It was late before the house was quiet. I knew the servants went to bed late but this was ridiculous. It was twelve thirty in the morning and the last one had finally walked up the back stairs to their room. Truscott watched me from the window seat as I threw a blanket into my backpack. I opened the wardrobe and then slammed it in disgust. There were no clothes that I could take with me.
“Come on, Truscott, we’re going.” I tossed my backpack over my shoulder. “We need to go home.”
The dog stood up and wagged his tail. He knew what I wanted. So with a deep breath, I squared my shoulders and marched out the door. The thick carpet muffled the noise of my combat boots.
The house was eerily quiet as I walked down the main staircase. No matter what time of day it was I always met someone somewhere doing something. The eyes of the hall portraits followed me but I paid them no mind. They couldn’t tell me what to do. I was going home, back to where I belonged. I couldn’t change the world and neither could Dante. And making me his girl was not going to change anything either.
“Stuff you and your dream, Dante. I’m going home,” I said just before I slipped out the front door.
Truscott gave a little woof and bounded towards the front gate. I followed at a rather slower pace. Part of me wanted to stay in this house, in this place where they pampered me. Here I didn’t have to hunt for my every meal or look over my shoulder every time I moved.
But that was part of the problem. I was getting soft. It was time I went back to being the tough girl that spent her days on the street.
Truscott barked from the other side of the fence. I took one last look at the house and then began to climb the fence. I dropped my backpack down from the top and then slithered down the gate. Truscott wagged his tail as I landed lightly beside him.
Picking up my bag I began to walk down the street. I felt lighter, more free with each step I took. I was going home.
In the darkness nothing looked familiar and I took it slow. But my heart was pulling me in one direction. At least I thought it was. It was like I could hear a call from somewhere far away. The words were indiscernible, but I knew what they were.
‘Come home, Crystal. We are waiting for you. Come back to the people you love.’
“I’m coming. Don’t give up,” I whispered. “I haven’t forgotten you.”
Truscott looked up at me and then trotted off down a side street. I followed him, trusting him to bring me back to familiar grounds. I hadn’t been off of the Brooke’s property for over a month and the last half of my trip was hazy in my mind. I couldn’t remember where I had turned or street names. I had been following some music, a song that no one had been playing. Now I was going on instinct alone.
The sun was beginning to rise when I finally decided to stop for the day. I laughed when I saw the building I had stopped in front of. It was the same one that had started my troubles. Either I had been going in circles or I had run for a very long time after I had been shot.
“Come on, Truscott. We’ll stay here for tonight.” I took a step into the building and stopped, listening. I didn’t want a repeat of last time. But the only noise I heard was the cooing of pigeons and the scurry of some animal as it ran to hide from me.
Truscott sniffed the air and walked farther into the front room. I followed behind, an arrow on my bow. I would be ready for anything this time.
It only took me a few minutes to scout out the place. There was no one in the building. I kicked some leaves and animal scat out of a corner and settled down to sleep. I pulled out the water and a loaf of bread I had scoffed from the kitchen. Tearing off a chunk I bit into it. That was one thing I was going to miss. Martha’s bread and her biscuits and her meat and... well I would miss her cooking.
I snuggled down next to Truscott. “We’ll be okay, boy. We’re going home.”
I could already feel Macy’s arms around me, hear Robyn’s chatter and smell Quincy’s cooking. The only thing that would be missing was Grandpa’s hearty laugh. Deep inside me, I knew he was gone. They wouldn’t have to tell me.