This was becoming a daily routine for the twelve year old. While everyone in the orphanage were preoccupied with their unpleasant breakfast, Luana would sneak out to go to the fence. She would let her imagination take her to places she’ll never see. Places she will never come to know. The morning dew seeps through her ragged cowboy boots, and gets absorbed within socks, dampening small feet. Her nose scrunches just the slightest, but the beginning of a smile plays upon her fragile features. She continues to trek her way towards the fence, heels snapping twigs and crushing dandelions. Steps lightening to a near tip-toe, she moves into the overgrown grass that stands before the fence. Each emerald strange brushes past her hips as she continues onwards. No one had ever dared go near, more or less mow close to, the thing that was ensnaring them within their small community. A society that is made up of less than 1,000. Not to mention nearly a hundred of those thousand are located within the orphanage – which is placed dead in the center. The undersized building that Luana calls home is surrounded by other smaller structures, ranging from various houses to several shops. A church is no longer in existence, as it had been burned down years ago. For reasons Luana will never understand.
“Hello again.” Her voice is barely a whisper as she comes face-to-face with what she has come to despise yet love. Thin fingers grip onto wet chain link, the gleaming metal also a victim of the morning condensation. Her misty grey orbs peer through the gaps and to the other side. A fog is beginning to disperse from the forest beyond, revealing towering oaks and pines, and numerous other trees and shrubbery that Luana wasn’t familiar with. Her eyes spark as they widen, and a grin splits across her face, reaching each ear. She spots a deer in the distance, its large ears twitching and long legs gently stepping out of the forest. Luana’s mouth opens as she prepares to say something. To call out to it. But her words catch in her throat as another cuts through the crisp air.
“LUANA ANN GRACELAND! YOU STEP AWAY FROM THAT FENCE!”
The shriek makes Luana flinch and produce a sharp gasp. A frown replaces the previous visage as the deer bolts back into the forest. Without arguing, Luana slips her fingers away from the chain link, and starts on her way back towards the orphanage.
“Until next time. . .” she exhales, peering back at the fence.
Staggering over the sprawled out mutt, Marlea struggles to regain balance. She large dog lifts its head, floppy ears perking just the slightest. The foot to its back hadn’t been enough to make the dog move, but the loud thud of the nineteen year old falling certainly did. Marlea’s rosy lips part to release a groan, and she sits for a moment, eyes sealed shut as she waits for the pain in her tailbone to ebb. That had definitely woken her up. After a moment, Marlea clambers back to her feet, and then glares down at the dog. “Thanks Goliath,” Marlea huffs, brushing dirt away from her shorts. The mutt rests its head atop massive paws once more, giving less than a care. Realizing she wouldn’t be getting any sort of apology from the creature, Marlea continues her way into the kitchen.
With a deep breath, her gaze skim across the joke of a kitchen. Her home contains a single bedroom (which is no bother, considering she lives alone), an outhouse in the back, and a kitchen that’s attached to a small “living room”. The kitchen has nothing more than a stovetop, an oven, and a miniature fridge. All compacted into one small space. She glimpses over at the empty bucket, which had once been filled to the brim with water. Before she could boil water for tea, she would well. . . need water. “Guess I should take a trip to the well again,” Marlea mutters to herself, brushing fingers through snarled golden locks. “Maybe I should look a bit more approachable first.”
~In the Afternoon~
Marlea leans against the brick well, having lowered her bucket into the waters. She waits several minutes before cranking the bucket back up, and grabbing it. Several droplets of water splash out, which Marlea frowns at. She had seen other people show up at the well and leave without losing even an ounce of water, but Marlea had the tendency to make a mess. That’s why whenever someone else were around, she would just ask them to help her out. But today it was oddly empty at the well, and even strangely quiet throughout the community. Maybe Marlea had just woken up earlier than she originally does? And everyone else is still asleep?
Squinting somewhat, Marlea peers up at the sky, watching as dark clouds begin to mesh with white ones. The atmosphere quivered. A shiver runs through Marlea, and goosebumps form from head to toe. “Something weird is coming. . .”
Swarming down the stairs, Walter and his two younger brothers trample over one another. They shove at each other with elbows, smiles forming on faces and heavy laughter being produced from each of them. “I’m going to beat you guys today!” Walter exclaims, his brilliant blue eyes lighting up. But it’s at that moment Walter trips over his own feet, and tumbles down the last two steps. This delay enables the younger boys to sprint ahead and then veer into the kitchen. Their home is one of the few larger ones within the small fenced-in community. There are two floors, which only four other houses have. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a full-sized kitchen and dining room and living room. All of these are privileges.
A stern voice arises from the kitchen, wafting with the smell of cooking meat. Most likely the cow Walter had butchered the other day. “Boys, be careful please. We don’t need to take another trip to Doctor Fritz. I think we’ve bothered the poor man enough this week.” Walter knew his mother wasn’t really complaining, seeing as she had a thing for the community’s only doctor. The thought makes Walter snicker as he trails slowly behind his brothers, who are already sitting at the four-chaired table. Walter doesn’t go straight to the table, but instead does what he always does, and begins helping his mother with lunch. As he flips the diced up meat in the stovetop pain, he enjoys the sounds of the sizzling. With a quiet exhalation, Walter glances over at his mother.
He looks over at her just in time to see a cake being pulled out of the fridge. His eyes widen somewhat, moreso in surprise. It was rare for his mother to ever bake ever since her bakery had been shut down. Ever since their father had passed away. . . “Mom.” Is the only word he can muster as he chokes down the clump in his throat. He quickly wipes away the threat of tears before they can become real, and regains composure. Swiftly, Walter hugs his mother, and she nearly drops the cake.
“Happy Birthday Walter!” His brothers chime, followed by his mother whispering the same in his ear. She sets the cake aside and returns the hug. The now eighteen year old tightly grips onto his mother, allowing the waterworks to flow as she begins to do the same.
He knows what this day. . . His eighteenth birthday. . . marks.