She was almost far enough down to reach out and step onto the branch when her foot slipped and she lost her balance, her arms screaming as they tried to hold onto the windowsill above her. Her stomach shot up as her body flew down towards the ground.
“Don’t look down,” she muttered to herself as the gap between her feet and the ground suddenly felt a lot bigger than it was when she had first looked out of the window.
With great effort, Adrianna looked over her shoulder to see if she could reach the tree without letting go of the branch. There was hardly any light and Adrianna’s vision wasn’t good enough to say for certain if she could make it to the tree without falling and seriously harming herself.
Her feet scrabbled around against the wall beneath her, desperately searching for a foothold that could help her regain her balance and calm her shaking nerves. But, to her horror, Adrianna’s feet could find no purchase on the rough surface of the outer wall. The tips of her toes occasionally caught on lumps in the brick but they quickly slipped, putting even more strain on her arms and shoulders.
She stopped struggling to stop the muscles in her arms giving way. She knew she couldn’t hold on for much longer but she couldn’t see any way safely out of her current predicament.
She took one glance over her shoulder towards the tree. Could she make it in a jump?
Adrianna could feel her grip on the windowsill loosening and she knew she had to do something or she would fall and hit the ground below.
Placing her feet a shoulder-width apart against the brick wall, Adrianna braced herself, took a deep breath and jumped backwards, using the wall as a surface to propel her as close to the tree as possible. It felt like she was flying through the air for hours, her eyes tightly shut with fear and her arms wildly stretched out in front of her, waiting to see if she would reach the tree.
The tension that was gripping her entire body was released the moment she felt her hands brush against the leaves of the tree, followed by the rough scraping of its branches and trunk. She opened her eyes just in time to grab hold of a sturdy branch before she fell any further. She took a moment to regain her composure. Her hands were still shaking and she didn’t feel completely steady. She also wasn’t sure if anyone indoors had heard her crash into the tree and if anyone would come out to investigate what had made the noise
When no one appeared outside and Adrianna thought she could climb down without slipping, she began her descent towards the ground. Her skirt kept getting caught on small twigs so the process was slow and awkward but she finally made it to the floor, despite the difficulties.
She felt so much better to have her feet back on solid ground, she had the urge to stamp it once or twice, just to make sure it was real and solid and wasn’t going to give way underneath her.
After she had regained her senses and convinced herself that the ground beneath her feet was real, Adrianna remembered why she had been climbing out of the window in the first place; to meet Matteo.
She hurried across the grass at the back of her father’s house, keeping close to the wall and ducking whenever she came to a window. She was a silent as she possibly could be, her feet hardly making a sound against the ground as she half-ran towards the front of the building.
It wasn’t until she reached the front of the house, where the grass gave way to the gravelly driveway that she paused to catch her breath.
There was nothing to hide behind in expanse that stretched before her and the gravel would make much more noise underfoot than the soft grass that Adrianna had been walking on up to that point. Adrianna worked out a plan in her head, working out where she would be least likely to be spotted from the house if anyone happened to hear the crunch of the gravel as she made her escape.
Once her route was carefully thought out, she ran for it, keeping in the shadows along the edge of the driveway, hoping she wouldn’t be heard or seen. Getting back would be much easier as most of the household would be in bed and not listening out for a dark figure creeping towards the house.
It wasn’t until Adrianna disappeared out of sight of the house and behind the gate that she realised how tightly her stomach was tensed with nerves. She hadn’t known how much this escape meant to her.
She looked first left, then right, searching the darkness for the figure of Matteo or for any spot where he might be hiding. She knew she was late; the sun was almost hidden behind the horizon, so Matteo should have already been there, waiting for her.
When she felt a hand on her right shoulder she almost screamed. But then she saw the perfectly defined outline of Matteo’s face in the semi-darkness and knew she was safe.
“Ready?” Was the single word Matteo said to her. She nodded and the pair hurried away from the house.