~Suzette ✧ Prologue~
All around me, the night is so still, so gentle; throughout the forest, one can hear a symphony of grasshoppers and toads singing as a cool evening breeze carries the scent of magnolias brought from the village lying in sleep. I remain perfectly still, attempting to focus solely on the beautiful, serene scenery.
Instead, I only hear the loud march of the drums which disturb me alone. They crash from my chest, resonating in my ears; and my thoughts, in turn, only exacerbate the noise. Despite the peace around me, my head throbs from the cacophony within.
Am I truly doing this?
All my life, I worked diligently to become what was expected of me…yet standing here, on the precipice of tossing it to the wind, I do not understand why anymore. What is the purpose of wasting years of your life for the pleasure of others who never loved you? Why did I ever believe doing such things might, at last, release that love that, surely, they are holding in their hearts? Can one truly call such a thing “love?” I wish I had the wisdom to truly consider these questions before marrying that man, yet it is far too late now.
Thinking of him, I swiftly scan my surroundings, making sure he has not discovered my absence; I loath to imagine what might become of me if he discovers I am leaving, and especially who I am leaving with. Just the mere thought of it fills me with dread; although, logically, I am certain he is sleeping soundly as always. It is not as though he especially cared for me before. Surely, he shall be glad that his burden is lifted. But soon he shall be the least of my fears.
Where am I going to? Will I be able to survive there? Will I be able to survive the journey at all? How long shall it be?
I am so excited to at last be free, so grateful that I will not have to traverse this alone. Yet even so…I am still terrified.
The drums continue on.
At last, I merely close my eyes and cease letting the thoughts flurry about. Perhaps that is not the most intelligent action in this situation; yet regardless, it softens the beating drums to a faint, rhythmic hum. After some minutes, my mind is at last able to quiet—until I am jolted back by a soft, deep voice speaking my name. Instinctively I step back, not immediately registering who it is. However, when I see the long white of his hair even in the darkness, I am relieved to know it is who I have been waiting for. Before I may speak to him, he begins speaking once more.
“You certainly look…different,” he says, eyeing my own hair. Just hours ago, it was not nearly so long as his, of course, yet still an impressive length for my height—yet now, it scarcely reaches the top of my shoulders. I know it is “unnatural” for a woman to have hair this short…yet, considering how his is just as unnatural for a man, I suppose one could say we match?
“If I shall practically live as a new person, I may as well look the part, yes?”
In reply he furrows his brow and sighs.
“You truly are serious about this…”
As he says this, all my fears flutter through my mind once more. Yet even so, despite his fears—despite my own—I stiffen my posture and sharpen my voice.
“I would not have asked this of you if I were not,” I say.
“All right then,” he mutters, “Let’s get going.”
And soon, the two of us disappear into the woods without another word.
☽O☾Lovingly created by [James Margaret Rose].