Josephine

Written by: Jasmine Groves

The waterfall sent drifts of icy cold water through the carriage window. Heated rocks lay against her soft leather kid boots. Warmth oozed through to her freezing toes, a damp smell filled the carriage.

Seated on rich leather seat, the bones in her corsets and stays dug sharply into the skin of her hips. Her gown ruffled as she tried to rearrange swathes of fabric about her stocking clad legs.

In a further attempt to get comfortable she fiddled with the filigree brooch that her dear Papa had given her for her eighteenth birthday. Encrusted emeralds caught flimsy light in the carriage. Josephine’s crimson coloured cupid lips turned into a smile, blue eyes sparkling remembering her dear Papa.

Gazing out the window, foliage a blur, broken by glimpses of the distance. Roughly assembled stone fences and the basic housing of tenants broke her view. She inhaled the dense smell of the surrounding forest.

A flash ahead caught her eye, she saw a bridge. It was close. Four jet black stallions kept relentless pace, a light lather of sweat appearing on their rumps.

She fidgeted anxiously with the white starched lace cuff peeking out from her ruched sleeves. Memories forgotten, she dropped the curtain in trepidation letting the deep red folds of velvet settle over the window.

The frenzied sound of hooves filled her ears as they thundered along the road.

Wrenching back the curtain her palms were instantly clammy, leaving damp spots on the periwinkle blue silk of her billowing skirts, spine restricted by corset but now rigid with fear.

Piercing squeals of demons filled the air. Horseflesh tense, hooves braced loosing traction on slippery moss covered wood. Beasts recoiled in terror as the momentum of the carriage pushed them towards the edge of the bridge.  

Inside she was thrown violently against the far-side of the carriage, a cracking sounded as her shoulder hit the window frame. Her cloak caught and splinters tore through flesh as easily as fabric.

They were falling through space. A giant splash followed by screams. Splintering wood sounded and luggage tumbled into the river from the carriage roof. The coachman strained at the reigns in a futile attempt to escape the inevitable.

Water rushed through the windows and darkness encased them as water flooded in.

Fabric became heavy, quickly soaked, the weight causing pain to scream through her bloody shoulder. Her dress floated about her in swilling water, the black tendrils of her hair blanketing her face and sticking to her skin.

She tried to grasp the edge of the window frame opposite. Fingers numb from frigid waters touched the sill but slipped off, pulled under by her weighted gown.

She sobbed adding to the noise and despair; she stared out the window to bleak grey skies and rain still falling.

Horses thrashed in the final throes of death. An eerie silence settled. Blood running cold with fear, her heart raced, breathing frantic. Corset crushingly tight, no sound of coachman or attendees.

Writing order: Hemali Ajmera (India), Linda Alley (Aus), Anna Zhigareva (Scotland), Iliena Bosu (India), Jasmine Groves (Aus), Hemali Ajmera (India), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus), Donna McTavish (NZ), Suraya Dewing (NZ) Sumanda Maritz (S. Africa)

Comments

I have definitely got a sense of the era and the lady's station in life through your wonderful descriptions, Jasmine.
I now question just who exactly is she? What happened to scare the horses the way they were and was it deliberate? Bringing me back to my first question. Who is she?
Fantastic starter that can take on so many avenues and challenge those of us not naturally equipped with this style of writing. Nice one, Jasmine.