Life Without Life

Chapter 21:


Going back to the manor is the hardest thing, next to seeing her sister die of Black Death, for Emily-Elizabeth to do. Just stepping past the green marker on the path brings tears to her eyes. Not only does she miss Matthew, but she misses her old life, as a peasant girl with a mother and a father and two brothers and a sister.

Being friends with Josette actually made it seem like a gift to be a peasant. No worries about servants and clothes and betrothals. Compared to Josette, Emily-Elizabeth was the one who lived in luxury. I want my life back! her mind screams as she re-enters the manor from the East Woods.

"Thief! Thief! Come back, help, thief!" someone shouts in the distance.

"This is certainly not of my doing! Nay, sir, you are the one who is mistaken!" another person argues.

"But I thought you wanted this, my dear? I did not know you changed your mind!" a husband pleads with his wife.

What has happened here, she thinks to herself. Everything is in total chaos. She walks through the town square, like an unseen shadow during the twilight hour, but pauses when she reaches her old home.

How odd it seems to be back here again, she thinks to herself. The house, with all its windows boarded up, seems dead in the first light of the sun. There is no friendly fire to make it look like a home; there is no sunlight shining through the windows to give it warmth.

"Good morrow, milady," an old woman says to Emily-Elizabeth from across the dirt road. "What brings you here to this old and decrepit home? The owners have gone away and there is nothing left but a forgotten chest that sits in the corner collecting dust. So I am often told."

"Do you mean the chest is still there?" she asks, forgetting for one moment who she is.

"Aye, milady, the chest is all that remains. But what is the use of asking? It has no use for you."

"I- I guess you are right. It is none of my business whether the chest is still there." As she walks down the dirt road she makes a mental note to find a way back to the house, her house, to look through the chest. She stops in front of a shop, now also boarded up. The sign hanging over the door is half off of its hinges and weather-beaten: Ye Old Blacksmith. Timothy! her mind says at the sight of the sign.

She steps into the shop and inhales nothing but ashes and dust. No sunlight had reached the inside of the shop for quite some time so the air feels cold and damp. Why was everything in chaos back there, but here everything is so quiet?

"Well, well, if it isn't Emily-Elizabeth Berkeley!" someone says, emerging from the shadows of the shop.

"Who are you? What do you want? How do you know who I am?"

"Please, one question at a time. I am a friend. A friend of a friend you could say," she says.

"I do not understand."

"Let me explain. I am married to someone who knows you quite well. I have always wanted to meet you and now I get to do so." She walks over to Emily-Elizabeth and embraces her. "My husband once worked on this manor but he lost his job when the owner was arrested for treason by the Baron. Here, let me introduce you to him." She pulls a young man out from behind the shadows.

Emily-Elizabeth can hardly believe her eyes. Standing before her is Timothy! Oh, how long it has been since she had seen him last! But who is this woman telling her that they are married? Does this mean that what Josette had said to her in the East Woods was true?!

"Timothy! How are you?!" she exclaims, running into his arms.

"I- I am fine. This is Katherine, my- my wife," he says dreadfully. He backs away from her and presents Katherine, with a wide smile clear across her face.

"Timothy, I had no idea!" Emily-Elizabeth gasps in surprise.

"Aye, well, now that our introductions have been properly made, my husband and I must be going. We do not want to be late for my cousin Matthew's wedding ceremony!" She pulls Timothy out of the shop by his arm and, when they reach the dirt road, locks her arm with his.

Matthew! her mind cries at the sound of his name. But how could this be? Katherine speaks of a wedding ceremony! Does she not know of the fact that the one he is to marry is now far away from the manor? Does she even suspect the fact that the same one he was to marry was also in love with her new beloved Timothy?!


chapter 22