Falls From the Trees

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Chapter One: If the Rain Falls From the Trees

Harper Manzi

"Chicken!" I taunt, the corners of my mouth curling into a vicious smile, my eyes narrowed and intent. Lynn, my twin sister, blinks up at me, her chocolate curls cascading down her face, melting over her faded green eyes and with a worried glance towards me, the colour of her cheeks transforms into a swirling mess of pale white.

                Clutching at the nearest branch, my nails dig into the bark and my hands stretch out to form a claw shape, anchoring itself into the tree. I raise myself off of the ground, my elbows jerking outwards, shuddering in a desperate attempt to hold my weight and I swing my leg over, hooking it around the branch. With a flick of my wrist, my grasp on the bark loosens and I extend it forward, clasping the edge of the tree.

                As a crunching sound swirls around me, the bark peels away and a fusillade of splinters spray in my face, clinging onto the strands of my hair. Spluttering, a remaining wood chip catches on my tongue, slicing up the edge of it and the bitter taste of blood swarms inside of my mouth. I spit it onto the bark, splashing a splatter of blood onto the tree that absorbs the crimson, melting into the bark to stain it a darker colour. I swallow the urge to rinse my mouth again, but the thought disperses from my mind as I begin to slip down the branch, sliding towards the weaker part that groans under my weight. The side of the branch creaks, threatening to give way any moment now and my stomach clenches, fear pulsing through my body.

                Below, I hear Lynn gasp and as I tilt my head to the side, I notice her tense up, her body frozen in her position, refusing to move. As I draw my gaze away from her, my legs curl around the branch and my hands grab forward, clutching at the leaves in front of me. They crack away from the wood, a burst of fiery colour clinging to my skin and an annoyed gasp leaks through my lips, my eyes narrowing. My hands wrap around the trunk and my hips sway from side to side as I crawl towards safety, my ears alert, listening for when my time is up.

                The branch cracks again, collapsing beneath my weight and in a desperate attempt to save myself, I propel my body forward. I cling to the trunk, hanging from it like a koala bear and I twist my neck to the side, resting my chin on my arm. Lynn shakes her head at me, her curls falling across her face, the stray ends brushing across her eyes, contrasting with the bright green colour behind it and her gaze drops to the ground.

                A thin ribbon of a shocked gasp escapes from my lips, as my grip begins to loosen, and my fear returns, spiralling through my body. I swallow, a thin line of sweat forming across my forehead as I uncurl one of my hands from around the tree. My heart thumps against my chest, and every instinct in my body fights against me, my body refusing to cooperate with my ideas, but I ignore every sensible thought inside my mind that disagrees with me. My muscles scream in pain, refusing to hold my weight, and with the knowledge that time is of the essence, I extend my free arm towards the sky, reaching for the nearest branch. 

                The rough surface brushes over my palms, tickling the sensitive skin and I pull down on it carefully to test whether it will hold my weight. The branch doesn't move, proving to be sturdy, and in a split second all my faith is placed in its hands as I peel my body away from the trunk that had been supporting me. Dangling in mid air, I twist my hips to the left and swing my feet up to stand on one of the thickest branches. The hand that's still gripped on the trunk unclenches, as I bend my knees to perch on the edge of the branch, letting them hang below.

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