I’ve discovered something about myself: I love writing challenges. So I decided to join Ermilia’s Picture It & Write. Just because I want to.
I was shocked. Shocked at how quickly I had descended from highly touted city dweller to a wild-eyed, paranoid forest dweller. I could’ve sworn I’d heard someone calling to me; I’d been sure my rescuers had come. I searched for them, crying out to anyone who would listen, treading on until I could walk no more, but never could I find the source of the taunting shouts. I peered under drooping branches, across vast ravines; but the only face I had seen was my own, reflected back in the still water of a shallow creek. Despite my growling stomach, I was surprised by the hollow cheeks that the water’s waving surface revealed back to me.
I came to rest under a shady oak that draped over the creek, splashing water across my cheeks and forehead. They were gritty with sweat and mud, and the water worked to slightly hush the voices still bellowing inside of my head. They were reduced to a continual echo somewhere in the back of my head.
I had heard the things weeks in the wilderness did to people. It was true, it had been weeks, but I would’ve thought I was made of stronger stuff. Was I joining the ranks of those who went insane before their imminent deaths? “Leave me!” I shouted at my invisible companions, burying my head in my hands. I had no more energy, I could hardly lift my hands to my face, I was so weak. I knew nothing of hunting and my pathetic attempts at gathering food were taking a toll on me.
“Are you real?” A male voice spoke through the trees. I looked up, suddenly full of an energy I hadn’t had a moment earlier. This voice wasn’t like the others, watery and opaque. This voice was new. It didn’t echo, it was solid -tangible. And, unlike the others, it was followed by a face.
He didn’t look much better than I did. His eyes possessed the same harrowed temper as mine and his deeply tanned skin had peeled off across the bridge of his nose, leaving it slightly lighter than the rest of his face. He didn’t have the hollow cheeks I did, no doubt a fact attributed to the roasted piece of meat he held in his hands, half eaten. My eyes widened at the sight of it.
He plodded through the brush, to where I stood. “Are you real?” He repeated.
I couldn’t think of anything to say, it was such a shock to see another human, one who could talk to me, and even more… he could hunt.
I stared at him. “Yes.”
He let out a breath at the sound of my voice, apparently not quite convinced. “Let me see.” He said, leaning forward. He reached for my hand and did something almost ridiculous in our current situation; after weeks of solitary confinement, sleeping in the dirt and slowly losing my sense of decorum, it was the last thing I had been expecting. He shook my hand.
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