Chapter 1 The Chase
She bolted down the street, narrowly missing a man with his fruit cart, arms flailing wildly, zipping between people in the busy morning market. She comes to a crossing, stops eyes darting left and right trying to decide which way she should run next; should she take a left and head to the beach area or take a right to venture further into the maze of the little Italian countryside town and little houses and hopefully, just MAYBE, lose them. Seconds pass, and she darts right and weaves in and out, between people and their dogs and their fruit carts and their cheese and wine, another cart in front, she attempts to jump and slide over it, fails and stumbles and scrapes her knees. She takes a few seconds to swallow the pain before getting up to her feet and prepare to dash away into the next street on the left. The grey, tall buildings had swallowed the warm rays of the sun and there was a cool breeze. She hears a voice behind her. Her heart - pounding, her legs - shaking, her brows pulled together, two deep creases appeared. Her lips pursed together to form a flat line. She looks round. It’s them. The men in suits. They found her. The men are sprinting towards her, not as flexible as the woman, they push people- men, women children, even the little German Shepherd pup out the way- and she finally she’s panicking, her mind can’t form any ideas to save her from this situation. She picks herself up, holding onto the cart for support, ignoring the stinging pain on her knees, forgetting the blood, and her eyes are darting left and right, up and down, trying to find something, anything, to help her get away and The Men are close behind. The man with the yellow tie pushes the fruit vendor out of the way and reaches out his arm…
A bicycle! leaning against a house with a red door. She grabs it, narrowly missing the Man With The Yellow Tie and cycles away, peddling as fast as she could as fast as her legs can take, left, left, right, straight down the road, right again she doesn’t dare look behind her and pedals until she can no longer hear people but only the sounds of the birds.
She comes to a stop next to a yellow house and blue door. Getting off the bike and letting it gently on the cobbled ground, she leans against the house and breathes. In, out, and attempts to control her breathing. She wipes the sweat off her face with the back of her forearm, and relaxes her body - her hands were trembling after the rush of being chased and she slowly slid down the wall and slumped on the ground holding her head in her hands. And breathing. She felt safer, thinking they had lost her and takes a few seconds to enjoy her achievement, chuckling to herself, slightly out of fear and slightly out of happiness. She leans back and rests the back of her head on the wall behind her and just stares in front of her and the building opposite and smiled, there was a tortoiseshell cat laying on the window sill, shying away from the sun and enjoy the cool breeze, staring at her from above, wagging her tail side to side, she did not look amused, she was already bored with the woman and looked away, finding the butterfly more interesting than the woman.
The buildings looked softer, less intimidating - it was warmer on this side of town and the street was wider - she felt like she could breathe easier. Finally lifting her gaze from the cat, she reaches into the deep pocket of her navy cargo trousers and pulls out a small brown piece of fabric fashioned into a pouch and unties the knot at the top and peers inside, curious. Her eyebrows suddenly pull together and two creams form on her forehead and her mouth opens ever so slightly to let out a small gasp. She tips the contents of the bag onto the palm of her hand.
“This…is it?” She thought to herself, “I risked my life for this?! “Whatever this is, Aysha better have a good explanation.” There was an aged, gold cup in her hand, it looked like any other cup, it didn’t seem like there was anything special about it. There was nothing inside. Maybe it was special because it was gold? The cup had some pattern on it, lines going in different directions and a what looked like a front facing view of a jasmine flower. The woman examined the bottom of the cup, it looked normal - her nail caught on something. There was something under the gold, it seemed like after all those years, and the many journeys the cup may have had, it had cracked a bit it in the process. She pursed her lips and furrowed her brows and tried to pull whatever was sticking out, out of the cup but she couldn’t and was now visibly becoming more frustrated, this time the cat opposite her looked more interested in what the crazy woman was doing. She eventually gave up, put the cup back in the bag and into her pocket and picked herself up off the ground. She sighed, and began walking away from the warmth, the bike the houses and left the cat who was watching her quietly as the woman walked away.
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