Anya lazed in bed for some time after Sherdan had left for work. His final few words echoed around her head. He still thought she was everything he needed and that he could provide everything required to heal her and make her happy.
She knew she could only find that in God. He would be her healing and hope, not Sherdan.
As she got out of bed her thoughts turned to the day before. Her task here was now done and for both her sake and Sherdan’s she would need to leave. She had to decide when and how; if she was even strong enough to let go of her relationship with him.
The thoughts that went through her head brought tears to her eyes and an ache to her chest. She would need God to help her if she was to have the strength she needed. She thought she knew how to rely on God in this way, but the more time she spent in Utopia the more she realised she still had a lot to learn.
Anya had an early lunch while she pondered over the best way to leave. If she stayed another night she didn’t think she would have the emotional strength and she knew there would be no turning back at all if she went to the party with him.
Her dress caught her gaze. It had hung on the curtain rail since he had given it to her, so it would not get creased. She had to turn her back on it while she thought.
With feet like lead she got up and packed clothes into a small wheeled case she had found in Sherdan’s room. As she folded the clothes and placed them inside she picked up speed and confidence.
As soon as Anya was done, she sat down to write a goodbye letter to Sherdan. She didn’t doubt that this would be the hardest part, so she had left it until last.
While stroking Antonio, she thought for a long time about what she wanted to say. She wanted him to know that her only reason for leaving was her belief in it being better in the long run. Doing so was going to hurt her as much as him. The right words wouldn’t be easy to find.
Anya picked up the pen and paused again. Moisture spilled from her eyes and down her cheeks, but she ignored them and slowly made her message appear on the paper. She didn’t want to still be there when Sherdan got back.
I am truly sorry for the hurt this letter is going to cause you, especially considering you will know that I have left when you find this. Please know that I do love you and I will leave a large part of me behind when I go. This place feels like home to me now as much as my flat in Bath ever did.
Not only is my task here now complete but I know to find healing and wholeness I must return to my church, where God can minister to my needs and rejuvenate me for my next task. I will pray everyday that it will somehow involve you and your country.
I will also pray for you. I know what I am doing will break your heart. I wish it wouldn’t but I will pray God heals you at the same time as me.
With all the love I am capable of, Anya
By the time she had finished writing her hands shook from holding back her emotion and her heart ached in a physical way she had never felt before. It had never occurred to her that having a broken heart hurt in a very real sense.
Before she could change her mind she folded the paper, put it in an envelope and sealed it. She breathed out, not realising she had been holding her breath until that moment.
She thought she had done the hardest part but she still had to put the letter somewhere he would find it. As she took it over to Sherdan’s room she shivered and almost turned back.
It took her over ten minutes to move from his bedroom doorway and place the message on his pillow. Even then, she looked back several times on the way out.
Once Anya was back in her own room her pace picked up. The adrenaline of sneaking out of his house and country helped her with the task. She grabbed her suitcase and walked as calmly downstairs as she could.
Her plan was to leave via the car tunnel in the garage. She had seen Nathan use it and thought she could remember what to do, although she would have to walk back rather than drive.
When she got to the garage door Julie stood waiting for her.
“You can’t leave Anya. You can’t.” She blocked the door with her body and when Anya moved she went to grab hold of her.
“I have to. Please don’t make this harder than it is. I have to go.” She felt tears welling up in her eyes again.
“If it upsets you then why?”
“It is very difficult to explain but one day hopefully I will be able to come back. I do have to go now though.” Julie frowned and still did not move. Anya waited, not knowing what else to say.
Julie bear-hugged her and then got out of her way. She gave Julie’s hand a squeeze and the two women smiled at each other.
“Thank you for understanding.”
She left before any more could happen to tempt her to stay. The button to get down into the secret tunnel was easy to find and Anya soon walked along the dimly lit passage. Her little suitcase made a gentle rumbling noise as she dragged it along behind her.
At first, the dark put her on edge and distracted her from her feelings as she trudged the long mile to the house at the other end but it didn’t last. A journey that normally only took a few minutes felt like a lifetime, with each step heaping more pain onto her.
When she reached the other end she paused. She hadn’t thought about any more of her journey than getting back onto British soil. Anya was trapped in a locked garage. Normal doors garage doors opened from the inside but for some reason this one didn’t.
She rattled the main door, furious, before scanning the whole room for another way out. There was no other door.
Other than going back the way she had come there was only one thing left she could do. She concentrated on the familiar feeling that turned on her ability.
