” There was an epic battle waging between my desire and my will, and I was the only one aware of it. I did not know if, had there been others around they would have noticed, but as it was no one knew because I was entirely alone.
My desire wanted desperately for me to look over my shoulder and absorb every detail of the home that I knew I would never see again, but my will knew that if I turned all I would see was ash and destruction. That sight would send me to my knees.
My will won, and I walked on.
I watched the trees slide past as I walked dazedly down the Road. At first I tried not to look down. Just the sight of my own feet on this forbidden territory was terrifying, almost as scary as the sight of my demolished home.
It reminded me of when I’d crouched, out of sight, and watched as Gabe sprinted across this stretch of the Road, disappearing into the trees forever. He hadn’t known I was watching.
In my mind I remembered Gabe as he’d appeared then, bidding me goodbye, eyelashes casting long shadows on his strong cheek bones.
“Annie,” his familiar whisper drifted through the window of my living room. I sat weaving, my mother in the next room.
I felt the smile play across my lips, but I didn’t look up, or show that I’d heard him. I rose slowly, calling to my mother that I was stepping out for some air. Our house got unbearable stuffy in the summer, even with the windows thrown wide, and I frequently made up excuses to step outside where the breeze could reach me.
The second my foot touched the ground outside he yanked me around the corner. Taking cover in the shadows between our two houses, he touched his lips to mine.
“Annie, I have something to tell you.” His expression said it all, I should have known. Gabe had always been one for fairytales.
But I was clueless, tipping up on my toes happily to peck his lips again. “Hmm?”
He grasped the tops of my arms, pushing me down firmly, looking me in the eyes.
I could still hear his voice speak those two words, those two earth-shattering words.
He tried to convince me to come with him, but I was foolish and scared. He eventually left me, expressionless, in shock, with a kiss goodbye.
“If anything happens Annie, go south. South on the Road.”
He’d been afraid for me when he’d left. I’d thought him foolish and I was heartbroken that he would leave for a fairytale. Now I know he was the only one of us who saw. I’d begged him not to go, never imagining I’d one day find myself doing as he’d told me. Heading south on the Road to the Society. “