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109 Going to a Quiet Place

    Later that day, when the sun was preparing to set. A small carriage had been prepared by the back door. Fen Chun's slightly red-rimmed eyes gazed out her window and upon the plain carriage.

    Where would it go? She wondered, would it go to a place far away? If it was going someplace far away, then she would also want to join in for the ride. It did not matter where it was going, as long as that place was not here.

    "Come, let's go." Servant Zhao held onto a small bundle, and led Fen Chun down the stairs, urging her onto the carriage. The young girl stopped in fear. She had wanted to get on the carriage, as long as it was going somewhere far away, but that place it was going? Would it be worse than here?

    "Where am I going?" Fen Chan asked nervously, looking at the plain carriage, and the bag servant Zhao was holding.

    "Away from everything. Madam has allowed for you to leave." Servant Zhao said, stuffing the bag into her hands, urging her onto the carriage.

    "But... " Fen Chun wanted to say something but was interrupted. Her words swallowed back down, maybe forgotten.

    "Isn't this what you wanted, well now your wish is granted, just leave while she hasn't regretted her decision." Servant Zhao snapped angrily. This was a choice, that in her mind was clear on what should be picked, between staying or leaving. If she had been presented with the same choice back then, she would have chosen to leave without hesitation.

    Yet why did this foolish girl seem so hesitant?

    Fen Chun no longer said a word, getting on the carriage.

    Servant Zhao watched as the driver urged the horse forward and drive a distance before going back into the Hundred Flower Hall.

    "She has left." Servant Zhao plainly stated to madam Lu, who had her dainty fingers wrapped around a silver goblet. Her jewelry glistened in the last rays of sunset.

    "Get ready for tonight." The woman said with a heavy sigh. She left the goblet on the table the liquid within still untouched. Her perfume lingered behind her as she left.

    "Of course."

    The carriage stopped. Fen Chun peered out the window, looking to see if there was anyone around. All she could see was a barren street devoid of people. The street had many old houses, that seemed to be built long ago before the border town gained the prosperity it had today, these were probably the hoses the first settlers lived in. So old and decrypted, it was perhaps once filled with life and joys from celebrations, but the old structure had fallen to disuse.

    Seeing that there was no one, she slung the bag over her shoulders and took a large step to get off the carriage.

    The servant who had just driven her here did not seem surprised with her unladylike manner. He had long known that these women were not the ladies of the boudoir. Coming from common backgrounds. He bid farewell to her and drove the carriage off, leaving Fen Chun in front of a worn-down house on an empty street.

    She pushed open the door and entered. The doors emitted a creaking noise. There had been some obvious attempts to make the old house habitable, with the hinges having been greased that made the doors weigh less than a twenty-pound stone it once was with the rusty hinge.

    Her movements must have startled a cat or some other ownerless creature. A screech sounded, as the animal's shadow disappeared somewhere into the untrimmed bushes.

    There was no use in calling, as she was quite certain there would be no one to heed her calls anyway. The small yard had a carpet of unraked leaves. Dried, withered, and covered in snow, presumably from the past autumns that they've fallen, but with no one to sweep them, they just accumulate.

    There is a dirt brick wall that separates the courtyard from that of her neighbors. The wall is overgrown with wild vegetation, still sprouting leaves in the cold weather. It is not too tall, and when on her tiptoes, she can peer over to the other side. The other side is practically the same, with an unkempt yard.

    Inside, it was slightly better, with a table, a few chairs, a kitchen stove, a bed that had on a new straw mat and a wooden pillow.

    Realizing that the bag was still over her shoulders, she opens it to see that is inside. There is a house deed, two sets of clothes and about twenty silver tucked neatly within the clothes.

    So it seems that the elder servant really put some effort to help her settle down. A smile drew on her lips.

    Fen Chun ignored the cold winds threatening to blow the house down and went to one of the beds. Unpacking what few things she had, she placed her head on the wooden pillow and attempted to sleep.

    Through the night, she wrestled about, tossing and turning, her hands fiercely gripping the bag that was now the only valuable possession she owned. She continued her twisting in bed, as though sunken in a deep nightmare.

    A pair of lecherous eyes staring straight into her soul was getting closer "NO! GETAWAY!". She shouted. The sound of her own voice stirring her from sleep. The bag that she was holding had become wet, a portion of her sleaves, and the straw mat under her head had a small soaked puddle.

    She wiped her eyes. They too were wet. The taste of salt spread in her mouth, she must have unintentionally swallowed some tears in her sleep.

    How strange life was, that it played her so. Those days when she was a little girl staying on a farm, she had asked her neighbors 'what will I do when I grow up?' A foolish question it was. They would always answer 'You will have a husband and raise children.' that seemed to be the only answer they knew to say.

    But, there was a widowed auntie Li that lived in a remote part of the village all by herself who said 'You will take what life does to you, and it isn't always kind.' When she was younger, this answer was confusing to her, but now, like a firefly glowing, she finally understood.

    The answer that auntie gave her, what happens would not always be kind, but you live through it anyway, because this is the only thing one can do.

    Fen Chun laid still in bed and took a deep breath. Her eyes stared up into the darkness.

    Some had people accompanying them to earth's end, while others were all alone on the long road ahead.
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