Section 1

The odd girl in the normal city or the normal girl in the odd city

It was a glum day in the city, nothing to do, and storm clouds hovering. Lea was bored. She didn’t like being bored, pacing the room in long, colorful stockings. There was nothing to do and, of course, she could not go outside because she wouldn’t dare risk going against the laws of the city. Rain, they claim, is poison. But, nonetheless, she was bored and the rules were stupid anyway. Could she break them? I mean if the rain really is poison, she could just come back inside. No! This was a firm law and she was very certain that she could not and would not break them. So she went back to her pacing, never stopping for a break or resting her almost weary legs. Peeking out the window, she watched the rain fall, and wondered. Is it really poison? It doesn’t look like poison.Why are those men out there? She watched as some of the guards went house to house knocking on the door, briefly checking or talking and then moving on. They were almost to her house when Lea called, “Ma, guards are coming!”
“Well, we must get those stockings off shall we?” Her mother said.
“Ma, no, these are fine!”
“The guards won’t like it, they’ll throw you out, and onto The Path!”
“What if they don’t see me, Ma, it’ll be fine,”
“Leandra Robinson, change out of those socks before the guards come.”
“No, the laws are stupid anyway!”
“Le—” There was a knock on the door. “Get back, into the back Lea,”
Leandra Robinson ran for the grain cellar, her feet thumping on the hard wooden panels, and her stockings sliding her all about, she slipped and fell backwards, sliding close enough to the floorboard door to grab the rope and struggle to pull it open. She rolled in and fell with a thump on a grain sack just as the trapdoor closed and the front door opened.
“Hello, guardsmen, why have you walked in this weather, it could rain any second?”
“The rain is false, it doesn’t matter and you know it just as well as I do.”
Her mother gasped. “My! Guardsmen, I have children in this house!”
“Well, I don’t see any, now do I? Surely they aren’t playing outside?”
“Guardsmen, my children could die from going outside in this weather, I didn’t think you would mind them not coming to the door with me, they’re just in the back.” Anyone could tell that she was flustered and quite startled at his outrageous comment, they’re out in the rain? Why would anyone send their poor babies out in the rain?
“Go get them then, m’lady, I need to see them.”
“I shall, but I need none of this rain business from now on guardsmen!” Lea heard her footsteps getting closer to the cellar and open it, reaching her hand in to pull Lea out. “Come on Lea, enough playing in there.” In a lower tone, so the officer would not overhear she said, “And I hope you took off those socks?”
“Ma, no!” Lea whined.
“Come out here this minute, Lea,” She gave Lea a disapproving look and grabbed her arm, pulling her out of the cellar, while Lea used her feet to give her an extra boost on the latter rungs. “Andra, come out here please!”
Her mother and both girls walked back out into the hall and came to affront the guardsmen. “Here are my girls, what do you want with them?”
“Well, lady, you know what the date may be don’t you, it’s Little Lady’s Day.”
“Oh, indeed, I’m sorry I must’ve forgotten, I may be absent minded sometimes, well good day, have an enjoyful time looking, she turned her and the girls and moved to close the door.
“Not so quick, Miss, I’d like to see your girls.”
“Oh, my gals are nothing, ‘ere you go, though, a quick look.” She turned the girls and then turned them back, half closing the door before he stretched out a hand and pushed it back open.
“Why is this little girl wearing stockings at this time?”
“Because I didn’t know that anyone was coming today, it was a rest day for me, so I had it be one for them. too. And my, it is truly a shame, but we have to be going, dinner is fancy tonight, takes a lot of time.” She moved to close the door again, but he pushed it back.
“Miss, let me have the stocking’d one.”
“I’m sorry, she is very ill, I must be taking care of her.” Lea slumped in her mother’s grasp and feigned fainting.
“No matter, miss, let me ‘ave ‘er.”
“Guardsmen, you will regret doing this, taking away my daughter. The spirits don’t like men who take away women’s daughters.” She let go of Lea and Lea half fell, before she caught herself.
“I’ve ‘erd it before lady, now goodbye.” He dragged Lea by the collar of her shirt.
“Mom! Mom! No, don't let them take me! Mom!” Lea cried and screamed.
“Shut up, girl!”
“Stop it! Give me back to my mom!” Lea yelled.
“Shut up, girl!” He slapped the back of her head and she abruptly shut up, staring with wide eyes at him. No man was supposed to hit a woman or child, especially not a girl child.
“Sir, we must dump her on the path, now, we cannot have her telling the town about you hitting her, hopefully no one saw.” One of them men flanking them told.
“The path?” Lea said.
“Shut your mouth girl and do not open it again, lest you want me to give you another punishment.” he whispered in her ear, then turned to the guard who had spoken and shoved her into his arms. “Take her to the path will you?”
“Uhh… yes… uh, mm, yes sir.” The guard said and took her arm above her elbow and dragged her away. He whispered in her ear, “You can talk as soon as we reach the front of the path, I will answer your questions.” He looked down at her stocking’d feet and picked her up, carrying her.
Lea could feel the thumping of the man’s feet as they hit the path and shook her each time they thumped. She was scared, the path? Isn’t that a little extreme? It’s a death trap! Carol never came back! And it’s about to rain! I’ll be poisoned before I get there and I’ll die! Her mind was spiraling into a death trap of insanity. She had to get out of here, to breathe, to calm down and to flee.
They were coming up to the edge of the trail and he set her down, grabbing her arm to keep her from bolting. Instead of leading her to the path and telling her to, “Go on, get! get!” or “Get ‘out a ‘ere!” or something like that, he took her to the back of the house, his house, that was right next to the path and told her to stay there.
“Stay here, I’ll be right back, you leave and I’ll make sure that you have a mighty slow death girl.” he left her there in front of a tree and went into a little shed behind the house. There was a nickering sound and the sound of clomping hooves being led out on hard packed dirt. Soon he emerged, leading a fat, little grey pony on a light blue rope.
“Here you go,” He gave her the rope and picked her up by the waist, putting her on the fat little pony. He gently took the lead rope end from her hand and tied it to one end of the halter, clipping the clip of the lead rope to the opposite end, instead of the bottom, he gave her the reins and said. “He is a steady one, you’ll be safe with him, just sit tight and try to keep control. If you need to, hold onto the hair here, it’s called the mane. To get her to go, just squeeze with your legs and to stop, pull back. Lean forward over jumps and lean back if she goes to fast. Okay, you got that?”
He looked up at her, sadness in his eyes.
He really is a good man isn’t he? She thought, then something else popped into her mind, “Sir, what’s his name?”
“‘er name’s Ladybug. I’d call ‘er Bug for short though.”
“Thank you sir.” she said politely, it was odd though, setting up a horse too ride, the only animal she'd ever ridden in her life was a cow and to use just a common pulling animal as a mighty steed was quite unfamiliar to her, though it was the best way of escape.
“No need, now go on, we don’t want people think ’n I’m gonna keep you now, do we? Just know, you come back and your life’s over, you’d better make sure you don’t see anyone from this town again, now go on.” He slapped Bug on the rump and they took off at a bouncy trot.
Soon enough they were emerged into a forest. This is hurting my butt! she thought and pulled on the reins, just hoping that ponies were trained the same as cattle. To her delight the pony slowed only to a ever decreasing walk and hobbled on, head low, not wanting to be at a halt anymore than her, she supposed.