The burnt ridge in the north caught the wind every once in a while and for an hour or two ash appeared to be raining down onto the streets of Truman. As Leelah stood at the edge of town, the sand lapping at her ankles in the bluster, she placed the goggles she had fashioned from the ends of glass bottles over her eyes and slid down a small dune.
It was the early morning, before the sweepers had even had a chance to clear the nights sand from the roads and the sunlight was but a twinkle on the furthest ridge. For all it was worth, this was the best time of the day for her, where shadows clung to the creaking edifices that adorned the half buried streets and the whisper of the wind masked the footfalls of escaping orphans.
It was just a short distance from the edge of town to ‘Vulpes’, a small wreck less than a mile east and Leelah was determined to make it before the sun rose. She would spend the day and night in the carcass of the downed vessel, before moving out towards Dipper Canyon, hoping to cross the outer ridge by the new light.
Yet, for all her confidence, a moment of doubt had infected her just a few minutes ago, as she crawled from beneath the dominion she’d refused to call home since before she could remember, a fleeting sense of insecurity flashed in her mind. It was a doubt, small enough to pass through the conscious mind almost immediately, but like all doubts, no matter how small, it seeded larger uncertainty.
Now, though, as every step left a mark in the sand and every gust covered it over, Leelah thought only of the pain she was escaping and the future she was making for herself. She no longer felt bound to that place, The Vaudeville had been a home, of sorts, but ever since Ellis disappeared 3 days ago, the last thing she wanted to do was stay, especially with reports of a glimmer on the horizon.
She was now well out of town and after climbing up and down another dune she was able to see the wreckage of ‘Vulpes’ in the gloom, and only at that second did she begin to feel afraid. Out here, the cold bit her fingers and the darkness came out of the ground itself, the doubt grew a little, but she pushed on.
She closed her eyes, more to moisten them than anything, but images began flickering in front of them, memories perhaps. A childhood, a little girl being asked to go to bed and being greeted with a corridor, shrouded in darkness. She stood there, knowing she had to walk into it, but being so afraid to do so.
As a child, her solution was to run as fast as she could along the corridor and up the stairs until she reached her bedroom, but now, she knew that wouldn’t help her. The darkness would be there when she reached her destination, it was inescapable. At least when she was little there actually wasn’t anything in the dark, here in between the dunes there was no guarantee that there wasn’t.
“Just keep going,” she thought to herself, “This is the easy part”. She wasn’t wrong, her time at The Vaudeville hadn’t been all that bad, Miss Casper wasn’t evil after all, just misguided, but she didn’t want to stop to find out how ruthless she could be. If only she could have got the other kids out too, maybe that bothered her the most, more than anything.
As Leelah approached the wreck, she was desperate to stop and take in the new morning, maybe watch as the black sky bathed in scarlet and sunk into amber, but instead, she turned her head down and marched forwards as the darkness receded at her feet. The wind had all but gone and so, with gasping relief, she pulled off her goggles, releasing her eyes to the cooling breeze.
She felt a blister on the ball of her foot as she stepped onto the metal edge of the wrecked ship, but there was relief in not being on the sand as she climbed aboard. Carefully she wove her way through the shards of metal and dangling wires that made up the interior of the vessel, looking for a spot to rest. She smiled at the sight of an empty space bathed by a small patch of light but that small joy quickly faded when she heard a whisper emanating from a dark nook next to her.
Leelah peered through the murk, squinting at the figure that was curled up in front of her and as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, after a moment, she saw exactly what huddled before her. A small girl with red hair and a smart white dress spoke anxiously.
“Please d-d-don’t take me” stammered the girl. Leelah, stunned for a few moments by the appearance of this foreign child, looked her in the eye and with renewed confidence reached out her hand and spoke calmly.
“You’re safe with me”
So this is my second creative writing post, if you’ve got this far, thank you very much. I’d love to know your thoughts, cause I’m confident that it’s riddled with mistakes but I hope you continue to come on this adventure with me 🙂
©BEN HOMES – REDFLOST – 2016.