Falling Into the Woods Ch. 01-02byRedHairedandFriendly©
Candles flickered about the room; incense burned crisp in the air. Falls sat with her knees folded under her. The worn velvet cushion she'd been told to sit on did little to hide the rocks that were under the canvas tent's flooring. She looked around, studying the odd figurines and symbols that graced the boxes and shelves that littered the interior of the traveling act. The only other occupant in the tent was an old lady, her clothing just as odd as the figurines that Falls had been drawn to.
The young woman watched Falls eyes rest on one object in particular. A smile crept up on her aged features as she moved to light a candle that rested by the small box. She picked it up. Her hands shook slightly from the weight of holding such a powerful trinket. She placed it on the table in front of Falls and then nodded her head, indicating for her guest to examine the detailed object at will.
A soft wind caressed the air, sneaking its way through the tents partially closed flap. Falls couldn't help but notice the outward shiver of the old lady and she rose to offer some sort of assistance. The woman waved her back to her seat; obediently Falls obeyed.
"Are you okay?" she asked the woman as the frail hands continued to light various candles.
"I am fine. Please dear, if you would be so kind as to set these around the table." Falls took the offered candles, quickly placed them in the sockets that outlined the aged surface and waited for further instructions. "Thank you dear."
"You're welcome." Falls shifted on her knees as the woman took a seat across from her. She watched with both surprise and admiration as the old figure bent herself down to find her place on her own velvet cushion. Falls had not expected the frail creature to sit cross-legged on the floor. She promised that she would not leave the tent before aiding the woman to her feet.
"I should admit that I've never done this before."
A crooked grin and a short nod were the only indications that Falls words had been heard and understood. "Take a moment and breathe in deep the scents that surround you," she waited while Falls once more did what was asked of her, "Tell me; what do you smell?"
Falls looked to the left, then the right before closing her eyes and once more concentrating on the scents that floated about the air. She blocked out the sounds of her friends outside the tent as well as the music and laughter that radiated from the Fair. Her nostrils flared as she breathed deep. "Lavender. Violet. Rose." Suddenly though the scents changed. Her brow furrowed as she tried harder to concentrate on them.
The old woman saw the change immediately and smiled. "Yes, breathe deep. What do you see?"
Falls heard the old voice. It seemed to come from a distance, though she knew that could not be the case for they were still inside the Fortune Teller's tent. As much as she wanted to tell the old woman that she saw nothing Falls could not. She was seeing things. No longer did the smells of the incense dominate her senses. In fact, the sights that pulled her were similar to the ones of years gone by.
She continued to breathe in and out as a building similar to the Old Mill on Aspetuck River came into view. Suddenly a rush of wind blew across the water and the scent of horses, sweat and blood overtook her. She shivered, quickly opened her eyes and stared at a man she did not recognize. For a moment she felt his fingers caress her cheek. As quickly as it had appeared, the image faded and the old woman was smiling at her.
Falls face showed her confusion as well as fear. "What was that?"
"Your hand," the old woman demanded. Falls blinked several times trying to clear her head while offering her palm.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, "but... I don't understand. What? Who was that?"
The questions were waved away, no answers given as the old woman took the girl's hand and pressed her own fingers into the lines of flesh. Falls felt the cold touch of gnarled fingers and chewed on her lower lip. The old woman began to speak in a language unknown to Falls. When her hand was free she quickly brought it to her chest, held it close and rubbed it vigorously in hopes to bring its temperature back to normal.
"You are unique, Amber Falls Britain."
Falls wondered how the stranger had known her name. The sound of giggles from behind the tent canvas however told her that it was more than likely her friends had given the fortune teller much information. Had Robin or Becky told her before they paid for this little treat? She didn't recall the two girls entering the shop before her, but they claimed to have made this appointment with Madame DePauge earlier that morning, while Falls had been working. Now they were out enjoying the festivities together. The trip to the gypsy woman had been part of Falls's birthday gift from her best friends.
Falls blushed and apologized for not paying attention. The old woman frowned slightly, but said nothing to admonish the lack of respect. "I have carried this with me for many years hoping to find you."
