Angel Oak

Any other day, I imagine I would have enjoyed this. Trekking up this beautiful hill to lie down by the immense oak tree that stands triumphantly at the top of the hill. I would have fallen asleep at the eye of the storm, watching the sun set in the orange sky as rain poured down unapologetically. But I will not have that satisfaction today. Today, I have to run.

It's getting difficult to breathe. This climb is proving to be harder than I had imagined. Every step I take slows me further. The mud, the rain, the steepening path, and my exhaustion all work against me, as an angry mob slowly gains on me.

My only hope is waiting by the tree. She promised to save me. All I have to do is get to her. And for that, I must not let the mob seize me. They draw closer and the orange sky illuminates them in all their splendour. Their eyes red with disgust and hate, they relentlessly pursue me.

She stands with her back to the sun right next to the tree. Her jet-black hair flowing over her bright red dress, and as if her halo, the sun shines brightly behind her head, obscuring her face in a shadow. I quicken my pace towards my salvation.

I'm so close. I can almost taste the sweet succour. I look back to see how close the danger is. It seems that I have left them in the distance. She extends her hand and roars "I will save you".

Gasping for air, barely coherent, I try to utter the words of gratitude while gracelessly falling into her arms. Sweet turns sour in my mouth. I reel back from the piercing pain and lose my step to fall on my back. I lie there and watch the leaves rustle harshly in the rain while the dying light dances through them. The rain isn't strong enough to wash away the red I'm coughing up. The knife is still in my gut.

I hear her powerful voice over heavy rain. I strain my ears to make out her words. It matters little. I'm slowly sinking into the mud. I desperately try clawing my way to safety. But I fail. I'm simply too tired and out of breath.

I fear the worst as the mob surrounds me. I look into their eyes, expecting to see the same hate and disgust as before. But it wasn't there anymore. Their indifference pierced through me. The contempt, however, was not lost. I found it again, but this time, in her eyes.

This is an original written by Shane. To read an alternate version by Ankita, click here.

Photo credit: Diana Dominguez Photography