Born To Be Bound

THERE WAS NO reason to panic. “Just calm down”, she reprimanded herself. A wave of shooting pain blatantly ignored her logical thought process, and she felt herself fading. She gasped, fighting the blackness that crept ever closer, and rolling over, she tried to sit up. Another burst of pain followed the first, and unable to bear it any longer, she let out a scream so shrill that it pierced the evening air, reverberating for miles around.

Deer
Deer (Photo credit: marttj)

A SMALL MOVEMENT, that was all it took, and then-SWOOSH- the arrow throbbed through the air, landing with a solid thunk in the deer’s neck. Tense and ready to leave at a moments notice, the deer’s muscles were still tight as it was forced down towards the ground. He watched as the animal’s instinct caused it to try to move; there was a moments struggle, and then it was all over. Satisfied, he swung back his hood and stepped forward to claim his prize. Suddenly, a scream pierced the calm evening, and his heart jumped at the sound. He whirled around, but the long shadows and softly waving leaves mocked him gently. He frowned in bewilderment; what could that noise have been? A second scream joined the first, and as the two blended together in an awful, painful harmony, he realized what it was.

There was not a moment to lose; he knew of the trapper’s cottage located nearly a mile to the North. The sound must have come from there, and traveled in the still evening air. Slinging his prize over his shoulder, he set off at a run, towards the sound that cried for help. He was not even halfway there when it stopped suddenly, and the sun seemed to slip behind the trees at the same time, shrouding him in darkness.

Taking it as a bad omen -for what else could it be?- he picked up his pace, with his bow slung over one shoulder and the deer over the other. Seeing that the carcass was hindering his advance, and fearing that he would be too late, he let it slip to the ground, knowing he would find it later, if not by memory, then by smell.

He slowed down upon approaching a split in the forest trail, and waited, his breath coming in heavy gasps. He crouched, hands on legs, waiting for his heartbeat to slow. He was rewarded a few minutes later, when a small, weak wail reached his ears. Squinting in concentration, he walked a few yards to the right, then retraced his steps and chose the left. The noise seemed louder on the left, but instinct told him that the right path was the right path, so, smirking at his own genius, he followed his heart.

He hadn’t gotten very far when the wail came again, clearer this time, and he knew he had chosen well. Resuming his previous pace, he covered the remaining distance in a heartbeat, and arrived at a small clearing. A little hut blended in neatly to its surroundings, with a wooden door and straw-like roofing. He shouldered his way inside, and stared in utter disbelief, as his hypothesis proved true before his very eyes.

In the corner of the wooden room, a woman lay on her back, still as a fallen log, surrounded by blood. Next to her, eyes shut tight and mouth open wide, was a tiny infant, hollering loud enough to be heard a mile away.

“Which is a lucky thing” the man thought, for no one else seemed to be around, and the woman was obviously in danger. She was young, with long, dark hair which was knotted and tangled, clinging to her sweaty brow. Her face was pleasant to look at, if not for the look of pain etched across it. He shook her gently, but she did not respond. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, and seeing she was alive, he tended to the baby. Carefully, he wrapped the baby in his cloak as best as he could, and ignoring the blood and the umbilical cord, he turned back to the woman.

He shook her again, and this time she stirred. The baby took this opportunity to test its vocal chords again, and it’s mother woke up, looking at the stranger in shock.

“I mean no harm” he said, holding up his hands in the universal position of innocence. “I heard your…uh, screaming, and I figured you were giving birth. I’m sorry if I intruded; is there anything I can do?” Very professional. Way to go, he thought to himself.

She stared at him with eyes that were a shockingly bright green, and then she murmured, “Is it a girl?” Her voice was soft, and had an accent he couldn’t quite place.

“Uh…yes, it is”, he responded, quickly peeking under the cloak. He handed the baby girl over, and her mother looked down with a mixture of shock and love.rose

“Rose” she whispered, kissing the wrinkly forehead. “He wanted to call her Rose. But I didn’t realize…she was born. I must have lost myself to the darkness…”

“Yeah. I-um, do you want to feed her? She’s probably hungry.”He blushed at the suggestion, feeling totally inadequate.

“Soon.” The woman responded. “I know alot about babies; she’ll be okay for a bit. The cord is still attatched, and I am very weak.”

He nodded, and did his best to make her comfortable, all the while tending to the baby.

Finally, the woman sat up slowly, leaning against the wooden headboard.

“I can try to feed her now”, she smiled gently, and took the blanket he proffered. Once mother and daughter were settled nicely, however, he couldn’t help himself.

“I’m sorry for sounding rude, but, may I ask why you were in the woods all by yourself, and due to have a baby as well?”

“Well” she looked down at her little girl “I wasn’t really due yet. Not for another three weeks, you see. And my husband, he was here with me. He’s a…a trapper of sorts, like you, right?”

He nodded, and she continued.

“But last week, he went out to hunt, and he never came back. I think…” here, she let out a gulp and, barely restraining her tears, she whispered, “I think he was kidnapped”.

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