looked in wonder and the welts and small bruises that covered it. She was changing in more ways than one. The Anna that left Overwinter Brook would not be the same one that would return.
If she returned at all.
Author's note: I'm back everyone! Expect (almost) daily updates again.