Author's Note: Of course I have to add this at the beginning. The following tale is purely fiction. Any likenesses to reality are purely coincidental; although my inspiration is from real events so likenesses are going to be likely. I hope you enjoy!
I dedicate this story to Matthew. Thank you for being there for me; thank you for being my inspiration when I need it; thank you for supporting me in all that I aspire to do.
Chapter One: Pendant in the Wood
In haste, 'twas left;
room bare, but this.
Her perfume in the silk,
the casings, his warmth contain.
The quiet glass of time protect,
have time not ruined.
And, holding hands,
two lovers smile into the dawn.
The autumn leaves had already begun changing colors. Red, orange, brown, yellow, and maroon colors created a vibrant atmosphere in the late of August. The heat of summer fading, the wind brought with it the chill of fall. Sunlight shining in the twilight cast shadows in its last minutes; the moon, already visible, was taking over for the night.
As the Ford Explorer drove on, I stared off into the forest. There was so much there, and yet there was nothing; the wilderness had overcome everything. The vibrant emptiness was so different from the big city and I still couldn't comprehend any of what I was seeing. Opening the book of poetry again, I reread the last line—"…two lovers smile into the dawn…"
I was already missing him and it had hardly been three days. Before, we had gone for days without seeing each other. The finality of everything had sunk in well before the move; I knew what was coming and had taken in every moment that I could. Reading the poem, reality dug its sharp nails in. I was never going to have my time in the dawn of morning with him.
Flipping to another page in the book, I didn't read what it said. The phrase stuck in my mind and I couldn't help, but dwell on what I was never going to have. Knowing my love of poetry, my mother had dug up the book and given it to me as an attempt at consolation, but it did nothing for me. Informing me that many of the writers in the book were from the town that we were going to, she tried getting me excited about the move, but none of her attempts worked.
"Just think of all the research you could do on the poets there! You could probably meet relatives of them or maybe even the writers themselves!"
I didn't care. Meeting writers was at the bottom of my list right now. I didn't care that I had always wanted to get my collection of poems autographed; the only thing that I wanted to do with poetry was to write it. I had learned that life-changing events made for good poems; this was definitely going to get counted among "life-changing" events. Loss, love, sadness: the whole experience of moving was purely tragic!—perfect poem material.
The forest passed, trees streaming by one by one, seemingly endless. It was as if we were going back in time; back to when people still lived in log cabins built from nothing and women married as soon as they could. Mother had said that "The Village" was full of history. I think the wilderness was just a prelude to the town I was going to encounter.
From the very beginning, I had tried my hardest to ignore the fact that we were moving, my mother and I, away from Boston to some tiny village in Maine. I hadn't asked about the real name of the Village—that couldn't possibly be the name of any town; I hadn't asked about the people—mother acted like she knew everything about it; I hadn't even asked about the high school that I was going to spend my Senior year at. As we drove along, speeding past the trees toward the place my mother wanted me to call home, I was still uninformed about this distant Village—and I was going to keep it that way.
Mother continued jabbering as I stared out my window, trying to tune her out. I sat in silence, a scorned look on my face, wondering how long it would take for her to get the hint that I wasn't listening. My mind was racing, although it was blank. The need to write was there, but I had no words to write; I couldn't decipher the code that was spinning in my head. A look of loss and disappointment came on my mother's face as she realized that she wasn't going to get my attention, and I reached to the back seat to grab my notebook. Flipping it open to a random page in the middle of the book, I set my pen in the center of the lined paper. I gripped the pen as if I thought someone was going to steal it from me as the frustration built inside me.
