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…so she stepped outside, the garden spread out before her in a kaleidoscope of colors, the scents of which slowly engulfed her as the lazy warm breeze brushed gently over her tanned face, her long brown hair dancing delicately. The sun shone brightly and her slim figure cast a long shadow behind her as she moved out onto the grass. It was still early but already very hot and you could smell the morning dew evaporating out of the verdure. She moved down the old driftwood steps, they so worn in places you stepped only on rounded, jutting wood and sand at times. Steps……..lost in thought she made her way onto the path that led through the garden and to the small creek just beyond.

As she made her way amongst the tall blades and flowers familiar questions rolled around in her mind. How did she get here? How did this happen? Sometimes you live and make decisions as you go, it’s what I want now, you tell yourself and the next thing you know you’re not at all where you want to be, or where you thought you’d end up. That is the danger in letting life dictate to you rather then moving deliberately toward a goal. She was wondering on how people change and why. It seems you go through these things, these experiences, and you want to view the results with the eyes you started with, the ones that wanted these things to begin with; but you can’t, what you went through changed you; aging changed you; pain changed you; and now you see the world differently and what you wanted before is gone, that’s the rub, your always chasing something and when you catch it, after all that happened to get there, it’s what someone else wanted; your younger self, someone…..so now you have to chase something else… She smiled, her father would be proud. Maybe if she had listened……. maybe if she had thought more about the things he tried to teach her rather then always that he didn’t know her AT ALL! And he DIDN’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING! Then she wouldn’t be in this situation! Ha, this mess… But he was gone, and he wasn’t coming…

…….A sound from the path focused her again, her thoughts scattered as she looked up, she scanned the garden knowing already what it was; then she saw him. She hadn’t expected him this fast. She knew he would find her but she thought she would have more time. But he was here, and he was moving swiftly down the path toward her; his gaze already fixed on her and it wasn’t friendly. She had to get out of there, now. He was still a few dozen or so yards away, quickly she moved along the shore line in a crouch temporarily disappearing from view behind the tall flowers and high grass, he hesitated a bit, trying to determine which direction she had gone, this was all the time she needed as she jumped into the small row boat that was always set up on the shore and tied with a short rope to an eye bolt dug into the ground. As she had done a thousand times before she quickly loosed the rope and slid the boat into the water as she smoothly settled in and began rowing; within seconds she was well offshore and moving rapidly away. She watched as he burst from the garden and onto the shoreline where the boat had been seconds before and moved several feet out into the water and she feared briefly that he would try to swim out to catch her. She knew the creek well and the deep stream that connected to it and she was a very fast rower but a shiver ran down her spine when she saw him consider giving chase but then he stopped and just stared at her, she wasn’t sure if it was sadness or pity he felt as he watched, motionless, quickly she rounded the corner and disappeared out of sight.

-2-

‘Lilly! Time for supper!!’ Ugh! Soo annoying! Why couldn’t she have one minute of peace! She had only been talking to Jacob for a couple of minutes and it was going so… AWESOME! She was sure he was going to ask her out, she just knew it! And now she had to go eat dried out pork chops and stare across at her stupid gross brother! She just turned 16! If she didn’t want to go to dinner, she shouldn’t have too, ‘Lilly! Please come down!’ Her relentless mother yelled again, she said her goodbyes to Jacob promising to call him right after dinner. She hung up and headed downstairs.

