I didn’t cry when he finished. I wanted to – it hurt so very much – but the tears just wouldn’t come. He staggered away, pulling up his pants and laughing, not once looking back. I laid there, face pressed into the rough bark and slimy moss, legs splayed obscenely to reveal tearing and blood, but he wasn’t afraid of what would happen if someone found me. A man like him wasn’t afraid of anything.
For a while, I thought about staying where I was. Eventually, the flesh would rot from my bones, and I wouldn’t be an emblem of meaninglessness. I could have died for any number of reasons, laying here against the oak, and all would be washed away. But I was young – the blood between my legs was the first that had been there – and the will to exist is strong.
Then I thought of running. Somewhere there had to be a place where I would be safe. I had seen such a small part of the world. But I didn’t know where I was, much less where anything else was. What would happen to me in a new town? A young girl, dirty and hungry, with a torn dress and no trade?
Then I thought of hiding. There were animals in the forest. And plants. I knew the penalty for poaching on this land was death, but the forest was large, and I wouldn’t need much to live. But I’d never be able to start a fire – the smoke would give me away, and the winters would be cold.
Then I thought of killing him. I’d killed lots of bugs. And some mice which had broken into our pantry. And a cat once, when it had a broken leg and couldn’t hunt and kept mewling the baby awake.
As I imagined my hands thrusting a sword into him, drawing more blood from his flesh than he could have dreamt of spilling from me, I realized I’d gotten up and begun moving back towards the village. He’d see me again later that day, but I wouldn’t be the same girl he’d left in the forest.