She ran. She ran as fast as her legs would carry her. The wind, gusting erratically, whipped her hair into her face, momentarily blinding her. She flung it out of her eyes without pausing and rushed onwards. She heard shouts and feet pounding rapidly on the ground. It was a cold September morning and the earth was just frozen enough for the boots of her pursuers to drum loudly upon it. Risking a quick glance behind her, she saw that they had drawn closer to her. She was tiring and couldn’t go on much longer.
Suddenly, like a ray of liquid gold shining from the sun through the cloud cover, she saw her destination. Her final destination. Tears both happy and sad mingled on her cheeks as they streaked down her ashen face. She increased her pace, putting her last drop of energy into her dash to the edge. The edge of the cliff. At last, she stopped. She had been running for the last year of her life and now here, finally, she ceased. She looked around her, savouring the view while she could. It wasn’t anything special, just a flat grassy field that dropped abruptly into the dark waters below. Water like ink, in the darkest shade of blue, battered the jagged rocks beneath her mercilessly. Its colour was the only clue as to the fathomless depth below. The dense clouds above blocked all but the tiniest drop of sunlight that leaked through the cracks. What little light there was was grey and bleak, offering no warmth. It was positively miserable, but to her it was beautiful. It was what freedom looked like.
She heard soft footfalls behind her and whipped round to face the woman who had been haunting her dreams for the last year. No, not dreams. Nightmares. Her face was pale and looked like it had been chiselled from marble. Her auburn hair was in stark contrast with her skin. She knew she had to jump and edged slowly away from the woman.
“Can you hear the music?” the woman asked gently, but a steely undertone hinted at her malice. That and the evil, the cruelty in her eyes. “Sarah, can you hear the music?” the woman repeated.
Still she didn’t reply.
The woman thought she could hear the music and she was right. It lurked at the back of her mind, as always, slow like a lullaby. It grew louder and more dominant in her head. She could hear the music. The music the woman, that woman had put there. It was always there, like her own constant, not so quiet companion. But she had never heard it this loud, this crisply as she could now. She - she had come here for some reason. Why would she be here?
She shook her head violently, as if to shake of the thoughts out, and snapped herself out of her reverie. She knew why she was here. She was here to jump.
She looked down at the precious little bundle in her arms as it nestled more snugly into her embrace against the biting wind. It was so small, so unsuspecting as to the great power it held or the great destruction it could bring in the wrong hands. The hands of the woman. Despite all this time, she still didn’t know her name.
Her babe. Her poor, poor babe. As she thought about the life it would never know, the experiences that it would never know, the years they would never share, unashamed tears poured silently down her face. She wiped them away along with the tracks they left. She would not cry. She would not show weakness. She would not be sad that she was saving it from a life of misery and misplaced trust.
The woman continued to advance with her arms out, inviting her. She knew it was now or never. And then she was gone, flying through the air, down into the freezing murky waters of the sea. She had jumped.
She was soaring, falling, tumbling, down, down until she broke the surface of the water. It drew her into a loving embrace as her vision blacked out. She had jumped, and that set her free at last.
Her eyes snapped open, alert. She was on her feet in an instant, ready to defend the fragile life in her arms. Realizing neither she, nor her baby was in any immediate danger; she relaxed and sank onto the ground. She didn’t know how long she sat there, just grateful to be alive.
Eventually, she looked up and gazed around. She was at a place much the same as before, only the cliffs were replaced by a pebbled beach. It was by no means a pretty place. Where others would have seen ugliness and dullness, she saw only hope. As she set off in search of a new life, she thought that world seemed just a little bit brighter, had a little bit more sunshine knocking around and that that in turn had a little more colour, a little more radiance. At last her nightmare was over, and a new dawn had arrived.