When Joseph had left the house to join the inspector's men, Emily locked her bedroom door, drew the curtains, and finally permitted her knees to buckle. She fell to the ground, eyes wide and disbelieving.
"No," she whispered. Her mind returned back to the days when she was forced to give up her two children. It was easier to think of them as monsters when she hadn't had a chance to meet them yet, to know them. And yet, her heart had ached on both occasions and the penances she had made were only perfunctory, a measure to appease her husband's anger. She closed her eyes as slowly, tears fell, salty and warm.
She knew that there was something not quite right with David and Petra the moment they were born, just like how she knew that there was something wrong with the first two nameless ones, but she just couldn't say anything against it. After all, they looked so perfectly normal, so perfectly angelic, unlike what the nameless ones had been, distorted and deformed.
She knew she was a terrible mother, forever correcting and chiding David for things she knew hurt him more than his father could with his whips and stinging words. But didn't David realize that she did all this to protect him? If something really was wrong, then he would run without any compunctions, flee to the Fringes where her heart would worry for him every day of the rest of her life. But he would be safer there than in Waknuk where he was certain to die a painful and torturous death.
Then there was sweet Petra, her darling little girl with rosy cheeks and a beautiful personality. She would never forget the pain in Joseph's eyes, the wrath, the hurt. She didn't think he'd ever recover from this shock. After all, he spoilt her the most, gave her the best. They hadn't expected to have any more children after David but it had happened and Petra was, before all the madness, a little miracle bestowed upon them with the grace of God. In actuality, she was a clever decoy, placed there by the Devil to taunt them for their perfection. But she was hers, both of them were hers and she loved them more than she could ever admit.
Emily buried her face in her hands. No one could ever know she harboured such thoughts, no one. She was the wife of Joseph Strorm and the entire of Waknuk knew what sort of man he was. Vaguely, she wondered if David had packed enough for their arduous journey to the Fringes. She hoped Rosalind had enough sense to pack extra as although Emily wasn't on good terms with her half-brother, she knew that Rosalind was a smart child who had, thankfully, inherited her mother's good sense.
There was a rapping on the door.
"Mother?" came Mary's voice as she tried the knob. The door was locked. "Are you alright?"
Emily hastily wiped away her tears and replied with a steady voice, honed from years of practice, "Yes. Don't you have chores to complete?"
"Yes, mother," Mary replied hesitantly. Her footsteps faded as she left.
Emily choked back another sob. She hated being so terribly mean to her children but she had learnt from young that in Waknuk, there was no place for family. There was only the good of society and purity. Always purity.
Before she had had children, she had believed in this, always knew that she would turn in her children if she knew that there was something wrong with them because it was the right thing to do and she was a righteous citizen, always dedicated to the good of her children. In her complacency, she even thought that she would never be punished with such abominations because of her unwavering faith. When Mary came, it seemed to be confirmed. She had heard that once the first child was an abomination, the rest that followed tended to be too.
Then the nameless ones had came. It seemed to be a punishment for her complacency. She saw it differently, now that her maternal instincts had kicked in. She wanted to protect, she had to protect, because they were her little ones. But she had to keep up an image of her previous convictions or Joseph would certainly send her away and that would be infinitely worse. She was young. She was so foolish.
She was certain Joseph would send her to the inspector's to be sterilized and sent to the Fringes in order for her to not spread anymore filth. She had broken the three children rule and was thus eligible to be banished. Making up her mind, she began putting together a plan to flee. She put on her thinnest summer clothes first, layering them up one by one before putting on her shopping dress, a thick one made of coarse material. It was swelteringly hot but it worked. The thick dress hid the thin layers of clothes beneath her and everything didn't appear too thick. Then, she removed the money she had saved in a box under her bed and placed the notes flat in her shoes. She filled her purse with rolls of thread and a small, slim box of needles. From her dresser, she retrieved the hunting knife Angus had given her when she got married. He had told her it was to protect herself against Joseph if the need ever came. She gave a watery chuckle.
She inhaled deeply. Everything was set. She opened the door and headed for the kitchen, picking up the shopping basket as she went. She'd drop by the market to purchase their monthly supply of bread and other food that could be kept. She also purchased several ornamental glass bottles that she would fill with water the moment she reached a fresh water source. No one suspected her, of course. She was dressed for shopping and it wasn't an unusual sight.
She walked along the horses, pretending to be heading home. When the last of the dust kicked up by the horses that trundled past vanished, she had disappeared into the bushes.