“Escape” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Jody Futter, South Africa.
My beautiful horse skidded to a halt, sending me flying forward along with his lovely silky hair. I hit the ground rolling head over heels into the mud. I laughed as I looked up into his amazing green eyes.
“That was fun, Briggs!” I said to him as I got up.
Phillip, my best friend, trotted up to us on his horse, his floppy blonde hair flowing in the wind like waves in the ocean, laughing loudly.
“That was a mighty landing Miss Rose!” he said in between giggles.
“And a mighty messy one too!” I said looking down at my now muddy dress.
“Your father’s going to kill you” he said, still laughing
“Then why are you laughing?”
“I…don’t…know…why.” He said as he tried to catch his breath. He chuckled as he climbed down from his horse and walked up to me. Looking me up and down, he let out a deep breath.
“What are we going to do?” Phillip asked worriedly
“Oh please, I’m sure he’s used to it by now!” I said
“Not again, Anna!” my father shouted at me angrily. “I told you not to ruin this one today!”
“Father, we can just wash it!” I said
He glared at me from where he stood, next to his desk, cradling two envelopes. “You, young lady, have ruined all your dresses. You don’t just dirty them, you rip them to shreds!”
“I’m sorry father but I don’t have any dresses that I can play in, because you always throw them out.”
“I throw them out, because I don’t want you to be playing with that wretched boy! You shouldn’t even be playing at all! You are a young lady; you should be going to tea parties with girls” he said, waving the envelopes around.
“But father, I don’t want to do that, I hate tea parties! And Phillip is a lovely boy, he’s my best friend!” I said stomping my foot in frustration.
He threw the envelopes on the desk in frustration and walked over to me. “You cannot play with that boy anymore! Go to your room, you’re grounded”
“No!” I screamed “You can’t always do this to me…”
He slapped my cheek with the back of his hand, his ring catched my skin and tore it. “I can, I am your father, and you need to listen to me. This is for your own good! Your mother isn’t here to sort you out, so I will. Now go to your room”
I glared at him for mentioning my mother. “My mother wouldn’t talk to me like that!”
“Well your mother is gone!” he shouted, glaring at me.
I flinched, a tear sliding down my cheek, joining the blood now streaming in a long line down my neck, from my cut. Clutching my cheek, I stomped away to my room, slamming the door on my way in, and jumped on my bed, burying my face in my arms.
I looked up at my window.
I got up and walked over to it, sticking my head out, only to get a stone hit me in the nose.
“OW!” I cried holding my nose, squinting at it.
“Ooh, sorry!” Philip shouted from down below
“Phil, you need to leave!” I shouted, blocking my bleeding nose
“What? Why?” he asked.
“My father will kill you if he sees you!”
“Oh, I don’t give a poo!” he said waving it off. “Come down here!”
“Phillip! I’m grounded!”
“Since when do you care?”
I sighed. “I just…need to think”
“Need to think!?” he shouted, shaking his head as he started climbing the vines on my wall.
I groaned as Phillip stumbled through the window.
“We are leaving tonight!” he said confidently
“What?” I asked shocked
“I am sick of him treating you like this!” he said pushing me onto my bed and walking over to get a tissue. “You deserve better! I mean, look at your cheek I bet you he didn’t even give a second glance at it!”
He tipped my head back and stuck a tissue into the nostril that was bleeding. He stood there, hands on his hips, his eyebrows raised.
“No, he didn’t” I said looking away shyly.
“You see! Father’s don’t control your every move.” he said pointing at me, I raised my finger to object. “And don’t say I can’t say that because I didn’t have my father around!”
I rolled my eyes as he grabbed a dry towel and wet it under the tap. He walked over to me and dabbed my cheek. I flinched as it left a stinging feeling. He pulled away and I sat up. He had always made the effort to tend to my wounds after a fight with father. It was a continuous thing that I had grown used to, coming home from a day out with Philip and having a fight with my father about me not acting like a girl. He kept saying that a girl should act like a lady and go to tea parties, not play in the mud with boys and if I refused to obey his command he would beat me and ground me.
