When did it get so dark? How did I end up in these woods? I’m running- no, I’m sprinting to get away from it. There has to be a way out. My sides are aching and my breath feels like daggers slicing my throat. I don’t think I can keep up this pace. I glance over my shoulder, terrified that it might be gaining on me.
“Help,” I scream as I trip over some dead branches and hit the ground in pain. I can feel my hands stinging, but I don’t care. I have to get up and keep running. I can’t let it get me.
I try to keep going, but my ankle is sore from my fall. I wipe my hands across my bare legs and feel the sticky texture of my blood as it seeps from the cuts on my hands. The pain is almost more than I can bare.
Maybe I should just let it catch me. Maybe I should just stop running. What’s the worst it can do? Kill me. It could kill me. I have to keep going. I used to love the forest but tonight its terrifying. How could something I once thought so beautiful be so wretched?
I CAN HEAR IT.
It’s so close.
I can feel it gaining on me.
It’s almost here.
Suddenly I stop. Not because I’m brave or courageous or strong. I stop, because I can’t go any farther. The hiding and the running will kill me regardless. I’m weak. I’m exhausted. I’m broken.
So I do the only thing left to do.
I turn around.
I turn around and I let it catch me.
I look it dead in the eyes.
My memory has finally caught me.
It begins to choke me. I remember drinking too much. It squeezes tighter around my throat. I remember saying I didn’t want to have sex as he drove me to his place. I told him not to stop for condoms because nothing was going to happen. I just needed a place to crash.
I can feel its finger nails piercing my skin. I remember laying in his bed and saying we could make out, because I thought I owed it to him. I remember telling him I was still a virgin. We hadn’t seen each other since high school. He kept trying to touch me.
I try to cry out but my memory’s grasp on my airway is making it impossible. I remember pushing his hands away and telling him to stop. He kept pleading and coercing. I said I didn’t want to do anything else. He kept saying he was just going to put it in a little. That my husband would thank him one day. I said no. I said no so many times.
I begin to get tunnel vision. My memory is about to kill me. He’s shoving himself inside me. I’m crying out in pain. Stop, stop, just please stop. Am I thinking it or am I saying it out loud? He tells me I’m no fun, because I’m so tight. Yeah, I’m tight, because my body is rejecting you. Because I don’t want this. Please just stop. He falls asleep next to me. I lay next to him, paralyzed. What just happened? I’m so confused. I thought we were friends. I just want to go home. How long until I can leave?
Just as I’m on the brink of asphyxiation my memory releases its ice cold fingers from my neck and I fall to the earth gasping in pain and breathlessness. It didn’t kill me. I curl into the fetal position on the forest floor. I wish it had.