I’ve started writing a story! I have no idea how long it will be, or if it will actually go anywhere, but I’ve decided to post it on here, as it unfolds, to keep me motivated. Comments welcome! And please excuse my grammar/spelling/punctuation errors, as I tend to write in a frenzy once I get started, and just go with what sounds correct in the moment 🙂

Without further ado… THE COUNTING TREE:

 

I woke up with my eyes closed. Coughing. As usual, my back ached from sleeping on the roughly woven, tattered cloth laid across the unforgiving dirt floor.A night breeze must have blown some dust into my open mouth while I slept. Moonlight streamed in through the gapped board walls to my left, and a branch scratched over the tin roof, sounding exactly like rat claws. Maybe it actually was. The others lay in rows all around me. Some snored, others were curled or bent at awkward angles. A few little girls sucked their thumbs, and one clutched a simple straw rag doll to her heart. My gaze followed a sliver of moonlight back to the wall, and I smiled as the light flickered when a bat flew by. Bats are good here. They eat the mosquitoes that torment us in the evenings. How I wished I could slip through a crack in the wall, sprout wings, and fly too, even just for a day.

“Why,” I wondered yet again, “must age be so important to big people?” I firmly believe that I can take care of myself. Until my eighth year, my father and I lived out in the bush. We looked after ourselves. We were happy under the great sky with the shy animals. But then the poachers came. Father stood between them and the water hole that they wanted to poison. They killed him. If I could find it, I would scratch a ninth mark on the counting tree.

I sat up, wide awake now, my heart pumping as I remembered running. The poachers caught me and took me away in the back of a truck. After they poisoned the water. I watched my father’s body, smeared with sand and blood, recede into the shimmering haze of heat and dust. That was my first time riding on wheels.

I stood up and carefully stepped over my sleeping neighbors. One rolled over, and I froze. But she sighed and continued her dream. I made my way to the only door and fingered the heavy padlock. Heaven forbid there should be a fire. Somewhere, a rooster crowed, and I realized it must be early morning. I sat down and leaned against a bucket, imagining that I could see the moon battling the sun for the right to shine all day. If it stayed dark, The Hyena wouldn’t come and shout at us.

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