In the Hills

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

by Madelyn G. McConnell '19


Blood is charging behind my eyebrows, the veins raised and angry. I feel a deep knocking on my skull as though the entirety of my insides is a massive beating heart. My eyes peel open, ripping eyelashes and smearing the surface of my eye with crust and discharge.

The grass ripples at my inspection. It’s above me, I can see the blades arching to meet me, inches from my cracking and dusted face.

Everything is pain. I’ve lost focus on the grass as my hands rip at the rough hewn surface they’re tied to. Blood is sliding up my legs as it goes to meet to earth above. I throw back my head, so much resistance to meet my strain, I knock into a sturdy and unrelenting wall.

I knock until my vision is painted red. I’m so dizzy the world above spins out and leaves me alone.

***

The light touches me again. A second chance.

Nose buried and protesting. Something soft at first but sharp at the edges is caressing my face. I feel it greet me and soon I know it will betray me.

My eyes are peeling. Unrelenting human search for answers. I’ll drag myself off the softly veiled spikes of grass.

I’ve landed on a hill. The tallest in the hills. The grass is everywhere, it’s dead and yellow, cracking like my eyes.

Standing like the last sigil of hope is an ancient tree. It rips into the clouds.

There is a patch in the center, so dead and yellow, I know what it wants.

Pressed into the tree is the figure of a person hanging. The legs had been nailed below the first branch, the arms wrapped around the base like an upside down cross. It’s imprinted on the base as though it had not moved in millenia.

My trembling and inconsequential arms reach for my final resting place. I yelp at the sight of the yellow skin, the cracked and bloodied nails, the blossoming bruises like an abandoned fruit.

Nothing matters but the tree, the clouds are gone, the grass withers to dust and I will follow.

The wind cuts through me like shaves of ice.

The sky is rippling like a blanket it’s so red it crashes like waves over the tree. I want to tell the tree what it wants, but my vocal chords are gone, lying is futile, truth is moot.

Nothing stands but the tree.

***

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