The air was cool against my face. I promised myself I wouldn’t look back, but my wolf never made that promise. Her head turned, and our gaze looked back at the castle. I watched as lights began to turn on, alighting the path he was taking as he searched for me. I heard a howl pierce the air, and alarm bells start to toll.
Una instinctively took a step back, and her paw felt the edge. She turned her head to look at her paw, pulling my gaze with hers. I’m not strong enough to leave, Una said to me, I am still pulled toward him. She turned to peer over the edge. I’d rather die than stay there, I said as I spoke to her within our shared mind, JUMP!
The last thing I remember is the feeling of the air enveloping every part of us. I finally felt the thing I had been searching for… freedom. The cool water below opened its arms in an embrace, pulling us into the darkness.
Somehow everything was still the same.
I tipped my driver and stepped out of the cab, pulling my backpack over my shoulder. I walked up to the house and tried to remember where the extra key was.
I looked under the placemat, in the mailbox by the door, and around the windowsills. If anyone was walking by or looking outside their window.. it probably would look like I was trying to break into my own home.
I decided I would just go ’round back, hop the fence, and jimmy one of the windows in the back. I threw myself over and landed quite nicely, if I do say so myself. The backyard was definitely in quite a state of disarray.
If Grace were here to see her garden like this, she would most likely faint. I walked up to the sliding door and decided to give it a try- well, wouldn’t you know, it was unlocked. The house felt emptier than usual. I traced my finger across the kitchen table, parting layers of dust.
I used every excuse in the book and prolonged coming back here as much as I could. After my father passed away, Grace showed her true colors. She sent me away to boarding school days after his death.
Over the breaks, I was forced to stay at school while everyone else could go home. So, I spent that time planning. I promised myself a life where I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone.
I didn’t need to go home like everyone else. I was choosing to stay so I could study and choose the future that I wanted to lead. I didn’t need anyone as long as I had my books.
Yet here I am… back in this place. I never thought I would come back to this place, but I had to come back to put a few affairs in order. I never liked this house, and selling it would help me pay for grad school.
That, and my father had left weird stipulations in his will when he passed. I just turned 21, and in a few weeks I will finally get my inheritance. After that, I will be able to sell this house and move on from this place.
Until then, I’ll just pick up a few odd jobs... clean this place up, and just start planning for the rest of my life.
“Hello!?” the sound came from the front door, “I want you to know that I have alerted the authorities, Rogue!”
I ran over to the door, sniffed the air, and distinctly smelled pancakes and honey. “Mary?” I asked as I opened the door.
“MAEVE!?” She embraced me roughly and quickly pushed me away from her, “Let me get a good look at you. Oh my goodness! It has been so long since I have seen you. How are you?”
“I thought we’d see you at the funeral,” she said as she brushed away her tears, “but after how she treated you… I understand why you didn’t go.”
“It was hard for me because I had finals, but I made sure to make arrangements as best as I could, and according to her wishes,” I replied, “would you like to come in? I know the house is in a bit of disarray, but maybe I could get you some water? I’m sure officials will be here soon, and they’ll want to know what’s going on- why don’t you make yourself comfortable while we wait?”
She followed me into the kitchen. I opened the cabinets looking for cups. Thankfully she came over and grabbed a glass herself. Grace had moved things around since I had last been here. I didn’t know where anything was, and it just reinforced the feeling of being out of place. I heard a knock on the door again, and I excused myself to open the door.
“Tylor!?” I smiled.
“It’s been years!” He hugged me so tightly I could smell the sunlight on his skin.
“Uh… Tylor…” I choked, “I can’t breathe.”
“Oh, sorry,” he said as he released me. “Is my Mom here? She sent an alert out for a Rogue. Thankfully I got the message.”
“I’m in the kitchen, Tylor,” Mary said.
“Okay, Ma!” he said as he invited himself in.
“Yes, by all means, come in,” I said. Tylor shot me a sly glance and winked.
“So, how long are you here for?” He asked as we met his mom in the kitchen.
“Not long, just enough to grab my stuff and head out. I just graduated and was accepted into a Master’s program for creative writing. So I thought I would just come back and put all of these affairs in order.”
“So you’re going to just leave again?” Tylor said, dismayed. I felt a hitch in my breath, seeing how forlorn he looked. He looked so different from when I last saw him. The last time I saw him was the day I left. We were only 8 years old. Yes, he’s taller, but he’s also just… it’s the smile… his smile is so disarming.
“I mean… I don’t have any place to go for the time being. So I am going to stay a few months until the fall,” I said and watched as a smile reappeared.
“Great!” Mary said, “you are just in time for The Ball. It’s this weekend.”
“It’s a mating thing,” Tylor said while rolling his eyes.
“Wait, what? What do you mean?” I asked. Tylor and Mary looked taken aback.
“You know…” Tylor started.
“No, I don’t know,” I replied.
Tylor exchanged a glance with his mother. I could tell that I said something wrong. He started to say something when his mother interjected cautiously, “Tylor, why don’t we give Maeve some space so she could get situated. Maeve, why don’t you come over for dinner after you get comfortable? I saw the state of the fridge, and I’m sure you have unpacking to do. Come by in a bit, okay?”
I nodded and walked them out. I watched as Tylor and his mother crossed the street and looked back at my backpack, which I had placed by the sliding door. I was grateful they didn’t seem to notice it. I didn’t carry much.
All I really needed was my laptop and a few changes of clothes. After moving around as much as I have, I realized that everything was a potential anchor: every book, every piece of clothing, every piece of paper, and every person. I was wary of everyone and everything.