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The Stream

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The woman walked along the calm stream that broke the forest in half, enjoying the sound of her feet moving the tiny rocks on the riverbed. It had been such a long time since she’d felt the coolness of running water. Silence was just as unfamiliar to her. She rejoiced in the noise of the water, free at last from listening to her screams and sobs at night.
She smiled as she got on her knees in the stream, splashing water onto her face with her scarred hands. Her chapped lips hurt slightly from the sudden movement. She was not used to smiling. Freedom, the woman thought. The droplets ran down her face, stopping at the corners of her open mouth. The water tastes sweet like freedom.
She placed her hands on the ground in front of her, delighting in how the clear water rippled delicately around her wrists. She imagined that the stream was washing her clean of the torturous past she had escaped from. Turning her hands toward her, the woman examined the cuts on the inside of her arms. They ran deep, but the stream carried the blood away and cleansed the wounds.
Ahead of her, the stream continued for miles in lazy curves, adding a splash of color to the dark trees encasing it. The woman stood up now, brushing her damp, unkempt hair from her face. Her eyes widened as she looked to the horizon, seeing that the stream continued on forever.
Looking back one final time to make sure she was alone, the woman trudged steadily through the water, heading upstream. The water is my friend, she told herself, and it washes my past away and hides my footsteps.




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