1. The Morning Fog
The sun rose blissfully over the small town of Wexton on Wednesday morning as it had since time immemorial. Though fresh and crisp with fall air, the day had no sense of being anything more than regular; but then, the most important days of our lives never feel special, at first. Inside one of the small houses, inside the second-largest bedroom, a blue duvet laid crumpled, half shifted off of the bed. Below it, a young woman laid slumbering peacefully. Red hair was spread across the pillow, rays of sun glistening through the gap in the curtain giving the impression that the bed was alight with flickering flames. The girl stirred softly, beginning to awake from her slumber. Her dreams had been full of darkness, smoke, and a mysterious man... Not uncommon for Amelia, who spent her days reading romantic stories and daydreaming, and her night concocting out-of-this-world stories of tall, dark and handsome strangers coming to sweep her away from her very ordinary life.
As the church bells rang out in the distant town square, Amelia awoke. Long ago, this abrupt awakening would have caused an unwelcome start to the morning, but she had long since learned to accept the 6 am bells as her wake-up call and smiled as they rang out, echoing through the gaps in the trees leading to the lane of houses she called home. Slipping her bare legs out from under the comfort of the duvet, she placed her feet tentatively on the cold wooden floor. She crossed hurriedly to the door, pulling on her dressing gown and slippers. Now back into the warmth that had surrounded her in bed, she crept out of her room and down the stairs, sure to skip the third from the bottom, which always squeaked a little too loudly. Her parents had developed the ability early in life to block out the sounds of the bells ringing and sleep peacefully through, not needing to wake for work just yet. Amelia drew back the curtains, pet Lila the cat, and began boiling water for tea... Just another way that today was just like any other, every other since she was a child. This town was her home, her family’s home, her ancestors’ home. Her family had never felt the desire to move from this quaint neighbourhood, surrounded by fellow families whose names had been adorned on mailboxes for centuries. Though Wexton was home, Amelia always felt out of place. The town was quiet, it was peaceful, it was traditional and, while Amelia always appeared on the outside to be just the same, inside she had a fire burning for adventure the likes of which she was sure Wexton had never seen.
Pondering her desire for adventure was something Amelia often did in the early morning, as the birds sang, and the roosters began their morning crow. These sounds were familiar to her, they made her feel safe and secure, comfortable... But still, Amelia ached for something more. What, she did not know. Or at least, she daren’t admit, even to herself.
Taking a sip of her steaming tea, she stepped out onto the porch to watch the morning spread across Wexton. The distant hills were barely visible through the fog that had yet to clear, the grass glittered with fall dew and on the wooden fence, a small spider was working tirelessly spinning a web which glimmered like ice as droplets of water formed on it. Amelia let out a sigh of contentment as she stood watching Mr Morrison walk link-armed with his wife along the path, holding tight to the leash of Pepper, whose fur was turning grey but whose tail still wagged vehemently at the sight of Amelia.
“Good morning!” she called cheerfully, raising a hand in greeting to the elderly couple
“And to you my dear!” called back Mrs Morrison “do tell your Mother I’m waiting patiently for another of her delicious cakes!”
“I will be sure to tell her!” Amelia smiled in reply, sipping her last drops of tea and heading back inside.
Amelia’s mother was an expert baker, though she didn’t often sell for profit, working instead in the local school as a teacher to the younger residents of the town, while her father worked long hours in an office doing something or other with numbers. Amelia appreciated very much the hard work her parents did each day, keeping her fed and clothed and never in want of anything, though she did not aspire to be like either of them. Her mother was the perfect wife, traditional in nature, always cooking and cleaning when she wasn’t caring for children at work. She did, admittedly, make some of the most delicious cakes Amelia had ever tasted, along with warm loaves of fresh bread that filled the house with a delicious aroma each Saturday morning. Amelia’s grandparents had passed when she was very young of a fever that had spread through the town; it was fortunate so many people were spared, though three of her four grandparents were not so lucky. Her Father’s Mother, who Amelia had called Gamma since she was 2 and failed to pronounce ‘grandma’ properly, lived in a small cottage on the other end of town, surrounded by other people her age who moved there after the fever broke and turned it into a sort of communal retirement village. Because she had lost almost all of her grandparents before she was old enough to know them, Mr and Mrs Morrison had become like surrogate grandparents to her. She’d often spend her childhood evenings reading books with Mr Morrison and sneaking bites of food from Mrs Morrison’s kitchen. Amelia had, by anyone’s standards, an amazing childhood and knew this, in her heart. But no amount of happiness, of joy, of memories, could truly satisfy the heart of a girl like Amelia.