A gunshot rings out through the trees. Run, little one. Run as fast as anyone with dust for bones can possibly run. 

It hurts like no time has passed, I know. The ricochet never ended, never even reached the other side.

Find the waterfall where the shadows crouch and the birds sing. It appears somewhere around here, doesn’t it? You’ve got to stay hydrated, little one. You’ve got to keep drinking of this world if you’re going to make it. Take comfort in the fresh green grass when you can’t trust the structure of the branched ones. Pick up only particles of your own flesh. Leave the sweets and the fungi well alone.

That’s right. Drink.

When the water reunites us, a clearing manifests: a sight we can only see when we are one. It seems spacious enough at first, but quickly it closes up like a pupil in sunlight. We have to be fast, and we have to hope the sutures that bind us will put enough strength on our side.

I suppose it’s by design that the clearing never holds. Always a mirage, always further than it looks, always a stunt by the enemy. They wait until we come close – the very height of their excitement – and then they lock, load, and blow us apart all over again.

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