The reigns feel smooth in my hands; they are brand new. The massive horse beneath me shakes his head with agitation and excess energy.
The groom looks up at me nervously. “Miss Whitlock, you know that a lady should not ride such a spirited horse.”
“I can handle Chesterfield. I know it,” I tell him. I ride off before he can argue further.
The power of this horse! The wind blows through my hair and a uncontrollable laughter escapes my lips. How thrilling this is!
The yellow boat slips out of my hands and glides gently into the pond. A gentle breeze fills out the miniature sail. Each small crest of waves tosses the tiny boat about dramatically.
There is laughter, another girl is nearby. I look over and see a pretty blonde smiling at me. She is a little older than I. She seems amazed by the boat and the pond.
Father is yelling again. His face is so very red from all of the blood rushing to his head. His veins pop out on his neck and forehead. His skin is stretched taught on his cheeks but gathers around his eyes as he screams at me. My father is so upset that his entire body shakes with rage. He leans over me, spittle flying from his mouth as the force of his berating increases.
I cower, making myself a smaller target. Reason fails to persuade him at this point. I cry, cover my head with my arms and wait for it to be over. There is nothing else to be done.
The small room is forbidden. A tiny hook far out of reach keeps it locked. I look over at my cousin, her small blond head bobs up and down with an approving nod.
“Go ahead. No one will find out,” she tells me.
I grab my doll by the feet and push her upwards. Her head shoves the hook out of the lock. We rush in, eager to explore and play.
The room is filled with mother’s old clothes, books, photographs and other forgotten items. We play for a few minutes, laughing too loudly.
When father comes up the stairs and founds us there, he grabs my cousin’s arm and begins to yell. He is hurting her. I will be next. I open the window and climb out onto the roof of the back porch. How badly could it hurt to jump? Will I be able to keep running?