Feelings of love, hate, confusion, and loss all collided. The pen moved. My hand in a fist around the utensil, the pen wrote no words. Shapeless scribbles across the paper were all I could muster to write; the signals from my brain as messed as the product they were producing. Dropping the pen reluctantly, I felt the water building up in my eyes. Letting my eyelids cover, the tears seeped through, revealing the sorrow that I didn't want to show. Keeping my head turned from Mother, I leaned against the window and let the tears flow as I fell into a restless sleep. The moon high overhead, I gazed through slits out into the forest. The stars sparkling through the trees caught my attention and I took a quick glance at the clock and noticed that it was already nine o'clock. Turning back to the stars, tears clouded my eyes, blinding me, as I realized that I was supposed to be talking with him—laughing with him, at that very moment.
Closing my eyes, I got no sleep, restless, as I knew I would be, I was bombarded with dreams. I saw his face. It was as if he was standing right there, reaching for me; I couldn't reach him. Chasing after him through the forest, he disappeared around a tree. Reaching the tree, I stood in front of a man who was my love, but he wasn't. My jeans and urban clothing had disappeared and had been replaced by a Colonial style gown. A weight around my neck drew my attention to the emerald pendant that now hung there. He stood before me, dressed also in the same antiquated style of dress, although his clothing wasn't near the same quality as mine. I looked away from him, back at the necklace, and undid the clasp. Holding the pendant in my hand, I examined the intricate design, the perfect cuts in the gem, the small diamonds etched into the surrounding gold. Reaching out to him, the pendant in hand, it was as if I was offering it to him though I knew not why anyone would give something like that to their lover at that particular moment; not only was it not my love, it wasn't me who stood before him. The man looked from my face, down at the necklace, and his eyes went back up to meet mine. Shaking his head, a slight smile—one of hurt, regret, and understanding—came across his face as he turned his back to me. I watched him walk away and tried to follow, but my feet were glued in place; gazing after him, I was helpless in despair as he disappeared into the green foliage.
Falling to my knees in the dream, I awoke at the exact moment that I hit the ground. Tears steaming down my face, my mother looked over at me, a look of concern on her face. Wiping away the tears, I shook my head at her and she understood that I didn't want to talk about it. Squinting at the clock, since my eyes still hadn't adjusted to the sunlight pouring through the windows, I found that I had slept—or tried to—until almost noon. Normally, I'd never sleep that long, so I'd have been shocked for a while about it, but I was too preoccupied already with my dream.
"My mother must be getting to me—yeah, that's it. That gown was beautiful, though… Ugh! And now I'm succumbing to the madness…! That's just crazy! No town could be like that, no matter how cut off from the world it was… Where did that come from?! That man! That couldn't have been Him! I mean—it was—but it couldn't have been! Those eyes… They weren't his… He—I don't know! There was something different about him that… It wasn't him! Maybe it was the clothes. I've heard that clothes can change people; maybe, since I'm not used to seeing him like that, he just looked a little surprising to me—different. If it was him, though, why would he run from me? He would never do that to me; leave me like that. Then, he expected a smile to explain it all! A look!? That definitely couldn't have been my love; not My Adam. And the pendant—I've never seen anything so beautiful before in my life… The emerald was more beautiful than any of the others that I've ever seen in all the jewelry that I've gotten for my May birthday… So beautiful; so enchanting; so hypnotizing… That man's—no he wasn't Adam, and I'll never believe that he might've been Adam—reaction to it was so peculiar. Why did he walk away after I offered it to him? What's wrong with giving him a necklace? It seemed like he was supposed to mean as much to me as Adam, but, then, why wouldn't he take a gift from me? That's one thing I don't know if I'll understand…"
I yelled at myself, scolded myself, and tried to explain things for my own comprehension's sake. I didn't understand anything that had happened—except for the part where I was supposed to have been involved with the man who I was mistaking for Adam. None of it made sense. Where the Colonial dress had come from, I had no idea; why would I have ever dressed like that? The more questions I asked, the more perplexed I became. It was driving me insane. First, I was moving and now some messed up dream had come to taunt me; everything was just perfect. I stared out the window into the sunlight at the trees that were still passing silently beside the SUV that my mother was driving. The scenery hadn't changed overnight; it was still the same—the same area where my dream had taken place. Sighing—still confused and frustrated—I opened the poetry book again. I had marked the page that had the poem on it about the two lovers, and I opened to that page to read it again.
