She was eloping with Obsession, leaving home hand in hand with endless, swirling thoughts. A savage bridegroom Obsession was... a harsh lover. She did not bring him willingly, but leaving the Rules and her oppressive life behind, she’d fled with a tyrant.
When did she plight her troth? She could not recall it. No loving man appealed on bended knee, and she did not consent. This monster chose her, wed her without leave, and she was most unkindly yoked.
Was she to be espoused forever into these rough and hurtful hands? Who might beg him away from her, if just for an hour?
The cottage came into view. The hammock remained among the trees, old, faded, and tired, one end hanging from a deadened branch. Its comforting memories soothed.
Ah, this friend from her childhood—might she steal into this cradle, back into her youth, to the springtime of life? Might she sway in the breeze and be freed? Could she lie, looking up to the boughs, swinging from side to side as green sparkled with glints of sun and blue sky? Would birds tend to their calls and perform their melodic delight?
She looked about and saw no one. She drew near, entranced by happy recall. This was a home, a hearth, a wonderful nest.
She felt free and good, for the moment. She tipped and climbed into the net. She lay back and smiled with relief. Her dress, though, was twisted, and it pulled. Just a moment’s endeavor, and she would align it.
She readied herself, then rolled and wriggled, and alas, became wrapped in the fabric. Such a struggle it was, unwinding the bands her dress had become. Her heel found a cord of the bed, and she pushed herself up to untangle the gown.
The hammock betrayed her, this old friend, and fought back. A deft dance-partner, it moved with her as one, and brazen, gripped her legs.
She laughed at the dare. How hard could this be? Yet the dress was unruly, the hammock unkind, and she was compelled to give up the fight. At least she might settle, search out the birds, and have peace, should she accept the fetters of the dress.
She gave up the fight and, in good time, relaxed. This wonderful sway, the smell of the trees, and the song of a bird—she would allow them to carry her off. Yielding, she found peace. This moment was perfect, was it not? For what did she lack?
But there was, indeed, something. She had never come alone in the past, but now here she was. A sense of injustice crept in, and anger. She was a twin, a womb-mate, a hold-mate, but her brother had been taken. He, the only one ever, had left her for another.
The vacancy made room for an intruder if but in her mind. Again Obsession appeared, here in her bed, crawling atop her and stealing her joy. Are your jewels safe? he growled. And your door—is it locked? The tyrant prevailed, and she could not win. She must rise and escape.
She pulled on the cords, attempting to sit, but the hammock swayed like waves of the sea, and it rocked her about. She struggled to turn, all for naught. How did one dismount? She had done it before. But how? Ah yes, her brother had tipped her out and caught her, but where was he now?
Grace having long since departed, Angel thought to roll off the side. Battle, never pretty, must be won by truly fierce means, and she would have the victory. She took a breath, tucked her head, and closed her eyes. The warning cry of a bird she ignored, and she spun her way out of the web.
The raw earth, she learned, is quite hard. A bed of moss would have been preferred. She shook her head and found it yet attached. A shoulder bruise would trouble her, but ravenous thoughts of her jewelry being stolen had been knocked from her mind.
And now, should she recover, she would rise to her feet. She kept her eyes closed, glad for relief. She must turn and face the ground to push up on all fours. A moment's time and she would stand, reestablish a bit of dignity, and bid the place farewell. Never would she return, she was sure.
She set out to move despite the pain, but what had caught her foot? Becoming aware of her leg, she gave it a pull. The limb, it seemed, was not hers to control. She opened her eyes, and when the trees stopped their spin about the sky, she saw the cause.
Caught through the net, now a twisted trap, her foot was secured in the air. Pulling served only to tighten the ropes. Dazed and forlorn, she tried to sit up, but the use of her arm shot knives through her bones.
Rocks beneath her back felt worse for movement. She must lie very still, a leg in the air and her hem at her waist—her hem at her waist? She raced to pull her dress down, but most of it lay beneath her. Perhaps it protected her some from the stones.
Had anyone seen? At least there were pantalettes to cover her legs—how fortuitous a loan, yet insufficient in vital ways. How she must remain hid, but how she needed help!
Could there be no comfort, no relief from the pain? With her foot growing numb and her modesty gone, might she but have a pillow? With her bustle pad turned to the front and exposed, and soon to all the world as it might wander by, why not use that? She untied and removed it and placed it beneath her head.
Ah, ease, at least for her head, and she may as well laugh. She might compose a verse for the occasion. Was there adequate time? How long would it be till someone, quite surely Becker, would arrive?
She tried to pull the pantalettes up to her ankle, but the lacey fringe slid back to her thigh. What glorious position is this? she asked of the sky. She wiggled her foot at geese heading north and laughed until tears filled her eyes.
The matter entertained so well Obsession strayed, or perhaps this bridegroom did not exist? His retreat pleased her, and she softly sang. As time passed offering little reprieve from the pain, she played with her bracelet, her hair, and even the dirt beneath her hands. Noting the movement of shadows on the hammock, she absently tied the strings of the bustle pad around her forehead ... and fell asleep.