I never used to cry so much. But I started to tear up again when I woke and looked out my window, because Flynn wasn't there. I know he said sunset. But I thought maybe he meant sunrise. But he said night. But I thought maybe he meant morning. He didn't though.
It was incredibly early. My father was still asleep but Felicity and Claude were awake. Felicity was cleaning up the house and Claude was filing some papers in the office. I put on my favorite dress and combed my hair. It dried all frizzy, but I didn't really care at all. I didn't bother putting on any makeup. I wasn't trying to impress anyone. It's not like either of us had a choice in this marriage, anyway.
I still had a few more hours until noon. Neither Felicity or Claude knew I was even awake yet. I kept looking out my door to see where they were, and they were always way too close to the front door for me to sneak out. I looked out my bedroom window again. Flynn still wasn't around. He was probably sleeping too. I had no reason to panic, but I felt like I was going to in seconds. I wanted to say goodbye. It was a different kind of goodbye than the one last night, because it would be so much more permanent.
I also kind of wanted to kiss him again. But when I thought of that, I got even more panicky, and shook it out of my head. I didn't really know what to make of that kiss.
"Maybe I shouldn't go see him," I said to myself. "Maybe that will make this more painful."
Realizing I was talking to myself made me feel a little crazy. I pretended that I was talking to my mom. But I was really just talking to myself. I guess I thought pretending it was my mom would make me feel better. But I just felt weird inside. Nothing really made sense.
I thought about how in twenty-four hours, I would be in a different room in a different house in a different town. I would have to sleep next to some practical-prince, and eat fancy foods. I was laying in my bed staring at the stupid white ceiling for what seemed like hours when Felicity walked in.
"Oh you're awake," she said, jumping back a little. "I came in to clean up. I thought you'd still be asleep."
"I'm awake," I answered, sitting up. "I'll miss you the most, I think."
"Me?" She laughed, sitting next to me on the bed, "why little ol' me?"
"You're so kind," I touched her perfectly curled hair, and realized now why she could never be with my father. She was perfect and he was not.
"You're going to miss that boy much more," she tapped my nose with her finger, "I saw you two last night. Were you really kidnapped? I mean, we assumed that's what happened to you, but you never really confirmed. Maybe you were just out with that boy all night!" She giggled. I imagined her as a teenager, on the phone all night with her girlfriends, putting on lipgloss and sneaking out with boys. I wanted to tell her I was out with Flynn all night just to satisfy her. But I couldn't just make up some story.
"I got kidnapped," I shrugged, "Flynn did help me get home though. I would have been wandering lost all night if it wasn't for him."
"You love him," she said, giggling again. I was going to miss her so much. "It's a shame you have to marry this boy from Shilling."
I ignored her first comment. Didn't know what to say. "No, it's a shame that my dad is destroying this town."
It was her turn to ignore my comment.. We just sat there in silence. She had a beauty mark on her right cheek, just above her lip and below her nose. They say beauty marks are scars from past lives. I imagined a woman being stabbed in the face. It wasn't a pleasant thought and I gagged a little. My mind can be graphic.
"You alright, hon?" She asked, patting my back.
No, I'm not alright. I wanted to say the words but I didn't. Our conversation was over because of what I said and we both knew that. As much as she was my friend, my maid, and my motherly figure, she worked for my father and that was that. She said something else but I didn't answer that either. Then she left my room.
At 11:30, I decided to stroll out of my room and say goodbye to my house. I wanted to count all the spoons, forks, and knives in the kitchen, but instead I counted the tables because that would be easier. One table. In the living room there was a green rug. My father told me that my mom picked it out because it reminded her of my eyes. We had a pretty big television that no one ever watched. I used to play video games on it when I was little but my father didn't like that. So he got rid of the video games and I just stopped going in the living room really. The rug reminded me of my mom too much anyway.
I didn't go into the dining room because Felicity was cleaning it. I didn't go into Claude's room, Felicity's room, my father's room, or my father's office. I didn't want to see anyone. I went straight into my mom's study. The first time someone has gone in there since she died. Well, sometimes Felicity goes in to dust and stuff. But other than that, no one has gone inside.
The walls were a dark orange, and she had little pieces of fabric everywhere. She liked to make clothes and things. I have a teddy bear she made for me. I keep it in a safe place because I don't want it to fall apart. Anyway, I sat at her little desk and looked at the papers she had on it. There were patterns for clothes and shopping lists. Then I saw a little sheet of paper with 'Doctor Vona' written on it, and a telephone number. I picked up the phone on her desk and dialed the first few numbers before I heard someone calling my name.
I put the phone back down, stuffed the paper in my pocket, and ran out of the study. Felicity had my bags at the front door, packed and ready to go. I didn't have a lot of belongings. Just some clothes and knick knacks. She was standing next to my bags with Claude and my father. "We're going to walk to you to the town entrance, sweetheart," said my father, opening the front door, "the escorts should be here shortly."
I didn't answer. I looked around the house one final time before following them all outside. At first, I couldn't believe my father was just letting go of me like this. But then I realized how much easier it would be for him to work without me around. He wouldn't have to deal with me sneaking out, hanging out with Flynn, cleaning up after me, or hearing me nag. Or looking at me and seeing my mom.
