It’s Not Fair It’s not fair, Sawyer thought to himself. And it wasn‟t. It wasn‟t fair that the Ford children‟s parents were murdered when Sawyer was eight and Ashley was barely one. It wasn‟t fair that Sawyer had to raise Ashley on his own. It wasn‟t fair they had to fend for themselves. It just wasn‟t fair. And nothing had changed. “We have to go,” Sawyer growled to Ashley in their dark living room. They were staying in an old, weatherboard house located in small-town Louisiana. It was very early morning, yet no lights were on in the house, leaving small stretches of carpet to be illuminated by the moon. Sawyer was shoving things into a case. “Where?” Ashley trailed him as he moved frantically about the room, collecting things. “Ohio.” “Why? Sawyer, why do we have to keep moving? It‟s not fair.” Sawyer stopped and turned to face her. Their noses were barely an inch apart. “Because I saw a guy in town, alright?” Ashley began to argue again, but Sawyer snapped, “Just pack your things,” and stomped out to the backyard. Ashley watched him go, held back a tear, then sank into the couch and reluctantly began packing her own things. Sawyer had already collected most of them from around the house. She folded her clothes and placed them neatly in her bag, stacked her shoes to one side and inserted a handful of old, worn photos without looking at them. Now was not the time for nostalgia. Something fell off a shelf to her right, near the front door. She snapped her head sideways, but her vision was limited. Cautiously standing, she moved slowly to the entrance area and looked around for the cause of the noise. Finding nothing, she made to return to the living room when she found her way barred by a large, shadowy figure. Before Ashley could even let out a gasp, the man grabbed her throat and slammed her against the wall. Gasping for breath, Ashley tried to scream out for Sawyer, but the man took the opportunity to jam a sleek, black handgun in her mouth. Fear coursed through Ashley. As she struggled against the strong grip around her throat she could taste the oil and the gunpowder from the gun and it made her sick. The man leaned in to her ear. “Now, you listen up,” he whispered in a husky voice. “You‟re gonna come outside with me, and you‟re not gonna make any sound, because if you do…” he pressed the barrel of the gun harder into the roof of her mouth, “…I‟ll put a bullet through that pretty little skull of yours.” He tightened his grip on Ashley‟s throat. “Understand?” Ashley nodded as best she could, and he finally took the gun out of her mouth and let go of her. As she doubled over and gasped desperately for air, the man grabbed her by the arm, planted the gun in the small of her back and led her quietly out the front door.
Throwing several nervous, worried glances back at the house, Ashley was marched across the front lawn and to the sidewalk. The man pushed her towards a black van parked on the other side of the street, whose door slid open as they neared. “ASHLEY!” The shout came from the direction of the Fords‟ house, but as soon as it rang out, Ashley was roughly shoved face-first into the van. Her cheek collided painfully with the metal floor but she pushed herself up to look behind her. She saw Sawyer sprinting down their driveway towards the van, but it was too late. The door slid shut and the van‟s tires screeched as it pulled away, leaving Sawyer far behind. Something hard collided with the side of Ashley‟s head and she hit the floor once again. She felt blood begin to blossom somewhere near her temple. A body landed on her, pinning her down, as someone pulled her hands behind her back and began taping them together. “Hey, get the hell off me!” she struggled, but in return another gun was pressed into her cheek. “You just shut up, and sit still,” the man from before ordered, tucking the gun into his jeans. Ashley closed her eyes and grimaced. She felt a hand grope at her midsection. Disgusted, she lashed out with a leg, hitting her target between the legs. The man howled with pain, and she was suddenly wrenched from the floor and sat up against the wall of the van. “Who the hell are you?” she snarled, her arms twisted painfully behind her. She was suddenly aware of at least four other people present, all glaring at her menacingly. The men laughed. “You don‟t remember us?” It was the same man as before, and Ashley saw he had a bald head that looked as though he polished it. When Ashley didn‟t reply, he prompted, “The Dallas job?” Ashley‟s eyes went wide. “…That was you? You’re John Dawson?” “One and the same,” Dawson smiled. “As you might remember it, you wiped us out clean back there… and left a mess behind. We‟ve just come back to get ours.” The men laughed again, and one loaded his gun. Ashley sighed and looked at the floor, bracing herself to stay upright as the van turned a sharp corner. “Hate to tell you this, Shiny…” she drawled in her Southern accent, “…but I weren‟t even there.” Dawson looked confused. “What do you mean, „you weren‟t even there?‟” he mocked. “I stayed back in Tennessee to coordinate the cash.” Ashley looked up at him. Everyone was silent as Dawson sat down, sighed and rubbed his face. Things were obviously not going to plan. The driver broke the silence; “Boss?” Dawson paused for a moment, glanced at Ashley, then turned to the other men. “We proceed as planned.”
