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Run, Run, Run Away
Run, Run, Run Away
meant that we The trees’ shadows spread themselves around me, submerging me in a lacy veil of leaves. My heart beats hard in my chest, a tiny drum off key. The cool, green lake water laps greedily at its muddy bank. My frantic mind goes back to a time when the emerald curls of water calmed me, a time when my life was uncomplicated instead of an intricate weave of lies and deceit. Like a delicate petal falling from a flower, I drop to the ground. My breath comes out in short gusts, an unforgiving corset wrapped tightly around my ribs. I lift up my ivory, silk burdened skirt and rip off my shoes, each white heel weighing down my hands. A knot forms in my throat as the sun glints off the opaque beads that cover the greed laden shoes. Filled with a new burst of fury and disgust I spring to my feet and with a heated grunt I pitch the heels into the middle of the jade lake, startling a ballet of swans into flight.
Father died earlier in the year and with his death came many troubles for my family, mainly mother. Father’s death would begin to loose the generous sum of money that he brought in with his job. The family loosing money meant loosing the things that mother cherished most; clothes, the manor, servants, horses, land, and mainly, the status that our family held in society. Although we don’t have many expenses, especially with Victor, my older brother, out on his own, mother couldn’t cope with the idea that someday we might not be able to uphold our station. Four months after father’s death, with the help of my aunt Elizabeth, she dreamed up a way of escaping her fictitious nightmare.
Soon I was being whisked to teas and balls, always accompanied by mother and Aunt Elizabeth. At first I figured that this was mother’s way of handling the absence of father. But as the months dragged on I began to realize a certain trend in these social appearances. In the beginning of the evenings, mother would always leave me with Aunt Elizabeth to find a silver haired, heavy-set man who always stood on the periphery of the room. She would talk to this man for quite some time, regularly gesturing in my direction. It wasn’t until late October; when I was introduced to 52-year old Mr. Augustus Day that I figured out the significant part I played in mother’s design to maintain her wealthy status.
“Ivey!” a soft breeze carries mother’s rigid voice through the trees. Soon the entire manor will erupt with people, like ants pouring from an anthill, guests from a wedding that will never happen. Mother will send every servant to our name to search for me, to bring me back and make sure that this whole scene I have caused gets covered up. She will tell everyone that I just got cold feet and than she will make sure that the wedding proceeds with no seams undone. That is if they find me. My fingers begin to untie the laces in the back of my dress and then the stiff cords of the corset. Air floods my lungs as I shake off the corset and step out of the flowing gown, leaving it all in a heap at the base of an ancient tree. The dew slicked grass licks my feet as I bound towards the bank of the lake in nothing but my petticoat. Mother would look down her sharp nose at me and shake her head, clicking her tongue in disgust at my unattractive and unbecoming behavior.
I’m sorry mother, but I’m abandoning all of your rules now. I think to myself as I dip my toes into the chilled lake water. I look back at the manor, an intimidating structure looming in the distance; servants are now scouring the lush green grounds, their pristine white aprons shining brighter than the morning sun. The cook, Marcy, has started to make her way towards the small grove of trees that shields the boat house and beyond that, the lake. Soon she will be within inches of the tree guarding my abandoned wedding gown, so without giving myself a moment of hesitation I plunge through the waiting water towards the white dock of the boat house.
Within moments Marcy steps out from behind a large willow tree, her white bonnet sagging from the heat. Her wrinkled face goes pale and her withered hand flutters to her chest as her eyes land upon my discarded gown. She begins to search wildly around for signs of where I might have gone; thankfully she overlooks me crouching beneath the dock. I watch her huddled figured disappear back into the trees with a speed I didn’t know a woman of her age was capable of. I can picture mother’s stiff face as she is told the news of my disappearance. I can hear her tight voice command two servants to collect my gown and corset and then direct more servants to gather the constable and his men to search more thoroughly for me.
Wading out from beneath the dock, I trudge up the muddy bank, light brown swirls of dirt unfurling with my every step. Servants will be arriving soon to gather my wedding dress followed by the constable and his men. I never would have thought that I would have to run away from the place of my childhood, the home that I grew up in for 18 years. I never thought that I would have to leave the place that holds all of the precious memories of father. My heart sinks at this thought and I slip onto the grassy bank. Father would be very disappointed that I was acting like this. He wouldn’t have liked that I was abandoning my family for my own selfish needs. “Selfish,” I whisper, “Is it me that is being selfish? Or is mother being selfish?” I know which one is the correct answer, but I can’t bring myself to say it. Although mother has always been harsh, uptight, and insufferable, I have always held onto the childish belief that someday, if I do exactly what she wants, she will dote upon me like she does Victor.
A branch cracks in the bushes behind me and I leap up off the soggy ground, spinning around to see mother step out from the trees. For a moment we stand, miles apart and yet she is right there, just a couple of yards in front of me. Her biting blue eyes shoot into me, her cold hands clutched at her sides, the knuckles white with loathing. She takes a step towards me, her long gown gliding over the ground, the peach silk enhancing the precision of her stride.
“Selfish?” she laughs, a bitter, hollow sound, “Me? Selfish? Ivey, really, do you think you make a bit of sense? Listen to yourself, you silly, pathetic, girl. I have done nothing for myself; actually I have done everything for you.” She takes another step and reaches down to pluck a yellow wild flower from the ground, “Everything Ivey, is for you. Not for me, not for your Aunt Elizabeth not for grandmother or grandfather, not even for Victor,” she plucks the satin petals from their stalk, letting each spiral to the ground before they are carried off on a gentle breeze, “This wedding would have secured your future. You would have never had to worry about a single thing in your life. You would have had the finest in everything, clothes, horses, servants. Sure you would have had to pay the small price of marrying an aged man, but you can’t expect to be handed the world without a small bump in the road,” she tosses the bare stalk to the ground and steps over it, slowly making her way towards my frozen figure, “Your father would have agreed with me” my heart flutters as a vacant smile spreads across her pallid face. Anger flares up inside of me, a newly lit flame burning more fervently than ever. Mother takes another step towards me, the silk dress slithering behind her.
“Oh mother, I can’t do this!” I wale, my knees beginning to wobble, “I know this may sound childish, or selfish,” I spit” “But he is fifty-two years old, I’m eighteen, mother. Please, there has to be another way.” I fall to the ground, obscure my face to veil the absence of tears. Mother covers the ground between us in three strict strides and kneels down beside me, tucking my soaked hair behind my ear.
“Oh Ivey, you’ll see, this is for the better.” She stands up suddenly as Marcy breathlessly plunders out of the trees.
“Beggin’ your pardon miss, I’m just here to collect the dress is all,” she stops short as she spots my huddled frame at mother’s feet. I watch mother’s shoes as she takes a step towards Marcy,
“Thank you Marcy. The dress will need to be washed and pressed. Search for any rips or tears. Tell the guests that all is well…” I wait until she is a few steps away from me, her stern back towards me and then I am on my feet. The dew slicked grass once again kissing my feet as I bound towards the trees.