Gulping in desperate breaths of air, she slowed her pace, eyes darting across the shadowed forest that hunched along either side of the crooked path.
No moving shadows.
And there was the stump – standing weary guard over long-kept secrets.
Secrets that must be no more.
Her muddied boot slipped on the edge of the spade she’d brought, but finally forced it to bite the earth and turn the mouthful over, damp and clumped.
She dug until she hit metal.
She swiped the back of her hand across her forehead, smearing dirt and sweat into mud. She stumbled to her knees, seemingly careless of her best skirt. She clawed at and broke the fragile chain around her neck, letting its pendant land in her gloved hand.
The key ground in the lock, but it turned.
She pulled out the letters one by one, scrambling them all into one jumbled heap pressed against her heaving chest. As she opened each one, she resisted the urge to let her gaze sweep the graceful handwriting that curled across each page.
This is over.
She threw each one into the mud at the side of the path, coating it with a thin dusting of paper snow.
Her boots worked across the muck, grinding her past into the earth until its filth had become one with the rotting leaves and bloated earth.
She marched back the way she had come.
She never returned.