Esther Battens stepped cautiously into the hallway, closing the squeaky door carefully behind her. She crept down the stairs and into the kitchen.

Clash! Esther gasped. She had brushed against the counter, causing a pot to drop onto the floor. Suddenly, she heard footsteps above her head.

Thump, thump. Thump, thump.

A white figure appeared at the stairs. It was her brother, whimpering and holding out his trembling little arms.

Esther sighed. “Oh, Ezra. Did you have another nightmare?” She asked, picking up the four-year-old and cradling him in her arms.

“Mm hm.” Ezra whimpered.

Esther held him close to her and said, “Do you want Esthey to put you back in bed?” She asked, starting back up the stairs.

“NO!” Ezra yelled. “Shush! You mustn’t wake Miss Thompson!” Esther whispered. “Now, I’m going to go out for a little while, but I’ll come back… soon.”

“But I want to come with you!” Ezra whispered loudly.

Esther sighed.

If you don’t want Miss Thompson to catch you, you better bring your little brother along! Besides, you won’t be back for five years at the least.

She sighed again, and then set her brother down. “You can come with me, but hurry up and get your coat, socks and shoes while I grab some food and put it into a backpack.” Esther ushered her brother quietly up the stairs and then tiptoed back down into the kitchen again.

She found a backpack and stuffed four loaves of bread, eight bottles of water and eight apples in. Then Esther went back up to her room where she found Ezra, struggling to get his shoe on.

She chuckled quietly and helped him finish getting ready. Then she packed some clothes, a blanket and a watch in the backpack as well.

It was a little heavy, but still light enough where Esther could still bike without toppling over.

Esther snuck out the porch door and into the garage. She took out her bike that had a seat for Ezra on the back. She put the backpack on her back and gently set Ezra, who had fallen asleep, into his seat and buckled him.

Esther sighed again.

This is it, Esther. Make this move and you can’t go back. You know once you bike down this driveway and away from the farm you’ll never be welcome at Miss Thomson’s house again.

“I know!” Esther whispered to herself.

You’ll be runaways.

“But it’s for the best. Mother and Poppa wouldn’t want us to stay with that sour old troll any longer.” Esther pushed off with her foot. But at the end of the driveway the bike wavered and her lip trembled.

You’re afraid.

“No, I’m not.”

Yes, you are.

“No, I’m… fearful.” Fear crept into Esther’s mind.

What if something happens?! What if you are found by the authorities and you and Ezra are separated forever?

“I’m going to go back.” Esther turned her bike around, but then stopped. “This is my only chance for freedom. This is our only chance for freedom. I won’t let fear get to me. I’m going to be free.” Esther rode off down the road and into the night.

You’re not afraid anymore. You can do this. You can be free.