Creature of Unknown Origin


I huffed my annoyance, all but collapsing beside her. “I think I’m gonna die.”

Ava stared at me with quirked lips. She reached over and wiped away the sweat drenched

hair plastered to my forehead. “At least you didn’t have to run with a mouthful of fluffy towel and

nightshirt. I feel like I’ll never get the fuzz off my tongue.”

She made a face somewhere between a gag and a disgusted scrunch. Standing, Ava offered

me her towel, her eyes cast down, looking somewhere far away but not into the distant landscape

we could see from the ridge. I studied her carefully, taking the towel from her almost suspiciously.

She absently tugged on the hem of the long shirt, another article of clothing she’d stolen from me.

I wished she’d just tell me she needed more clothes. I was about to say as much, remind her for

what was the umpteenth time we could go shopping, when she turned to me.

Ava sighed. “We should head back; you know if you’re not still dying.”

“Nah, I’m okay.”

Ava helped me to my feet, more as a courtesy than anything else. For the first time in three

days, my mind stopped. No worries, no concerns. Not a single thought crossed the forefront of my

mind. I was able to enjoy the reluctant walk back. We took our time weaving through the towering

trees and the picturesque woodlands. Neither of us said a word. Somewhere between the ridge and

the cabin, our hands intertwined. I would’ve never noticed had Ava not stopped at the edge of the

tree line and pulled away, saying she’d ditched her clothes somewhere nearby.

I watched her walk off, shaking my head. When I turned toward the cabin, and eventually

climbed the steps, a darkness consumed me. My head whirled and raced. Everything — that

everything — slammed into me, consuming me once more. Whatever was eating away at me had

everything to do with the cabin. Now if only I could untangle the jumble of things knotted together

in the pit of my stomach to figure out why it felt like the weight of the world sat on my chest.

~ ~ ~

Once I’d showered off and changed back into my chosen outfit of the day, I resigned myself

to hunch over the notebook and finally w rite the letter I’d meant to write this morning.

It should’ve been easy, shouldn’t it?

After all, there was so much I wanted to write, needed to say, and though the words flitted

and bounced around in my head like a flowing river, once I picked up that pen and set my mind to

put ink on paper, I was struck by an impenetrable wall of stupidity. The words wouldn’t come.

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