|Jo Bettany looked out across the forest from the viewpoint. She knew she had reached the limits of her endurance and wished it was all over. There was still another day of walking ahead of her, though and she wasn’t sure if she would make it any further. She was unable to rest and she ached all over. She just wanted to be able to lie down on a comfortable bed in a dark room and sleep for a very long time.|
She knew she was the only person awake. She’d waited for the regular breathing of the others indicating that they were all finally sleeping before she’d stood back up and slipped off alone. The vantage point she’d found was a few yards away from everyone and she’d slid down to the ground at the base of a tree using it to support her back. She knew she was holding everyone back on this mad trek through the trees. She thought about going off alone, now, while everyone was sleeping. She wouldn’t be missed in the chaos of the morning. They’d be able to set off and get across the border faster without her there to hold them back.
Her eyes closed and she finally slept; an exhausted sleep which wasn’t refreshing. She was haunted by dreams of Herr Goldmann running through the streets of Spärtz, pursued by a mob intent on death. The dream changed and the mob were no longer chasing the kindly old Jew, they were chasing her. She was running through the forest for her life. She could hear the voices of her pursuers behind her, gaining steadily closer to her each minute. Suddenly, she fell, tripping headlong over a hidden tree root in the path. Even as she stumbled, she felt the breathing of her attackers on the back of her neck. Climbing to her feet, she tried to flee once more, but, it was too late. Someone grabbed her arm and swung her round to face them.
Jo jerked awake, her brain still in the dream even as her eyes began to focus once more. She found herself looking into Jack’s anxious eyes as he crouched down before her. The sight of his familiar features was too much for her to take in so quickly after the horrifying nightmare and tears trickled down her cheeks. Wiping them gently away, Jack pulled her towards him and just held her close as she wept silently into his shirt.
When Jo was finally calm, Jack stood up and helped her to her feet. He just held her close as he guided her back to the rest of the group, understanding that she was only just holding herself together. They reached the others and Jack made her drink some strong coffee before turning to and helping everyone to clear up all evidence of their presence. They were close to safety, now, and the border was only a few kilometres away. Jack paired up with Jo and he bent to whisper something in her ear as they brought up the rear of the group.
“Not long till we reach Switzerland and then I’ll be able to make you my wife.” Jo finally smiled for the first time in days, before stretching up and kissing Jack. Then they set off once more on the final leg towards a new journey in their lives.