"Two lovers…" They were lucky. After all they'd gone through, they still had the whole day ahead of them. All I had was the night—and, even then, he ran from me. The dream came back in broken parts. The moon and stars flashed before my eyes; the tree branches pulled at my skirts and hair. Leaves and twigs crushed under my feet as I chased after a, now faceless, man. The fat oak, bent and hollowed out with age, was now more pronounced in my mind, and his hiding behind it seemed almost sinister. The breeze in the chill of night sent shivers through my body even now, as I was remembering it. The texture of the lace on my gown and the glimmering pendant were even clearer now; I could feel the cool stone in my hands and the weight of the skirts was immense. The last glance he gave me stuck in my mind, though, like a thorn stuck in a tire; it stung to watch him walk away, time after time. His dark eyes seemed full of the story he wasn't telling me; the phrases he wanted to, but couldn't, say. Forcing myself back to that moment, I tried to read into his expression, but all I got was that he knew something that I didn't and he couldn't tell me what it was.
"Hah…!" I scoffed at myself. Why was I wasting my time dwelling on Him? It wasn't doing me any good to dwell on a dream that didn't exist, especially when I was technically taken. Before I left, Adam and I had decided that we were going to try and keep things between us the way they were; sitting there, in the front seat and in the middle of nowhere, I was having doubts about whether it was going to work. It had only been a few days and I was already distraught and picturing other guys in my head; I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be able to survive without him. It was pathetic, my needing a guy like that at my age, and I knew it, but he was more than just a guy to me; he was my best friend. He was the one I'd cried to after my father's death, when my mother wasn't around; He was the one I'd laughed with when we got ourselves into crazy predicaments.
"Father…" The memory of him brought more tears to my eyes. If not for his death, we wouldn't have had to move. My mother had been a stay-at-home mom so after he died, Mother found it hard to find work and provide for us. We had some money from Father, but it wasn't going to be enough to support us without Mother working; I couldn't get a job and handle getting good grades in all of my Honors courses at the same time so I was useless. The only thing left for us was to go to the Village. Mother had family there and, supposedly, with her "connections", we'd be able to prosper there.
"I grew up in The Village, you know?" Mother broke into my thoughts. It's only been sixteen years since we left, but it seems like so much longer not that we're going back. Everyone will be so happy—"
"Sixteen years?" I cut in, shocked. It was no surprise that Mother had been born and raised there, but I was seventeen and if she left sixteen years ago… I was now curious—they had always told me that we'd lived in Boston for all of my life. I didn't even know that my mother's family existed until now. Any family that we had ever gone to visit had been from my father's side, never Mother's.
She smiled at my question. Maybe she had just pulled it out to get me talking to her. "Yes, you were born there and, a while after your first birthday, we moved to Boston. Everyone was sad to see the new baby leaving, but I wanted to be closer to your father. I couldn't sit at home like a good army wife and wait for years while he was off fighting. Boston made it easier for him to come home and I liked being farther south anyway."
She ended her monologue and sat expectantly, wanting me to continue the conversation. What she had said was still trying to register itself into my mind. My father was dead, I was leaving my home, and now, it turned out, there was a whole life I had that I didn't know about; it was all a bit complicated for me to comprehend. "…and you couldn't tell me this before?"
My question was more a rhetorical one and I didn't care whether or not Mother answered it. I was going back into my disconnected state. Anything Mother had to say wasn't going to help things; I ignored every word she said after that. Trees passed as the sun set lower in the sky. The night and sleep I dreaded was approaching faster than I had expected, and I didn't want to know what dream might haunt me that night. I had an idea of what to expect, but I was praying that the torture would pass me that night. The sun had set and I was straining to keep my eyes open. Why didn't we have toothpicks when I needed them? It crossed my mind to humor Mother with conversation, but I wasn't that desperate; sleep and dreams, more-so nightmares, were better than listening to a voice that I didn't want to hear at the moment.
