Freedom

Fiction By Matthew // 4/29/2007

Freedom

Footsteps are heard echoing through a silent night, weaving into the forest. Like a shadow of a ghost, gliding swiftly among the trees, a barefooted dark-skinned girl ran. On and on, over ditches, across streams, she ran, mindless of the scratches that covered her face and arms. Running, running, the only thing she could think about was getting away from the plantation she had been raised on from birth. Suddenly, the tired girl heard the sound of barking. Loud, baying that echoed across the dark forest. Listening to the noise distracted her for a moment and consequently she tripped over an uncovered root. She pushed her aching body back up and continued running. While the noise of the dogs got closer, she heard another sound, the sound of rushing water. Like a lightning bolt, she remembered what her mother had whispered to her after a quick hug. “Get across the Johnson River and you’ll be safe.” With renewed strength, she headed straight for the sound of the water like an arrow, speeding across the carpet of leaves that quieted her steps. Quickly she whispered a word of prayer, asking that the river would be calm and not rough as it usually is. As if answering her prayer, the trees suddenly parted exposing a calm river flowing south. Without a moment’s hesitation, she plunged into the icy waters. Swimming with all the strength left in her arms she headed across the river. Just as she was crossing the halfway point, the moon rolled out from behind a thick layer of clouds. Exposed in the middle of the river, the girl glanced back to see if there were any signs of her pursuers. Like the crack of a whip, a pistol shot rang out from the shore behind her. A line of white foam appear about a foot to her left. Continuing to swim on, she could only pray that the bullets would miss her. After what seemed like an eternity, that took place in only a couple of minute’s time, the moon hid her face behind another veil of clouds. After that, the shots stopped coming, but she still wanted to be careful and quiet in case her pursuers would hear her and resume firing. Finally, she lay on the opposite side of the river exhausted from her swim. Gasping for breath, she rolled onto her back and lay for a while. Hearing the sound of oars splashing on the water, the young escapee crawled her way up into the edge of the forest. There she stayed until she heard the boat paddle off down stream. Sleep took her almost instantly, and there she slept for the rest of the night. She woke a good bit after dawn, slightly refreshed, but mostly hungry. Quietly she walked away from the river toward freedom.

5/22/2006

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