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The Fairest of Them All (Chapter 1)
I grit my teeth as my ankle is torn by yet another thorn. My skirt is already long gone. If mother were here she would yell at me until her face turned purple when she saw that I had ruined the skirt she had poured her blood, sweat and tears into. However, mother is no longer here and my outfit is not my biggest priority right now. I can hear the howling of the beast less than a mile away now. If I don’t hurry, it will catch up to me soon enough. I’m losing control of my legs as my body kicks into pure terror. I can’t take a breath without pain and I don’t know if my poor feet can stand one more thorn.
I hope and pray that Bella is inside right now. I also hope I will get to see her small, innocent face again one last time before the wolf eats me.
I am amazed to see the lights of our cottage in front of me. My grip on my basket tightens. I almost yell out in pain and exhaustion from trying to run even faster, which has proven to be impossible in my state.
After what seems like an eternity, I reach the door to the cottage and run inside, desperately gasping for breath. I take a moment to somewhat recover. Why didn’t Bella lock the door tonight? How could she not have heard the wolf? I stagger over and make sure the door is locked. I make my way across the room to the stairs and yell for my little sister, but there’s no answer. I struggle up the stairs and enter her room. On her spinning wheel there’s a new quilt only half sewn and her bed is empty. Bella is gone.
The reality of my situation sinks in. My sister is dead, taken by the wolf in the dead of night, while I was out collecting her favorite strawberries. She promised me we would make jam together when I returned. My sister. She was always smiling. She was just nine years old. My knees buckle and I collapse.
I dream of monsters. I’m tied down by unbreakable chains, being forced to see Bella being torn apart by the wolf before my eyes. I hear her screams as she’s tortured to death. I tug at my chains and cry for help. I reach for my bow and arrows, but it’s no use. I’m helpless. Mother and Father are there too. Papa’s fighting the wolf, but failing as my mother is trying to get to Bella. Father turns my way. His last words are, “You useless girl. I’m ashamed to have you as a daughter.”
It’s morning when I come to. I don’t know how long I’ve been out. It could have been months for all I care. I hear a voice coaxing me to wake. It can’t be my mother, so I ignore it. I want to disappear. Why should I wake up? I have no one. I have nothing.
I peak open one eye a smidge to see who it is. I can make out a plump old woman. It’s Mrs. White, she lives about a mile away in a cottage alone. Her husband died fighting the wolf a long time ago.
The old widow puts a cold damp cloth on my forehead. It feels good. I drift back to sleep.
Mrs. White is talking to me. “There, there, darling, you have to eat!” I feel a spoon of something warm and mushy touch my lip. My eyes flutter open and I’m startled by the sun shining directly into my eyes.
“Wha… wha ah you doin’ heh?” I attempt to talk.
“Sorry, sweetie I can’t understand you.” Mrs. White replied in her sing-songy voice. I try again.
“Wha… what are you doing here?” There, I said it!
“Oh. I came to check on you girls after I heard the wolf had been through this part of the forest. Where’s the little one?” My eyes fill with tears. I let out a whimper. Mrs. White took me in her arms and cradled me until I fell back to sleep.
Over three weeks, Mrs. White slowly nursed me back to health. I suffered from shock and terrible grief. Now I’m up and walking. Walking a lot actually. Every morning for the past week I’ve gotten up early every morning to go for a stroll in the woods. Being amongst the trees lets me think more clearly. This morning I walk to the lake and climb a towering oak. From here I can see half of the forest. More importantly, I see the castle. There it is, five short miles away.
Chapter 2 coming soon!