The Tree
Ruth Torres
The hill stretched for miles. She begged her legs to continue to carry her. She didn’t know how long she’d been running, but it felt like hours. It could have been.

Ahead, there was a tree. A man stood by it. She looked down to avoid an animal but when she looked up the man was gone. She blamed it on the heat and kept going.

Bushes lashed at her. Tiny rocks flew up, falling into her shoes. Dust covered the back of her pants and shoes, turning them white. Welts appeared on the uncovered skin between her pants and shoes. She’d had worse.

As she reached the tree, she fell forward, on her hands and knees, catching herself just before busting her lip. Gravel fused to her skin, blood coated her knees. Bile filled her mouth as she looked down but she choked it back. For a second she thought she had three hands.

A shadow appeared. The man from earlier helped her up. He sat her against the tree. She was scared to speak. She simply accepted the water and smiled at him in thanks as he cleaned her knees. At some point, she passed out.

Hours later, when she awoke, she was alone. It was dark.

She looked down.

Her wounds were gone.

First published: November, 2014
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