Bugs swarmed the air around them. Edith frowned in disapproval of the warm weather and infested area. It seemed, that no matter how far they travelled, the insects followed them and invited their friends to play along. The dress she wore that day only added to her discomfort as it laced through to the top and left no room for adjustments. One week had passed. They had changed temperatures from moderate to scorching. Every breath that she took seemed only to last for a brief moment before fluttering away. The heat intensified and often left her unable to breathe well, if at all.
The horses needed to rest more frequently than before because of the sweltering temperatures. Not that Edith complained. Her own body ached from travel and accompanied with the stickiness of perspiration, it made for unpleasant travel time. According to her newest escort, the mansion in which her father had built was still another half day away. Of course, in the given conditions, this seemed like a colossal amount of time. Snapping of twigs echoed in the background, lingering in the air for far too long.
Of all the madness my father has concocted, this is the worse! Whoever thought that he would choose such a dismal place for us to live!
Even if this was not quite the location of their new home, there hardly seemed to be anything else promising in the state they were in. All she could see, and smell, stretched from one end of their journey to the other. Whatever had possessed her father to consider such living condition must have promised a large garner. For now, she could only judge based off what she saw. Edith peeked out of the curtain of the carriage. Through the swarms of black flies, she saw muddled waters resting still, only disturbed when movement broke the tension.
Branches dipped low, draping over ferns and covered in greenery that she had not seen before. Weeds littered the floor, covering every inch save for the small dirt road in which they rode upon. Even still, water saturated the ground, making the horses work twice as hard to pull them across each mile. Staring in the depths of the muddied water, she saw a ripple disturb the water. A dark figure emerged from the depths, growling deeply. Edith knew what sort of animal it was from the outside.
Though she had never expected to see one in her lifetime, now she could count it as one of the things that she knew about. The thought of crocodiles in the same vicinity as her did nothing to make her feel better about moving to a new state. Quickly, she shut the curtains, frowning with displeasure.
“Is there something wrong, Madam?”
“There are crocodiles lurking in the waters. I suggest we take care when passing near the waters. Likely the horses will be their targets,” she replied.
“Don’t worry, there is a city nearby. We’ll stop there for when it comes to rest.”
“Whoever wants to live out here must be mad,” she whispered under her breath, though she knew that her escorts had caught what she had said. Not that she cared, it was not as if she had been quiet about her opinion of the place thus far. Even though they said nothing, she could tell that they agreed.
Edith settled back in her seat and wished for the city to come soon so she could be away from the crocodiles. The thought of their snapping jaws was enough to make her shudder. They had patience beyond any other creature, often stalking their prey for several days, waiting for them to make one wrong move. The dangers involving such reptiles were ones that she was well aware of, but never did she think that her father would move to a place with them lurking about! No, this was simply madness on his part, a cruel joke at best. Though in her heart, she had the feeling that it was no such thing.
Knowing that this could be where she would spend the rest of her life did nothing to bring her comfort or ease. All she wanted to do was return home to Weston, and with her father. With the thought of her father coming to mind, she wondered if he had changed any. It had been several months since seeing him. Would he still look and sound the same? Would he even pay attention to her once she came? Or was the mansion going to feel empty, just as it had before? The answers to her question remained unknown.
Speculating as to what life would be like was an inefficient waste of time, but it did bring her some happiness to think that there could be a better life for her in the other areas. All she needed to do was believe that he would be available if she should need him. He had been once before, but hopefully, this would not be like before his last departure. Her father had not spoken to her for three days and did not even tell her that he was leaving. Although she was sad, it hurt more knowing that he would not trust her with such important information. Did he think that she would hate him?
While she disliked it, she knew that travelling was a part of his job. She knew that she was going to be alone for the majority of her time. Even though she was of age to marry, her father had kept her around, never accepting any offers from potential suitors. He seemed quite content with just their lifestyle. However, many thought he was foolish for keeping her single for so long. Many were disgusted with her. They thought she should be married and raising children, but it was not up to her. Her father forbade boys from her presence, aside from those approved by him. If he so much as heard that one of the servants had fallen for his daughter, they would no longer work there. Of course, she had never heard of such a thing, but that did little to stop the rumors.
That left a desire to know whom thought she was worthy enough to be a life-long companion. Even if she had no desire in them, she wanted to know. Having admirers did not seem like a bad idea. It always baffled her as to why her father had to be the one who made the choices, but for now, she would abide by them. She really had no choice. If she ran away from home, there would be no place for her to go. Not only that, but she would hate to be separated from her father for the rest of her life. Even if he was hardly around now, he was still there.
She could still come to him with any problems and make sure that she was all right. The thought of knowing that she still had one person who cared in the world brought her small comfort. It was one of those moments where she was trying to pretend that things were not as bad as she thought they were. However, she knew that things could always get worse.
You promised yourself that you wouldn’t think like that anymore.
Of course, how short-lived that promise was. It always seemed to come back and haunt her, the pessimism seemed to feed off her insecurities and doubts. It made a home there every time one sliver came to mind. As much at it hurt, she knew that there was some truth as to the words its slimy tongue spoke. Edith sighed. Today, there would be little escape from them. With the discovery of the true conditions of her new state, they lingered longer than she liked. No matter what, she would try.