as the bandage came off

The woman had bandages around her back and her arm. She didn’t bleed any longer. The wound had mended. Instead, a heavy stiffness and ache permeated her body.

She had fevered dreams. While she slept she sweated the sickness out. She jolted and turned in her sleep as if even her dreams gave her no refuge. 

The rains had stopped. The sun was out and water dripped down from the roof. 

The man went about his usual business in the cabin as she slept. He gathered the old bandages and uneaten plate of food. He opened the windows to the light and raised the shades so that air could rush in.

Still, she slept.

In the evening, he bent over her and she woke up with a start.

“I’m going to check your bandages.”

She nodded. She turned to her side.

Gingerly he undid the long cloth wrap bound tightly across her back. As he got closer to skin, she winced. The bandage was stuck lightly to her. He pulled it off. She shut her eyes tightly.

The cut had mostly healed. The wound had crusted over a scab. He took a damp cloth and pressed it to her.

She exhaled.

“Is that okay?”

She nodded.

He took another cloth and patted her wet skin dry.

“I think you might be fine without the bandage…”

She didn’t say anything. She stared at the wall in front of her. Wood grain with a knot like an eye looking at her.

He helped her lay back down. He reached over and took a bowl of hot liquid and brought it closer to her. She shook her head no, putting out her hand.

“Why won’t you eat?”

She shrugged, not looking at him.

“Look, if your mad at me, then-”

“I’m not mad at you…”

A hot tear rolled down the side of her face. 

He looked down at his hands and the damp cloths in them. They sat in silence for a while. 

“I think you’re getting better.”

He stood up and put the cloths with the old bandages and into a sack.

“I’ll be back soon, okay.”

She nodded.  

“Maybe have a little soup?”

“Okay.”

He shut the door walking into the forest with the sack. Looking up to the clear blue sky with the birds whistling to one another.

Inside the cabin, she wearily turned to her side stairing at the bowl of hot liquid. Steam rising up. She brought it closer. She inhaled. It smelled like healing. 

Her stomach rumbled. She took the spoon and dipped it into the broth blowing on it before it reached her mouth. Then, took a sip. Her eyelids grew heavy and she felt her whole body relax. She continued to sip the soup slowly until the liquid was gone. 

A wave of euphoria overtook her as she laid back down. Her eyes tried to remain open, but no, they would close. And she would sleep. And she would dream. But not like before. Finally, for what felt like the first time in forever, she could rest deeply, peacefully, fully. 

And so she drifted in between the worlds again as she closed her eyes to the cabin and found herself again in clouds. 

extraction wounds

There was no one around. 

It was a small cabin that no one knew about and no one could find. Outside, rain dripping down soaking everything in sight.

A hard knock at the door, but the woman lying on the floor couldn’t get up. Stuck between worlds, this one was.

The knock came again. She jolted awake from bad dreams. She looked around her… No idea where she was. Should this be familiar to her? She wasn’t sure anymore. Beads of sweat dripping off her face sliding down around the back of her neck.

The knock again. 

who is it? why can’t i move?

She looked for the rope or the ties anything — whatever was holding her down, but there was nothing.

There was only the pounding of rain. A knock at the door. And then, boom, a flash of lightning and it stopped. The rain stopped. 

The handle to the door turned. Catching her breath. Forcing it to stay still as if she held it, she could disappear. Hide.

The door opened. A figure, barely discernable stepped inside.

“What are you doing here?”

“I…”

“I thought you were gone. You-”

Forced breathes then fading consciousness. A low wheezing, gasping sound and he couldn’t tell if she was angry or struggling with something. He didn’t know what to do so he just stood there dripping rainwater on the floor.

She closed her eyes. Peace would come one way or another. Maybe she could will herself back to another world, another time, another place. Maybe she could drift away within a dream.

“Hey! Snap out of it!”

She opened her eyes. There was a warm light somewhere in the room. 

“What’s wrong with you?”

She shook her head. Tears mixed with sweat. He looked into her face. He looked angry. Concerned. She hated when he looked that way so she closed her eyes.

When he reached out a hand to touch her arm, she winced in pain. 

But this weird…

He turned her onto her side. And that’s when he saw it. Sunken deep within the back and oozing out a viscous goo. He was scared to touch it.

“It’s fine. I can get that out. I’ve seen worse.”

But she kept shaking her head.

“No, I know the truth…”

“No, you don’t. You don’t know everything, okay?”

“Okay…”

He took the tip of the arrow between his fingers and sighed. She arched her back in anticipation. With one swift pull, out it came, but with it so did the pain. He closed his eyes when she screamed. 

“You’ll be okay.”

And just like that she was in the dream world again. It always took a second to adjust, but yes, this was familiar. She was alone again. In a sea of clouds.