Avinnia sat in the window of her bedroom, looking down at the garden below, through the locked glass. She wanted to be down in that garden, back with Aleid, with everything as it had once been. That night was not coming. It was the eve of her birth. A birthday that Aleid had said she would never reach. She stared towards the flowers and wondered when they would come for her. The moon was full in the sky that night, beautiful, silver light illuminating the garden. She waited for the footsteps.
A clicking noise indicated that her door was being unlocked. She turned her head to look over. Her father stood in the doorway, another man hidden slightly behind him. Her mother and sister were not present. Her mother had not looked or spoken to her since her last birthday. Avi rose from the window seat, her eyes darting from one man to the other, and the past. She needed to escape as she did not wish to die.
“It is time, mormel*,” pa said, his tone never had been so cruel.
She did not approach them, she could not bare the disgusted look her father held as he gazed upon her. “Please, papa,” she begged. “Please.”
“Grab the creature and take her out to the garden. It can have one more walk amongst the flowers. Then you know what is expected of you.”
Ewald turned away from his begging daughter and walked away from the room, leaving just the second man and Avinnia.
“He wants you to kill me, Dashiell?” she asked as the man was now in sight.
Dashiell was between Avinnia and Aleid’s age, and being the child of one of the servants he had grown up with them. On the occasional night, he had even joined the sisters in the garden. It had been a long time since he had seen her.
“Come with me, Avi,” he began. “Let us go walk in the garden.”
The garden was as beautiful as every time she had been in it. The flowers blooming under the moonlight. This is the last time I will see it, she thought and paused. Her gaze drifted from the flowers to the man beside her. He was no longer the young boy she had known. Feelings that she could not begin to understand swept through her. Her cheeks had been burning every time he looked at her. When she heard his voice her stomach did somersaults.
“How long do I have?” she asked him, her voice no more than a whisper.
“I have missed you, petit oiseau*” was his response.
She did not understand why he would say that. She had been sure that he would have hated her just as her sister did, as her parents did.
“When you walk through this garden it is almost as if watching la déesse,” he went on. “The vibrant color of your feathers painted against the flowers. They bow before the beauty you shine.”
Beauty? She wondered why he was speaking to her as if she was not a monster. Was he not there to end her life?
“Aleid told me about tonight,” she pried, attempting to find some answer in him.
“Tonight,” he repeated and turned to her. “Tonight I go against your father’s orders. Tonight is the night that you will be free.”
Avinnia stared at him with nothing short of confusion. What did he mean? Free? She was to die, would that be freedom?
“I watched you grow. I watched your feathers sprout and I found it to be a beautiful sight. I was to shy to show my affection when we were younger, and our positions would have made such attention from me undesired by your father. However, you have been disowned, and now he wishes for your death. I can not allow this.”
She was listening to his every word, her face burning, and her heart thundering against her chest. The cool tears slipped down her reddened cheeks, causing her body to involuntarily shiver.
He spoke more when she did not respond, “Your father came to me a few months ago, with his plan to dispose of you. It gave me plenty of time to form my own plan. A way to free you but to make sure your parents believe you are dead. They will not care to look at your body. They have no reason to be suspicious of me. As long as there is a body around your size to bury and I have that ready. Do not worry about the details, leave those to me.”
“I do not understand, Dashiell.”
He reached out his hand and ran his thumb across her cheek, wiping away the tears that had been falling. “I am in love with you, Avi. I have been for years. I need to help you be free.” He turned his head to look at the house behind them. “Your family did not wish to watch. This is the only chance you have. Flee, leave Reykjavik, leave Iceland. Fly far from here and do not come back. I will make sure they have no reason to look for you.”
Dashiell laid a kiss on her brow before stepping away from her. She was still confused by his confession of love but he was letting her go. She could be free.
“Go, Avi,” he urged.
She moved back from him, tested her wings, then lifted into the air. It was not long before she was far enough away that she could not see him. Then her prison fell away from her sight. Then all of Reykjavik. She was finally going to be free.
*mormel is the dutch word for monster, mutt, and mongrel
*petit oiseau is french for little bird
*la déesse is french for goddess