Feeling free, she ran out into the late afternoon leaving all the clothes she had brought with her, and worn, behind.
With roughly an hour to get back before her ability faded, she jogged down the street, hoping there were clothes still in her flat. There did not seem to be any easy parts to leaving Sherdan.
As she ran down the street towards a bus stop she also realised she had no money on her. Even if she had got out of the garage she would have had to abandon her suitcase anyway. With no money she would have had to use her ability to get transport home.
Anya frowned as she stood alone at the bus shelter. There wouldn’t be any way to get the bus to stop and pick her up without someone else with her. She had no choice but to start jogging along the bus route to try and get to the train station before she reappeared.
All the difficulties getting home almost made her turn around and walk back to Sherdan instead, but as the dark of evening began to fall she knew she could not. There was no going back now.
Her stomach churned as she spent the next ten minutes slowly running through the estate. She did not know where she was and had to try and follow the bus stops on the route to know she was even going in the right direction. Several times she had to retrace her steps to find where the bus route went. There wasn’t any way she would get home now without needing to spend some time, somewhere, visible.
Eventually she found someone waiting at a bus stop so she joined them, trying really hard not to breath too loudly and be heard; something not that easy after jogging for so long.
When the bus came along, she hesitated before getting on. She shivered at the thought of going visible in the middle of the packed bus. There was no better option, however, so she climbed on. She stood near the front, holding on to a nearby rail so she wasn’t likely to get bumped into. Trying to use her power to its full extent so people could pass through her would make her even more likely to stretch herself to her limit and reappear.
Thankfully the journey was short. She had been much closer to the train station than she had realised. As soon as the bus stopped she ran off and into the building. Her ride had been so tense that her muscles cramped up in response but she carried on running anyway.
She sighed with relief once she was locked in a toilet cubicle at the station. This was the hardest journey of her life. She never thought anything could have been harder than the train journey to Bristol so many weeks earlier but she had been so wrong. So much had changed in such a small amount of time.
Being there had its downsides too. In the middle of the winter in a train station was not the warmest of places and at least there had been a heater on the bus. She soon stood there shivering but she did not dare leave yet.
Tears fell from her eyes as everything she was doing hit her in a fresh wave. By now the letter would probably have been found. She hoped Sherdan would come to forgive her, but she didn’t know if she would ever forgive herself.
She stifled her tears when she heard the scrape of the toilet door. There weren’t many cubicles and she didn’t want anyone to notice she had been in there for so long. She would have to move and hope she could get home now.
Thankfully, trains between Bristol and Bath were frequent and she soon hopped onto one and tried to stand out of the way. She managed to find a heater in one of the train toilets so she tucked herself away in there for the fifteen minute journey back to her own city.
There were a few strange looks when she came out of the loo and the passengers only saw an empty toilet cubicle that had said ‘engaged’ the entire time. She hoped they would assume it was some kind of malfunction, but it was too late to do anything about it if they did suspect anything.
Her flat was only a few minutes walk from the train station and she prayed her key would be right where she had left it. Although she could just walk through the door she didn’t then want to be locked in the flat with no way out.
The flat itself would have been watched over by one of her friends. She had often wondered what they thought when most of her clothes had disappeared.
She walked up to the house and, behind the olive tree pot to the left of the door, she pulled a loose brick out of the wall. Behind it was her front door key, exactly where she had left it.
Anya didn’t feel at peace until she had been into every room and checked everything else was still where it had always been. The majority of her clothes were gone, as she had expected, but she found some old worn clothes to wear for a little while until she could buy more.
She sank onto the edge of her bed, realising her journey had finished. She was home and safe. Her Bible was tucked under her pillow as the new one had been at Sherdan’s house. She sighed as she stroked its leather cover.
When she had set out she had known the price of her task might be high. Had she known exactly what would have happened she was not sure she would have had the strength to see it all through. As usual, God knew best.
Before she forgot, she flicked open her laptop and pulled up her email account. There were hundreds of unread messages but she ignored them all. They could all wait for another day. She sent a brief, but to-the-point, email to her church leadership team.
I’m back. There’s lots to tell. Give me a day or so. Anya.
She shut the lid on the laptop again and put it out of the way. There really was a lot to tell and, as she thought over it all, she sank into the corner of her bedroom. Unashamed tears poured from her eyes and with them the vast, painful emotions she had been suppressing for the last six weeks. God had a lot of healing to do and that journey was still ahead of her.