In a gentle drizzle it fell. Softly pattering the side-walk with low tones, sending ripples through the puddles which it kissed. Rain was beautiful.
He was late.
He was always late.
Steam rose from her coffee cup and she smiled as it defied gravity, twirling in the dull air with subtle joy. Frowning at the silver crescent moon-shaped reflection on her coffee she looked up through the window and smiled softly at the pale sunlight that was peering curiously through the thick cloud, always wanting to know what was happening below. Peaceful was what the place was, a sleepy little town of no more than three hundred people; surrounded by mountains, pine forest and untamed rivers it was seclusion itself. Sitting back she sighed and closed her eyes, fingers playing round the rim of the mug. Mind wandering she remembered how her own home town had been much the same - only it had always been sunny there. The back garden of her home forever splashed with a flowers bloom. The scent would fill the small cottage and her mother would sit by the window with her sketch pad, dark eyes glowing as they took in all the beauty of summer. Yet it was the darkened hours that held the most potency in the woman's memories, she cringed away form the past and rubbed her wrist as though a handcuff bound her there. Opening her eyes she batted away memories and looked to the street again. In recent years she had come to like the rain more than the sun, it gave such freshness to the world. Such hope of new beginnings.
The sharpness to the tingle of the bell that hung over the café door was sign enough that it was him arriving at long last - the local people would wander in, giving the bell a dull lolling, but this man had swung in, making the small golden singer thrash around frantically as it was rudely awoken. His heavy boots stalked over, angry as they smacked the floor - many wouldn't have even noticed the purposeful sound to the stride, they would just see another stranger coming inside out of the rain. Nothing special. She didn't turn from the window, only tightened her hold on the mug, wrist itching again.
A pause occurred.
Gently she ducked to the left, feeling the shifting of the air as a hand was snatched back having reached out to clasp her cheek. She wasn't his any more, it was something he couldn't handle. It had been six years and yet he still hadn't adjusted, her smirk grew - he was a fool at times. Another mug clinked onto the table and coffee gushed inside, swirling in its final performance before lying still and awaiting consumption. As so many other things in the world did. They'd run, make wails for mercy - give their dramatic performance even though they knew death was at their shoulder, breathing down their neck hungrily. Death was a beast, forever hunting. Relentless. There was the drumming of strong fingers and a few impatient huffs, chuckling quietly she finally gave in to his demand for attention.
Turning her strong brown eyes on him she dipped her head and waited for him to begin. His strong featured face had played many a role in her nightmares but she no longer feared those bright blue eyes set under heavy brows, that slightly hooked nose just above those pointed teeth which gleamed like knives. Now he was simply a brute, not a wielder of terror. There was disapproval in his face, the lines around his eyes seeming deeper than the last time she had seen him, time was catching up with him at long last.
"You can't keep doing this Glory."
"Not my name." she spoke quietly but knew he would hear, another huff broke his tight lips,
"Fine, Amelia then,"
"I can do what I like actually, I'm no longer your property."
"Amelia." she hissed narrowing her eyes,
"Why do insist on one of their names?"
"Because its the one I was given by my mother."
"But she was just-"
"Bite your tongue and keep in mind I wasn't always one of us."
"You always had it in you." he spoke a little smug, she glared, hands curling round the mug like claws. He took this as warning enough and sat back a little, removing his grin,
"My mother got me away from this life purposefully. You know that, don't you dare imply this is some kind of wonderful birthright. They had no right to come and claim me. No right."
"They had every right-" she silenced him with the steely coldness of her stare, he sat back heavily and drank his coffee. Slowly she licked her lips and composed her tone, not wanting attention to be attracted.
"I'm not going with you."
"You don't have a choice in this Glory, any more than your moth-"
"Shut it." she growled, the surface of her coffee wobbling, "Firstly my name is Amelia and secondly I do have a choice, we all have a choice. I just happen to have the strength to act upon it."
"Strength?" he snorted in disgust, "They'll come for you, I know you're too smart to imagine otherwise Glory, I know-"
"That Glory is not my name? Apparently you don't know that. What they do to me is my business." she finished her mug and popped her lips, "Now then, you're going to get up, walk out that door and never darken my view again. Do you understand me?"
"What exactly do you suppose you would do about it if I did?" without a word she rose from her seat and walked out.