"Me?" The woman picked up the small box that she had placed in front of Falls. "Find me? Why? You don't even know me." The rectangular shaped box, its surface a polished white and formed from what Falls believed to be some precious mineral, was placed in her upturned hand, still held by the old woman.
"Several hundred years ago it was written, that one that comes from the water's edge would find her way to me, in so doing my journey would be complete; her's would begin. You are that woman."
Falls said nothing. A part of her wanted to laugh, another part, a part that she refused to examine told her to stay and listen. She pushed that desire away and rose to leave. "This isn't fun. I told those two that I wanted no..."
"Enough!" The shout that came from the woman made Falls jump. She had not expected such strength to come from one as aged as the lady before her. "You saw it; did you not?"
"I saw the Old Mill. Yeah, that was a wicked, not to mention weird trick. Cool and worth whatever money you made, but I don't understand where your going with the rest of your spill."
The old woman moved from her resting position and slowly began to walk the perimeter of her tent. As she extinguished the lit candles she spoke quietly. Falls strained to hear her.
"Take the box Amber Falls Britain. It is yours and now I must go."
"Ma'am, I don't have money for a box. Let alone that one. It's way too expensive and besides what use do I..."
"Girl! Enough! It is yours. It has always been that way. Take it now and go. Your journey begins soon. They wait for you on the other side." Her arthritic hands took hold of Falls's elbow and guided her to the opening flap of the tent.
Falls tried to push the box back into the old woman's hands but the woman refused to allow it. "Off with you! Light it when you are ready. All will be revealed to you. Go now; your friends await."
Falls stumbled from the tent, the final shove of the woman sending her into the warm Summer night. The shocking temperature made Falls shudder. It had been so cold in the gypsy's tent, so cold in fact that had Falls not known better, she would have sworn it was Winter instead of the season it truly was.
"Well?" Robin's voice brought Falls out of her musings. She slipped the box into her purse and waved her hand toward the tent. "She's interesting. She said I was to go because my friends waited on the other side."
"Ha ha," Robin answered back, rolling her eyes in emphasize her next statement, "She was right. Here we are. On the other side of the freakin' tent."
The girls laughed as they hooked arms and began to walk around the fair. They passed the locals that had set up their own traveling shops as well as the games and rides that were being run by a Carnival group.
"She didn't say anything about your long life? Or your kids to come? Or some handsome man coming to sweep you off your feet?" Becky asked as the three girls made their way to a vender serving slices of homemade apple pie.
Falls thought of the man in her vision. A shiver rolled up her spine, bringing goose bumps to her flesh. She mentally chastised herself for thinking of the man and tying it in with her friend's question. "No, she didn't. But she probably would have told me it was someone on the other side too, and with my luck some geek would have been standing there beside you two!" The girls chuckled and ordered sodas to go along with their food.
As the evening progressed Falls found herself constantly thinking of the box and what the old woman had said about lighting it. By the time she was waving goodbye to her friends, she was anxious to hold her gift and see what all the hoopla had been about. She quickly walked up the crooked path that led to the front steps of her home. Once there she sat down on the second step, opened her purse and dug through it until she found the smooth surface of the box.
The porch light gave her the lighting she needed to examine the exterior of the unique object. The wind picked up, tossing her copper curls across her face, forcing her to tuck several strands behind her ears. She felt another chill race across her spine; her palms however suddenly felt hot and sweaty. She wiped them on her jeans, cursed herself for reacting to the old woman and her cheap scare tactics then muttered, "Well, let's see what you are."
Her fingers ran over the rectangular surface, feeling worn designs across the lid. She held it back up to the light, made out a sun and several small planets that she assumed orbited around it. The design was not one she recognized, and it certainly did not match the science books she'd studied that had photographs of Earth's solar system.
The box itself was only four inches long and two inches tall, its weight light and the corners smoothed down by age. Falls slipped the lid off and pulled out a black bag. It felt like silk; a nylon string, the color of silver, kept the end closed. When she pulled one strand, the pouch opened. Carefully she tipped it over and poured the contents into her palm.
