Branches

by Marianne Su

I have a song in my head. Its repetitive tune drowns out the coherent thoughts that are losing the battle. The driving beat sends my feet faster along the path, the one I swore never to take. I shut out the voice that’s scared, I won’t listen to fear, it has never served me. I only want to be alone.

The sun dies as I head deeper into the woods. Dead branches cast shadows on the ground like veins, exposed and vulnerable. Darkness takes over, spreading through the forest, through me. Quiet descends, chasing away the life. They know too.

When I reach the stream, I stop. Blood courses through me. It thumps in my ears. My fingertips tingle with its force. I am here, in this place, ready.

I close my eyes and feel her nearby. Her spindly fingers reach for me like the tips of bare branches. They brush my shoulder, play with my hair, kiss my cheek. The rush is over, my patience has been rewarded. I stand very still, letting the shadows invade me.