i muddled through the black waters, pants sticking to my legs and trying to drag me deeper, deeper into the depths of what i couldn’t see.
true north shone brightly in front of me, coaxing me farther into the shallow night.
their lights nicked me here and there. i dove behind patches of nature i couldn’t name, my breath drowning out the pounding of my heart as i tried to quiet myself into the stillness of the amazon.
they’d invited me here
given me stories of love
but that’s all they were. stories to cover their chains. chains and blood and misery. i sliced through them with paper cuts and tears, fleeing into the middle of what they would not see.
they’d made theirs.
it moved, the sky, and i realized i was going the wrong way.
or perhaps. true north never was very true.
could they lie so perfectly?
i drove a stake into my heart to hush it. not now. i needed to think. needed to breathe.
their voices came closer, closer, words almost but not.
would they stop at the gate? the gate, the gate they’d paraded in front of us all, mocking our chained gait, waving their red flags to hide the truth. behind crowds and chants, mindless distraction and chemistry.
we didn’t listen.
we chose too.
at the gate now, their rattling grating on my nerves. so close their words made sense, scraping down my spine and making my teeth ache.
i would not go back. inside me, they spoke, we will not go back.
i nodded in agreement, branches scratching my face and arms.
moving in nanoseconds and held breaths, i peeked around the black bark of the tree. everything painted black in the absence of the moon, they appeared as foreign things, standing with too long limbs, too large heads, rounder than seemed right.
at the gate.
they moved like they had no joints, too limber, too broken. eyes shining like an animal’s as the lights they carried caught them in the face. hissing and guttural anger issued through the clearing.
backs to me now.
left me to my choice.
i sighed into the tree at my back, tension rolling off my skin like springs falling out, leaving me lifeless and warm.
but there was no escaping what lived inside me now.