C H A P T E R O N E
Cool autumn’s air hung in the midst, among tall trees of drying leaves, hued with a large assortment of fiery tinges. The grasses were thinning, foliage gathering along the shrubbery, generally at the base of trees, but with winter nearing, winds swept them about and no one could go six steps without seeing one of the crinkled, dying growth.
A swing set of dried, flaking paint creaked as the small breeze picked up. The long rusted chains seemed ages old and no one had tested that theory for some time. Squirrels pranced about, frequently with acorns in their mouths. Birds sang, though faint in the wind.
Two forms sat on a stone wall that had been laid out by riverbed stone. The long, flat shafts of slate did well for sitting. One of the two, appearing feminine, was shrouded in what seemed like a blanket, in the arms of the other shape. The added figure, Mark, seemed to just sit there, though he felt her respond as another gust of wind disarrayed her hair.
He softly brushed the hair out of her face, his hands hard and cold, and he held her tighter as she began to shiver. The lack of conversation had been long, and he was waiting if she wanted to leave. Instead, he broke the silence, working his lips again after such a while.
“Would you like to go, Charlotte?” he asked gently against her cold, brunette tresses. Charlotte jumped slightly in his arms to first hear his voice in such a long period. She nodded against his chest so he unwound his arms and jumped from the low barrier. He held his hand out to assist her, and she took it with thin, clammy hands.
Mark rewound his arms around her frail shape as they walked along the grass patched with so many leaves toward a car that looked somewhat like the chains on that nearby swing set. He hadn’t bothered taken the keys out of the ignition for there was no real need. He finally released Charlotte after opening the door, which gave a high pitched squeal, and she sat on the old material of the seat.
Mark promptly walked around and opened the driver’s door to get in as well. The soft interior did well with cold weather such as this; it was still relatively warm. After slamming the door roughly, with the addition of a squeal resembling the passenger’s door, he reached cold hands to the ignition and turned the key.
As the engine ignited in an old mechanical screech, he finally released the key and placed his hand on the gear shift. Reversing out off the grassy field and onto main road, Mark began driving ahead, absentmindedly looking at the hood covered in even more leaves that he had already grown used to. The car retched along at a swift space, the trees becoming slightly indistinct as Charlotte stared with heavy-laden eyes out the dirty window. She assumed a comfortable position as hills streamed past along the horizon and mountains in the distance.
Sleep soon overtook her as she rested her head along the plastic covering that separated the passenger’s window and the window of the back seat. Mark took one glance at her, grinning slightly, but returned his gaze to the road.
Afternoon seemed to drift away, the sun receding behind the trees along the right side of the car, and the road continuously seeming to flow beneath the car.