The Long Walk Home (Flash Fiction)

Prompt: “Heart of my Own” by Basia Bulat

***

Its a long walk back to town. The moon is up. The trees are whispering tall and shuddering with secrets. Andie walks a strong, steady pace not quite a stride, not quite a jog. She doesn’t let herself panic, though the edge of it ices her heart.

She would curse him but she is trying to save her breath, to make it match her steps. It is a kind of meditation, lost in fury. The miles unreel behind her. This night has already been the longest night of her life and it will only be longer still as she walks the long, narrow country road, trying not to worry too much about the hundred or so horror movies she has seen featuring a woman just like her walking a trail just like this only to find herself sunk deep in perdition.

And bears. There could be bears. Andie keeps her eyes straight ahead, not letting herself notice how sinister and vague the world appears around her, rocks and fallen limbs wrapped in shadow and the frequent flash of eye shine staring back at her from the road just ahead.

She would be walking all night and, unless some car came and rescued her, any one step could be a fatal last step into the slavering jaws of a waiting wolf.

These thoughts fueled her stride. These thoughts and the impetus of fury that had pushed her out of Freddie’s car. Freddie with his sour breath and his too big hands that knew no boundaries.

It was no kind of date to drive deep into these woods, isolated and alone. He said he wanted to show her field where they could watch the meteors fall far from the neighborhood lights. She had wanted to believe him, but as soon as they pierced past the last of the streetlights, his hands had grown restless and friendly and deaf to her refusal. Kind at first and then insistent and then forceful.

What is it about men that keep their hands and lower parts separate from their minds?

The night air was cool and damp with the falling dew.

The moon is bright, silvering everything, but not quite full. No worries of werewolves this night. Make yourself grateful for few traveling mercies.

And the predatory hoot of owls in the distant trees. They are watching her. The entire forest is watching her. The woods have eyes and they are following her with voracious interest. If she stumbles, if she falls, they will press in around her and liberate the meat from her bones.

Andie keeps walking. She looks not to the right. She looks not to the left. She is only straight ahead and bent on reaching her destination and doing so in one piece. She wants to arrive without being eaten. The forest has a hundred hungry stomachs, each clutching and slavering at the scent of her passing. The forest is deep. The forest is dark. The forest has voracious appetites. Andie promises herself she will thwart those appetites and reach her destination having denied the night creatures their moon-salted meal.

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