She had escaped. Escaped into the woods. They had not known she used to live in these woods, and of all the places she could survive, this was the best.
The first thing she did was destroy the bright orange clothes. They made her too visible. The second thing she did was start toward the one place she had hope, the one place she could be redeemed.
There were back roads and animal trails all through this area. She knew she was about 10 hours from where she wanted to be. She heard home calling her.
The walk gave her time to think, a luxury she had not had since they had kept her locked up. I don’t understand why they would sedate me.
She heard a pickup truck in the distance and hid behind a large tree. She loved the bark on her skin, and the fresh smell of forest. She had missed it so much.
Maybe he will still be there. Maybe he still loved her as she loved him.
She ran some of the way, walked, drank from the stream, picked some berries. It was a lovely afternoon of anticipation.
She smelt a cooking fire, and knew she wasn’t far from the cabin. She began to run again. When she spotted it, she froze. It was still a wonderful and welcome sight, but it certainly was run down since she saw it last. But she had only been away for about a month. How did that happen?
Her heart leap as she saw him whittling on the porch. He hadn’t noticed her yet, and as she came closer, he glanced up. He had aged as much as the cabin. He simply stared, his mouth set in a partial grimace.
“You finally escaped?” he said.
“Why don’t you seem happy? I need some clothes and…what happened to this place?” she said.
“They didn’t tell you, did they? Of course not,” he said as he stood up. He grabbed the shotgun that is always by his side when he as at the cabin. He leveled the barrel at her. “You are a monster, and I sent you away.”
The words hit her in a place deep inside, and they hurt. They hurt because somewhere deep inside they rang true. “No… no, that’s not…” she said.
“It’s a full moon tonight, and the sun is setting now. You are gonna change soon,” he said, barrel of the gun calmly targeting her.
“No, daddy. I’m back to find out why I was locked up. You’ll protect me from those awful men? Right?” She could not keep the pleading out of her voice.
“I can see this is the conversation we should have had years ago. It’s our time. Honey, you killed mom. She died the first time you changed, and you came after me.” He glanced at the disappearing sun, and continued, “I sent you away, and they told me you’d be sedated and taken care of. They have been trying to find a cure. But you are here, and there’s a full moon tonight.” A tear fell from his cheek.
“No,” she said. “That’s not…that can’t be. We can just wait for the moon to rise.”
Tense minutes passed as she tried to understand what papa had said. They didn’t have to wait long as the magnificent full moon crested orange over the mountain. The moment it was exposed she dropped to her knees in pain, the fire spreading from her stomach outward.
“Kill me, papa, before I kill you.” Her voice became more raspy with each word, and deeper.
“I’m sorry baby, but I planned to.” He pulled the trigger, and he crumpled as quickly as she did, both consumed with grief and pain.
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