Chapter Three

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WOUNDED LITTLE BIRD

FEAR flushed through as you ran, barefoot along the dirt, and even mud, nearly on the verge of tears when each step that you took seemed to have resulted in a dead end, any hope of returning home fleeting from your mind. Within your hands rested Maria's high heels, clinking against one another when you'd turn on your heels to continue along the matted grass paths. Cracked sidewalks led to nowhere—scarily similar to the bruising cracking surrounding the expanse of your feet, from continuous hours of trekking throughout the rough ground—paths ended up pulling you into a bigger circle of confusion and chaos than you already was, the dark sky offering no help, when the horizon was so completely blank.

You had hoped for even the smallest of glimmers for guidance, and when nothing showed up, you accepted the fact that you weren't ever going to get home now.

You didn't even know where you were, for goodness sake, or if you even were in your hometown anymore.

Trees upon trees, full of luscious green leaves that protected you from the danger that loomed in the horizon, bushes that hide you from plain sight, bright green grass that silenced the loud footsteps you took. You slowed to a mere trudge, hands rubbing against tree trunks as you attempted to stabilize yourself among the unstable ground, stumbling over distractions that protruded from the earth.

Ears were instantly perked at the sound of rustles from nearby, hair standing up on the back of your neck when the sound lasted longer than it should have, and you could've sworn that your neck would snap had you looked over your shoulder to check the area once more, strained to the point where even keeping your head up was too painful.

Too wrapped up in your thoughts, and putting too much attention behind you, you lost sight of the tree root that protruded from the earth, the surrounding trees in the area snickering as they rumbled with laughter. Wind pushed through the leaves, creating the illusion that they were in fact laughing, as a foot tangled up in the trap they laid out and a body launched forwards.

A cry of pain unintentionally tumbled from between your lips as your leg dragged along the jagged rocks, sharp tips of several branches puncturing into the already horrid wound, sticks digging deeper.

Whatever advantage you had, managing to get lost so deep into the outlying forest that you were shielded from the danger, was ruined with the sounds of pain that continued to pour out from your throat. There was a subtle pulsing at your ankle, but the pain radiating from your thigh was much worse, eyes scanning the blood pouring from the wound in an abundance of red.

It painted both you and your surroundings in shades of red, mixed with splashes of purples, and browns, and blacks. Truly, it was a monstrosity of a sight.

"Fuck," a cry bubbled up in your chest each time you attempted to move the leg, pain shooting up rapidly through each nerve pathway in tendrils that lasted for seconds too long, lip quivering as salty tears clouded your eyes. You frantically looked over all that which surrounded you, yet nothing was close enough to assist you in standing up, regardless of whether or not it would be useless to even stand.

Suddenly, a rustle came from ahead, branches snapping beneath whatever pressure was exerted over it, and your lips slammed together, any noise ceasing as you tried to force yourself backwards to hide behind a tree, or anything that could shield you away from the potential intruder.

But when you couldn't even do that, you willingly accepted death, clutching instead onto the wound that continually bled, tears now freely leaking from eyes and cascading down cheeks.

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