You are the devil’s spawn.
You are a bad boy.
Your mother doesn’t deserve a son like you.
Twigs snapped under the force of William’s boots as he tore through Emerald Cove forest. Leaves from hanging branches slapped his face as the rushing winds cooled the sweat on his shaved head and face. With breaths coming out in pants, William pushed himself to go even faster. His lungs pumped hard, trying to meet the demand of oxygen of both his brain and heart. Perspiration poured out his him, soaking his grey shirt front to back. His face was slicked with sweat and his eyes were red from the particles that the winds threw at him.
The voices screamed at him. He gritted his teeth, fisted his hands and groaned as he pushed himself even more. His heart was beating a million beats per second, his breath was running out and black spots were taking over his vision. The forests surrounding him burred into brown and green as he tried to focus on dodging the trees and jumping over roots that were before him.
You are a devil child.
You deserve to die.
William tripped over a root of a tree and the ground came rushing towards him. He crossed his forearms over his face and landed on another root of some tree that was poking out of the earth. The air was knocked out of his chest as he fell hard. The root dug into his elbow. A zap of electricity mixed with pain tugged at his elbow and shot up his arm in endless waves.
William let out a heart-wrenching scream, not only at the intense pain that attacked his arm but also at the fact that the voices inside his head only grew louder. Clutching his elbow, he shut his eyes and tried to focus on something positive. However, he only saw the faces of his accusers. He saw those who were quick to judge him without bothering to learn his side of the story. He saw the faces of the people who didn’t come to his aid when he needed it. They turned blind to him but didn’t hesitate to condemn him for protecting himself.
He had to do what he’d done to save himself and his mother. That man who claimed to love his mother had hit her every chance he got. That man who his mother could not bring herself to leave, had ruined her life as much as he had ruined his. For as long as William could remember his father had never not abused them a day in his life. It was either verbal or physical abuse but it was mostly the latter rather than the former. For seventeen years he had endured that abuse, had watched silently as his so-called father mercilessly put his mother through hell. However, one afternoon, during one of his father’s abusive rampages, he just snapped. So many years of pent-up feelings came pushing over the surface when he saw his father pick up an iron and run it into his mother’s head.
That day, he fought back.
Everyone who accused him now didn’t know how difficult it had been for him and his mother to leave that house alive that faithful day. They had not witnessed the way that man had picked up a knife, ready to end their lives. If it hadn’t been for him, they would not have lived beyond that day. Therefore it hurt him to hear every nasty thing people said about him. Sometimes he wished he could show them the scars from his ordeal but he figured it would not be worth it since they had already cooked up stories for themselves.
William pushed all of his frustrations into another gut-wrenching scream. The noise frightened the birds perched atop the trees nearby and they flew away, chirping their displeasure. William laid in that spot, catching his breath and containing his emotions. He had to pull himself together if he really wanted to get home early today. Mother was cooking something special for her birthday and he didn’t want to miss it.
Snapping his eyes open, William caught the last rays of sunlight peeking through the dense forest. Darkness was slowly eating away the light and he knew he had to leave as soon as possible. Pushing himself to a sitting position, his surroundings didn’t look familiar to him. He got onto his feet and looked around. All he saw were tall redwood trees stretching on for as far eyes his eyes could go. That was when he realised he had gone deeper into the forest than he ordinarily did.
Ever since William and his mother moved to Emerald Cove eight months ago, he used this forest to get away from the world. Because in here, he could not be judged and oust. He could think and be himself. In the forest where no one entered, he found peace.
Looking back where he thought he came from, William took the trail, but was careful not to trip over the root that had caused his fall. He walked on, the voices that had disturbed him were no more but darkness continued to eat away the light. Digging his hands into his pockets, he searched for his mobile device. Realisation hit him like a sledgehammer when he recalled that he hadn’t removed the device that was inside his leather jacket, which was perched on the handle of his Honda Rebel 500.
“That’s just great.” He mumbled sarcastically and at the same time, heard some birds chirped in the distance. He would surly get home late for that dinner. Who knows, mother was probably calling him already to learn where he was and when he would arrive.
