Hello friends. Here’s the continuation of Rose’s story.
Rose could hardly focus on her duties in the garden. She was so shook up from that morning, her mind constantly going back to him and the picture of him standing there. It tortured her thoughts. The desire to cry still hung about, and it nearly drove her mad. Aimlessly she grabbed at the weeds, not really pulling them, and therefore she made no progress. She hung her head a moment, all energy drained from her. Suddenly she felt a hard shove on her back as she squat, and she went forward into the dirt face first, crushing a tender herb plant beneath her.
“Stop lagging, girl! Keep working!” the voice of a guard rang out above her. Rose lifted her head, her cheeks smothered in dirt, her hands finding the unfortunate plant beneath her chest. Her usual response was to get back up and continue without a word, but something burned inside Rose. She realized it was her heart. Scrambling to her feet she turned and faced the guard, flushed and dirty, her hands clenching little globs of moist dirt. She looked him in the eye, a defiant gesture. His lips curled into a devilish smirk.
“You can’t order me. That is an overseer’s job,” she stated forcefully. The guard was hardly moved, his smirk just widening. The garden was in a corner of a courtyard of a smaller building, so there were plenty around them, and Rose had spoke loud enough for several to hear, turning their attention in her direction. Some of the noise had quieted.
“Then I shall bring an overseer to see that that mouth does not go unpunished, girl. But since you are here and I can see your laziness, I can order you if I like,” the guard spat. Rose glared at him and turned back to the garden, intending to return to her work, but she was grabbed from behind and thrust backward with such force that she fell to the ground. The seething guard towered over her, approaching her with slow, maddening steps. Rose backed away, aware of the crowd that was beginning to linger nearby. She stood and turned to flee but was caught by another strong armed guard. She suddenly realized that several had surrounded her, trapping her against a wall. Rose searched for an escape, panting frantically as she looked here and there. The crowd began to do different things. Some lingered and even moved in a little closer, curious to see what was going on. Some stayed back cautiously. Some left hurriedly. The slave girls who had been working in the garden with Rose cowered against another wall, watching helplessly. The five guards advanced. Rose cried out when one of them grabbed her and held her tightly while another approached, his hand curled in a fist. Being so weak already she knew that once he punched her she would go unconscious for sure. He didn’t get her in the face, though. His fist met with her stomach, and she doubled over, gasping and coughing from the blow. The guard holding her kept her up as the other guard’s fist curled again, ready for another hit. He brought it back, and Rose prepared herself, but suddenly a voice yelled out amidst the noise, making everyone freeze still.
“Stop this, at once!”
Rose was suddenly dropped, falling to the ground roughly and scraping her elbow on the cobblestone. She heard many feet hurry away, but one set was approaching, slowly and cautiously. It stopped just a foot from her head.
“Back to your business now! There’s nothing left to see here!” that same voice snapped. The silence was once again filled with the sounds of people’s voices and shuffling steps. The feet came closer, coming around to Rose’s side as she laid on her belly, the rugged boots being the only thing in her sight. The person stooped as she lifted herself slightly, though not without a shoot of pain from all over. She gasped and groaned, her body quivering as she struggled to rise.
“Are you alright?”
Rose finally looked up, and the face she met frightened her more than any of the guards. She gasped aloud, twisted herself around, and back away on her hands and knees. It was him, the young man, and he watched her with confusion and pity. Why was there pity?
“Rose…,” he suddenly muttered, loud enough for her to hear. He stood up and came toward her, but she backed further away, breathing heavily.
“Stay away from me,” she gasped, her heart pounding wildly within her chest. He held his arms out halfway, as if he intended to embrace her.
“It’s alright. I’m not going to hurt you,” he said soothingly, but it didn’t waver Rose a bit. The sight of him scared her mad. He continued coming closer as she continued to crawl away like an animal. She felt like an animal, ragged and filthy, some blood smeared on her arm and dress, her eyes wild with frenzy. He continued to look at her with such calm and coolness that it frightened her all the more.
She couldn’t stand it. He was trying to comfort her. He had promised her, and he wasn’t dead. No, he stood before her, alive, and nine years had passed. He looked so well, so healthy and clean. She couldn’t stand it. In one swift leap she jumped to her feet and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She heard him call out her name, but she did not look back. She kept running, out of the courtyard, past the fields, and into the apple orchard. Finally she stopped beside a tree, leaning against its trunk for support, but she had no strength to even do that, and so she collapsed to the ground. As a few minutes passed she waited expectantly for some guard or overseer to come and haul her to her feet and drag her back for a good whipping. And she had done so well, keeping away from that thing. But no one came. It was six o’clock, and the sun was beginning to set. Rose was faced west, where she lay, and the bright orange sphere could be seen in between the thin trunks of the orchard trees, blinding her. She closed her eyes as she began to weep, the tears fully welcomed. She had desired to cry all day, after all. She wept for ten minutes, twenty minutes, an hour. She never remembered drifting off to sleep, but she had felt so suddenly warm and comfortable that it came unbidden. Thus she never saw the rider who came swiftly from the dark, and she never felt him lift her from the ground and carry her off somewhere, as silent as a shadow.
Hey, does anyone have suggestions? I honestly want to get better at writing. There’s no harm in insulting me. A true writer doesn’t ignore the voice of readers. Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading 🙂