“There!” he smiled “Now, I’m not taking no for an answer, you are coming with me! We’re leaving at midnight, pack your bags and get some rest.” And with that, he climbed out the window.
I groaned loudly and buried my face into my pillow again.
When the clock had finally struck 12, I had packed everything of importance in a big suitcase, set it by my door and tried to sleep.
Thud, a figure fell into my room. I jumped at the noise and stood, my legs apart, in a defending position.
“It’s me!” the figure whispered
I grabbed my night candle and lit it, the room brightened up revealing Philip wearing a big coat.
“Where’s your bag?” he asked
I pointed to it, sitting by my bedroom door.
“I said bag, not suitcase!” he groaned
“It’s all I have”
He groaned again and walked up to it, picked it up. I walked over to my door and tried the handle, it was locked.
“What?” I asked, shocked. “I didn’t lock it!”
I walked quickly over to my dresser and opened the drawer. The key was gone.
I looked at Philip, who now had steam coming out of his ears.
“He locked you in!” he said through gritted teeth
“He must have done it when I was sleeping!”
There was a loud creaking noise that could only have been a door; we didn’t have noisy stairs. Philip looked at me in panic.
“We need to go, NOW!” he said running over to the window.
He threw my suitcase out the window and gestured for me to come.
“That suitcase doesn’t close properly you idiot!” I whisper shouted
“It doesn’t matter right now! Come on”
We climbed out the window and onto our horses, which Philip had obviously brought from the stable just in case; I tied my suitcase onto the side of Briggs and hopped onto him. A shout echoed through the night, followed by a whole lot more and lights starting to appear. I pressed Briggs in the sides and he sped up, following Philip to the harbour. I skidded to a halt as Philip ran up the ramp leading onto the ship.
“We can’t take them on there!”I shouted to Philip
“We’re taking a risk leaving them here too!” he said
He was right, they could die of starvation if we just abandoned them, or even worse, they could be turned into horse meat. I gagged just thinking about it. But I knew someone that would look after them as if they were his own.
I climbed off of Briggs, untied my suitcase and set it on the ground. I took his nose in my hands.
“You’ll be okay won’t you?” I asked him stroking his face. He neighed and wrapped his nose around my neck. I smiled and kissed his hair.
“Robert will take them” Phillip said, bringing his horse back down the ramp, a young man walking beside him.
“Evening ma’am!” Robert said tipping his hat
“Hello Robert. Can you do me a special favour please?” I asked him, holding my hand out with some coins. “Can you please take them to a man called Andrew? He is a hunched old man that hangs around the centre of town a lot with his St. Bernard.”
He nodded but waved his hand at the coins.
“A special favour for a special lady” he said nodding his head at Philip who was now talking to the Captain. “I’ve heard a lot about you”
Philip’s been talking about me?
He smiled, tipped his hat at me and took Philip’s and my horses reins and walked away, ducking into a dark alley. There were more shouts, and a man appeared around the corner with a torch. I turned to see Philip gesturing at me to follow him.I ran up the ramp and the ship’s crew pulled it up. More men started to appear from around the corner, and soon my father was in front of them. He glared at me under the light from the torch he held in the air, and I could just hear him growl. I looked down, a tear falling down my cheek. Philip put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close. I looked up at him to see him glaring straight back at my father.
There is something between them that I don’t know about!
We set sail, and were now quite a distance from the harbour. I stood on the bowsprit looking into the starry night. I had gotten dressed out of my filthy dress and into some spare clothes one of the crew members gave me. It was kind of weird wearing pants, but I got used to it and found them quite comfy. Philip came up next to me and held my hand. I looked at him and smiled, he smiled back. I rested my head on his shoulder and he kissed my hair.
“So this is what freedom feels like!” I said.