|The Morning After
Author: Alice B. Black PM
She was living in her own world, afraid of everything. She didn't know who she was or what she was but when she woke she couldn't stop the wildfire as he whispered "Good morning sleeping beauty."Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,856 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 07-09-09 - Published: 07-02-08 - id: 2539970
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Adelaide! Oh Adelaide! Come out of hiding child!" The elder woman paced back and forth on the dirt road searching high and low for what she had misplaced. It was a precious treasure not found anywhere else in the world but in her home. At least the missing Adelaide would be in her home had she not run off. The woman stood with her arms akimbo waiting patiently for the missing Adelaide but the young woman did not wish to be found.
Far enough away where Adelaide could remain hidden yet close enough so that she could still hear the hollering of her elderly caretaker young Adelaide cast away her clothes for a far more comforting look. A pretty blue dress now laid in heap on the ground as the naked girl hoisted herself into a pair of trousers and white blouse. Men's clothing or to be more exact a young stable boy's clothes stolen from him when he was busy bathing in the lake.
Adelaide chuckled to herself as she laced up the trousers. "Oh Eliza, won't she be quiet for one good minute. If she worries herself anymore she's have a boil the size of a robin's egg on her forehead." She was beside herself at her own thoughts that she didn't hear the footsteps of another approaching. Tying her pants tightly around her slender waist she let out a startled gasp to see Eliza standing before her madder than ever. "Why hello Eliza, are you done with your shopping so soon?"
Young Adelaide cast her eyes downward knowing very well she was about to be scolded for leaving the spot of which she was intended to stay. Was it really her fault that the desire to explore burned in her veins? With her eyes downward she'd realized her mistake of not hiding the dress. It was her plan all along to hide it and lie to her caretaker saying that the dress was snagged by a branch and ruined.
"Adelaide, you know very well that it is not becoming of a young woman to run around in men's clothing. I return from market and I find you are missing. God knows what could have happened to you! Pray that your mother left some good charm in that thick scull of yours. Perhaps it can't get through that thick blond hair." She was laughing now as she picked up the blue dress that had been discarded. "Oh Ada, what am I to do with you?"
"I'm sorry Eliza, I only wanted a little fun. You never let me into town and I get so lonely." Adelaide watched as Eliza shook her head with sympathy. As long as she could remember Adelaide had been banished from ever stepping foot within the city of Louster. It was not her but rather her own father's doing. Eliza's lips were sealed tight on the matter and refused to discuss it with the child. So as a result you Adelaide grew up under the shadows of the forest. It was not a hard life, just lonely. There were many days when the young woman wished for more companionship other than her elder caretaker but it was not something she blamed on the woman either.
Both women stood in silence as their own thoughts dwelled on the matter. Adelaide would always blame her father, a man she never wished to meet. Both her parents had cast her away at birth deeming her an abomination. What people could do that to their own child? Their own flesh and blood. She'd never understand their reasoning on the matter and only come to accept the hurt feelings dwelling in her own chest.
She looked to her only family for support and in Eliza she found a home. Without Eliza there wouldn't be much in young Adelaide's life. Adelaide took her dress back from Eliza and admired the blue fabric. Eliza was a saint in her eyes. The woman took up Adelaide from the second she was cast away by her family and Eliza did the only sensible thing any human would do in the situation, raise Adelaide as her own. From the earliest memory Adelaide could remember Eliza had been by her side taking care of her. Eliza sewed every piece of clothing she owned and made every meal.
Both women were silent as they returned to the cart. The mule was standing patiently as it awaited the return of it's masters. The cart was simple and made by hand. Adelaide had even helped to chop the wood that made the cart, of which she was proud. Adelaide wasn't strong but she had her wits about her. Clever as a fox with beauty of diamond. Eliza never ended with her praise of young Adelaide's appearance but when it came to Adelaide's voice it seemed futile to compare it to anything in the world. She could sing far more elegantly than any canary but her voice was wasted on her own entertainment.
"Ada," Eliza smiled as she spoke Adelaide's short nickname, "Why must I always find you in such rugged attire? What's wrong with wearing a dress? Proper women should never be caught in trousers." Adelaide laughed, her voice carried away with the chimed tune.
"Perhaps it is best not always to be proper but to be one's own self." Young Adelaide thought her words carefully and spoke with the utmost caution as to not upset Eliza. She was tired of being proper. She would never meet anyone proper in the middle of the woods. The only people she ever saw were those traveling to town or the occasional young male who'd venture into the forest's edge for a hunt. There was no point of dressing up and having tea parties for Adelaide anymore. Her fate seemed locked to one of solitude.
Eliza seemed to understand yet her duty as Adelaide's caretaker meant that she was to keep the girl in toe and teach her the ways of living. Today would be a lost cause on the argument but once Adelaide went to sleep Eliza would go up into her room and fetch the improper clothing to be destroyed.
