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The frogs sounded clear and close by so there must be water near me, a creek or pond. Just thinking about a water source made me want it more than anything. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had anything to drink. We were only given drops, or sips of water from a dirty canteen every once in a while, and I’d even lost track of how often. The forest blanketed me with fog, and for a moment I began to feel safe and free. Tall oak and pine trees were protected by a haze that blocked my view from seeing anything further than a few steps in front of me, so I started walking towards the sound. I listened to the frogs croaking in the distance, but they were beginning to echo and bounce around the forest walls.

Sticks and leaves crunched beneath my feet as I tiptoed barefoot through the darkness. While a deep hunger and dire thirst consumed me, I began to feel light headed and disoriented. My head ached, and my body trembled as I fought to keep going.

“Where am I? How will I get out of this damned forest?” I thought.

I stopped walking and looked around, but every tree, every twig, and bush all started to look the same. My breathing turned into wheezing and my heart felt like a hammer beating desperation and anxiety into my shaky bones. Turning my head from one side to the other then whirling my body around frantically while images of where I had dug myself out of, engulfed my vision and thoughts. Memories of the agonizing torture that I had suffered overwhelmed me and crowded my thoughts. The beatings and cruelty of the worst kind that left marks on my body, inside and out. I continued my careful journey through the darkness and came to what seemed like a clearing or meadow of some kind. Fog covered the ground but lifted just enough for me to see a house with smoke coming from its chimney. I squinted my eyes, trying to focus on what I was seeing and hoping that I wasn’t hallucinating. I rubbed my forehead in disbelief then collapsed.

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