Free and Clear

Prolly nigh on 50 years after Addergoole: Year 5

She wasn’t really sure why her last owners released her.

She’d done (almost) everything right, and had been (relatively) docile and obedient. She’d been trying to learn, and Owners Number Three had taught her quite a bit. But ‘why they released her’ wasn’t part of it.

They’d given her a nice big pack of stuff, too. The girl who had once been Delaney looked at it for the third time. There was enough in here to survive for a month, if she decided to wander. There was enough to trade for… well, a whole bunch of booze, if she felt like that, instead.

She wasn’t really sure what she felt like. She’d been under the collar for what she thought was probably a decade, and before that… before that, she’d been insane, cracked, and, if the stories and her vague memories were true, psychotic and sadistic.

That person had a string of homes and wealth scattered across the country. The person she was now wasn’t sure where any of it was – or if any of it was still where she’d left it. She’d shared everything with a partner, after all. And that partner was gone.

She stared down the road. It curved through wasteland and farmland, through places she didn’t remember being and places she might never have been. And it was all hers. She could do whatever she wanted.

The horse-drawn wagon clomped up beside her. “Going west, Miss?”

“I am.” At least, that was the direction she was pointed in. “I could give you..” she touched her pocket. “Twenty dollars Sondaran for a ride.”

“Ten will do. Hop on in.”

The man in the driver’s seat reminded her of Amish, long ago – beard and straw hat, plain shirt and plain pants. She wondered if the Amish had survived. “Thanks.” She passed over the money, first.

“My pleasure. My name’s Amos, by the by.”

She’d prepared for this. She had more than enough reasons to leave that old name behind her. But she’d needed a new one. “Ellery.” She smiled brightly. “You can call me El.”

She had a fresh start, and she was going to take it.

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