Willow moved quietly down the grand staircase of her parent’s large house. As long as her father was asleep she shouldn’t have a problem getting out the front door unnoticed. The big grandfather clock in the hall began to chime midnight as her hand touched the handle on the door. She stilled, listening for sounds that her parents had awakened, and then slowly continued opening the door. Slipping out into the night air she closed it gently behind her. The few bags she carried contained her most precious possessions along with some clothing.
One bag in particular Willow hugged tightly under her arm as she stumbled along the sidewalk. The contents of that particular bag could not be lost, for without it her plan would never work. And work it must. William must never know her secret and he must never be able to find her. Leaving like this, without saying goodbye to her parents, made Willow bite back a sob, but the less they knew the better. This way they couldn’t be hurt. HE couldn’t hurt them.
She located the car waiting ahead and quickened her footsteps until she reached the back door. Placing two of the bags on the back seat, she continued to hold onto her precious cargo as she slipped into the front seat of the car.
“Did anyone see you?” The man in the driver’s seat asked, almost in a whisper.
“I don’t think so,” Willow replied. “The house was completely quiet when I left. Are you sure he won’t be able to find me?”
The driver manoeuvered the car away from the sidewalk into the road, checking his mirrors periodically. It reminded Willow of all the spy movies she had watched growing up.
“I’ve made sure nothing traces back to you. Your name is not on any of the paperwork for anything. No one even knows I’m working for you. The house is ready. My contact told me it was fully furnished. It’s got quite a bit of property attached to it, so you shouldn’t have to worry about nosy neighbours around you.
But have you completely thought this through? What are you going to do? You can’t hide out on a farm by yourself forever. You don’t even know how to farm! I should never have agreed to this.”
Willow’s jaw clenched as she thought of William, “This is going work, Avery. As long as there is no way he can find me, if I stay off the grid, he never will be able to. That’s the way it has to be. Everything is a minor detail. I’ll learn how to run a farm. I will do what I have to to survive.”
The two continued on their way in the dark, silence filling the car.
Willow Quinn settled back into the soft leather of the car and closed her eyes. Her curly red hair billowed behind her head as she attempted to sleep. The moonlight shone off the paleness of her face, bones sharply outlining her cheeks. She was thin, too thin for her condition. The stress of the last few weeks hadn’t helped her at all. She shifted in the seat, trying to get comfortable. Small, slender fingers picked absently at something on the bag in her lap showing her nervousness in the endeavor.
Having grown up in a wealthy home there were serious doubts that Willow would fare well in the new life she was determined to make for herself. Willow’s driver, Avery Clarke wished there were another alternative, but he knew Willow was right about the danger and running appeared to be her only option. Whether or not it was a good decision would remain to be seen.
After driving for a while, Avery pulled off the highway and into a small town. “Willow,” he called softly. “You might want to wake up. We’re almost there and I want you to know your surroundings. You need to have an idea of where everything is.”
Willow stirred and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She looked blearily out the window and then straightened as she realized the significance of where they were.
“Where are we?” Willow asked, not having cared where she was going until this moment.
“Where we are going is called Aspotogan. But there are no stores or anything there. I’m pretty sure this is the closest town to where you’ll be living. This town is called Last Chance – I know, very cliché. There is a small grocery store here and the post office; although I made sure you had daily mail delivery. If you need to mail anything important you’ll have to walk it in here.”
“How far are we from Aspotogan?” Willow rubbed her eyes, trying to focus on her surroundings as Avery drove slowly down the main street of the town.
“It’s about a 20 minute drive but a lot longer walking. You’ll have to try it out on your own but I figured it’s about a 3 – 4 hour walk, depending on how fast you can do it. Or you can wait for my monthly visits and I can take you shopping. But a month is a long time to go without shopping and I doubt you’ll be able to do that until you get yourself set up. Even then, I don’t think it’s healthy for you to go too long without seeing people.”
Willow straightened in her seat and turned to look out the window. “What about a bicycle? I bet that would cut the walking time down quite a bit, although not as feasible in the winter weather, I know. And while I understand your position, Avery, you have to understand mine. William was quite clear on what he would do if I didn’t do what he said. If he finds out where I am, anyone in contact with me will be in danger. I can’t make friends with these people. I can’t do anything to jeopardize their lives here. You know that.” She pushed a strand of curly hair behind her ear. “It’s not just about me anymore. I know you think I’m not going to make it out here on my own. I’ve grown up a spoiled, rich kid so you have good reason to think that. But I will make this work. I have to make this work.”
Avery cleared his throat before speaking again, “Just remember you’re not alone. You have me and you have Someone else, too, Someone who is greater than William.”
“I know, Avery. I am so thankful for you and for all the help you’ve given me. And I appreciate you keeping everything quiet. I know I must seem like an immature 21-yr old right now, but I know I can’t do what William wants me to. I need to trust that the Lord has bigger plans. I don’t need to make a mark on the world, but I am willing to trust Him to see to my future. Right now that future includes spending time alone with Him. A lot of time alone. He will sustain me, of that I am certain.
The clock on the car dashboard read 2:35 am as they pulled onto the road leading to Aspotogan. Willow’s excitement began to build as she envisioned what her new house would look like.
Avery grabbed a paper bag from the back seat with one arm while keeping his eyes on the road. “I grabbed a couple things for you, just in case. I know you said, no phone, but I can’t leave you out here with no means of communicating. Even if you just keep it for a couple months, the phone is in my mom’s name so it won’t trace back to either of us. If you need anything, you can call me. There’s a library back in the town, but you can’t be walking 4 hours to the library and back every week, so if you think of some books you’d like, magazine subscriptions, whatever, you call me and ask and I’ll get it done for you. With no internet you won’t be able to just look up a recipe or figure out how to fix something yourself. You are still going to have to ask for help and I’d feel better if you had this on you. I’ll be your Google search engine, so to speak.” Avery chuckled at his joke.
Willow gave him a tight smile, the argument against the phone dying on her lips. He was right of course. She wouldn’t know exactly what she needed until she got out there. She had always used the internet to figure everything out; she wouldn’t be able to do that anymore so she’d have to have access to books, catalogues, and magazines somehow. She sighed at the thought of relying on anyone. She would do it for now, but there would come a day when she would give him the phone back and thank him for his help. But for today, she would have to give in.
Just a few more minutes and Willow Quinn would step into a new life, a life without friends or family. But with the Lord’s help she would make this work and she would trust Him to lead her future.