Emily pressed into an archway. She hugged her arms and gazed at the rush of faces. She remembered curling up in her old home, warmed by the library hush. That quiet had been like a shared secret. The silence here felt like sea ice.
Shuddering under cold gusts, she watched the crowd until they disappeared round a far corner. Then she wandered along the street, gazing in the windows. She saw families huddled in narrow rooms. The children looked like they’d given up waiting for a hail storm to pass. They didn’t play. Old ladies slumped in deep chairs. Thin men paced. No one spoke.
Emily wanted to bang on the glass. She startled as a woman with eyes like dropped coals stared back at her. She ran down the street, round a corner, through other pathways. Her feet hurt. She stopped by a church of stained glass glow and bell song. City folk pushed past her into the church. She followed them inside. She remembered going to services with her father as a child: she had stared at the windows and imagined heaven was made from stained glass. After he’d died, she tried to fall asleep in their glow, hoping to glimpse him.
The pews were packed and silent. She sat beside a crumpled woman who smelled of empty bakeries. Her dress was the shade of bee blur. Emily tried not to look at anyone. The bells stopped ringing. A vicar stepped in front of the congregation. Emily held her breath waiting for him to speak. He raised a bible up high.
“Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.” His words fell through the church spaces. “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”
He dropped to the stone floor. Emily heard gasps. But no one said a word. She felt like the pillars were twisting. She scrambled from the church. When she stopped running, she found her face was hot with tears. Her dress had torn. She whispered her name into her hands to see if she still had a voice. It felt like lost shelter. She wanted to hide in the words. She stared upwards. The sky was dusk fade and flock swirls.
She drifted on through the city. Lamplight seeped from the doorway of a school.
If Emily goes into the school go to Chapter Four
If Emily doesn’t go into the school go to Chapter Three