Happy Monday, Peeps!
At long last, here is The Spring and the River – Seven. :) If you need a refresher, you can go to The Spring and the River Page to read the last few installments and check out the amazing feature images that go along with them. :)
Lucy twitched impatiently as she lie waiting in the darkness. While her parents and five siblings had been sleeping for hours, Lucy had resisted the urge to pace. Waiting until the deep of the night was excruciating, but Marianne had said that the heart of the night was always the safest time to steal away. When she was certain that it was nearly midnight, she slipped out of bed. Goosebumps appeared on her arms as she slithered over to the wooden chest on the other side of her box of a room. Before, she had always been content with the quaint space, but these days it felt confining. And she longed for freedom.
The hinges on the chest ground loudly as she opened the lid, and Lucy broke out in a cold sweat. She couldn’t remember a time when she’d been so tense. The dark fabric of her cloak blended with the gloom, and she pulled it out of the trunk. With slippery fingers, she tied it around her neck and crept to the window. Clean night air rushed in as she opened it and straddled the sill. The half moon was veiled by a wisp of cloud, and her heart began to race as she lowered herself out the window. Finally, her bare toes reached cool stone, and she tried to find a handhold. In a moment of absolute terror, her sweaty hands slipped from the stone that she had been gripping so desperately, and she fell backwards with a sharp cry.
The air whooshed from her lungs as she landed flat on her back. Luckily, she had already climbed halfway down and only fallen about three feet. For several minutes, she lay there trying to breathe as her heart raced and her back ached. She rolled over onto her stomach and pushed herself to her feet. The house remained dark and silent; thankfully, no one had heard her yell as she fell. Still, her heart insisted on hammering almost painfully.
She pulled her cloak around her and covered her light hair with the hood as she dashed towards the River. The fabric was scratchy, but Marianne had woven it herself and was very proud of it. When Lucy thought of how soft her sister-in-law’s weaving was, she flinched. Obviously, Marianne had abandoned her family before her mother had finished teaching her the finer ways of weaving.
Her bare feet protested at every sharp stone and every barbed thorn. Finally, the River’s song floated by her; it was different than when she had first heard it before. While it had frightened her in the past, it now greeted her like an old friend. Marianne waited for her on the edge of the shore. “Lucy,” she called. “I was beginning to think you were going to skip.”
Lucy shook her head sheepishly. “No, I just had a little mishap getting out of the house.” A sliver of guilt pricked her as she took off her sandals and threw her cloak to the ground. As she waded into the River, the still-new sensations stamped out her lingering shame.
When she had first started coming to the River secretly, she had been shocked by how many people she knew from the Spring. She had passed each of them at the Spring daily, but the more she thought of it, she realized she couldn’t recall seeing any of them actually drinking from it. At first she had disdained them for their duplicity, but as weeks slipped into months, she couldn’t think herself above them any longer.
She shoved Riverwater at Marianne, who was still on the shore talking off her sandals. Marianne screeched an obscenity and threw a sandal at Lucy. She narrowly avoided getting smacked in the side of the head by diving beneath the rushing waters.
Yes, this was freedom. And as she cavorted in the River with her new fellows, she decided that she didn’t want to live this double life for long. Soon, she wasn’t sure how soon, but it must be soon, she would stop choking down the Springwater. And when the River became too perilous for her, she would go back to the Spring for a while. One thing she knew for certain: she was the master. She wouldn’t allow either the Spring nor the River to rule her.
At least, that’s the lie she told herself.