Birds chirped once again in the distance and William looked up at the rapidly darkening sky and saw the frightened birds flying away. He noted that the sounds were coming from the same spot. Now usually he would not bother himself to find out whatever was going on over there, but then he caught a figure moving among the trees.
Curiosity got the better of him when a girl with honey skin and long dark kinky hair, looking about the same age as him, moved between the trees as agile as a cat. What got him even more was the fact that there was a line tied from one tree to the other and she was holding onto that line as she walked. The final thing that made him stop was that he was standing in her line of vision but she was rather focused on her line.
William watched the mysterious girl with interest as she stopped in her tracks. Her ears perked up as he shifted his weight from one leg to the other and he knew she heard him. Almost instantly, he saw her tense up and then suddenly took off running. His eyes popped in surprise because he wasn’t expecting her to act like he was some beast that was going to devour her.
“Hey,” William called despite himself but she kept on running without looking back. “Wait! You shouldn’t go that way.” He didn’t know why he was trying to get her back on the right track but he knew it would not be safe for her to be out here all alone in the dark – and it was getting dark quickly.
What was she doing here, anyway? He wondered. “Hey!” William was catching up to her and he noticed that she still hadn’t let go of the line that was strangely tied around some selected trees. It seemed like a trail leading somewhere and she was taking in. But where to? “Where are you going?” He asked, the same moment he saw her tip over her own feet and fell.
“Ah!” She yelped as she crushed into the ground, face-down. William cringed because he knew how it felt to fall in this forest. Moreover, he heard the impact of her fall and he knew she would surly get some bruises. He rushed to help her, only to be surprised when she grabbed his leg and pulled. He lost his balance and crashed into the ground, his elbow breaking his fall.
“Ouch!” William yelped because it was the same elbow that ground into the root when he had fallen some time ago. “Crap!” He cursed, grabbing his arm and biting hard on his lip to stop the curses that threatened to burst from him. Pain shot from his elbow in endless magnitudes and he thought it would be the end of him.
“Who are you? And why are you following me?”
William listened to the angelic voice that questioned him and couldn’t believe the nerve of the girl. She caused his fall and is asking him such silly questions. Whose does that? He thought while opening his eyes.
“What the?” William gasped, as he saw what she was pointing at him. It was a long cane, which was curve at the tip. He didn’t make any attempts to move because that tip was pointed at his left eye. He froze and held his breath. His gaze trailed up the cane to her face. There, he saw bright hazel eyes looking down at him. For a second he contemplated whether she could see or not, until her pupils turned unsteadily and he knew. “You’re blind.”
The cane descended a centimetre towards his eye and he stiffened, raising his hands in surrender. Her hands tightened nervously around the handle of the cane as she responded indignantly. “I am not blind. I am visually impaired. ‘Blind’ is a derogatory term for calling someone who has lost their vision due to either congenital or acquired reasons.” The cane came down further until he could feel his lashes touching it when he blinked.
“I… I’m sorry.” William stuttered, trying not to move.
“Who are you? And what do you want? Why are you following me? I will call the police.” No sooner did the words leave her, did an automated voice fill the air.
“No!” William said. “Don’t.”
But he could already hear the call connecting.
“I wasn’t following you, I promise.” The last thing he wanted was to get into more trouble with the police. The sooner he convinced this girl to let him go without involving the authorities, the better. “Look, I was only following you because I thought you were lost.”
“Liar!” She shouted and then struck his chest with her cane.
William felt the sting as the air was knocked out of his chest. “Aw!” He yelped. “I promise, I wasn’t…”
“Go away and never come back.” She said, moving the cane away from his chest.
William scrambled to his feet and ran away. At that moment, night had fallen and he didn’t have any idea where he was going. Luckily for him, he saw lights peering through the forest up ahead and he headed towards it. When he finally found his motorcycle and pulled out his phone, it was way past dinner time and his missed twenty calls from his mother. William quickly got on phone with his mother and assured her he was fine and that he was coming home. It was not until he started the engine of his Honda Rebel did he realised that his ass was just kicked by a girl and a visually impaired one at that.