1) We meet Laura on a Saturday, deep in thought in her home office where Roy thinks she is writing her book. Instead, we learn that she is trying to write a letter explaining why she is about to leave. Her thoughts take her far away, and only a loud noise brings her out of the trance. Upon investigation, Laura learns that it was only wind that slammed the previously open window shut. Relieved, she tries to write, but nothing satisfactory makes it onto the paper. A pile of discarded balls of paper surrounds the trash can. Roy returns home with groceries to make dinner. When Laura confesses she was not able to write anything, he comforts her by saying she will do better next time. [AGFTAO Part 1]
2) Roy returns with groceries on another Saturday afternoon to a quiet home. Assuming that Laura is writing, as per usual, he unpacks the bags and begins to make plans for dinner. After a while, he grows slightly agitated and looks for Laura in her office. In the dark room, all he finds is what looks like a gift bag placed on the desk. In the meantime, we learn that Laura is on a moving train, but we are unsure of her immediate plans. Her fellow passenger – a young boy keeps swinging his legs and kicking her in the shins, but his mother does not even seem to care, excusing him as: “just a kid.” Laura gets up and walks out in search of a more peaceful seat. Then, we jump back to Roy who is finishing reading a letter from Laura. There is a teddy bear for Tommy in the gift bag. When Tommy runs into the room and tells Roy he is hungry, Roy puts the gift away and tells his son they will get pizza for dinner and watch TV. They leave the room, the letter, and the bear behind. [AGFTAO Part 2]
3) About a week or so later, Laura fires her gun reflexively and kills an enemy combatant, which leads to her being chased by his compatriots. As she runs away, she trips and falls down a hill, but manages to get up quickly and runs towards the forest where she hides and tends to her injuries. Unfortunately, shortly after, she is apprehended and taken away on horseback. Her captors bring her in before a woman on a throne. [AGFTAO Part 3]
4) Once Tommy falls asleep, Roy laments the fact that, just like him, Tommy might be destined to grow up without a mother. In the shower, he finally allows himself to cry. In the living room, he pulls out a hidden piece of paper containing wedding vows. Afterward, he rereads the letter Laura left behind in hopes of finding some comfort but it only makes him sadder. Before going to bed, Roy wonders why all the women in his life end up leaving one way or another. [AGFTAO Part 4]
5) Laura finds herself in front of a woman who is stylized differently but is undeniably her friend for whom she was looking. ” Queen Naayelli,” the locals call her. Although Laura is pleased to see that their mutual friend – Jason, was right about the fact that Olivia was not dead, she finds herself confused with how unperturbed the queen is by her arrival. Laura was hoping for a warm welcome, but instead, she gets thrown into a small, dark cell for the night. The next day, Olivia comes to meet Laura in her cell, but, to Laura’s surprise, she continues to act coldly and does not ask about Roy or even Tommy. The chapter ends with Naayelli calling in the guards as she is leaving, to presumably inflict some pain on Laura. [AGFTAO Part 5]
6) When another day goes by without Laura making contact, Roy runs out of reasons to excuse her actions. Instead of taking care of his son, he starts to rely heavily on the babysitter to help with Tommy as he goes out drinking with his mates. We witness Roy undergo a change. He starts being more and more selfish, pointing fingers at everyone around him and being especially resentful towards women. When his babysitter quits, Roy leaves his son with his co-worker and goes to a bar to meet someone. There, he has a hard time finding a woman receptive to his questionable charm until a full-figured red-head joins him. They have a grand ‘ol time. The only problem – she is gay. [AGFTAO Part 6]
7) Roughed up by Naayeli’s men, Laura continues to be stuck in the dark cell while the Queen formulates plans on how to best deal with the new prisoner. After a couple of days, Laura wakes up to Olivia in her cell. A look around the room reveals the presence of a table with various tools that could be used for torture. The sight of a hammer prompts Laura to recall a traumatic event from her childhood. Having come back from school one day, when she spots her dad dead on the floor and his killer rummaging through his things, she grabs a hammer. She uses the element of surprise to her advantage and kills the murderer. Olivia confirms the gossip Laura did not want to believe in – she killed her partner and allied herself with the enemy. We part with Laura as we learn that Laura is holding the hammer after Naayelii had left the room. [AGFTAO Part 7]
8) Roy hopes for a lone night of drinking at home, but when Tommy is brought back early by his friend’s parents, he is forced to edit his immediate plans. The father and son duo spend a pleasant evening eating pizza and chatting. At bedtime, while reading to Tommy, Roy starts reminiscing about Laura and recalls her maternal abilities. He realizes that her creativity makes for a perfect trait in a parent, meant to inspire curiosity and open-mindedness. In Laura’s desk, Roy finds a note with her scribbles that are initially hard to decipher. After some stellar detective work, he learns that in that note Laura was trying to tell him that Olivia – Roy’s first wife and Tommy’s biological mother is still alive. [AGFTAO Part 8]
The guards came in minutes after the queen had exited, taking Laura by surprise. Swiftly, she pushed the hammer between her back and the wall, praying that the guards did not see it, but they were too focused on removing the desk and the oil lamp from the room to notice.
“What am I even supposed to do with that?” Laura asked Olivia when handed the hammer at the end of their last meeting. Slamming it against the chains that bound her would only prompt the guards to run in, discover the tool, take it away from her and then punish her mercilessly. “Is this Olivia’s plan?” Unless…
“I’m sure you will think of something,” Olivia winked and then walked out.
