Friday, February 21, 2014

Owen's Journey

Life happens. We write novels and get weary.  And so I have been.  But now the need to write has be welling up within me again.  I've been browsing around my notes, tepid starts to stories and incomplete ideas.  Quite a while ago I began writing a story about an indentured slave.  I think this might be a good place to restart . . . and yet A Misspent god is calling my name, or maybe I hear the sound of Hortensia's footsteps, or was that the tinny noise of someone building a castle out of file cabinets.  I think really all of them are clamoring for me now.  More rightly it's that I finally hear them clamoring again.

A portion of Owen's Journey

The dog howled long and loud. It woke everyone in the house. A mass of restless turning and returning to sleep prevailed through the darkness until everything became stillness again. Owen's eyes would not close and he was angry. He knew he would not sleep again this night. He could hear the air whistling in and out of his nose. And that also made him angry.

Everything had made him angry for a very long time now and it felt as if it would always be this way—there was no way to undo this kind of rage. Susanna being taken was not even the worst part of it. His self loathing was the fuel for all other rages. A loathing without resolution was the worst kind of all. He felt soulless, empty and angry.

His feet lightly touched the floor. He wavered there for a moment. Then pushing himself carefully off of the bed he gathered his clothing and all his possessions holding them closely to his chest. His shoes bumped against the door frame. He froze for a moment to let the crisis pass. 

He could see the outline of the dog across the yard.  It was thrashing in its sleep like Owen often did. But Owen did not jump up suddenly to chase illusory rabbits in his sleep. The cool air of the pre-dawn was a ruse. In just a few short hours the sun would punish everything with its branding-iron heat and water would become the commodity of highest value.

Owen moved cautiously toward the wooded area at the east corner of the Proctor property. He would dress there then leave and leave and leave. As he passed the silo his stomach reminded him that he needed food for his journey. No one would miss the few things he would take. The door squeaked softly as he entered the building. With his hand still pressing against the frame he paused to listen if the hound had wakened and was now pursuing him. But no sound or movement was uncharacteristic of this early morning hour. 

As Owen closed the door he decided this was the better placed to dress.  As he pulled on his clothing he squinted into the darkness trying to discern the items he would need. He smelled Peter’s leather travel bag hanging near the door frame. In one knowing moment he seized it and began filling it for himself this time—not for Peter as hundreds of times he had done before. Peter would miss it but, cursing under his breath, he knew Peter could casually lay down some quick coin to replace it. 

Owen’s rage flared again. He had lost everything and had been indentured to the gluttonous, rich and comfortable Peter. No one deserved as much as this one man and his family had—no one. Owen's hand hit the rifle in the corner and for an infinitesimal moment he considered conscripting that as well. But the reality of an armed runaway was too much risk even for him. He would have to be leagues away by daylight and too much weight would slow him down. His faithful blade, having served him well for so many years, would not betray him.

The door rasped again as he closed it. His heart began to beat wildly. Nothing outside was moving. This was the moment. He could undo everything in this moment.  Once past the property line it would be undone. He was determined to undo this so-called life. Owen ran as quietly as possible toward the invisible line of freedom.  Everything indeed had come undone.

Copyright M.R. Hyde 2014