I am small.
The forest outside holds a collective breath. Their entertainment, their status update. My life.
I never see it. Smell it. Thick pelt and dander. Saliva, wet and dried. The breath. Its last meal. And then it is moving. The blades of grass twitch and I move. The world careens beneath my feet, serving up obstacles. Sits back to judge which of us will navigate its challenges. Prey, or predator. Which will get its way, or get away.
The log appears around a corner and behind a tree. Fallen and in disgrace as the ground does its work to reclaim it. But within its throat I see darkness and take the invitation without dignity. Claws and teeth scrape the space where I was moments before, as I lose precious heartbeats in the change of direction.
The scatter of leaves as I run headlong into the hollow. The burst of sunlight as the log upends under the weight of my doom. Claws and teeth, a scramble of its frustration.
The soft wood gives way. Opens like a gift. I look into the eyes of death. The pressure in my chest overwhelms me. I am dead before I bleed.
Author’s note: These snippets are unedited free-writing exercises that I use as a way to shift my brain into a creative state. I use Lynda Barry’s What It Is YouTube timed exercises (usually 9 minutes worth of writing) for these. They are handwritten in a composition notebook, and then typed up here. As I transcribe them, I do tiny grammar and spelling checks, but the overall “clarity” (if you can call it that) of the exercise is left as-is.