The breeze ruffled my hair. Curled tendrils escaped from my carefully twisted bun and fluttered in the gentle wind. The salty scent of the air made me long for times long since forgotten. I wanted to be a child again, not a woman on the edge, staring up at steam ship contemplating her fate. I wanted the freedom to come and go as I please, to sit in the shade of an ancient oak tree and draw butterflies and flowers - little doodles that served no other purpose than to pass the lazy days of summer.
I wanted to be in love. Most days I'd even settle for a deep and fiery lust, lust that burned bright at first before simmering down into a smoldering passion. I'd take passion over this gaudy diamond ring any day.
Thomas's hand lightly grasped my elbow. "Ready to go sweetheart?" he leered at me.
I shuddered and smiled sweetly. "Of course dear."
Thomas was the son of a British banker, wealthy beyond belief and, unfortunately, my fiancé. I didn't love him. It was a stretch to say that I even liked him. No, I did not like Thomas and no one other than myself, and perhaps God, knew that.
To my left my mother preened, fawning over Thomas. She loved him more than I did; perhaps it was his money that she loved rather than Thomas himself. Either way my mother saw my marriage to Thomas as a means to an end; an end that my father had, much to my mother's surprise, put us in.
My father, God rest his soul, had gambled the family name into the ground. Two weeks after his debt had come due; he keeled over dead as a door nail. Stroke is what the doctors had murmured in whispered voices.
Soon after my mother found out that the family fortune was no more, she put on her mask and pretended all was well. She gossiped with her friends, threw parties, and spent money that she knew we no longer had. Nothing was amiss in my mother's mind. Somehow, some way, something would just miraculously fall into our laps.
Fortunately for her, something did fall into our laps. Thomas fell into our laps; Thomas, with his inherited fortune, Thomas, who wanted to marry me, make me his aristocratic housewife who would do little more than smoke expensive cigarettes, order the housekeepers around, and plan parties.
I wanted no part of it. I risked one last glance at my world, my city. It would be gone, snatched like an egg from a nest by a snake.
With his hand pressed against the small of my back Thomas guided me onto the ship. The real me; the me locked away inside my head, screamed for me to stop, to turn around and run, run like my life depended on it. My steps faltered, I turned.
"Elizabeth?" my mother's haughty voice said. "Is everything okay?"
No, I wanted to say. No, everything is not okay. Instead I smiled sweetly and said, "Yes, Mother. Everything is fine."
Then I walked onto the boat, and I never looked back.
Copyright 2010 by Nicole Jensen as Common Law Literary Property