Image: Ilya Repin
The priest had woken her just before dawn urging her to be ready. It was the day, the day they made their escape into freedom.
For months she had languished in the basement hiding for fear of discovery and now there was a light shining in her face, a light symbolizing her desire to flee and find a better life.
Here was her chance and she was going to take it.
Once dressed and pushing as much as she could into her hand luggage she followed the priest through the early morning. The village was just awakening and no one was up to notice the woman and her priest hurrying through the streets.
The woman kept looking behind her making sure there was no one following and more importantly no one spying on their departure. She dreaded thinking what Vlad would make of it all when he discovered she had left the village, fled leaving him in no doubt she never intended returning to his abuse and control.
Her steps were in tune with her heart which pounded all through the morning until they reached the ocean. The priest signaled to her they needed to cross the causeway to the distance island before the tide cut off their pathway. From there he had organized a boat to take her far away and into safety.
They had only a short window of opportunity and already the waves were rolling over the low causeway and before long her dress was soaked and she was struggling to keep her balance as the tide washed over her. The priest urged her on, finally reaching and taking her hand, guiding her to the island where she sat exhausted and wondered if it was all worth the stress of it all. On the island was a small hut in which there were dry clothes, food and to her delight a bed to rest upon. The priest went to gather wood for a fire as she changed and calmed herself looking out every so often to the now drowned causeway hoping not to see any sights she knew would strike fear into her.
That night she and the priest prayed their prayers of gratitude and as she settled herself to sleep the night the sense she was soon to taste the freedom she longed for slowly materialized as a reality.