“What?” Ashley gasped. “I told you, I weren‟t there! I did nothin‟ to you!” Dawson turned and smiled cruelly at her. “A good fisherman always uses bait,” he sneered, then nodded to someone on his left. Ashley was suddenly grabbed from both sides and tape was wrapped around her mouth. She couldn‟t make a single sound. The van sped around several more bends and Ashley struggled to keep herself upright. Finally, the van stopped and the door was wrenched open, but only Dawson got out. Ashley was then thrown unceremoniously out behind him to land in the dirt. They were now in a park roofed by thick trees and carpeted by dying, coarse grass. As the door slammed shut and the van drove away, Dawson dragged Ashley up by the shirt and shoved her roughly onwards. Ashley stumbled but managed to keep her footing. As Dawson prepared to give her another push, Ashley span around and kicked him in the stomach. He doubled over in pain and she kneed him in the face. Blood blossomed from his lip and forehead as Ashley tried to run. However, she had barely gone three paces before a hand gripped her upper arm and she was pulled around. Dawson‟s boot collided with her own stomach and she let out a muffled cry of pain as he grasped her collar and taped wrists. She suddenly found herself flying forwards onto the ground. Ashley rolled to a halt and looked up just in time to see Dawson advancing on her. He bent down and a fist collided with the side of Ashley‟s head, sending stars into her eyes and more blood down her face in tiny rivers. She cringed in pain as Dawson took a few steps back, removing the gun from his belt. Ashley looked up at him, utterly helpless, her eyes pleading with him to see what little good reason he had left. Unfortunately, he had none. A shot rang out as thick as the night itself. Ashley jammed her eyes shut, but it was not her who erupted in pain. There was a silence that could suffocate as Ashley cautiously opened her eyes and inspected what of her body she could see. When there appeared to be no further harm done than before, she turned her eyes upward and uttered an inaudible gasp. Dawson stood a few paces away, still aiming his gun at Ashley‟s head, but large amounts of blood were now pouring steadily from his chest. He made quiet choking sounds as he began to lose consciousness. Exhaling his last breath, his knees finally buckled and his body hit the ground with a thud to reveal Sawyer standing behind him, his own gun raised. Ashley‟s eyes widened in relief and she tried her best to call out to him. Sawyer stood for a moment, watching Dawson‟s lifeless form, then returned the gun to his pocket and raced to Ashley‟s side. He pulled the tape off her lips and flicked open a pocket knife to free her wrists as Ashley gasped for air. As they sat on the dry grass, Sawyer held Ashley‟s head and inspected her solemnly as she rubbed feeling back into her hands. He took in all of the damage – the bruised cheek and wrists, split temple and forehead, a potential broken rib or two. He did not miss anything – no, he could not miss anything. Ashley was his life. Without her, he was nothing. Sawyer always regretted getting her mixed up in all of this.
He hugged her tightly and she complied. When Sawyer finally spoke her name, his voice was hoarse. “Ash-” “Sawyer.” “Ash, are you alright?” “Am now. How did you-?” “Tailed the van.” “Oh.” They sat in silence. Eventually, Ashley looked over at Dawson‟s body. A solitary tear ran down her cheek. “It‟s not fair.” “What?” “They won‟t believe us, will they?” Sawyer paused, then replied, “No, Ash. No, they won‟t.” “It‟s not fair!” Ashley sobbed. “They never wait to hear our side of the story. Just because we have a God damn record!” She took a sharp intake of breath, then, “They touched me. Sawyer, they… they touched me!” Sawyer just gazed blankly into the distance and held her as Ashley let her head fall onto Sawyer‟s chest, her tears staining his shirt. As much as Sawyer knew that Ashley spoke the truth, as much as he wanted to fix everything, he knew that he simply couldn‟t. It was too late. Ashley finally sniffed and contained herself, and Sawyer helped her off the ground. She gripped her chest as pain shot through it – yes, there was definitely something broken. With one final, disgusted look back at Dawson‟s body, they strode softly towards Sawyer‟s car as police sirens were heard in the distance. Both siblings knew that eventually they would be caught, but not tonight. Tonight, they would run. Run from everything they had worked so hard for over the past few months. It just wasn‟t fair.