<< Return to part 2 - Flight <<
The world exploded in Sarah's ears as she crashed into the water. The hard surface slapped into her back and forced the air from her lungs. Bubbles rushed to the surface as she was forced down, down into the rocky river bed beneath the crystal clear water.
With the sky sailing by above her, Sarah could feel the current pressing her down and knew it would be pointless to struggle against it. A river this old and strong could not be conquered. Instead of fighting she let go. She had been fighting for so long, every nerve on edge, her strength stretched to the limit. The peace and quiet beneath the river was a welcome change. She relaxed into the rhythm of the river as it washed her back and forth across the ground, almost rocking her to sleep.
Her golden hair shifted gently around her face and tickled the back of her neck with the tiny eddies in the flowing water. The fine net her hair cast was so beautiful against the silver blue rippling sky above her, that she started to sink more deeply into relaxation.
The agony in her lungs began to subside and through the icy water she felt her face pull into a smile. At least they wouldn't be able to catch her now.
When the blackness overtook her she welcomed it with an open mind. She welcomed the respite from her aching body and her broken heart.
Sarah woke slowly in the misty morning light. The pillow beneath her head was cold, the bed hard and lumpy. Groaning as she moved, she rolled over to pull up the covers. The icy silk sliped between her fingers. Normally when she woke she was warm and comfortable in her huge bed. The maids would be clattering around in the kitchen, and the smell of bread would waft up the stairs. This was different. She was cold and sore, and the hard uncomfortable thing beneath her was definitely not her bed. Letting her senses roam out in an attempt to determine her location, she heard a gentle bubbling of water, and she smelled the salty tang of the ocean.
With that smell it all came rushing back. The announcement, the death, the running, the fall.
Laying on the frozen rocky river bank she broke. The wave of grief crashed over her and tore her to splinters like a ship thrown onto a reef.
She cried forever. She cried until it was all that she could remember doing. She cried for herself, for William, for her father. She cried for everything that she had lost in less than a week.
When her tears ran out she sobbed. Dry, painful half screams rocked her body and tore from her chest. She curled into a ball and tried to hold herself together. It didn't work. She felt pieces of her soul crumbling into nothing. She was turning to dust and floating away with the breeze. With each shuddering breath she felt herself slipping. However, she also noticed the agony subsiding with every particle that left her and so she let go. She surrendered herself to the nothing and felt it all fading away.
When she had lost it all and nothing was left, exhaustion finally took over. Her body went limp and her mind roamed calmly through the memories piled up on the floor in her heart. Her thoughts no longer spun out of control into grief, but instead sank deeper into a kind of meditative self reflection that she had never felt before. She learned many things about herself, her life, and the world she lived in. More than anything else, she realised the mistakes that she made which had led her to that point.
She had trusted. She had loved. She had relied on men to look after her. She had been soft and fragile. It was her fault. The men in her life had never been perfect, but Sarah realised that she was to blame for allowing them such control over her in the first place. She should have been learning about the world and how to take care of herself, instead of worrying about what dress to wear and how to style her hair so that she would be more pretty than all the other girls. She should never have blindly trusted the men who were supposed to protect her.
Drawing strength from this realisation, and her new resolve to never make those mistakes again, a burning determination filled her body and flames hardened her heart.
Sarah pulled herself from where she lay, half submerged in the river, and began her journey inland.
>> Proceed to part 4 - Half Light >>