A snicker filled the night as she stared down on a pile of what felt and looked like sand. She poured it back into the pouch, brushed the remains on her jeans and looked back into the box. There she discovered a small red candle. She brought it to her nose, breathed deep and swore she recognized the same scents that had filled the old woman's tent. Her brow furrowed as she closed her eyes and tried to recapture the images that had floated in her mind earlier that evening.
The river and the man suddenly appeared. Her eyes snapped open revealing nothing to her but the same yard she'd played in as a child. Fear passed over her as she tucked the candle back in the box. Her thoughts were quickly interrupted by the sound of the screen door being opened and her mother shouting her name.
Falls shoved the box back into her purse and stood. She spun around facing her mother Rebecca. "Yeah?" Her gaze shifted from her mom to the man standing behind her.
"Get your ass in here. Darrel's been worried sick. It's well after midnight and you know you're supposed to be in by ten-thirty. What the hell were you thinking?" Rebecca stepped back, allowing her daughter entry into the home. Darrel, Rebecca's lastest lover, smirked when Falls glared at him. "Wipe that look off your face girl, before I do it for you," Rebecca hissed.
Falls swallowed the rage and pushed past her mother and the annoying man she'd been forced to live with over the past year. "I told you I was staying out late tonight because of the fair and it was my birthday." Falls tossed her purse on the table by the door. She felt Darrel's hand on her arm and the knowing jerk that brought her up against his chest.
"That's right, you did. But just because you're eighteen doesn't mean you make the rules in this house. You still live under my roof and you'll follow my rules."
She turned her head away trying to breathe something besides the alcohol that radiated from the man's mouth. "Your house? Your rules? Who made you boss?" she answered back. His other hand snaked into her hair; the fingers curled into a fist and he yanked her from the threshold of the door.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw her mother slam the door shut, draw another drag from the slim stuffed paper, and roll her eyes. "High again, mom." It wasn't a question, just a simple statement. Another observation the young girl had made, one that had been a constant in the years growing up with Rebecca Britain. The comment however wasn't quiet enough to not be heard, nor had Falls cared if they had heard her. She felt Darrel's grip tighten. He hauled her to the kitchen and pushed her down into one of the chairs.
"You've lost yourself tonight haven't you?" he shouted. His hand rose and quickly descended down to land against her freckled cheek.
Falls didn't fight back. She knew to do so would only increase the level of the assault and the blows would rain down on her with more velocity. Through unshed tears she glanced at the doorway in hopes that her mother wasn't too far gone in her high to help her.
She felt her heart tighten in her chest as she watched her mother lean against the door, take another draw and walk away. Falls turned back to Darrel. She watched his hands work the buckle of his belt. Quickly she scrambled from the seat.
"Oh no, little girl. You think you're gonna come into my home and break my rules just because you turn eighteen." He grabbed the waistband of her jeans and hauled her back against him, then pushed her to one side.
She felt herself being propelled toward the counter. When her stomach slammed into the corner, she winced. Darrel's hand moved back to her hair and he once more used it as a human anchor.
"Let me go!" Once again she tried to free herself, turning her body back and forth. The point of the counter continued to dig into her stomach as well as her ribs. Tears fell freely now from her eyes as the painful bruising began to grow over her fair skin.
You shouldn't fight me. You have no idea how much I like it." Falls couldn't help but notice the sudden change in his voice. She grew still, blinked several times and listened as he continued speaking. "You have no idea how long I've waited for this."
She felt his hand move from her hair, to the slide around her neck. He pushed himself into her, ran his fingers up to cup her chin and brought her head back. He leered down at her. "You think because you're old enough to vote you're an adult? Well, little girl let's play some games the grown ups play."
His other hand moved between them. She heard the sound of his belt being yanked from the loops. Falls tried to tell herself that what was happening to her was only a dream, a bad nightmare that in time she would wake up from. He was just threatening her, she told herself. Her mother would stop him. When his hand left her chin and slid down to pull the lapel of her blouse, two buttons popped free and a shudder of horror washed through her.
Falls turned quickly, hoping to catch him off guard. She buried her elbow into his stomach and felt the gush of air leave his lungs. Ignoring the stench of whisky that came from the blow, she darted to the left. "You bitch!" Darrel reached out and grabbed her copper locks. Her fingers came up to wrap around his wrist as he pulled her back and threw her onto the table.