Both women climbed onto the cart and stared forward at the empty path. The elder of the two grabbed the reigns of the mule clicking her tongue. With a jolt the cart moved forward along the dirt path bouncing both women and their supplies about. Adelaide couldn't hide her boredom as she sat with her frown towards the passing trees. There was nothing she could do to turn the cart around and go into the city. Just once was all she wanted. She was curious to see inside those tall walls what they held. It had taken years for Adelaide to convince Eliza to let her ride along and she couldn't break the woman's trust by going in. It was a hard life being behaved.
The trip home was indeed a long one, especially with the disappointment of Adelaide's scarred past being brushed to the surface of her memory. The old cabin made of thick logs and stone stood hidden far back into the forest. No one ever stumbled across it, they were hidden from the world. Moss climbed the sides of the building and where the moss stopped the old green vines only began. The vines crossed along the cabin's walls decorating it in the lively spring season. The light gray smoke billowing from the chimney showed that the morning fire was burning out.
Adelaide went to the woodshed out of habit and grabbed three heavy logs to build to the fire. She carried them inside the dark room and set them beside the fireplace. The cabin itself was very small but with only the two women there was no need for more. The first floor was all one room that was scarcely decorated with the bare essentials. There was a dinning table and kitchen as well as several chairs circled around the fire. Adelaide sat on the only rug as she stirred the burning embers.
Behind her Eliza carried in the supplies she'd purchased in town. The food would last them weeks now that the plants in their garden were producing beautiful ripe vegetables. Adelaide would be able to gather berries and fruit from the forest as well making trips to town unnecessary.
It only took a moment before the fire was ablaze once more. Adelaide smiled at her work and moved into the kitchen to prepare a simple lunch. She began work almost immediately by peeling potatoes. Humming to herself Adelaide worked swiftly bringing together a simple stew. Her hands were quick with the work from years of practice.
Once the stew was hanging over the fire to cook Adelaide sat down for rest. She was alone in her home. She hadn't realized Eliza was still out but now that she realized her caretaker was missing she was growing rather curious. Outside the sun beat down on the land making the air hot and heavy. Sweat was already gathering on her forehead. With her hand she hastily wiped away the moisture and set off towards the shed.
Being quiet Adelaide crawled under the window as to see what Eliza was about. There was no reason for Eliza to hold secrets from her but she knew something was afoot when Eliza made no motion to inform her that she'd be out in the shed. With the slightest of motions Adelaide lifted herself up as to look through the window when she came face to face with Eliza herself. Letting out a startled scream Adelaide fell backwards into the brush. Through the window Eliza could been seen with a fit of laughter. "Serves you right lass. The next time you wish to spy on the likes of me you best be silent. I could hear you from that noisy thing you call walking."
Rubbing her back Adelaide stood with a frown. "Eliza, what are you doing in the shed?"
"I am putting away this old mule. Now why would you be snooping around? Thinking I'd be keeping a secret from you?" the elder woman stated as a matter of fact.
That was exactly what Adelaide though but she bit her tongue. "Lunch is ready, I was just going to tell you." It was half the truth and Adelaide knew that whatever Eliza was about in that shed she'd never know now. Behind the kind woman's eyes there was a lie. Adelaide would not put this behind her but rather save it for later. She'd be able to snoop far more efficiently when the elder woman was in bed.
The elder woman nodded and began to lock up the shed. "And did you gather any berries for later?" Adelaide shook her head frowning. She'd only gathered fresh berries the night before. "If you could be so kind as to fetch a few baskets more after lunch. I wish to make a pie."
She smiled softly at Eliza knowing very well that this was only an attempt to send her away while Eliza took the chance to finish whatever it was she was doing in the shed. They headed inside to eat the simple stew Adelaide had prepared. As they ate Eliza fell into the tradition of instructing young Adelaide of manners. The girl was taught to be a queen but at the end of the day she slept on a straw mat.
When she was finished with her meal she set the dishes in the sink to be cleaned later. She'd have to go out and pump water from the well first which was quite the bit of work for a small girl such as herself. She glanced her eyes at Eliza and smiled as she watched her old friend eat. She wouldn't find out the secret now that Eliza was sending her out of the house. She'd still find her own fun in the woods.
Gathering up her basket Adelaide gave Eliza a simple hug, kissing her cheek in the process. "I'll be back before dark Eliza."
"And you be safe child. Don't you be coming back with bloody scabs on your knees again." The younger of the women shook her head smiling. The time she'd come back with bloody scabs on her knees she'd been swimming in the creek. The water was cold and she was rushing out of the water when she tripped only to fall and hurt herself. Promising she'd be safe Adelaide rushed out the doors and followed the path she always took to the cliffs.
