|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
Alexis woke under the scantily-covered bows of a maple tree, a splattering of newly-fallen leaves arranged around and atop her still slightly-damp dress. She groaned and sat up, brushing off the stray insects that had found their way into her clothing. Yawning and stretching, she wrapped the cloak she'd used as a blanket the night before around her shoulders and limped to the brook, her body still sore, but on the mend.
She chuckled when she glimpsed her reflection in the unusually still water, edged with a delicate lacework of frost, softening at the edges and still leaving its cold mark even as the sun whittled it away to nothing. Looking up at her from the depths was a thin, pale, grubby girl with a halo of autumn foliage clinging to her hair. "Leaves, hmm, perhaps not the best mattress." She mumbled, combing through her tangled locks and watching as a stray breeze picked up the red and gold scraps and sent them tumbling and twirling through the forest.
Carefully bathing her burnt and bloody skin, she winced against the water's stinging, frozen touch and looked around her at the rich, burning red and gold world slowly giving way to the grey and brown dullness and icy formality of November. It wouldn't be long, she realized with growing fear, before winter would arrive, bringing its snow and death-dealing cold. And here she was, alone in the woods, wounded and hardly able to hunt, much less build a shelter.
With a thorn of dread piercing her heart, she got up as quickly as one functioning arm allowed her and retreated to the clearing. Gingerly taking a seat, she divided up the remainder of her provisions and saw that it would only hold out five more days at most. Five days to find some way of hunting down new food, storing it, cooking it, cleaning it, and all with only one arm, for she still could not move it, and when it touched anything too hard it ached for hours on end.
Nibbling absentmindedly, she considered the only reasonable solution that came to mind: going back to Robin's camp. Obviously they knew what they were doing, and if anyone could survive winter in Sherwood, it was the gang. Also, she wanted to see Adam again, and even if Robin shunned her, as he had every right to, her old sweetheart would take care of her, and maybe she could even rekindle the feelings she'd once had for him. At the very least, she wanted to hear his explanation for being gone so long, and then for coming back only to get arrested.
But she couldn't return, and she knew it. She had run away, had hid everything from them, practically lied to the only people who could've helped her. And as much as she missed him, she dreaded the idea of meeting Adam again after so many years. Surely he'd changed, and there was no doubt as to whether or not she had. A criminal, a thief and a fugitive, that's what she'd become. Alexis had lost everything, and guessing by his state, so had he. What chance did they possibly have? What chance did she have with anybody?
She didn't even want to think of Will. How could she bring back anything between her and Adam when Will was there? Still his eyes haunted her thoughts, the feel of his arms lingered about her, his voice whispered in her ear when no one was around. It was impossible to forget him, but more impossible to be with him. No, she could never go back to Robin's camp.
With a grunt she stood up, annoyed with herself at giving in to the pestering images of Will she'd kept at bay for the past few days. That is the problem with isolation: the only person to talk to is yourself, and in only a matter of time, there's not much you can't think about.
Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1