Some man tells you to follow him into the woods. You go because you haven’t been taught not to trust yet. Your heart is open to the world, and the hope that no one makes you bleed is still inchoate. He leaves you there, with pretty words and a substitution you don’t think to take as an insult because it means you get to live (you are not a deer, though, you are not and never will be some wordless herbivore, and to mistake you for one is to miss all your teeth).

He leaves you there, and you are alone in the woods. Alone with nothing but yourself, you become. Your teeth are made for rending and your wits hone like good steel. You learn the world and you learn your woods – for they are yours now. He gave you to the woods and did not expect you to take hold of them. You move like a shadow, and eventually you find other men: kind ones who don’t want to hurt you. They want to lock you up again, though, all safe inside with expectations and kindnesses for chains. You don’t stay long.

They gave you to the woods, a sacrifice for all your heart kept beating. You breathe in death and exhale rage. When that hurt has scabbed over, when you are your own person and you walk the twilit woods without fear, you make a decision.

They sent you to the woods to die, and your old self is dead, but you don’t need to let your kindness die with it. If your heart is stopped dead by the squeeze of scar tissue, that’s the same as if they cut it out of you in the first place. So you’re careful what you wield your weapons against. You don’t shy from the kill – you need to live, after all – but you stop leaving presents of dead animals for the men who’d tried to tame you.

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Categories: Miscellany