Great Britain 1619
“David Foster, you better tell me what this is about?” Elizabeth asked in frustration. He had been pulling her along for upwards a quarter of an hour through the dense underbrush of the forest. Her skirts had become tangled and torn. Her mom would be hysterical when she saw their state. Hair fell around her shoulders in curly disarray. It felt as though more than one bug had found home in the tangles.
David momentarily paused and looked over his shoulder at her. He flashed her that infuriating half smile of his before turning and continuing his trek. “It’s just a little farther, come on,” he called. She angrily swept a curl from her face before allowing him to resume dragging her along.
She should have expected something like this from him. The gleam in his eyes she saw when she’d found him leaning casually against the barn that morning spoke clearly of mischief. In fact, somewhere deep down she had suspected something. But this was David. For some reason she had never been able to say no to him, much to the dismay of her mother. At 18, she was the bane of her mother’s existence. She could only resist suitors for so long before her father would force her into marriage with someone she might not find as agreeable as others. Some were pleasant enough to be around, but then David would turn up and show her a grand adventure. Elizabeth wasn’t ready to let go of him just yet. Father would not agree to their union. As the youngest of three sons, he had not a penny to his name. He scavenged what little money he could doing odd jobs for local farmers. She herself was also the youngest of three having two older brothers. A match between herself and David was not to happen.
Lost in her musings, Elizabeth nearly crashed into David who had unexpectedly stopped. He glanced at her and she was able to discern the mischievous gleam lighting his emerald eyes. He pulled aside a branch and the foliage opened up before them. Elizabeth gasped and pushed her way past David into the clearing. A magnificent waterfall spilled, almost gently, from a large rock face into a pristine lake. She was unable to describe the emotions that engulfed her. This lake, along with its surroundings, was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. She stumbled to the shore and dropped to the ground. Fish of every color swam unafraid in its depths. The water flowed slowly past her into a small river she hadn’t noticed before. She reached down and skimmed her hand across the surface making small designs with the ripples that were then carried away downstream. The sky was a deep blue she’d never seen before.
“Elizabeth?” David’s quiet voice tugged her back into reality. She looked up at him and was surprised to find tears making silent tracks down her face. “So, what do you think?” He was watching the ground and couldn’t stop fidgeting.
Elizabeth stood up and walked over to him. She wrapped her arms around him, and after a moment of hesitation he did the same. “I love it,” she whispered.
He was silent a moment. Then, so quiet she could barely make the words out, he said, “And I love you.”
A shiver ran its way up her back. She stiffened and took a step back. He met her eyes and she could see that he was, for once, completely serious. He began to lean forward, holding her prisoner with his eyes; his green, green eyes. Soon she could see nothing else but those two deep pools of emerald green. That’s when she broke the chain that bound them and fled.
She could still feel his hot breath on her lips from their almost kiss as she ran through the trees. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to marry the first born son of some rich man. Not the poor, hired help. Her thoughts were jumbled; she couldn’t think. Branches tore at her face and clothes. Even the pain couldn’t take away the green haze that covered everything.
Before she knew it she was out of the woods. She bent over and gasped for breath. She was gone from the secret lake and the promises it brought with it. Before her stretched the town of Leeds, where she had been born and raised. Its major export was wool and there was never a lack of chores to accomplish. Father would be furious with her for being gone as long as she had. She looked back at the forest for a long while and felt a lump rise in her throat. She spun on her heel and headed for home.
When it came in sight, Elizabeth felt dread curl in her stomach. She could see her mother pacing back and forth in front of the window. Elizabeth knew there would be no chance to sneak in and clean up before facing her. Elizabeth took a deep breath and walked calmly towards the house, brushing off her dress as she did so.
Her mama happened to glance out the window. A second later, the front door swung open. Every inch of her mother was etched in fury. “Elizabeth Miller! Where have you been?! Just look at the state of you!”
Her mother stepped aside as Elizabeth walked inside. The door slammed shut behind them.
“Well?” her mother demanded, her foot taping in that annoying way.
Elizabeth sat down heavily on the chair.
“You were with that Foster boy again, weren’t you?!”
She didn’t give her a chance to answer.
“Elias,” she called, “I think it’s time!”
Her father walked into the room and gave her a once over. He sighed, “Yes, Mary. I think you’re right.” He looked at Elizabeth. “Sit down sweetheart.”
She gave him a strange look. “I am sitting down.”
“Oh, yes, I see that.” He seemed flustered.
“What’s going on Papa?”
He knelt down in front of her and took her hands in his. “Sweetheart, what do you think about America?”
“That stupid land across the sea for greedy old men?”
“What’s there to think about it?”
Mama decided she’d had enough beating around the bush. “Elizabeth, we are sending you on the next ship to America. It leaves in two days.”
Her mouth dropped open. “But . . . but . . . Papa!”
He nodded his affirmation.
“No,” she yelled, “I won’t go!”
“Yes,” Papa said softly, “you will.”
She looked at him for a moment, aghast, before leaping from her chair and running outside.
“She’ll be back,” She heard him say as the door slammed behind her. The sad part was she knew she would be too.
She didn’t know where she was running to, only that she had to get away. As she ran down the lane she saw someone walking towards the farm, but through her blurry vision she was unable to identify who it was.
She heard the person call her name as she rushed by. It was David. He was the last person she wanted to talk to.
Elizabeth ran until she found herself in a field of flowers. She collapsed and cried some more as sobs tore through her body.
Next thing she knew, David was lifting her from the ground and wrapping his arms around her. Elizabeth didn’t care anymore. She needed comfort.
She buried herself in his embrace.
“What’s wrong, Elizabeth?” he asked softly.
“America!” she screeched. “My parents are sending me to America because they don’t want to have to deal with me any longer!”
That shut him up. She continued crying and David held her tighter. His eyes shed a few tears as well.
Two days later, Elizabeth stood with her parents in front of the ship. She was dressed in her finest cloak and skirts. A crewman had already taken her bag up. She didn’t see David anywhere. They hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye. Without a word, she hugged her parents and walked onto the ship; into her nightmare.