Forever Young (Chapter 1, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 1

A wave deposited the girl's body onto the wet sand. She lifted her head enough to spew salty water into the sand. Long after the last drop came out, she continued coughing, the ache in her chest reminding her, "I'm alive."

With this thought she rolled onto her back to stare at the moonless sky. The stars overhead whirled in her vision, smearing together into solid white lines of pain. She cried out, but then choked the whimper. She couldn't let them find her. She had to escape.

But she could not move her numb limbs. In the distance, she heard a dog howl. She tried again to get up. Her body did not respond. The white lines crisscrossing her vision dimmed to gray and then black.

The howling became louder, closing in on her. They were going to catch her… "No!" she shouted, bolting upright. A hand reached out to touch her shoulder, but she batted it away. She had to get out of here. She had to escape.

She tried to get to her feet, but something heavy fell onto her chest, pressing her down into the straw pallet. She clawed at the air around her, trying to free herself. "Get away from me!" she said.

A pair of hands cupped her jaw. She tried to swat the hands away, but they kept hold of her. "Easy now, dear. You're safe," a woman said. "No one is going to hurt you. Prudence, dear, get off her."

The weight lifted from her chest. The woman lit a candle to reveal a pale face with emerald eyes that seemed familiar somehow. The room around her was made of rough wooden planks. She sat on a straw pallet with a white sheet thrown over it. A stool rested next to the bed with a clay mug half-filled with clear liquid. She reached out for the mug; the water tasted warm and sour. The woman sat on another stool, the candlelight bringing out the red of her hair. She squinted, trying to remember where she had seen this woman before.

"Where am I?" she asked.

"You're in Eternity, dear."

"Eternity? Am I dead?"

"No, dear, I guarantee you are quite alive. Mr. Pryde found you on the beach three nights ago. Do you remember how you got here?"

"No." She put a hand to her head, trying to remember. When she closed her eyes, she saw nothing but darkness. "I don't remember anything," she said.

"Nothing at all? Not even your name?"

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