Here is chapter one of a novel I am working on, called Greenwillow (for now, the title may be subject to change.) Hope you enjoy it! I’ll post more chapters as I work on it more, God willing.
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Isabelle Blair was sitting in her room, writing a letter to one of her best friends. This letter, however, was different than any she had previously written, in that this one had news of the most discouraging kind.
I have told you before how hard my life is these days, bearing all the let-downs from my stepmother. Ever since my dear papa died, she has been letting her anger out on me, it seems. You know that ever since papa married her, I could sense what an unamiable and impatient woman she was. However, it was not until his death that she began to let her true colors show. And I have just about had enough. My nerves have taken such a beating these past few weeks. I know not what to make of her. All I know is that she abhors me.
I know, Lisbet, that you will be incredibly sorry upon hearing this sad bit of news, but I must tell you. I am planning to slip away tonight, to board a ship headed for nowhere-in-particular, and start living my own, independent life. We may not see each other again for a long time, maybe even never again. It gives me pain to think of this, but I must go. Honestly, I am nineteen, old enough to be off on my own. I do not need – nor do I want – to live any longer under the authority of an angry woman who is not even my real mother.
How fortunate, however, that your home is on the way to the shipyards! I will say farewell to you before I completely leave, you can count on it. Wait by your bedroom window at two in the morning.
P.S. Destroy this letter completely after reading it, and tell no one where I am going. You know how many gossips there are in Duinbury, and I will have you informed that my stepmother is connected with practically all of them!
P.P.S. I am only taking my most valuable possessions along with me on my journey. The rest of my things I have packed in a suitcase, which I will give to you when we say goodbye. I will have no need of them in my new life.
Isabelle folded the letter, sealed and addressed it, and put it in the mailbox outside the house. The postman would come shortly, and since Lisbet lived not too far away, she would get it later that day.
Isabelle watched out her window until she saw the postman and his wagon coming up the road. When she saw him stop, take the letter, and leave, she left her window, locked her door, and began to resume her half-finished task of packing.
Alas, no longer had she dragged out all her suitcases and things, than her duties were interrupted by a sharp knock on the door. Hastily sliding everything under her bed, Isabelle called out, “Just a minute; I’m not decent!” This was a falsehood, of course, but something must be done to hide the true reason behind her delay in answering the door.
When everything was hidden, she unlocked the door and casually called, “Alright, come in!”
Her stepmother flung open the door.
“Izzy,” she said coldly, “You have chores to do! What are you trying to do, avoid your responsibilities?”
“No, I’m not–” Isabelle started, but the angry woman cut her off.
“You know very well that we must each do our share of work if we’re going to keep a roof over our heads! I’ve been working hard all day long, and you have just been sitting idly in your room, doing who knows what! Lazy, selfish girl! If your mother were still alive, she would be absolutely ashamed of you!”
Isabelle was quite taken aback, especially by these last hurtful words.
“I am not a lazy, selfish girl!” she stated. “You are the selfish one, I dare say.”
Her stepmother’s face started to turn red. “You–”
“Hear me out!” Isabelle cried. “I work just as hard as you do, and it’s a wonder you don’t seem to notice! I am aware that I have things to do, and I attend to do them as soon as I can. And do not make such lies about my mother! She was proud of me, and was the sweetest person I had ever known!”
“Well, it is obvious that her sweet personality was not a trait you happened to inherit.”
The incensed woman stared at Isabelle. Isabelle could not stand her stepmother’s coldheartedness any longer.
“Why all this negativity aimed at me? Why do you hate me so? Ever since papa died, you treat me as though his death was somehow my fault! And i might as well add that you never loved my dear papa! You only married him for his fortune!”
Isabelle’s stepmother was left speechless. Isabelle had spoken the truth, but her stepmother refused to admit that she had only married for money. She turned and stalked out of the room.
Isabelle locked her door again and began to finish packing. She began to sob out of weariness. “Why does she hate me, God?” She prayed. “If it is Your will, please change her heart.”
In one suitcase she packed a few of her favorite dresses, as well as a couple of old, plain ones. She threw in other various articles of clothing, then a pair of shoes, gloves, and several handkerchiefs. Out of a drawer in which she kept her most prized possessions, she took her locket, which contained a photograph of her late parents, and put it around her neck. She also took her diary, her Bible, her pen, a bottle of ink and some pencils, and packed those. The rest of her things she packed into another suitcase to give to Lisbeth for safekeeping.
When everything was ready, she once again tucked her luggage under her bed, and went downstairs to do her chores. Now it was only a matter of waiting until midnight.
When the clock struck twelve, Isabelle slowly and quietly got out of bed. She got dressed, grabbed her suitcases, and tiptoed over to the window. Her room was on the first floor, so climbing out the window would be quite safe and efficient, compared to attempting an escape out the front door, where she would be more likely to get caught. She climbed out, took her luggage, and quietly closed the window. Then she ran until the house was far behind her.
The moon was exceptionally bright tonight, so Isabelle had no problem seeing her way through the dark. On and on she walked; though she quickly became exhausted, she pressed on until at last she could see the house where Lisbet lived. She hurried to Lisbet’s window, which was slightly ajar because of the hot summer temperatures, and whispered, “Lisbet!”
Lisbet hurried over to the window, opened it, and climbed out. Isabelle put down her luggage and embraced her. The two girls held eachother for a moment, saying nothing. At last Lisbet, who was sobbing quietly, whispered, “I shall miss you terribly.”
“I’m going to miss you too,” Isabelle mourned. “I will never forget you, and what a wonderful friend you are.”
“And I will always remember you,” said Lisbet, “and I will pray for you whenever you come to mind.”
“Thank you.” said Isabelle. “You will always be in my prayers, and I will write to you as soon as I am in civilized territory.”
“Good,” smiled Lisbet. Tears started to flow down her cheeks again. “Have a good time.”
“I’ll try,” said Isabella.
Again they embraced eachother, and cried into eachothers’ shoulders. At last they let eachother free, and Isabelle handed Lisbet her unneeded suitcase.
“Thank you so much,” said Lisbet. “And I have something for you too.”
She slid her old amethyst ring off her finger and gave it to Isabelle.
“Something by which you can remember me.” she said.
Isabelle thanked her and put it on her hand. The amethyst glistened in the moonlight.
“I hope we see eachother again someday,” said Isabelle. “I should probably go. Goodbye, Lisbet!”
“Goodbye, my dear Isabelle!”
The girls clasped hands, and looked into eachothers’ eyes for one last time, as if to memorize the images of their faces. Then Isabelle parted.
She walked on all night, stopping for rest everg hour or so, until she reached the harbor.
TO BE CONTINUED…