He extinguished the campfire and said it was time to move on. For twenty days we have been out here. Trees, streams, and every other natural essence you can think of.

We had been wandering for all this time. Almost all this time. Almost every two nights we took up our baggage and went to the next clearing. I honestly thought it would never end.

Day and night. Screaming from the woods. Shrieking in the reflections of the night sky shown to be on the other side of the water. Crinkling leaves could be heard at times. The occasional hum or hoarse inhale. I watched. I watched all the time. He knew of it too. Lingering since before we left. Following us. Whatever was there, which was always there. It was never spoken of.

The pine needles would fall and cause pin sounds as they jabbed through the leaf litter of the forest floor. Ears accustomed to the acute sounds constantly heard this, numbing the senses. The sound caused no harm any longer. The mind dulled. The hands could feel no more. The bland taste of the air. The air smelled of dirt. My vision blurred. And so two days could go by without thinking whatsoever, as if the mind were hidden somewhere outside the skull, far beyond the trees surrounding us. The stars seemed so much farther.

Then I looked into the water. I took a large, coarse breath and plunged. When I came out, I remained as I previously had been. I tried and tried several times. The water did not wake me. Water cannot wake me. It tells me what the pine needles have already spoken. I must keep wandering with only his and to guide. To where? Someplace else. Far beyond the reach of the pines, from the stream, from myself. I am trapped within this self-created realm. Stalked by myself, seen by myself, led by myself. With only the pines to comfort him.

 

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