Beatrice – Lianne O’Hara

Somehow she’d never imagined it to be this easy; there had not been any moments of hesitation, of wondering whether she shouldn’t turn around and go home. It is easier to forget your history than to try and rewrite it, patching up the uglier parts until they looked like forgivable errors. She had no interest in being forgiven. Forgiveness is for the pious and frightened, and she considered herself neither. She looked up at the dead sky and yawned. No clouds. No silver lining. End of story.

Somewhere in the distance a vague howling disturbed the quiet of the night, drawing auditory shadows around her. I am with the wolves and thieves now, she thought. I have no history. Softly she hummed a psalm to herself. It was the only way to silence the lingering anxiety that kept pounding its tiny fists on the inside of her chest. They’d be looking for her all over town, would soon alarm the police, the dogs, the fathers. Nothing to lose like a daughter.

‘I am B.’ It came out too loud. ‘I am B.’ Now the inaudibility of the words almost transformed them into a code, as if by cutting off her name she could simultaneously sever the filaments that made her a daughter.

She put her head to the forest floor and shivered. If she stayed here she would be dead tomorrow. They would find her, the sunset throwing a melancholy shadow over the dirt on her dress. The men hungry and tired, ready to give up and go home and disappoint her father. Her body. A cry of disbelief. Would they mourn her? To think of it made her feel sick. She could not die here, defeated, a child that ran into the woods too far and for whom it was simply too late.

‘Not to die here. Not to be found.’

She mumbled the words a few times, as if repeatedly turning a key in the ignition, waiting for the motor to start. Then she thought of her father and got to her feet. His knife would be missed, his daughter too. They would search, call out her name – a name she no longer wanted – and then they would pray. But not for her. Their beloved Corpus Christi had another body to mourn for, the priest closer to God than he had ever been.

‘Forgive me father–’ She nearly choked on the words. ‘For you know not what he’s done.’

She tucked the blade in the pocket of her coat and fished out her rosary. Without a sound it disappeared into the night, in the direction of the church, as she cut herself loose from her fate. Still close enough to see the town she had run from, she knew she was too far gone to go back. She was no longer chosen, she was no longer a daughter to him.

She was only B.

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