A Quilt Made of Pine
I could see the boots of the men that were looking for me just a few feet away and I could smell their sweat. The rain had betrayed me; what I had thought would hide my trail only made it more evident like bright lights glaring up at my pursuers. My footprints were now the noose that bound my body to this place where I was hiding. I was trapped.
The galloping hoof beats of more men shook the ground where I was lying. “Where the hell is he?!” A voice I did not recognize shouted.
“His tracks just disappeared right over there by the rocks. Nothing.” A banter of other voices agreed.
“Find him! Everything will be ruined if he gets away. Everything.” The new voice said with conviction. He sounded like a preacher shouting at his parishioners of a looming hell below them. Was it for me?
My shoes fell off miles ago. I had hid my jacket inside an old log hoping it would let me run faster. The branches tried to grab at me like they were living things demanding a confession. Every rock bit into my feet reminding me a thousand times of my mistakes.
My skin was on fire screaming at me. I knew I was burned, most of my upper torso and my hands. Slivers from the wooden door I'd pounded open still stuck into my palms like nails. My legs ached from heaving the wooden beam that pinned him to the hard packed dirt. The only thought that anchored my sanity to any reason was that the boy was still alive. I had saved him.
A sense of sudden satisfaction rushed through me making me even colder. The boy was still alive! But did that outweigh everything else that I had done? Was one life worth another or was it my time to pay?
“Boss, he must have went up the river. There’s nobody in those rocks!”. Another stranger yelled over the white water of the river behind me.
“Dammit! That’s not good enough! I want you 3 to stay right here, make a camp and wait him out. I know he’s somewhere close...” The preacher like voice commanded as he reigned his horse up the ravine in a flurry of sound.
I lay there in the dark barely hidden by the low lying pine tree. It’s branches were like a mother’s blanket somehow giving me a sense of security. Each needle hemmed me in covering my wet cold body from their prying eyes. I dare not shiver. It took every fiber of strength not to shiver. Have you ever tried not to shiver when you are cold? It’s torture. I knew the slightest noise would draw these men to me that were now only inches away. But could I last until the morning?
to be continued...
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