Her feet moved fast as she nearly sprinted to the rocky ledges. The cliff was her escape, her haven. It was tempting for her to cast her basket to the side so her travels would be far easier. Branches snagged against the ends of her trousers but Adelaide didn't care. She knew very well that Eliza would rid her of the clothing soon so there was no concern for preserving them.
She reached her destination quickly but the thought of climbing the rocky edge of the cliff's wall was too tiring at the moment. Adelaide finally threw her basket to the ground and took a seat on a fallen log in hopes of catching her breath. Under the cool shade of the canopy Adelaide smiled up into the tree tops as birds fluttered about above her.
A small blue jay landed on the ground near her feet brightening her face. With shinning eyes she held her hand out in hope that the small animal would come to her. She was silent as to not frighten it. The bird ruffled it's feathers staring at her before flying away. "Oh, you're no fun at all," Adelaide frowned. She let out a little whistle getting the attention of the birds but none came any closer.
She stood with her hands on her hips staring up at the birds. "Be off with you if you won't play with me." Throwing her hands in the air she attempted to shoo them away only making herself look very silly. It was her own entertainment in a way. She couldn't interact with other humans so she looked to the animals of the wood.
Giving up her attempt of shooing the birds away she turned to the rocky wall which she had put off until she had a chance to catch her breath once more. Smiling, Adelaide grabbed the jagged edge in her palms hoisting herself up. It was a long climb but she had found that there were several flat areas along the wall where she could stop and rest if needed. Throwing her head back she looked up towards the top, it seemed so far away but to Adelaide it was only a matter of minutes before she'd be to the top.
The first time she climbed this rocky wall she was scared out of her mind. She had no idea of what she was thinking but once she was to the top she realized that it was the most beautiful place in the world. Now her hands worked automatically as they found the right rocks to grab and her feet scrambled up after her. These regular climbs kept her in shape and though it did not look it, she could very well take on any man in an arm wrestling match at any local pub.
When she reached the top she grabbed a hold of the soft new grass and pulled her entire body over the edge. Smiling brightly Adelaide rolled onto her back staring into the clear blue sky. There were no trees here to block out the sun making the area very warm. It was always a wish of hers to see the night sky from this point yet the climb in the dark of the night was too petrifying even for her who was familiar with the face of the rocky wall.
Sitting up Adelaide stared forward at the sight before her. It was nothing out of the ordinary and perhaps any citizen of the town wouldn't give it a second glance but to Adelaide it was like a dream. Louster hung in the horizon glimmering in the day light. The castle stood above all else emitting the power in which it stood for. "Silly me, to think for one moment I'd be welcome there," Adelaide sighed with her own disappointment. "Who needs that horrid place anyway? I'm far more than content where I am now. But still-" Her hands tightened around the grass making her want to scream.
She began to softly hum a childhood lullaby as she let the pain in her chest float away into the wind. She was so lost in her peace that she didn't hear the horse behind her until it nuzzled her neck. She leapt up in freight backing away. A man's hand shot out grabbing her shoulder to steady her and prevent her from backing away any further. One foolish step and she'd be tumbling through the canopy of the woods. "It's okay, I've got you," came the husky voice of a stranger.
She blushed looking at him. He was sitting atop his horse in attire like her own. He wore a white blouse which he didn't bother to tie shut and his trousers were a far darker shade than her own. It was the man's face that captivated Adelaide. His round face glowed from a soft tan and his eyes watched her carefully. His eyes were filled with burning embers, a soft gold hue that circled his eyes. The feathered hair of his only added to the godlike image that would forever be imprinted into Adelaide's mind.
She blushed profoundly when she realized he was still holding her back from the cliff's dangerous edge. She jerked herself from his grasp and took a careful step back. The man was bemused with the girl's actions but stayed on his horse careful of not scaring the innocent woman. "I'm sorry for scaring you miss, I only wanted to inquire why such a lovely maiden as yourself was up here all by herself. Let me introduce myself, my name is Lucas and you are?"
He flashed her an innocent smile but Adelaide was more startled at the man's actions. Being isolated for so long she'd grown use to only interacting with her caretaker and now that she was faced with a man, a ruggedly handsome one at that, she had no idea what to do. Clenching her fists she took defense to a man who truly had no right being there. "I don't see why my name is hardly any of your business sir. If you have any good sense you will leave here at once."
He dismounted his horse to stand by her. Now that he was off his large horse it was clearly visible that he had a fine bow strapped to his back. Hunters rarely ventured this far into the woods but there was one occasionally. Adelaide never ran into a hunter on her own before. If she did she'd had always been with Eliza and Eliza, in fear of the stranger, would hide Adelaide away until the man was gone.
