Written in the Rain
It was John's voice the one that had always urged Sara on. Scary as sometimes Sara thought it was, John Parker had been a central part of her universe (small as said universe was) since the day she had met him almost eleven years ago.
There were many things that made John extra special to Sara but that first encounter had been like a sign from the sky.
First, the rain had lured Sara out of her spacious –but very adult-like room at Silverhill Park's Manor House where she had arrived that very same day after almost a month traveling from Cairo. Sara had run outside, barefoot over the wet grass, enjoying the sweet spring rain as only a desert child could.
Sara had run and run through the manor's gardens until she reached the wooden hills behind the manor and a small rock formation overlooking the Wye River.
She had spurn around, arms wide open, laughing with childish abandon for the first time since her parents deaths or perhaps even before that. People took their rain for granted all the time, but until that day, Sara had never seen rain like that.
Her father had been a respected archeologist and had dragged Sara and her mother through desert after desert, until Sara's mother had left him. He had kept Sara, just to spite her and Sara had grown sullen and unhappy. Her mother had died just six months before and her father hadn't lasted much longer. Sara had been living with a clergyman's family for almost two months before word had come from her uncle with a ticket to England.
And it was then, as she spun around and laughed, that her grief and hurt and bitterness had finally begun to recede, washed away by the sweet spring rain. But spinning about over wet rocks had never been a good idea. Sara had edged to close to the border of the rocks and her feet slipped.
It was then when she had met John, who at thirteen had been just strong and big enough to clamp his arms around her ten-year-old self and pull her back from the rock's edge. John had held her afterwards, he always claimed it was to make sure she didn't fall on the way down to solid ground but Sara had always suspected he had felt the same peace she had in that moment.
It was John who had taken her to his own mother and his own house to dry; it was him who had shown her the way back home when she had finally admitted she was lost. It was John who had taught her all the secrets of the Peak County. It was John who had taught her everything. And from that day on, it had been John and Sara running up and down Silverhill; to Sara's cousin Fred's constant annoyance until they had included him on the play group.
They had been quite a three some that spring and summer… until Fred's tutor had commented on how smart John was and, after talking it out with Mrs. Parker, Lord Stapleton (Sara's uncle) had offered to pay for John's education at Eton –provided he passed the admission's test and kept his grades up.
And for reasons Sara never understood, un-ambitious John had agreed and went away that Fall with Fred to one of England's most prestigious school's while Sara stayed at Silverhill (though her uncle had offered to sent her to a fancy boarding school in Paris) and inherited Fred's tutor. Sara had cried for two days straight and swore she would never speak to neither Fred nor John for as long as she lived. Said resolution only lasted a week, until a letter from John arrived, just a week after he had left. In his letter, John told Sara about the school and the teachers and how much he missed Silverhill; he told her that, though he was making friends, she would always be his best friend.
That was the first of many letters; Mrs. Parker even said that John wrote more to Sara than what he did to his own mother. John never mentioned Fred though – neither did Fred though his letters were far more scarce – and Sara later understood that something had happened between Fred and John that first week away from home and that they weren't friends anymore.
Sara wept with relief –selfish but there you have it – when John told her he wouldn't be going away to University –even though, again, Lord Stapleton had offered to pay for it – instead he would remain at the estate and apprentice under Mr. Webber, the estate manager.
"There is only so much education I need, Sara." John had explained as they sat in the rocks where they had met, the first weekend after he had come back from Eton (where he had graduated top of his class). "My Mom was a lady's maid, my Father a farmer. What would I do with a University Education? I know what I need to know, and Mr. Webber can teach me the rest."
"So you're going to stay here with me, always?" Sara had asked.
"Yes, until you decide that Peak County is too small for you and go and marry some handsome young earl and forget all about me." John had said, half joking, half not.
"I will never leave you or Silverhill." Sara had vowed.
"I'll remind you of that when you're twenty and on your way to your first London Season." John had joked, pulled her close and hugged her.
They stayed there for a long time, just staring out the river until it started to rain. Then John had took Sara's hand to guide her home, and Sara knew, even at fifteen, that she would never let go, no matter what.
It was a promise she intended to keep, she just didn't know quite yet how hard it would be. Society could be vicious and no matter how many times she wished she had not, she had been born Lady Sara Douglas, and with that came specific obligations she didn't know how many yet, but she would.
End of Chapter One.