Having managed to stay awake until Mother stopped, for the night, at a rest stop, I finally succumbed to the exhaustion that had been trying to overcome me for hours. My eyes came to a close and I was at my mind's mercy, unconscious. I had prayed for a dreamless, peaceful sleep, but my prayers weren't answered.
Tripping and stumbling through the brush, I was back in the forest. I searched for something familiar; scowered the darkness to find anything that I'd seen before. Tangled in the branches, I squinted through the darkness. The big oak stood, just as I had remembered it, bent. Turning just in time to see an overcoat disappear around the big form, I followed, knowing exactly who it was. Yanking my hair out of the tangle it had gotten into with the branches, I struggled to follow the mysterious man. Finally arriving at the tree, I ran my hand along the ridges in the bark as I walked to the other side where I knew, somehow, that he'd be waiting for me.
The dream suddenly took a different turn from the night before. The man greeted me with a warm embrace; it was like he were desperate to hold me in his arms, and he wasn't going to let go. Instinctively, I returned the gesture and we stood there for a few seconds in each other's company. After breaking off the hug, he stared at me with the same longing eyes. There was something he wanted to say—it was obvious. Suddenly, I realized that the emerald pendant was still in my hand; repeating my same actions from the night before, I held it out to him in offering. Again, he shook his head and strolled off, only this time his pace was quickened; it was like he thought he was going to get caught with something. I took a step after him, and was surprised when my foot moved, but that was all I could accomplish; I was glued in place again. Tears came to my eyes and I sank to my knees once again. Curling up next to the tree, I sat and cried; all the while, I stared up at the moon. Asking myself why he would leave like that, I confused myself even more and sat in the hollow of the tree as my sight went black.
I woke to see an open field outside the window, instead of the normal pile-up of trees. A barbed-wire fence went around an area that might've been three square acres, enclosing the two horses and a colt that were grazing there. I found myself wishing that I could've ridden one of those horses at that moment; free to roam instead of caged up in the vehicle, going where I wanted to instead of being told where we were going. A tear dried on my cheek and I realized that I had been crying in my sleep again; it wasn't a very big surprise. Mother was staring straight ahead at the road, ignoring me now as I had ignored her before.
We stopped for gas a while later and got some chips and sandwiches for lunch. Other than the gas station and a few farmhouses, there was nothing around for miles. It surprised me that there was still this much empty, undeveloped space here. "…and people say that we're running out of forested areas. I guess they haven't been here…" We ate our food at some picnic tables outside the gas station; neither Mother nor I felt like sitting in the car at the time so we were able to agree on staying a while longer to eat. Getting back in the car once our food was gone, we continued on our journey.
Being the first to speak for the day, Mother finally informed me, "We're only a few hours away from The Village." She was silent after that and I looked over to her, acknowledging that I had heard her. My attitude became even more morose at hearing her words. I wasn't looking forward to seeing this new place. New places were the last thing I wanted to see this year; that's what college was for, not high school.
Pictures from my life back in Boston flashed through my mind. The schools I'd been to, my disorganized locker, the friends that I'd hung out with, the school dances, my room that no one could ever walk into because I couldn't keep it clean, my boyfriend—everything was coming back to me as I saw it all disappearing before my eyes.
There was no going back now; my life with all of the familiar faces was coming to an end. Nothing I could do, this was the point in time where I was going to have to accept things for what they were going to be. Friends growing farther apart, I was going to have to make new ones; try as I might with Adam, if it didn't work, finding a new beau, or living without out, was also on the horizon. A new house, a new neighborhood, a new next-door neighbor to deal with, a new school, a new life—everything was changing.