-3-

The sun was shining through a crack in the curtains on her bedroom window right into her eyes, she tried to ignore it at first but then her brain started working and she remembered it was her birthday! She was 8 years old and she was getting a pony! She just knew it! Her feet barely touched the floor as she floated downstairs to where her mother and father waited at the breakfast table surprised to see her up so early. Her mom didn’t act like anything was different that day but daddy couldn’t hide anything from her and she could see the twinkle in his eye as he said good morning and tried not to look at her……

-4-

The rustling of the wind through the leaves woke her and as she looked up she could see in patches through the thick trees that the sun was almost all the way up and streaming through gaps in the branches. She was stiff and her clothes were soppy as she sat up in her bed of leaves and twigs. She had covered herself as best she could after she sunk the boat and swam ashore. She didn’t have time to dry off and she couldn’t risk starting a fire so she just covered herself with what was available and slept; despite how uncomfortable it was she was surprised that she slept so long. It was then that it all came back to her in a rush. The appearance of the man, the chase, the close getaway in the boat…

After she was satisfied she had gone a safe distance she decided that she should try and rest. She couldn’t risk him finding the boat and then her. Now she had to figure out what to do. She couldn’t go home. No, she could never go home again….

From there she made her way through the woods and because she still wasn’t that far from home, maybe only 5 or 6 miles actually, she knew these woods well; she had been getting stoned and making out with boys around here for longer than she wanted to admit. But she still had to be careful, she was relieved obviously that she hadn’t been found, but it didn’t do much to make her feel better. She still felt very tense and found herself looking over her shoulder as she made her way to her decided destination; knowing he was looking for her, feeling it, knowing he was close.

She walked most of the morning through the woods, exhausted by this point; thirsty, hungry and tired, but resting was not an option, her pursuer wouldn’t rest, she knew, so she couldn’t either, and when she came to the highway she walked just inside the treeline so as not to be seen from any cars that drove by. Morning turned to afternoon and still she walked, trudging just out of site, knowing where she should go and fearing that almost as much as her stalker.

By the time the sun began to set and the shadows of the world lengthen, she could see the lights of a diner just a little further up the road. Deciding she could afford to stop there, at least for a bit she started to move out from the trees and toward the side of the highway. She was starving and getting weaker by the second, she had to get something to eat and rest for a bit before she continued on or she would collapse; and there might even be a chance she could hitch a ride, at least part of the way, maybe then …a sound from behind her froze her. There is no way he could have found me this fast, no way! She thought as she scanned the forest all about her, holding her breath, afraid to move, poised in a crouch now ready to spring, it was then that she caught a glimpse of a person move swiftly through the woods and all thought of discretion was gone, she took off on a dead run. If I can reach that diner maybe I can get help. Thrashing through the brush as fast as her legs would carry, stumbling and almost falling several times as branches whipped her face and grabbed at her clothing; she ignored it all, desperate to escape. In seconds she was back on the street and on a dead run, sprinted down the center of the highway, heedless of any danger from cars, only the man following Lilly headed toward the diner; if she could just make it, she reasoned, she would be safe.

She burst through the doors of the tiny restaurant, her clothes wet and torn, her face dirty, her hair a tangled mess. She immediately stopped just inside, the danger momentarily forgotten. She could see that there was a single customer, a man was seated at the counter eating soup. He had not bothered to turn around when she entered, even though it must have been enough of a frantic entrance to at least illicit a look, he did not however, even pause from his meal. He was the only person she saw, no employees were visible to her. Standing a moment longer than she would have thought possible seconds before, she was suddenly not sure what to do, then the panic and dread and fear came rushing back and she forced herself to speak, her voice sounding so thin and weak to her ears, she managed to say, barely louder than a whisper, “help me sir”.

-5-

He turned slightly then, pausing from his meal for a moment to glance sideways at the ragged figure in the door addressing him. She saw a flash of annoyance cross his face as if to say ‘whatever your issue, trust me, it’s not worth my time’ but then he turned more fully and got a direct look at the sad, helpless creature before him and the annoyance was replaced with surprise then concern, she saw all this in an instant then everything went black…

-6-

Floating again, peaceful warm, no direction, no cares. She was in a gauzy cloud, a deep, white fog surrounded her but she could see a spot that was brighter than the rest and she headed for it. It was so hard and she felt so tired. The effort to reach it almost more the she could manage, but the closer she got the larger the spot grew. Her vision began to clear and she could feel her heavy eyelids begin to flutter. She opened them just a bit; the world was blurry at first. Too bright. She began to make out that she was in a bed covered in old worn and musty blankets. She could also feel that she was undressed. Not totally however, whoever undressed her had at least, thankfully, left her underwear and tank top on. Her vision began to sharpen and as she struggled to sit up she could see she was in a small room with one window where a soft breeze lifted the light lace curtains hanging in front. The room was very small, barely large enough for the bed and the side table, which held a lamp. The room also had an almost overwhelming smell of mothballs. She never understood the mothball thing; give her moths over that horrible smell any day.