I looked at every building we passed as we walked through town. I remembered Flynn's birthday a couple years back. It was down pouring and my father specifically said, "do not leave the house, Kristin." But it was Flynn's birthday and I had to. I put on my boots, the same ones I left in the rebels' tent, and snuck out when Felicity was sleeping and Claude was filing. He always had this weird look on his face when he filed. I could tell he hated his job and I wasn't sure why he stuck around. Sometimes I felt bad but mostly I just hated him. He was always mean and rude. So I never talked to him much.
Anyway, I ran through the town, trying to avoid the rain. My hair was pretty soaked already but I knew if I took the alleyways, I could avoid getting any more wet. There was an alley behind every building. Above the alley were fire escapes and balconies that caught a lot of the rain. I could see all the back doors of the businesses, their garbage bags, and the little rats running away from rain drops. Mud covered my boots. I kept running until I got out of town and to Flynn's tent.
I went right inside, and the whole family was sitting around a little birthday cake that Miranda baked. I made it just in time to sing, and I could see how big Flynn was smiling through the candlelight. His sisters were giggling and arguing over who got the bigger slice of cake. After we ate, the rain let up a bit, so Flynn and I went outside. I handed him a little box that I safely carried in my pocket.
He opened it and inside was his fake birthday present: a bar of soap. He looked at me, hurt and confused. I started to laugh hysterically until he realized it was a joke and laughed, too. I said sorry anyway, then handed him another small box, this one his real present. Inside was a little dog figurine. It was originally attached to a keychain, but upon realizing he had no keys due to his lack of a house door, I broke the chain off and attached a thick piece of string. I told him it was a good luck charm. He tied it to his belt and hasn't taken it off since.
Anyway, we reached the town entrance and none of us had spoken the entire walk. We stood, waiting at the gate for my escorts. They knew the situation. They were to pick me up and keep me safe from the rebels, along with fulfilling the arranged marriage's plans. I would be William's responsibility after my birthday and then the wedding.
My father was chatting with the guards and Claude had already started an argument with Felicity. I was staring at the medicine woman's stand. She was a frail, old woman, with gray hair tied in a bun. Her skin was the color of caramel, covered in wrinkles. She had an assortment of bottled liquids and herbs laid out on her table. Her house was right behind her, yet she always sold her goods outside on a stand rather than turning her house into a storefront. I walked up to her.
"You know, I'm gonna miss you," I said, looking at the things she had for sale. "You always seem to be here for me. I can always count on you to be standing in this exact spot. And through all these years, I never bothered to ask your name."
She stared back at me. She was smiling a little, mysteriously. She held her hand out for me to shake it, "you'll never know, young one. It is my dirty little secret."
Something about that made me giggle, and I shook her hand. "It was a pleasure knowing you."
"You, as well, little one." She winked. "Your friend is near. I can tell."
Educated in medicines and a psychic, huh? I walked back over to my bags, when suddenly, Flynn and Miranda appeared at the gate. I couldn't believe the medicine woman was right. But that was the last thing on my mind. Miranda was bent over, barely able to walk, with Flynn nearly carrying her. She was coughing and gagging, and I could see beads of sweat dripping off of her forehead. Flynn was in such a panic that he didn't even notice me. They headed right for the medicine woman.
I ran over to them, helping Flynn hold Miranda on her feet. I could feel her pain, pulling her down. She wanted to collapse. The medicine woman lifted her up, carried her into her house, and closed the door behind her. Flynn and I stood, staring at the door, unsure of what to do next.
"What happened," I said finally, "what happened to her?"
"I don't know," his voice was quiet and shaky. "You're leaving?"
"Yes." I looked back at my bags. My father was still chatting with the guards. Flynn hugged me. I tried to savor the moment. I didn't want it to end. I wanted to make all his worry go away but I wanted him to make my worry go away, too. I think we both felt like that. And we just hugged tighter.
Then I heard Felicity scream, "Master Jacobs!" and both Flynn and I turned to see a group of men in brown, baggy tunics surround my father. Felicity was bouncing back and forth from one foot to the other, trying to decide whether she wanted to help or run home. Claude immediately ran into the group, punching and pushing. The guards joined, too, but they were still outnumbered by the rebels.
The escorts pulled up at that very moment, and all I could hear was my father scream, "Kristin, leave, now! Run!"
The escorts looked out the car window to take in the entire situation and immediately knew what was going on. The driver motioned for me to get into the car. But I was scared.
Flynn looked at me and said, "he's right, run!" before heading in the direction of the fight. I didn't want to leave him. And I really didn't want him to get in that fight. But I got into the car, peering out the window as we drove off.
I heard an unfamiliar voice shout, "so you're a traitor, huh! Your father wouldn't be too proud of you!" followed by a loud smash. I was shaking in the back seat. It was Flynn. I knew it was Flynn. He was fighting on our side. Why would he do that? If Miranda dies, then he's the only person his sisters have, why would he do that?
The driver looked at me. "That's what we're saving you from, right?" he asked.
"Yeah." But the truth was, I didn't want to be saved. I'd rather be standing next to Felicity, panicking.