Something caught her eye. Under the leaves, she saw the corner of her mother’s book. She knelt down and looked at Sarah’s book of roses. She wiped the amber leaves away and picked it up.
She opened it. She gazed over the images of roses fondly, she then found the section of her aunt. Mary wondered at her aunt’s bewitching beauty, and her mother’s skill of capturing it. She did not linger on those pages, for she was nervous that her aunt’s eyes may change and glare up at her again. More and more, of her aunt, naked in different positions. The next leaf of parchment was filled with a pressed rose. Mary gently felt the dried flower and admired the blood red petals. The final page she turned to made her blood freeze. Did her mother draw this? Mary did not want to look at it; she felt nauseous. It was such a hideous thing. At first, it was so twisted and the outlines of pencil were so thick and rough that she could not make out what it was. Then she saw it, what this thing was meant to be. She stared at the image. This was the thing that lurked under their floorboards.
She couldn’t breathe. She gasped again and again, swallowing air. It wasn’t enough. What had Sarah done? Did she…? The truth caused her heart to hammer in her chest. The tears slipped unnoticed at first down her cheeks. When the cold drops reached her chin, she could feel them there, clinging on to her skin before they fell. They splattered onto the page; it blurred with the image there. More and more tears began to emerge from her eyes. They wouldn’t stop. Her lips became puffy. Her eyelids swelled. She screwed her eyes shut as she tried to regain control of her body.
What had happened to it? Why did she draw it?
She had to do something; she had to have a different emotion. Attempting to ignore it or distract herself, she tried to hold herself together. It was exhausting, sitting there, unable to move. The book slipped from her lap. Her head was in her hands.
‘Gawain,’ she murmured. When she uttered his name sobs raked through her once again.
The process repeated once more. The panic and sadness welled inside until it was too much. She wanted to lift herself up, but her body was a dead weight. What was the point anymore? Why get up? What good would standing do? Useless. Utterly useless. Utterly pathetic.
A self-hatred rose with in her like bile. She was physically sick, gagging, dribbling, crying.
From the trees she heard movement. Her eyes looked to the direction of the sound. She was too tired to run. Let whatever come, come, she thought. She had finally had enough. Then she heard a quiet whiney and snort.
‘Morgan!’ she gasped, as her friend came into view. The horse trotted straight to her, sniffing and nuzzling her body. Mary embraced her companion’s neck, so relieved to be reunited with her.
‘How am I still here?’ she whispered softly into the mare’s ear. She felt a resurgence overtake her body as she pressed herself to the horse. A possibility of hope that she could continue danced in her stomach. She would survive. She mounted the horse. As she moved Morgan into a walk, eastwards, her thoughts drifted to Gawain and how he taught her to survive.