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Clara sat at her vanity and stared at the reflection. She no longer recognized the woman that looked back at her through her eyes.
She pulled out her journal and dipped her pen in the ink. These were the thoughts that rambled through her mind.
"Sometimes it is hard to see ourselves as others do... once a lover stops loving the mirror gets clouded and no longer reflects the person needed to be seen."
She shook the setting powder across the page and blew on it lightly before shutting the pages away again.
"Miss Clara, are you alright?"
Rosalyn, her chambermaid, had knocked several times but her mistress had not answered. The entire household was concerned about the melancholy mood of their mistress. She normally wore a sweet smile and talked with them and joked with them, she was very much a part of them.
She had left with her brother and his family and had comeback quite altered. Rosalyn's greatest fear was that her moods would take a turn for the worse, without Mr. McAllister home they were quite at a loss as to what to do.
It has been two months since he left and Miss Clara had rarely surfaced from her room. Most of the plates of food were left barely touched. She appeared to be an empty shell, and when she did wander, it was almost like watching an apparition appear and travel through the halls.
"Miss Clara? I have your dinner miss?" Rosalyn tried again.
"Leave it," was the answer that came, followed by a softer, "Please."
"As you wish," Rosalyn placed the tray by her door.
Clara knew she could not carry on in this way. Her moods and actions are most likely reported on a regular basis to Benjamin. She did not feel it was right to continue to worry him in this way. She had made up her mind of what her next move would be.
She pulled her journal out again. With a flourish, she wrote...
A self-inflicted torment,
I do share with another.
A bond, a vow,
No one at fault.
No one to blame,
but the pain and the torment
Are felt just the same.
A single tear had hit the page smudging the ink. She pulled out a piece of paper and began to write a letter. The servants would know how to reach him. She will just leave it here with instructions for Rosalyn to find.
She could not live this life anymore. She could not go on having just her memories to keep her comfort. Her thoughts were her enemy. She will free him from his vow, let him live the life he was meant for. She refused to be his Achilles heel.
She opened the door between their rooms, and rummaged through his belongings taking what she needed, she set the room right again, so it continued to appear undisturbed.
She stood in front long length mirror and stripped down in front of it. She began assessing. A womanly figure she had no longer her curves worn away by her neglect, now she was all points and angles.
She pulled her hair from its confines. It has long ago lost its luster and now looked as dull as her complexion, which suited her just fine. She took her needlepoint scissors and hacked away its length. The deep brown, nearly ebony in colored pieces feel in dark pool around her feet.
"That will do," she said, she dressed and cleaned up every bit of hair throwing it over the balcony to be taken away by the wind, all except one lock she braided into a ring and put in the letter to Benjamin that she now sealed.
She took one last look around the room. The soft surrounding meant to comfort were now confining, the bed they shared empty, as it should be. She threw a few items into her travel satchel; she would need to walk to the first carriage inn. She knew the way.
She threw the bag off the balcony and tested the rose trellis that climbed the side of the house. It would support her weight. She weighed next to nothing and quickly made her descent. Under the cover of night, she left her world, her belongings, and her life behind but what she really left behind was her heart. It was no longer needed or wanted.
It took quite some time to get to the carriage inn. She knew she had to keep moving. Her goal was the docks in London. It was a risky move, to go where she knew Benjamin might be but if only she could reach the docks she could look for employment, perhaps as a cabin boy or valet.
By all appearances, she looked like a teenage boy. If she could land a job aboard a ship then she would be out of reach. He'd have no way of finding her and have to give up on the search altogether.
It seemed harsh, but she knew no other way. Her status and positions would not allow her to file for a divorce. She did not wish to ruin his name in such a way and although they did not have any children, an annulment by the church was out of the question as she was no longer a virgin.
It had to be a clean break. She knew she would risk life and limb but this was how it must be.
She decided to go by Mail Coach. No one dared to stop the King's mail, so she would get to London that much quicker. She would not need to stable a horse once she got to Town so that also saved her time and money, and it was slightly safer as there was always a King's guard on board.
She traveled on the roof of the coach, as it was half the price of taking a seat within only costing her a few pence as opposed to a pound. She arrived at the Gloucester Coffee-house in Piccadilly.
Clara felt invigorated by the ride and felt her appetite return with some force after such an adventure, but refused to take a bite until she reached the docks. She was less than an hour walk away.