Trying to find some way to help me clear my mind, or at least get it off the thought of leaving, I gazed out the window at the clouds in the sky. The clouds formed nameless shapes in my mind; I couldn't get mother's statement out of my head. "We're only a few hours away…" We were only a few hours away from the end of everything I had known; a few hours away from an alien planet that I knew nothing about. I continued gazing at the sky, wishing that everything could just disappear; that I could wake up and this was all just a bad dream, but I was never going to wake from this slumber—it was real.
It was with my jumbled thoughts that I decided to take my last nap of our trip to The Village. Reluctantly, I let my eyes flutter to a close as I wondered whether the dreams would return or if I would be spared a daytime nightmare and given a few hours of peace from the hell I had created for myself.
I was crying, still, under the protection of the hollowed out oak. Everything was the same and, from where I was, I didn't see the man who had left me in this state. My head buried in the skirts of my dress, I felt a hand rest on my shoulder and instantly sat up to see his beautiful eyes staring into mine. His face inches from mine, he sat next to me in the little hollow and held me as I cried. The tears subsided eventually and we sat in silence. It was too much for me to handle sitting there and not asking him a single question. Lifting my head to meet his gaze again, I opened my mouth to speak, but he caught me before I could say anything and put a finger to my lips, shaking his head in the same familiar motion. I hoped that he wouldn't leave me, like he normally did after shaking his head in that manner, and he didn't. Sitting in his arms, I enjoyed every moment and was going to get what I could out of my opportunity; I didn't know when I would get this dream again, and I didn't want to miss anything while I had the chance.
We sat in the tree for so long that I lost track of time. Time passed as if nothing, it was as if we should've been there for hours; and yet, it seemed that only minutes had passed with us. Abruptly, he got up and pulled me with him. Holding my hand, he led me through the trees along a path that wasn't there, but it was cleared of any obstacles so that I wasn't tripping at all. Peering through the trees, I caught glimpses of light where the forest had come to and end.
My eyes flickered open and we were driving past houses. Back in the forest he was leading me to a clearing, but I couldn't see what was there. Awake, I studied the houses; seemingly everything in this small town was normal. Children were playing in their yards while their parents went about their daily activities; mother's working in the houses, father's working on the lawns. A very stereotypical small town, not much was happening; everything was quite and calm. Back in the dream, the man turned around to look at me as he led me on. Where he was taking me, I had no idea, but I was willing to wait to find out. I continued studying each house as we passed them.
Mother intruded on my musings as she pointed out the fact that I had already decided for myself, "We're in The Village."
I gazed out the window and studied the scenery as I drifted back into the wood. We still walked toward the lit clearing. I saw every tree clearly; the wood was all I saw. When I looked up to the clearing, though, everything was blurry. I wanted to know what was there…
"…Just a few more minutes until we get to the family house…" Mother broke in again.
We strode towards it; closer, step by step. I felt my mood become eager; I had to know what was there. We stood steps away from the clearing and He paused. Turning to face me, he stared into my eyes for a second before stepping to the side, moving an over-hanging branch out of the way so I could pass by. I stepped into the clearing to find a huge mansion in front of me; I estimated that it would have a hundred rooms in it. I found it intriguing; as I took a small step towards it, I wanted to know what was inside. Why had he brought me here? I didn't know, but it felt like I wasn't there by mistake.
I came out of my daze, but I was staring at the same mansion. Pinching myself, I thought I was still asleep, but I wasn't.
Mother tapped me on the shoulder as I was still trying to accept my being awake and said, "We're here… We're home…"
--End of Chapter 1--
Author's Note: There's the first chapter for you. It took me forever to write so I won't be able to tell you when chapter two will be out. Please review and tell me what you think, for feedback helps when writing; I like to hear people's opinions on my writing, especially with long fiction. It lets me know what I need to improve on for the next chapter. Also, if anyone needs a little help understanding the last part where the girl is drifting in and out of sleep, let me know; I'll gladly explain because I can see how it could be confusing to some readers.