P R O L O G U E
“IT’S dangerous out there.” She snaps, giving me a frosty glare. “Something bad could have happened to you.”
I mentally roll my eyes at her reaction. Once again, she has gone off on a tangent about me disobeying her. For as long as I can remember, she has been drilling one thing into my head.
“Don’t go outside alone. There are bad people out there, they will take you just like they took your lovely aunt Jodie.”
What’s so dangerous? I don’t know.
Every night when I was a young child, mom told me the same story. Instead of listening to the happy fairy tales where Prince charming saved his true love, I heard the story of how my auntie was kidnapped by a monster. Now, I didn’t know my aunt very well but from what few memories I have of her, I know she was one of the kindest people ever.
My mother took her disappearance the hardest. After all, they were fraternal twins. They both grew up together, being there for each other.
Ever since the day the police officers stepped onto our small porch, my mom changed. She turned colder and very protective. So over-protective that she barely let me out of our house. The only time I can leave is to go to the local library and get a book.
Even then, I have to give her an update every half an hour. When I’m walking back from the library, I have to have my phone on call, ready. She’s paranoid that someone from the woods will take me.
What I don’t understand is that, even though she hates the woods, for some odd reason, we live in the woods. Our little cottage is deep in the woods. The only piece of civilization we have is the path to the main roads, which is also surrounded by the woods.
“Mom, I’m fine. Nothing bad has ever happened to me.” I retort.
Her cold, icy blue eyes exam my body, checking to make sure I don’t have an injury. When she doesn’t see anything, she gives me a satisfied grunt and marches off to the kitchen.
When I hear her footsteps on the wooden floorboards in the kitchen, I release a tired sigh and dump my body on the small couch seat in the living room. Recently, she’s been nagging me more about going out. She’s restricted me from going to the library whenever I want to once a week. Thus, I have to take out more books and carry them home.
“Quinn, I have prepared a few maths questions for you to complete. I want them done by five o’clock.” My mom tells me, after going into the kitchen to do whatever she has to do.
Groaning, I fling my arms over the armchair and eye the paper in dread. Since my mother is terrified of me meeting other people, she insisted that I would be homeschooled instead. A part of me is glad that I don’t have to attend school but another part of me wishes I could, just so I could experience everything like a normal child.
“Quinn, maths.” Mom barks, placing her bony fingers on her hip. With a defeated sigh, I hunch over the table and grab a pen. She gives me a satisfied grin and spins on her heel back to the kitchen.
Later that evening, I quitely get out of my bed and tiptoe over to my wardrobe. I can hear my mother’s snores from her bedroom next door to me. Gently, I grasp the backpack filled with clothes, food and camping gear.
I suck in a breath and try to gather my thoughts. I’ve decided for a while that this is what I need to do. My mother has had me under her wing for too long. Whilst I am grateful for her love and protection, I can’t deal with this anymore.
I long to be free. I long to make my own choices, to meet people.
Staying with my mother will not let me achieve this.
Before I leave through the window, I open the drawer on my dressing table and clutch the letter. Placing on my bed neatly, I drag my eyes along my room for the last time. This is it, I’m going to finally do it.
I’m going to leave.
I climb out the window, slowly and then proceed to lower myself to the ground. A few times, my foot slips on the wall but its never loud enough for mom to wake up. She’s a deep sleeper so I would have to make a lot of noise for her to wake up.
Eventually, my feet touch the ground. For the first time in a long time, my lips stretch into a smile. I honestly can’t remember the last time I smiled, when I didn’t feel like a weight was on my shoulders, dragging me down.
Glancing for the last time at the cottage that kept me hostage for eighteen years of my life, I feel a lone tear roll down my cheek. I wipe it away and then begin my run into the forest.
Its probably not the smartest idea for me to run into the woods but I have no money right now. Mom kept everything locked up; as much as I tried to steal it, I couldn’t. So instead, I planned to go through the woods to a small town where I would ask someone for help. Its a risky choice but its the only choice I have right now.
Running, in the dark, with my pitch black hair blowing in my face gives me a sense of freedom. I can finally do whatever I want, I can make choices for myself.
I don’t regret leaving. I would regret staying.
This is my chance at freedom and I’m not going to let anyone stop me.