Thursday, September 12, 2013

Instinct - written by Verlene Schafer

Blend in! Hide! Camouflage yourself!

The old instincts still took over. She couldn’t forget. After all this time it was still second nature to protect herself from enemies. Real or imagined.

A wet sheet an urban house wife shook out overhead before hanging on a clothesline between buildings. The sharp crack hung in the air as she trembled beneath her dark umbrella. Something so simple and she cowered.

The early morning streets were still and damp. The occasional flutter of wings as a pigeon spied some overlooked scrap in the gutter. The cold grey cityscape was an empty stage stripped of the thick emerald foliage which had been her shelter for so long.

“You’re home now.” Mother had been so patient and understanding at first, trying to help her readjust and acclimate to working in an office 8-5, shopping at the grocery store, girls’ night out. Friends had been supportive, but underneath she could sense their discomfort. “It will pass. Give it time.” The doctor spoke as if about a sudden summer storm, or a twenty-four hour flu.
Sometimes she would go for weeks before the snap of someone being overly aggressive with a stapler or the clang of pots in the kitchen would have her pulse racing, eyes searching for a place to hide until the threat could be assessed. She had no problem eating, working, sleeping; the day to day tasks were as natural to her as breathing.

Still, she clutched tightly her flashes of memory. The dark shapes shifting almost imperceptibly in the crowded forest and flora. Filtered sunlight breaking through the thick viridian canopy. The mastery of fear, the controlled breathing, the relationship with one’s surroundings that ensured survival. She clung to these skills, these instincts because she knew. Eventually they would come. The tough cement would grow soft as the moss slowly spread like velvet around the corners and up the walls. The weeds in the sidewalk would give way to towering trees, their roots slowly breaking the foundations of lofty skyscrapers bringing them to a crumbling heap upon the ground.

Eventually they would come. She knew. They would come for her. She was the one that got away.

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