“Hellooooooo”a voice thrashed through the door scattering her thoughts and causing her heart to race as she felt her through tighten to the point of suffocation and she felt the panic welling in her chest and neck. She was never one to panic and she quickly got her mind under control as she sat on the corner of the bed and tried to steady her breathing. “Hell-loooo” the voice burst out again but she was ready this time and in a steady voice simply replied, “what?”. The door wasn’t locked so she was prepared that at any second the door might bust open and that would be the end, but the door remained closed. She then heard the voice again, a man’s voice, that much was obvious and this time it was much calmer and softer after her cold response. “There’s some food out here for you, you must be hungry”. “Uuuhhhh ooook” she said shakily. She heard him walk away down the hall and she relaxed just a bit. She scanned the room and spied one of her boots sticking out of the partially closed closet door. After putting her shirt and pants on, she quickly slid over to the closet and as quietly as possible pulled her boots on. It felt good to be whole. Dressed and ready she moved toward the door and slowly turned the brass knob, as the hinges painfully creaked, causing a bit of panic once again which required another deep breath, she glanced into the empty hallway and softly stepped out of the little bedroom.

The large man turned then, the light coming from behind making his face dark, she could see the deep lines on the side of his face, where a bit of sun hit crinkle in what she could only assume was a smile. His teeth being a shade brighter than the rest of his face, gave him a sinister look. He had a serious, almost severe face and one that looked like smiling was foreign to it. He made no movement, not wanted to scare the delicate, frightened creature in from of him. “Who are you?” she managed to breathe out, barely perceptible to even her own ears, “I’m your father, The one you thought dead, the one you thought you’d killed; and I’m here to take you home.”

It was then that she knew, she was already gone.

-7-

“Why have you kidnapped me?!” ‘Why did you bring me here!?! ‘I don’t believe you?!’ “Why did you chase me?” She snapped, growing excited now, she had been tired and scared for so long she just couldn’t take it anymore, her fear and vulnerability temporarily gone and her survival instincts kicking in and along with that, her anger. ‘You had no right to do any of this!’

“I did it to protect you’ the stranger said calmly. ‘I don’t even know your name!’ Lilly snapped. “My name is Albus, and I a friend of your fathers, he asked me to keep an eye for you because he though you might be headed back this way. You father had to leave shortly after your birth because he was needed elsewhere.

‘Needed elsewhere?!” Lilly snapped, “Elsewhere’!? ‘What could be more important than his newborn daughter?!’ ‘Your full of shit!’ She was beside herself with rage now, all her emotions just pouring out, all pretense of control gone.

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She caught herself, immediately fearful that she had gone too far, still not convinced that everything was what it seemed. Could this guy be lying? ‘Of course’, she thought. Could he have a more sinister motivation? ‘Absolutely’, she had to control herself and play the game until she knew more……

-8-

“He left to protect you. To protect you from the men that wanted to hurt him. The man at the diner is a friend of mine, I have known him for many years and he knows you, he’s been watching you. He’s a good man and its lucky you ran into me when you did, had it been the fellow chasing you we’d be having this conversation in the morgue most likely.”

“I can handle myself”

“ I know you can, but the gentleman chasing you is different, I fear he would be more then you could handle”

“You don’t know me!”

“No…..no I don’t, but I know him and I can’t take that chance. It might end up coming to that anyway, eventually, but it’s better to avoid it as long as we can.”

“We?”

Written by

Writer, artist. brettcurley@gmail.com.

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