1 A Fall

Caroline awoke to filtered sunlight playing behind her eyelids. She had yet to open them, taking in shallow breaths while assessing her whereabouts. Laying flat on her back, the young woman dug her hands into the grass and felt the cold earth beneath her. A soft wind rustling the leaves in the trees overhead; she could hear squirrels chattering in a nearby tree. She smelled deciduous forest, recently turned earth, and a hint of salt. Caroline had never seen the East Sea but had heard that it made the air taste as salty as the tears that flow after a broken heart. Before opening her eyes, she allowed her other senses to take in the environment around her.

Panic growing by the moment, she cautiously opened one eye and then the next, realizing instantly these were not the trees of her home on the farm. The fall from the apple tree had somehow taken her to a place far from her home. Very far if she was judging by the sun's position in the sky. She tried to remain calm, but her heart pounded against her ribs as all logic and reasoning began to escape her mind, slipping away like water circling down a drain.

Caroline bolted upright as a voice from her periphery, lilted in an unfamiliar accent.

"Aye miss, ye fell from the sky."

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