In just a few weeks it will be my birthday; it’s not something that I care to look forward to but I have started an annual thing that celebrates my birthday. I like to go out and test my hunting skills seeking out a search party or any scumbag really; and follow them for a few days prior to my birthday; then on my birthday I choose my victim and kill them. If it’s a man from a search party I slip into their camp while they sleep and slit his throat with my trusty dagger, but if it’s a dumb ass that travels alone then I challenge him outright. It’s a beautiful ritual; and it keeps my skills on the level. I have yet to get caught or lose sure I’ve had my bumps and bruises but that comes with the territory, besides I rarely see anyone anyway. Most men don’t expect a thin twenty five year old woman to be able to fight let alone kill; I can do both. I can’t say I’m a good hand to hand fighter but I’m pretty damn good with my dagger and trusty baseball bat; as for the gun I still haven’t used it yet I don’t even know how so it’s mostly for show if I come across a group of people. Nothing makes a man step back quicker than a gun in your hand pointed at his face.  All of these years came to this point in my life; my instincts of survival and self-taught skills with my weapons will do me good on my journey. Don’t know where I am going to but there has to be someplace better than here that’s for sure.

I woke up to the sound of birds chattering off in the distance haven’t heard that since I was a kid it was the only thing that was peaceful in the forest. Maybe the birds have always sung all these years but I’m just now taking notice again. Who has time to stop and listen to the trees when the wind blows, or to lie in the grass looking up at the blue sky on a sunny day? Who has time? My father would always talk about before the fall how things were he always smiled when he spoke about back then; they were happier times indeed according to him. I can’t even fathom that it ever existed I was born in another world unlike his own, it doesn’t even make sense how life was back then before the Fall. I mean who would do stuff like that? It’s a waste of time, there’s only time to survive. I will admit that there were good times that I had with dad, I think he always made a point to make sure I was happy and for us to feel as normal as possible it was important to him I could tell. He would often talk about mom and how she was; he said it was important for me to remember her. I never saw her and dad didn’t have any pictures of mom so he really explained in great detail her features to me. He said that she had brown hair that she always wore very long; it was the first thing he saw when they first met. She was walking down the street to her car he was walking behind her; her car ended up being parked by his. All he could do was walk behind her and admire herhair he said you could tell just by the way she walked that she was a happy person. Dad was a shy guy in his youth but fought down his shyness to say hello to mom before she drove off. His eyes would always trail off and a grin would follow every time he talked about how mom looked. Her skin was golden, eyes as blue as the sky and a smile that would melt ice. Dad was from Pakistan so blue eyes were intriguing to him. Mom was a mixture of Dutch and African American. He said that mom was so beautiful that he didn’t mind that she wasn’t Muslim as long as she believed that there was only one God.  I think dad wouldn’t have cared even then; I think he was too star struck with mom. I could hear in his voice that he truly loved her; it destroyed his heart when mom killed herself. He said he didn’t understand it; mom was a diehard Christian who truly believed in the rapture but when it didn’t happen to her or anyone at her church she just seemed lost dad said.

Dad on the other hand still held on, daily saying his prayers while facing east to khana kaaba. He always would end in a sentence Inshallah whenever he was talking about something that he hoped would go well. Inshallah means if God wishes it so, it’s like wishing a blessing of something good to happen if it is meant to happen God will make it happen. He was a good man I miss him dearly. I’ve learned to harden my heart over the years blocking out all of my good memories anything that would make me weak; but dad will always be in my memory no matter what, he is what keeps me going. His words remind me to live. I packed up what little I had for food and left the forest that I’d known for so long I never wanted to look back. I recalled that the search party that had abducted me got ambushed because they traveled out in the open they were arrogant to think that no one would bother them, I won’t be so stupid. The safest route will be to travel close to anything that I can use for cover, out here there is nothing but trees I don’t know for how long they span but I will stay under their cover for as long as possible. I decided that I would take the route that I was taken during my abduction I had seen the city in the distance then and I felt that if I went there again I could see a way around the city and beyond it. I was feeling uneasy to be sure I was making a conscious decision to leave the only place I’d ever known, and although I was saying my reason for leaving had to do with finding a better food source that wasn’t entirely true. I probably ate better than when my father was doing the hunting there was a good food source here; dad bless his soul was just more than likely not a good hunter. I never went to bed hungry over the years after my father’s death. No I had better reasons to leave this place; I was tired of living with ghosts. My father was killed here his whole damn memory haunts me;and it has every day and night since. I just want to leave and take only with me the good memories of him and drop all the negative right where I sit. The little innocent girl who lived here died with my father, my innocence was taken stripped from me and I hated that. Too many dark memories of this place. Taking a deep breath I stood up checking to make sure my bat was secure on my back, and that my dagger holster was firmly in place hidden under my shirt. Holding my gun I just stared at it wondering if I would ever need it; there were four bullets in the chamber and eight in my front pocket hope I never need to use them. My legs were frozen my mind forcing them to stay in place, maybe I shouldn’t leave. “It’s only natural to fear change” my father’s voice echoed in my head. “What if…?”  I said starting to answer but my father’s voice cut me off. “Don’t fear the unknown embrace it! Leave this life behind and find a better one Inshalla…”  his voice faded away. Was I that crazy that I was talking to the voices in my head? Had it been that long since I had talked to anyone? Staring back down at the gun in my hand I took a deep breath before placing it in the holster. I stared off into the distance through the trees the birds chirped not far from where I stood; they were someplace up in the trees hidden above me it was peaceful. I took it as a sign to start moving. My feet started to go and to my surprise my mind calmed; I took the birds chirping as a good sign. I could face whatever would happen out there things would be ok. “Inshallah” I said softly under my breath. I didn’t look back but I swore I could feel the ghost of my father watching me as I left.

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