Zara walked through the night, unwilling to stop. Her mind blanked a few hours after sunset, finally putting an end to the vivid flashbacks of the terror she experienced back at the camp. She didn’t want to think anymore. All she wanted to do was sleep in a soft bed surrounded by warm blankets and wake up to the sun shining through her old window, but home was still far away. As the first rays burned through the darkness, she slowed her pace. The day became hotter and brighter; she sought shade under an olive tree so she could rest her exhausted limbs. It seemed to be the only tree for miles. She leaned against the trunk and submitted to sleep. Dreams of Turgal’s evil smile and cold gaze haunted her dreams. She woke up again with a start, surrounded by darkness. Looking desperately up at the sky for the comfort of the moon and stars, all she could see was black. Clouds must have moved in while she slept the day away.
She forced herself to stand up and stretch her tight, sore muscles. The darkness didn’t scare her like it used to. Her ordeal with the Assyrians proved that terrible things happened in broad daylight. Turgal wasn’t one to travel through the night from what she observed. On the off chance that he decided to go after her, it was unlikely he’d be moving at the moment. At that thought, she broke into a run. It was too dark to keep an eye out for snakes and scorpions – she hoped her rapid steps would scare away anything in her path. Wolves might be out on the hunt as well, but she would rather face any of those predators than see the Assyrians again.
“I didn’t come this far to be torn apart by wolves,” she muttered, wishing she had a knife with her.
Her mind travelled back to that place in time that felt like forever ago. She and David had their entire life ahead of them; they were in their own type of Heaven. Looking up at the overcast night sky, she imagined his smile, the way he used to hold her, how he made her laugh. Every one of her dreams had come true until hell broke loose and unleashed its cruelest demons. She was free from the Assyrians, but her husband and child were dead.
A cool breeze hit her dewy skin, reminding her that she was very much alive. She should have been killed months ago, but she was still alive for reasons she could not understand. She took a deep breath and focused on the good memories of David long before they went to that picnic.
“Now that I’m away from the monsters, it is time to say good-bye to you properly, my love,” she said, forcing herself to stand on her shaking legs. “I’m sorry that I didn’t flee the moment you asked me to. I might have been able to escape them, but I didn’t want to leave you there. I hoped so much that you would outrun them, and we could flee together. I can’t be the same girl I once was. She died along with you. I miss you so much that if grief could kill, I would be dead. I will love you forever. You were my dream come true and you gave me heaven. We are the lucky ones, David. I will never love anyone as I have loved you. Wherever you are, I know that my words will reach you, because true love never dies.”
Home wasn’t so far away. It was only a two day’s walk if she kept going at a quick pace. Her body ached everywhere, but she thought past the discomfort. So long as she was outside in the elements alone, there was a risk that something could stop her from coming home. She had to keep going, even if it hurt. She gritted her teeth every time she had to climb up another rise, but she didn’t stop in case she never got back up again. She found another stream to drink from and took the opportunity to splash water all over her tanned, sweaty body. She took a moment to catch her breath, sitting on a boulder and watching the tiny rapids as they babbled over the rocks. Her hand went to her belly and her heart nearly stopped. Her mind had been so preoccupied with survival that she hadn’t noticed the fullness in her abdomen. A soft fluttering sensation told her what she didn’t want to acknowledge.
“No. This can’t happen to me. Not now.”
Maybe it was something else. It didn’t mean she was pregnant. She forced the thought aside as she focused on the terrain ahead. Her condition didn’t matter if she couldn’t make it home. Her dry throat and weakened limbs were proof that she needed water and food as soon as possible, or death would not be far off. In the middle of the afternoon, she hiked up a familiar hill on her sore legs. The world around her blurred as she looked over at her girlhood home sitting at the top of the next hill. She looked over her shoulder, sobbing, afraid that Turgan would quickly appear just in time to ruin everything again, but there was no one in sight. There were only beautiful, rolling hills for as far as the eye could see.
“The people who survive the sword
Will find favour in the desert”
– Jeremiah 31:2