The man, Lucas, watched her carefully and took a step back from the livid girl when he caught the angry look she cast his way. "Now stay calm, I was only investigating that lovely noise you were making. There's no need to get violent miss."
She shook her fists glaring at him. "Calm? I am calm, I was calm. You were the rude individual who interrupted my peaceful afternoon. Now you may leave since you are done investigating that lovely noise. As you can see, it was nothing."
This man obviously didn't hold her threats very highly. He made no motion of leaving and did the opposite when he sat down near the edge of the cliff. It would be so easy to push him away and be rid of him once and for all. "Listen Lucas," she sneered remembering his name from his first introduction, "This is my spot and you may leave now."
He looked at her for a small moment with a wicked glint in his eyes. "Perhaps if I knew the name of such a lovely maiden I'd be more keen on my departure." Of course he really had no intention of leaving, not when he only met such a beautiful girl such as Adelaide.
"Adelaide. Now leave." She ground her teeth in frustration. Why of all days did this happen to her? She was elated only this morning when she awoke realizing it was her birthday the day after next. It was a realization on her that she stopped to smile. It was simple really, Eliza had to have been trying to fix up her present in the shed earlier. "Oh, how silly of me!" She nearly clapped at her own discovery but when the man before her began to laugh she stopped. "What's so funny sir? It isn't proper at all to laugh at a woman such as myself."
"That look on your face was so aloof, it was priceless my beautiful lady. Do tell what is so silly of yourself? I'm intrigued now, so intrigued I think I won't be able to leave your side until I know." He smiled innocently making Adelaide grimace. This man would stop at nothing.
Narrowing her eyes at Lucas she sat down beside him out of arms reach. "If you insist on knowing I shall tell you so you may be on your merry way. I had a realization that my birthday was only two days away and that realization proved to be the reason for the suspicious behavior of my friend. Now that you know you may leave." She normally wasn't so short on her behavior with others but this man was infuriating.
She stared at the city that was always out of reach. It was beautiful and somehow she wondered if she'd been missing out on a life she should have had. Lucas was the first man she had seen in a long time and that would not have been so had she lived her life in the city as she wished. Many women had been married far before her age now and Adelaide couldn't help but wonder if she'd ever find the love of a man's embrace now.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Looking to the man Adelaide smiled in a forgiving manner. "I was out of line. I'm glad you had enough honor to come to me. Had I been lost or hurt you would have been my knight in shinning armor. As horribly tacky as that seems, I really do appreciate the thought." She cast her eyes downward to the canopy of the woods.
Lucas winked at her picking up her limp hand. "All is forgiven if you let me hear that lovely voice of yours once more." She blushed but abided by his wishes. Picking back up with her lively childish tune she sang for her handsome stranger.
She finished her song with ease and it seemed to lighten the pressure on her heavy heart. With innocent eyes she still stared at the city of hope hoping her own dreams would come true someday. If she clung to them long enough perhaps she had a chance. It was comforting sitting there even if she was with a stranger.
The man leaned back to rest on his elbows. "Lovely, just lovely. Your voice is that of a chorus of angels."
Blushing, Adelaide stood brushing the dirt from her trousers. "Thank you sir, you are all too kind. But I'm afraid it is time for me to bid you a fair well. My dear aunt Elizabeth will be awaiting my arrival soon. You may now be on your way to pester someone else."
"Pester, now come my fair lady! Don't think our time together has meant so little to you! Meet me again, please, I beg of you!" Lucas was on his knees before Adelaide and she didn't know what to make of it. Either it was the sweetest thing she'd ever seen or the most crazy act.
She'd do with the sweetest. Was it her fault she was so keen on romances? When was the next time she'd run across a handsome stranger who would show any interest in her despite her angry demeanor. She shook her head blushing. "Eliza would never hear of it. She would be furious to hear that I'm speaking to you now. No, I think it's best if we never speak again don't you?"
He shot up immediately nearly sending himself over the edge. Adelaide, the kind spirit she was, grabbed his arm tightly until he regained his balance. Lucas flashed her a grateful glance and grabbed the reigns of his horse. "Tomorrow at sunset meet me here. Your Eliza will never need to know of our meeting."
He jumped on his horse and turned themselves around so they faced the woods behind them. Adelaide was stunned to say the least. She couldn't believe how forward this man was. "Wait just one good minute." She stood there as the horse trotted away slowly leaving her alone on the cliff. He had some nerve to show her such behavior. "You may be here but hell will freeze over before I meet your arrogant self here once more. And another thing, this is my spot so don't you come around anymore!" She was yelling at his back and he was laughing at her from atop his horse. The man didn't stop despite her protesting. Adelaide only could watch as he disappeared into the dark woods.