Running. Running. Always running. Running until I can’t run anymore and then some. I just have to get away. I can’t just stay here anymore. I can’t stay here with him.

            It’s late, but I don’t know how late. It’s really dark outside, and I can see the bright, full moon following me, my only companion, through the tops of the trees as I run through the forest. The trees themselves are dark, almost shadows themselves, looming above me. Suddenly, I begin to fall, my whole body crashing hard into the dirt below. My foot had caught a tree root sticking up out of the ground. I pushed myself up, stopping for a moment to catch my breath. All is silent except for the sound of my heavy breathing. I try to start running again, but I must have twisted my ankle because it hurts really bad to put pressure on the foot I tripped over. I give up trying to run and continue on my journey walking.

            The forest is much more eerie now that I am walking. The slower pace allows for me to take in the scenery around me, whereas my running had allowed me to escape reality in a sense. Every small sound or movement around me startles me more than the last. The shadows moving around me, too, are beginning to get to me. I must be tired. Now that I think of it, I am tired, exhausted even. I want to just stop for the night and sit. I want to go to sleep somewhere, somewhere safe. I’m done sleeping in that house of horror. I’m tired of being used and sleep-deprived because of it.

            I continue on despite my exhaustion, pushing myself to a breaking point. I stop beneath this large tree, looking up into its branches and seeing the full moon through the leaves. I begin to climb the tree, a difficult task to complete with my failing foot. Finally, I reach a decent-sized branch higher up, and I’m able to position myself just right so I won’t fall down during my slumber. As I close my eyes, I’m brought back by the rustling of the leaves in the branches around me as a result of the slight autumn breeze of the night. I shiver just a bit, but I don’t mind the chilled air around me. Anything is preferable to that hole I lived in before. I close my eyes once more, dozing in and out of consciousness until I fall asleep.

            I wake up to the sunlight burning my eyes through the top of the tree I’m sitting in. Before I have time to fully wake up, I’m startled by voices below me. I turn and peek over the side of the branch I’m perched on and see five grown men with dogs on leashes standing in a group beneath my tree. Looking a bit closer, I can see that one of the men is my father.

            “Well, where’d you reckon he headed off to, Robby?” one man asks, turning towards my father. “We were out here all night and there ain’t no sign of him anywhere.”

            My father turns towards the speaking man, that familiar fire still burning in his eyes; he’s mad. “He ran off some time last night. One of my women back home said she watched him run off in this direction, though I wouldn’t doubt that bitch lyin’ to me. They all lie to me.” He must have shaved this morning before he realized I had gone missing. There was no longer a lot of noticeable stubble on his chin. He looked younger.

            The group chuckles at his nastiness regarding the women back home, and they continue moving forward in some directions, the dogs sniffing the ground, oblivious to my sitting just above in the tree. I sigh quietly in relief. There’s no telling what would have been done to me if I should have been found. I probably would have been killed or at least beaten pretty close to it.

            I do wish I had tried to save the women back home though. My father mistreats them all, especially my mother for getting pregnant; I was an accident. I don’t even know why he let me be born or even live to be this old.

            I climb down slowly, trying to remain as quiet as possible as not to call the attention of my father and his troop. My grip on my branch slips, though, and I fall. Luckily, I land on my feet, but my ankle, still hurt from the previous night, gives out when I land, causing me to fall down and yelp in pain. I hear the dogs start to bark in the distance, so I quickly pull myself up, bracing the pain, and start running off in some direction other than that which my father’s gang went.

            I’m scared. I can feel my heart beat speeding up as I run. I’m sweating and breathing heavily, and my ankle hurts really badly. I think I’m crying, but I’m not even sure anymore. I’m not aware. I can hear the dogs getting nearer and nearer to me, moving at a quicker pace than I am able to run on my hurt foot.

            Suddenly before me I see the path end. There are no more trees just ahead. It must be a clearing of some kind. If someone lives there, I can get help. I can save myself. I can save my mom. I just have to make it to that clearing.

            I finally reach it, smiling with joy as a feeling of relief fills my system, but as I run through the last few trees, I realize there is no clearing. It’s a cliff.

            I can’t stop myself in time. I run over the edge. I fall.

The End

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