Chapter 3-FernA Chapter by Lina Grey
Fern is perhaps the most fragile character I've ever created...let's see how this goes...
The moonlight shone down through the bare branches. Snow glistened on the leafy bushes and all around the square. The large clock tower made the only noise, a dull, constant roar as the gears inside twirled and worked. If ever there was such a peaceful safe haven as brilliant as the one before the clock tower. Opposite this clock tower, at the other end of the haven, the tree through which the moonlight shone proved a robust base and gnarled roots that welcomed a weary traveler to the sweet relief of sleep. This traveler, cradled comfortably amongst the tree's roots, was of no more than twelve, and with not a friend nor relative to speak of. Her figure was frail due to malnourishment, and her long brown locks shielded her face from any passer's glance. She had a faux coat above her tattered dress, and a small bandana held her only possessions.
This girl, known only as Fern, had been pushed away from her home and forced to flee and hide, to eat what other's left behind and to sleep where the shadows dominated the light, and with one eye open to never be caught unaware. She had never known comfort. First found as a baby in a fern bush and taken in by an elderly woman named Grace, she had always been an outcast. Grace was a pretentious old woman with a short and horrid temper, whose disciplinary actions left Fern quiet and shy, a natural follower. Grace was also the oldest member of their community, and tradition made her the leader. Anything she said or did was taken for granted as the right thing to do. Since Grace treated Fern with such little respect, the rest of the community gave Fern even less respect. They sometimes seemed to go out of their way to make Fern miserable, and no one ever sympathized with her. In fact, when Grace died in her sleep one fateful night the entire community was so full of hatred towards Fern that they immediately and unanimously decided that Fern had poisoned the woman and should be forever banned from the community. Fern had no choice but to flee her only home.
Now, a week after Grace's death, Fern found refuge in the safety of the gnarled roots, and, for a short time, Fern felt the fragile grip of peace that many have known for almost their entire lives.
But this peace was not meant to last. Only a few hours after she laid her head down to rest, a new body entered the clearing. This being was so unknown to Fern that when it shook her from her gentle slumber her perplexed thoughts left her no words. It was a boy nearly eight years older than her, but he was unlike any boy she had ever met. He was kind, and gentle. Bright green eyes watching her from beneath bushy brown hair, like cat's eyes shining in the night. He turned to call out behind him, and soon another figure approached. A girl, this time, whose soft, brown eyes showed a mature understanding and almost motherly love. As confused as Fern was at the sight of this couple, she could not bring herself to feel uneasy or be in any way cautious. And when the boy picked her up and cradled her in his strong arms, Fern already felt as though she could trust these people.
They took her to a strange contraption, almost like a wagon but with no place to put a horse. It had a closed carriage area in the front, and the back was an open area. The whole contraption rested on four unusual black wheels. They climbed into the carriage area and strapped on these strange belts, placing a half-sleeping Fern between them and strapping her in, too. In front of the girl's seat was a wheel, and the carriage had many strange levers and buttons. The girl pushed something shiny into a slot, pushed some buttons, pulled some levers, spun the wheel in front of her. Suddenly, they were moving. The strange wagon navigated its way through the trees at the command of the girl and her wheel, even without the assistance of horse or oxen. This was so strange that Fern bolted upright when they first began to inch forward, and was watching the girl's amazing ability with wide, curious eyes. Soon however, Fern's eyes became heavy with sleep until they couldn't even stay open anymore. Fern fell asleep.
When Fern awoke she was in a bright, white room. It had a cylindrical shape and a high ceiling. There were no doors, no windows. Panic quickly overcame her. She looked for a place to hide, but there was nothing in the room but herself, wearing a large white nightgown, and the single round wall encasing her. She curled up against the wall and covered her head and arms with the nightgown, so that no flesh could be seen. She willed herself to calm down, breathe slower. She was safe now. Her white nightgown was the same color as the white walls, and she was perfectly camouflaged. No one could see her now.
