The Conservator
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Anna wakes up somewhere she's never been before, in company she didn't ask for, for a purpose she didn't know she had.

???

Canada Day

"goodbye pants"

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Little bird! O little bird!

I wonder at what thou doest,

Thou singing merry far from me,

I in sadness all alone!

Little bird! O little bird!

I wonder at how thou art

Thou high on the tips of branching boughs,

I on the ground a-creeping!

Little bird! O little bird!

Thou art music far away,

Like the tender croon of the mother loved

In the kindly sleep of death.

It's dark; she's not alone. It's summer-hot, damp; like the humidity, a cloying suffocating haze remains within her, residue from the sharp medicinal liquid that made her consciousness depart. Now, it dulls her, numbing her at the edges. Pins and needles crawl up her hands and feet.

A light scratching sensation wheedles against Annabelle's disoriented senses wherever her skin is bared around her clothes, and something of a far rougher make squeezes at her wrists in front of her and down around her ankles … no; one ankle. The herbal scent seeks to linger in her nose, too, but the sweet smell of straw is more prevalent all around her, along with the damp of earth and wholesome wood. Voices drift in and out of knowing, practical shouts and raucous chatter from far off, beyond walls, perhaps across some distance.

Scrape. Scrape.

This sound is closer. It rubs against the ground, rhythmic. On every scrape, her body — laid on her back — jolts, dragged only to bounce back to temporary stillness, and scratching of dried grass— straw or hay— another amount. Someone's taking off her pants.

Grass slithers across her lower back, scraping with the sound, shifting along the floor as it catches inside her half-rumpled shirt. Arms prickle back and forth with the numb of sleepiness and the scratch of earth. Her wrists move first and the bound strain of that communicates to her hazy brain, stinging it until her eyelids flutter and then drift open.

A huff of indignant breath escapes her as she watches the foreign ceiling bounce before feeling sets in. Shoulders and neck itch; there's hay trapped against her at disorienting angles. Prickles of another kind are the complaints of her wrists. She feels the hot yet cool air of skin unusually exposed and the strange fumble of loosened fabric clinging to her thighs— scrape— below her thighs.

Hay sticks easily through the less heavy duty fabric of soft underwear.

Anna chokes on the air suddenly sucked in. Fight kicks in, but the muddiness of her brain translates uncertainly; where she means to attack with a heel, she's not sure she has.

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