26th Aug 2016, 6:15 PM
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LilyRose 26th Aug 2016, 6:15 PM edit delete
Chapter Eleven

Now he’s on her right side, moving toward her, ohmygod here it is, she turns and backs away at the same time, and he’s not fucking there. She’s right on the edge of panic, now, but she’s looking everywhere and she just doesn’t see anyone. Okay. Okay. Walk along the water.
If he’s on the other side he’ll have to splash through, I’ll hear it. She starts back the way she came, trying to look everywhere at once. There isn’t anyone in her sight. Fine: as long as she can see him coming, she can run. Maybe she should cross the stream. The hell with getting her shoes wet, just splash though it and

Just as she’s turning to look back again she sees him, he’s right behind her on this side of the stream. This time she doesn’t even think. She turns and splashes through the water. Halfway across her foot slips on a stone covered with something green and slimy, and she stumbles forward, falling. Something in her panic defies gravity, and she keeps moving, splashing ahead, up onto the far bank, water flying up around her, her shorts getting soaked.. She gains her balance and keeps running, following the stream at a racer’s pace, her sandals gouging the stream side moss as she goes.

Her panic doesn’t subside until she reaches the red rebar that marks the corner of their property. She turns, breathing hard, scanning the woods all around her, staring down the stream and watching its banks. There is absolutely nobody. He lungs feel hammered, and there is a pain in her side that she thinks might make something snap if she were to keep running. She puts her hands on her knees and tries to breath more evenly, all the while watching the woods for any stray movement at all. It is so still that she begins to wonder if she hadn’t just imagined the whole thing from the start. And wouldn’t that just make her a schmuck? A regular idiot, for sure.

There isn’t anybody there. The trees here aren’t so densely packed that she can’t see a fair ways through them. There just isn’t anyone here. Thinking on it, she realizes, she never actually saw anybody. She’d filled that part in with her imagination, but - truth? - all she’d seen was some movement out of the corner of her eye. It could have been a bird, for all she knew. She just freaked out, plain and simple. Guess she’s not much of an adventurer after all. She feels safer walking down a city street.

And now she’s going to have to wade through the water again to get back on her side of the stream. Well, no big deal, the water feels good anyway, leastways when you aren’t plunging through it like a panicked horse. She starts walking on this side of the stream, happy to just have her heart beating at a normal pace and her lungs not hurting when she breathes. There is something about being back on her own land that gives her a sense of security. That’s stupid, she knows that, but it just makes her feel better, knowing she’s on her own property. They should put those signs up, those yellow POSTED signs that everyone has along the borders of their parcels. Let people know they’re heading the wrong way.

When she reaches the big mossy fallen tree laying across the water she decides it would be a good place to cross, and she steps over the stony bottom while guiding herself by dragging her hand along the trunk The moss is like a cool, damp carpet under her palm. On the other side, she reverses her path of before, and walks around the rotting stump. Something in her body reacts even before her mind does; a creeping on her skin, a feeling of almost clammy fear. She feels it first, and then she looks, and only then does she register that the tall, slender tree with the velvety bark that had been growing out of the stump is no longer there.

She backs away from the stump a bit, staring at it. She can feel her muscles of her brow, knotted and tense. She looks around carefully, examining the ground around both sides of the fallen log. Everything looks as it did before. She approaches the stump again. There is no hole in it, nothing that would indicate that someone had just yanked out a tree that had been growing inside it. It’s all rotted wood, covered with fungus and moss. Suddenly she’s really feeling the heat of the day. Sweat seems to be springing out through every pore on her body.

“What the fuck?” she says out loud. “No, really; what the fuck is going on here? Somebody, please tell me. Let me in on the joke, What... what, what...?”

No, this is no good. This is not right.

“This is not right,” she says, pointing an accusatory finger at the stump. “This is not right, you can’t do this to me. No, seriously. This is very upsetting. There was a tree there. I know there was a tree there. I touched it, there was a tree there. Don’t tell me there’s no tree there now.”

There’s no tree there now. Dammit! God dammit. Well, she’s had enough for today, that’s for certain. It’s back to the house, smoke a few bong hits, pop half a Xanax and pop a dvd in the player, and zone out for the rest of the afternoon. Anne and Bill Feinberg are having a barbecue tonight, and that’s the only thing that’s going to get her off her ass for the rest of the day, thank you.

But of course, she can’t stop glancing back as she walks, and searching the ground for an uprooted and discarded tree. She’s paying such close attention to everywhere but where’s she’s going, that she nearly walks right into a tree herself.

Oh, man, she thinks. Now that would have been just perfect. Break my nose by walking into a tree.

And then she looks and it’s the same tree, the one from the stump, right in front of her, and this time she actually lets out a little scream. Her heart whams against the inside of her ribcage. Her brain gets lit up with adrenaline. Whoa! Laura backs off a step and still can’t believe what’s right there in front of her face.

It’s the same tree, it’s the same damn tree, there’s no doubt about it. That slender reach up to the canopy, gently forking just before it gets to the top. The soft brown skin, with the look of velvet or silk. It is the same tree. It really, really is. This is just so impossible. But it’s true.

And it is such a beautiful tree, too. It almost seems to sway in her vision, like a dancer moving sinuously to some music that she cannot hear. It almost seems like it’s breathing, in fact; rhythmically, keeping pace with that unheard music that she now realizes she can feel, if not actually hear.
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