The last flame of candle light had finally burned down and the cottage was nothing more than a still dark silence. The new moon in the sky shed no light of it’s own, making tonight the perfect night to escape.
Ella Rose Stewart, just shy of 15 years of age, tiptoed down the hand laden wood hallway, stopping only briefly upon her parents bedroom door to hear their soft snores above the silence of her held breath. She knew the door to her freedom would creak with its heavy age and the only hopes to escape were for her father and mother to be in a deep sleep, or for her legs to be quick enough to carry her into the darkness of the chill night, where she would not be found again.
For she was not running from the shameful lack of love that her current arranged marriage possessed, but rather, Johnathan McTavish’s unusual love in something much greater...his God.
Without the shadow of a doubt, the moment Johnathan’s attention caught the ever strange happenings around Ms Ella, she would instantly been hung as a witch.
This was not going to be a marriage, it was going to be a murder.
With her delicate hand now on the handle of the heavy front door, she inhaled the aroma of autumn apple and rye bread one last time. Holding the memory of that scent in her mind, as she whispered her goodbyes.
Without further hesitation a low wooden groan broke the silence of the dark, and Ella Rose disappeared into the night.
Charles, Ella’s father, owned 3 hectares of land that he kept swollen with sheep. Alongside the fields to the far end, ran a river that Ella had played in hundreds of times as a babe and child, learning each loose stone and the whispering pace of the waters flow.
At the furthest point of their land….farthest from the sheep, the rivers waters were consumable and Ella spent many summers sipping its pine flavoured waters, as it ran fresh out of the woodlands just half a mile North of their cottage.
Ella pushed past the sheep as she let her ears lead her closer to the sound of the bubbling river. The darkness was hauntingly empty, as she fought to find shapes and landscapes within its dark mass, but the hunt for definition around her proved futile, as she stumbled blindly into the cold stream.
Ice cold autumn water filled her shoes and saturated the hems of her linen layered dress. The skin on her legs burned with its frosty bite and she quickly jumped out to the bank on the other side, refusing to skip a step in her run for escape.
The crisp wind rushing past her ears, she followed the sounds of the river, allowing her eyes to adjust to what little glow of light the stars were kind enough to aid with.
It was enough.
Enough to see the starry shimmer off the trickling waters flow ...and she ran faster.
Her heavy, wet dress slapping against her legs as she picked up her pace, gave room to the nettles whipping and ripping at her ankles, producing a painful burn on her skin. Ella’s dress only proved to slow her pace, as the thick fabrics fought against her every step, but holding the layers high, caused more virgin skin to submit to the lashings of the nettle stings.
Ella followed the river until the pines of the woodland stood in judgment ahead of her, towering into the night sky and drowning out the kind glow of the stars above. Slowing to a halt, she stood before the aromatic giants. The trees that were once her friend, halted her in conviction and the rumble of her father’s voice echoed through the night.
“Ella!” his voice thundered through the darkness.
“Ella! Where are you?” Charles roared with both anger and concern, his voice still at a distance.
Ella looked to the trees in contrition and whispered a beg for compassion, as her father’s voice echoed again in the night.
A brisk autumn breeze blew behind her, bringing her forward into the arms of the woodland. With an exhale of gratefulness, Ella escaped into the merciful pine forest, knowing her feet would never again touch the soil of the once familiar lands.
Note from the author;
This is just the start of a beautiful book I am working on! I hope this clip from it's pages, excites you and fills your mind with wonder and imagination!
~Sarah C LaBrie