The rain spilled down her back, clung to her long brown hair, eyelashes and skin in silver dew drops. Ignoring the following footsteps behind her until down a backstreet she prepared herself. The closeness of the air made her uneasy and she stopped sharply - though didn't turn.
"You touch me and you'll sorely regret it John. I mean it. Walk away, walk away now."
"My name is Redemption."
"By whose authority?!" she shouted turning to him with fire in her eyes, he flinched thought didn't recoil, "Redemption? Could you sound more ridiculous you jumped up, pretentious, arrogant, moronic fool?"
"It was the title given to me by-" his own fire was soon quenched by the look she gave him, she stabbed a finger in his face and growled low,
"Wake up and smell the stench of reality John, you are nothing to them. You're a pawn. You're as expendable as it gets and its time you accepted it and forgot your delusions of grandeur." he growled and made a grab for her neck, she caught his wrist and twisted it up round behind his back where she pulled it up sharply. A small whimper of pain escaped him, she put her lips to his ear and spoke with cold severity, "I could snap you in half with a flex of my wrist, they know that, they knew that before they even summoned you to that council chamber of theirs. They knew that before they started spouting promises of power to you from their gilded thrones of thorns. I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted you dead by sending you of all people after me. John listen to me. Run whilst you can, run as far away from me, from them and from this life as you can."
"Run away?" he muttered bitterly, "Like you did? I'm not a coward like you,"
"Call me what you will, I did what I had to."
"You left her for dead."
"I did nothing of the sort, she will be well cared for. I know that. The only way I was found was through my mother, it was the only way I was found to be made into one of us. If deserting my own child is what I have to do to avoid her being subject to the madness of the world I've been hoodwinked into then so be it. Judge all you like Redemption, you mean about as much to me as the dog shit you just walked through." she let go and kicked him to the floor where he looked up at her in disbelief.
"How can you be so cold?"
"The world is cold and so I see no reason not to comply, as I said John, never darken my days again or I shall permanently darken yours. Is that understood?"
"Glory listen to me-"
"Is that understood?!" she bellowed baring her teeth at him, he shrank back and nodded. With a dip of her head she turned and walked away, very aware that what he had said was true. Eventually they'd find her, sooner or later the shackles would return. Looking down she grimaced at the old scars, each an inch thick winding round her wrist, a few shades lighter than the rest of her flesh. A young girl of ten she had been and even now, a decade and a half later the scars remained. Looking up at the sky she felt a spark of hope, she had her own plans for them. They could come and she would meet them head on. A coward she wasn't, a coward she would never be. They would pay for their crimes, their crimes to her, her mother and to every other trapped soul beneath their cold stares of authority. They wouldn't claim her again - they wouldn't claim her child either.
* * * * *
Thundering along in the midst of a storm the cart seems to hit ever bump in the road possible. The old iron bands grate against my wrists, I grit my teeth against the salted pain and endure silently. Surely with all the money us girls had made them they could afford new cuffs? Both more comfortable for us and surely more security assured for them? Another bump and I'm brought back to reality. They know we won't run, they're far too frightening for it to even enter our minds. For more than fleeting dream anyway.
Sat in the dark though I can't help but let my mind begin to wander, how many others had been sat where I was, how many more would sit here after me? Hundreds? Thousands? I shudder as the cart hits a bump, the girl next to me slides onto my shoulder with a comatose groan, her cheek is cold and greasy as she slowly skids down my arm and lies in a puddle on my lap. Even after being theirs for five years I would never get used to the sight of a fresh victim. Funny thing about being sold, you don't think about your family, all those worried faces who'll have no where you are, neither do you think about all you're leaving behind. No what you really think about is what you're worth, then when you hear the number you begin to wonder how this price was agreed. Size of boobs? Cleanliness of skin? Softness of hair? Age? Skin colour? Accent? Age? Then you begin to wonder how you could make yourself worth more. I hadn't figured it out but I was thinking cleanliness had little to do with it judging by my lap dogs grease soused body - that I could have sworn was squelching with each intake of breath. The rough breaths in front of me are hot with smoke and I roll my eyes at it,
"Now, now Glory do cheer up. Things will get better with time, I promise. Who knows-" he is interrupted by his own laughter, "Maybe one day you'll be free again,"
"One day I will be Redemption." I vow holding my head high, "One day I'll laugh at you, one day I'll be throwing you around like a rag doll."
"Oh really?" he growls taking a tight hold of my throat, his fingers slick with someone else's blood,
"Yes, I promise."