Or so she thought. She heard a slow creak, and fought the urge to peek. She heard footsteps, and knew someone had found a way into her prison cell. Then she heard laughter. A girl's muffled giggles. The footsteps were closer now, and the laughter was louder. Then, the person reached down, towards Fern. She could see the looming shadow through her gown, reaching for her.
An angry panic bubbled inside her. Anger, at herself, for letting this woman find her, and at the woman, for laughing at Fern, mocking her survival skills. She was about to let the panic take control, and get her out of this dangerous situation, when the hand gripped her shoulder. It was a gentle hand, a calm hand, and Fern felt the calm wash over her and the panic die down. This was a familiar hand, a trusted hand. And it was calm. Therefore, she should be calm as well. Slowly, she uncovered her head, and looked up at a smiling face and two soft, brown eyes. Suddenly, Fern remembered how she got here. She remembered the boy, with his strong arms cradling her, and the girl, who was now sitting beside her and stroking her hair gently. She remembered the strange wagon, with its straps and buttons, moving through the forest without a horse to guide it.
"My name is Marie St. Claire. My brother, Chad St. Claire, and I found you last night in the woods. You were sleeping by a tall oak tree." The girl crooned. "Tell me, child, what is your name?"
Fern responded with a confused look. She coughed, and made her first attempt at verbal communication. "N-na-ame?" she croaked.
"Yes, child. What do people call you?"
Fern thought back to her home village. She had many names. Most people called her Stupid or Brat. Other names included Idiot, Freak, Outcast, Unwanted. Her favorite name was perhaps the one she was called least of all, Fern. Only Grace would ever have called her Fern, on those rare times where she was in a pleasant mood. Fern remembered her calling out that night she died, "Where is my Fern, my little Fern-bush? Come here, my Fern." And Fern remembered looking down into her old, wrinkling face, and listening to her say, "My little Fern-bush. How I love you so." Over and over, Grace had repeated it in her sleep, and Fern sat beside her bed and listened, until Grace finally stopped talking, forever.
"Fern." She said, fighting back tears.
"Fern." Marie repeated. "Such a lovely name. Do you trust me, Fern?"
Why did the girl's questions have to be so difficult? Fern knew Marie wanted to hear a yes, surely. Who would want to be told they were untrustworthy? But Fern didn't know if she really did. She wanted to trust Marie. Marie was kind and gentle, understanding and patient. Fern wanted to trust this girl and to love her like she would love her mother. It was so easy, the girl seemed so trustworthy. But Fern knew of deceit. She knew how people could pretend to love and care, for selfish reasons, and throw you out to the cold, hating world, left to starve and die, all alone. She knew that even the most gentle creature could turn out to be a fraud, a hideous beast waiting to destroy the fragile heart of an innocent child.
"No? Ah, well. I did not expect you to. You know all too well the treachery this world contains, and at such young age. Do not trust me, for I am not worthy of your trust. Save it for someone who would trust you; someone who would put their life in your hands and feel no regret, no guilt."
Fern stared at her. How could she know what Fern had been through? How could she read Fern's thoughts so easily, so openly? As the girl stared at Fern with sympathy in her eyes and painted across her face, Fern couldn't help but feel torn. Knowing that the girl understood her pain made her want to trust her more, but she was also shocked at how the girl could know such secrets. She felt confused and misused, her privacy invaded. How could she trust a girl that did not respect her?
After a moment's silence, Marie asked, "Fern, would you please come with me? My brother, Chad, is worried about you. He wants to know you're alright. Also, we have a friend with us, Dr. Marcus Patrone. He wants to meet you. Please, would you come?" Not knowing what else to do, Fern nodded and stood up. Marie took her hand and led her across the room. She pressed her hand against the wall and a section of the wall slid open to reveal a large hallway, with doors on either side. She led Fern down the hallway and through another door.
© 2012 Lina Grey
Added on May 13, 2012
Last Updated on July 9, 2012
Virginia Beach, VA
AboutI am a 15 year old girl and writing is my passion. I am unsure of where my life is headed, but, no matter what, I will never stop writing. It has been the only constant thing in my life and has gotten.. more..