By Deborah Lee Singer
Forever stretches out before me, as I stare across hill after hill, mountain after mountain. Deep browns blend into dark greens and steely greys in a sea of nature. Leaves hang heavy with thick droplets, and the earth is soft underfoot. The sun is on the cusp of the horizon and lights up the cloud-streaked sky with vibrant pinks and deep purples. Nothing stirs except for the grass and trees in the gentle wind. I stand, minute against the vast expanse of nature.
I search the landscape for flowers or brightly coloured birds, anything to break the monotony of monotone valleys, but nothing grows here. There is no hope, no growth, no brightness. All is dark and hard, the sun the only brief reprieve from the November chill.
I don’t know how long I have been here, but my skin is tough and dry, my lips chapped and bleeding like my hands and feet. I walk on thick blisters. I lost two nails on my right hand, as I inched my way up the side of steep rock face. I lost my grip that time and fell into a deep ravine, landing awkwardly on a branch that lodged above my ankle. I expected my echoing screams to attract wolves and bears, but I survived. I wrapped one of my sweaters around the deep gushing wound to stop the flow. The stream water stings now. My clothes are tattered and worn and snag on jutting branches and jagged rocks. I walk heavily armed with my hunting knives and spears that I fashioned from thick branches. I have fallen several times, tripping over rocks and my own feet through exhaustion. I collect rainwater in a plastic bottle I found at the wreck site. My empty stomach roars as I lie covered by thick bushes, waiting for a rabbit or fox to pass by. I eat handfuls of worms, spiders, grubs, and fish caught in my hands in the stream and gutted with my hunting knife.
At night I huddle in my makeshift camp and hide in trees to avoid the forest sounds I hear all around me. Sometimes, I can see their eyes watching me and hear faint rustling when the wind dies down as they plot my capture. Once, they gathered around the trunk and tried to climb it, but their paws could not grip it. They soon gave up and retreated to the shadows to wait for me to come down or to fall to the ground in my sleep. I make sure to tie myself tightly to the thick trunk at night. I wake each morning as tired as the night before and struggle to reach the ground due to my aching limbs and bruised and broken body.
The silence is what I hate the most as it tries to dislodge me from this life. It is in moments when the wind dies down, and when the river ceases to babble, that I feel like screaming. In these moments, I find myself pleading with Him to spare me, and I imagine the appearance of a face, dwelling, or road.
My boys are motherless now. I think of Christine, walking alongside me, telling me to get home. I wonder how they are and where they think I am. I wonder if they know about their mother.
I hope to hold them again one day.