As Laura watched the guard’s back disappear in the doorway, she wondered if she had it in her to use that hammer. Pulling the trigger was one thing, but swinging a hammer into someone’s skull was a whole other story. The sound it made… Laura recoiled from her own thoughts.
Although she now knew that Olivia did not mean to kill her, she still had no idea if her friend would be escaping with her or staying behind. Laura needed a partner on this operation and she needed one fast. The hammer would not stay hidden forever. She seethed with anger just thinking of ‘The Queen’ reclining in her spacious bedroom, being fed grapes while Laura was locked in a caveman’s jail cell awaiting her next beating. She hoped that Roy and Tommy were doing alright, not missing her at all, but she knew that in reality, Roy was probably dying of worry and Tommy… Oh, poor Tommy. Laura shed a tear thinking about this little boy whose childhood had been far from ideal – first, he lost his mother before he even really knew her, then he got stuck with Laura who had no clue how to be a good parent, and now he had lost her, too. “Is any mother better than no mother?” She tried her best to fill Olivia’s spot in Tommy’s life but now was not sure if that was such a good idea.
Before Laura could disappear deeper into the rabbit hole, the door opened again and Olivia entered the room.
“Oh, thank God!” Laura whispered, trying to bring forth all the questions she would have to ask her friend to try and form an escape plan.
Olivia strutted towards Laura, her face drained of emotions. It was the same face Laura saw on her first day as a captive. The one she did not trust and one she feared. Once an arm’s length in front of Laura, Olivia kneeled down in front of Laura and while looking her straight in the eyes, unlocked her chains.
As soon as Laura felt the chain give way, she threw it around Olivia’s neck, pulling her close.
Naayeli yelped and the guards rushed inside to check what was going on.
“Hands in the air or I will kill her!” Laura yelled, pushing Olivia forward. She had to move fast as more people were bound to stumble upon this kerfuffle and then Laura would be playing the numbers game which she would surely lose.
“Out of the way,” Laura commanded as she approached the guards near the doorway but they did not move. “Are you deaf?”
Right after that, Olivia grabbed the chain that was still close to her neck, kicked the two men in front of her, and wiggled out of the restraint. She ran to the back of the room and grabbed the hammer Laura left behind in the midst of the commotion. “Are you gonna just stand there?” Olivia asked as she swung the hammer into the head of one of the guards.
Laura was in a daze. Things were happening too fast. She always prefered to do her research, plan, and then act. Olivia was always the one that enjoyed the spontaneity and did not mind running into a fire without thinking of a way out first.
But, when the second guard launched in Laura’s direction, she snapped out of it and kicked him in the torso, creating more distance between them and giving her more time to think about what to do next.
“Catch!” Olivia threw the hammer at Laura.
Laura swung the hammer at the side of the guard’s leg, bringing him to the floor.
“Let’s go!” Laura yanked Olivia’s arm while passing her in the doorway.
“You know he will call for help if we leave him like that, right?”
“Then we need to run faster!”
“I called a meeting for the staff so the hallways should be clear before they get restless waiting for me.” Olivia took the hammer out of Laura’s hand. Clearly, only one of them had no reservations about wielding it. “This way.”
They managed to get outside and to the horses with only having to pass one more guard who was clearly late to the meeting Naayeli called. He did not care to even try to stop the women. Instead, he stepped aside as soon as his eyes met his Queen’s.
“What took you so long?” Laura asked her friend once they began to ride away. When she decided to break Olivia out, she did not plan on being held hostage for days on end, all on her friend’s watch.
A loud boom was heard behind them as Laura uttered that question. She turned around and saw a billow of smoke. She wanted to investigate the sight but opted to instead focus on holding onto the horse as it galloped forward.
“I was scared. One wrong move and he would find out and then Tommy and Roy… Oh, my precious…”
“He?” Laura wanted to ask whom Olivia meant but decided to leave that for a future conversation the two of them had to have. At that moment, Laura was happy to see that the part of her friend that she thought had died was still there, after all. It might have been buried, but was now being excavated.
Olivia wiped at her face. “Now where? My plan ended at the horses. It’s all you, now.”
“First, you need to lead us to a nearby town so that I can call Jason to come and get us. I assume you know these parts better than I do.”
Olivia nodded her head in acknowledgment and pressed her heels into her horse a bit deeper.
The two of them rode in silence the rest of the way until they hit the outskirts of town.
“You stay here and I will go forward. We don’t need rogue eyes seeing you and smelling something suspicious.”
Laura’s first reaction was to protest. They were a team and should stick together, but Laura knew that Olivia was right – they had to be cautious.
“I will be back as soon as I can.” Olivia waved to Laura.
“Was that a wink?” Laura was tired, she figured she was seeing things.
Once Olivia disappeared from in front of her, Laura tied her horse to a tree and sat down with her back against the trunk. Her eyes grew tired…
Once she opened them again, it had visibly gotten dark and there still was no sign of Olivia.
Laura found herself unable to answer if she fully trusted her friend and ex-partner. She decided to wait another hour before getting to town herself, rogue eyes or not.
“Write a story inspired by the word ‘precious.'”
– prompt used for this CW piece.
P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!
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