Thank you for reading so far, my friends! Your support and comments brighten my day! Here is the second part for you:
Winnie Foster hated wearing black. Black was solemn, sorrowful, and held a degree of seriousness and finality. She sat alone in her empty house in Treegap, gazing out at the same landscape that delighted her before she went to travel the world. Life was a cruel mistress, she mused, looking at her own gaunt reflection in the window. The evening light made her fair skin look unearthly pale.
A few months short of a year Winnie had traveled with her family and went on wondrous adventures, met exotic people, and had finally come to terms with her parents. She had been perfectly content and happy in those short-lived months. That is, she had been perfectly content before her parents fell ill of some mysterious foreign disease and had passed away on the voyage back home. The journey home was even more of a whirlwind, with doctors, funeral plans, and relatives getting in touch to express their sorrow. Even some acquaintances put on the pretense of grieving, probably in hopes of being remembered when the fortune was distributed to the young and impressionable Foster descendent.
When the ceremonies had finished, and all the well-wishers had come and gone, Winnie was alone.
In her father's will, he had bequeathed Winnie all of his estate and business profits, after debts had been paid and his former business partners had gotten their promised share. That left her an heiress with no idea what to do next. For now, she lived with her servants in her old home and was haunted with memories.
She felt empty inside. Her grieving and tears were done; her denial and anger had passed; now she was left alone with hollowness in her soul. Long forgotten memories, both good and bad, filled her mind. How her parents loved her. How she had disobeyed them many times. How she had wanted to escape from her life, and them. How they had reconciled.
Could she ever bear losing another loved one to the ravages of time? Could she stand the heartbreak, the barrenness of life all over again? Why was time so pitiless? She could now empathize with Miles Tuck and his lost family. She could now understand.
If only the Tucks were with her, then life wouldn't seem so bleak and horrifying. Mae would give her a tender hug and whisper words of encouragement. Jesse would wrap his arms around her and listen to all her fears without interrupting. The thought of her friends brought tears to her eyes. How she longed to be with someone who understood.
"Miss Foster?" A servant knocked quietly on the ajar door, then proceeded to step in silently. "Miss Foster, you haven't eaten anything in awhile. Are you all right, if you don't mind me asking?"
Winnie had, in fact, forgotten to eat again. The neglected tray of food sitting across the room hadn't been touched after the same servant had brought it in hours earlier. Food wasn't appetizing.
"I'm fine, thank you." She said, even managing to give a flicker of a fake smile, "I am not very hungry, that's all."
The servant nodded dutifully but didn't seem appeased.
Winnie glanced at the clock, realizing it must be late into the evening, then stood abruptly. "I'm sorry to bother you so. I'll be going to my bedroom, now, but thank you for looking after me." Another fake smile, another bow from the servant, and she retreated into her room upstairs.
She sat on her bed in the semi darkness, still in her day dress, and felt beneath her pillow for the vial Jesse had given her. The liquid inside caught the light from the pale moon and flickered, tempting her to drink. She stared at the vial but thought of nothing. No debate of being immortal, no thoughts of harsh life, just emptiness. Emptiness and Jesse. She did love him, she belonged with him, this she knew.
Winnie sat still, thinking, and got lost in time. Whether it was hours or minutes later, there was a gentle knock on her window that she almost missed hearing. Her eyes slowly drifted up and caught sight of the beaming face of Jesse Tuck.
"Is has to be a dream." She muttered, undoing the latch of her window, "It has to be." To her amazement, Jesse was quite real and jumped nimbly down into her room.
"Winnie." Was the only thing he said as he embraced her. She didn't allow herself to believe it was actually him. He couldn't be here; he should be miles away with his family, trying to set up a new life in a new location. He couldn't…
"Shh, I'm here. Don't worry." He mumbled soothingly, a hand stroking her hair.
"How can you be here? I thought you were with your family. I only arrived here a few weeks ago. How did you know I was back?"
"I heard about your parents, Winnie. I thought you might need someone by your side; besides, I was impatient to see you. It's been almost a year since we parted. I missed you."
"And I missed you, Jesse." She said, "I missed you so much."
Jesse's eyes fell upon the vial clutched in her hand "I see you haven't drunk it yet. Is there something stopping you?"
Winnie glanced down at the vial in her hand and slowly shook her head. "No, I think I've made my decision." She paused. "I want to be with you. I want to live out the decades with you."
Jesse's face broke out in a cheeky grin and he stooped down to kiss her. Winnie actually giggled. The joy Jesse always had in abundance was flowing into her. They were together. They would live together always, and be husband and wife.
"How are we supposed to work this out, though?" She asked, "I can't run away again, I'm an heiress to my father's estate. People would always be looking for me. We'll have to think out something…"
"Romeo and Juliet technique, Winnie." Jesse almost laughed, eyes sparkling with mischief. "You pretend to die, your estate goes to whomever else, and then I'll wake you up and we'll run away."
Winnie snorted softly, "That's an option, I suppose, but let's try to think about other methods."
Jesse did laugh, then, and she joined along quietly. They fell to talking about the year they spent without each other, and discussed ways in which they could free Winnie from her bondage to the estate and her father's business partners. Time flew by cheerfully. It was almost dawn when they realized how long they had been talking.
"I've got to go before your servants wake, but I'll be back tomorrow. Don't you worry." He said, swinging his legs out of her window casement, "I love you, Winnie Foster."
"And I love you, Jesse Tuck." She replied, then watched him climb down to the garden, both happiness and sadness mixed up in her emotions. He waved to her, beaming, then retreated into the fleeting darkness.
She turned away from the open window with a smile and a sigh. Everything would work out, she was sure of it. They would think of something eventually, and then they could be together. Everything would be all right.
Winnie spotted the vial lying neglected on the windowsill and picked it up. She unstopped the cork, lifted the glass to her mouth, tilted her head back, and drank.
I hoped you enjoyed the second installment to my little story, dear and patient readers. Have an idea or prediction on how Jesse and Winnie will pull off their feat? I'd like to hear it! Please review and tell me what you thought of this chapter. Thank you so much for your continued support! Till next time, friends. Cheers!