I feel so small. Like a monkey in a cage. Like some extinct creature in a museum diorama. A passenger pigeon, a dodo, maybe a little sea mink cowering in a corner next to an extinct fern. I could make friends with that chubby pupfish over there. Or eat him.
But I’m not. I’m human. At least the last time I looked. A human woman.
This brief clearing in the woods was a discovery. A tin shelter. Whom it belongs to I’ve no idea, there is no lock. When the bright light comes I quickly evacuate, to hide myself, usually in the river, underwater. I can swim a long way on one breath. What I’ll do come winter I have no idea. I am braiding a rope from found remnants. When it is long enough, I plan to attach it high in a tree notch so that I might pull myself up in the foliage, hauling my rope up after me. Yes, in winter a thick conifer. Perhaps.
When they leave again there is often something edible left behind. I don’t know if this is their carelessness, or if it is meant for me. It is difficult to surmise motives. When, if, I consume this—well, of course I do—I leave any remnant clawed, any bit of tin crushed, as if it was one of my near neighbors who devoured it. Scattered by wolves, bears, foxes, raccoons; those coyote, my vigilant friends.
As I have no clothing I appreciate the offerings of these familiars. A scrap of rabbit fur, the discovered remains of a ravaged deer. If they had meant me no harm, you would think they would not have left me naked. Soon my hair will grow longer, long enough to afford me warmth, protection.
Often now, I have moved on. Searching for the way free. I follow the river, or deer paths that might lead to the edge, but the woodland only thickens. The bright light comes no matter where, both here and there. Sometimes I just circle back to the tin house. Perhaps they are still searching for me. I vow to not be found.
by Karen Alpha