Dishes left over from the day's meals, scattered to the floor. Glass shattered and silverware skidded across the linoleum. Falls struggled to gain control of the situation. She cried out as Darrel's hands moved to her ankles. He dragged her across the surface of scratched wood and broken dishes. Wooden splinters lodged themselves into her back as her shirt rolled up over her stomach and breasts. She bent forward, trying to raise herself up into a position that would aid her in lashing out at her attacker.
Darrel took one hand from one of her ankles, curled it into a fist and delivered a hard blow to Falls's right cheek. Her head snapped back; her body fell to the table. The back of her skull slammed into the hard surface and more stars danced behind her clenched lids. "I told you, I like it when you fight!"
Trembling fingers curled into fists; she watched through a hazy fog as Darrel's hands moved to the zipper and button of his jeans. Falls felt as if she were in that fog; the sound of material being pushed down a hard body filled her mind. She moved slowly, lifting one hand to her face. The other reached for anything to protect herself. Her body stilled when she felt his hands on her jeans and once more a part of her drove her to fight back.
Her fingers came up; the once manicured nails now broken from her battle, scratched at Darrel's face. He screamed at her and moved to strike her again. Falls rolled over; her hand reached for anything to aid her, eventually wrapping tightly around a steak knife, dry and encrusted with various particles of food. She kicked out with her feet, felt her leg connect with some part of Darrel and enjoyed the small bit of triumph that fueled her onward.
He rolled her back, this time the dirty utensil was locked within a vise-like grip. "You slut!" Falls watched him advance toward her again. She felt his hands on her hips and brought the knife up.
The surprised scream shocked even her as she watched the blade sink hungrily into Darrel's forearm. Darrel stumbled back; Falls leapt from the table and headed toward the front door. "You are so gonna pay for that, you fucking slut!"
Falls screamed for her mom and for the first time in what seemed like forever she heard the voice of a woman she'd long thought had disappeared. "Amber, go to your room."
How long had she watched the battle Falls wondered as she stood in front of her mother. She looked deep into the other woman's eyes and saw not love, but anger. She walked to her, hoping and praying that the anger was directed at the man who stood bleeding. Deep down though she knew that she would hold the blame for all that occurred that night.
"You did this," Rebecca hissed, "You came in here acting like you owned the place and then flaunt your young self in front of him. If you're gonna flaunt it baby, then you should know some man is gonna take you up on the offer."
"Mom, I didn't want this," Falls whispered. Her voice was full of pain and confusion at her mother's words. "I didn't flaunt..." Her words were cut off by the wave of Rebecca's hand.
"Just go. You've been nothing but a bother to me since your Father died. So leave. I'm done with you."
"She's not leaving. I still got to teach her a lesson."
"No," Rebecca growled, "I'm not so far gone yet. She goes now and you can fuck me. But I'm done with her, or you can go. I can get my supplies from anyone. I don't need you. She's not stupid. You rape her and she's going to the cops."
Falls stared at her mother, trying to recall when the last time her mom had looked at her with love. Was it the day her Father died? The morning before? Or was it after the funeral? On a birthday? A holiday morning? She couldn't remember.
"I will call the cops. I'm gone. I'm not coming back." She threatened her mother with the last statement, hoping for one last glimpse of parental compassion.
"Good," Rebecca answered, "It's about fuckin' time. Let her go, Darrel," she added when he made a step toward Falls.
Falls shuddered, sniffed back her runny nose and wiped at her eyes, now puffy and swollen. She moved passed her mom, grabbed her purse and paused long enough to whisper, "I love you."
The stinging retort of "fuck off" lodged itself into her heart as the door closed behind her.
Curses and shouts quickly followed the slamming of the door. She knew her mother would pay for letting her leave. Darrel's angry voice came from behind her and she spun around to face him. Her green eyes locked with his dark blue ones. She saw that she had to run and run fast. She yelped as he quickly lunged toward her. She yelped, lept the railing of the porch and fell to the ground.