“I was deceived!!!”
The sound of splintering glass echoed through the hallways following the shriek that came from the mistress’ bedroom. Marcus and I cowered in fear, our hearts running amok in our chests as we crouched low underneath the huge, heavy table. A whimper escaped from my lips.
“Sshhh. She’ll hear you and then she’ll come for you.” Marcus whispered in my ear.
I turned my head to look at my friend and nodded. I could feel the trembling of my body as I huddled closer to him. The sound of the bedroom door opening made my heart skip a beat before it pounded even louder in my chest. The quick staccato of the mistress’ heels hitting the marble floor along the corridor from her bedroom to the main living room made me squeeze Marcus’ hand tighter. I jumped when I heard the main door slam close and then heard the engine of a car start, followed by the squealing of tires spitting gravel. We waited for a few minutes, listening for any sound to indicate that the wicked witch didn’t come back. When everything remained quiet and calm, we slowly crawled out from under the table and looked around. Marcus quickly ran towards the front door and tried to open it. I hurried behind him, vaguely remembering that we both didn’t hear a lock being turned after she slammed the door. The knob turned and Marcus and I looked at each other with wonder in our eyes.
“She forgot to lock the door,” Marcus whispered, “this is our chance to escape.”
Before I could say anything, Marcus grabbed my hand and pulled me. It was cold outside, and the forest behind the tiny cottage was dark and scary. But I didn’t notice, all I could think about was we had to keep running before she came back. I had no idea how long nor how far we ran, but my legs felt like jelly and I could barely breathe.
“Marcus, wait. Marcus!”
“We have to stop, I’m tired.”
“We can’t, we’re not far enough.”
“I can’t breathe anymore.”
Marcus slowed down until we came to a stop under a huge tree. We both bent low with our hands holding our knees, trying to catch our breath.
“O…okay, ju…just f..for a bit, bu..but we ha..have t..to k..keep mo..moving, Jean.”
All I could manage was nod in response as I tried to catch my breath. My knees were buckling, but Marcus took my hand in his and pulled me up again.
“We gotta go, Jean.”
He pulled me and despite my legs protests, I ran, knowing that the wicked witch could come back anytime and let her dogs loose to find us. After some time, we reached a stream. Marcus stopped and looked around, then sat on the ground and began removing his shoes. I followed without question, trusting that he knew what he was doing.
The distant sound of dogs barking made the panic rise to my throat as I looked at my friend. He grabbed my hand and helped me up, we crossed the stream in a hurry, then put back our shoes before running into the forest on the other side. The sounds of the dogs were becoming nearer and Marcus slowed down and looked around. He pulled me towards a huge tree and looked up.
“I’ll help you up. No matter what happens, climb up and don’t come down until you’re sure she and her dogs are gone. Understood?”
“But Marcus, who’s going to help you up?”
“No one. I’m going to keep on running and lead them away from you.”
“No! Don’t leave me Marcus!”
Marcus laid his hand on my cheek and looked me in the eye.
“This is the only way, Jean. Remember the cave at the foot of the mountain where we used to play? I’ll meet you there. But, if for any reason I don’t show up after a day. Leave and find help.”
Marcus’ face started to become blurry as tears formed in my eyes.
“Let’s just keep running, Marcus. I’ll keep running, just don’t leave me.”
The dog’s barks sounded louder.
“I promise I will come find you. Now, come on, put your foot on my hands and I’ll give you a boost.”
Once I was safely up high, Marcus sent me a flying kiss before he turned and ran further into the forest. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling down my cheeks as I slowly realized that I was now completely alone in this wilderness and the only friend I had was out there running for his life. Somehow I knew that it would be a long time before I see him again. The sounds of the dogs became fainter as the night turned into day. My only consolation at that moment was not hearing my friend scream or the scuffle among the witches’ dogs when they were fighting over some toy or food. I prayed from deep in my heart that Marcus was safe and that someday he will find me just like he promised.