I sped into the forest, aware of the thunder of paws behind me. There were miles of trees in front of me: tall ones, thin ones, thick ones, short ones, young ones and old ones. I twisted and darted through and around them, my lungs gasping for air. I was starting to develop a nasty stitch in the side, the ones that make you want to keel over. But I didn’t. I kept on running.
Low growls, deep and threatening, came from behind, and they seemed to make the ground vibrate. Desperately, I looked around for a place to hide, or a small space to squeeze into. Suddenly, I eyed a perfect tree from the corner of my eye, with a few low branches peeping out from underneath which I thought I could just reach. It was a fir tree, with thick branches, lots of green leaves and tall. Perfect.
I abruptly swerved to the tree’s direction, losing the beast for a few seconds. I felt my torn shirt sticking uncomfortably to my back, where I felt blood trickling down my back. I had missed it by a few centimeters, but it had still dug its sharp claws into my back and left three stinging tears.
Looking up the inside of the fir, I knew I had made the right choice. Swinging up my leg to the lowest branch, I grabbed onto another branch and hauled myself up. Good. I was now four feet up already. Then I proceeded to the next branch, which I easily stepped onto, another two feet higher. At this pace, I proceeded till I was a quarter way up. Though, it wasn’t long until I heard the stomach-flipping growls of the monster. And I knew it was trying to sniff me out.
And it wasn’t long at all. Only a few seconds, and it was already looking up at me under the tree, with its sharp, brown eyes. It bared its teeth, and jumped. I gasped, but it slid back down. However, it still tried. Again and again and again. Until it finally got its grip on the trunk and slowly started clambering its way, digging its claws into the bark.
In the state of shock, I had frozen to the spot. Now I had gotten my legs and arms back, I started rapidly finding my way up, heart in my throat.
Now I was at the top of the tree, where it was swaying. I saw the whole of the forest below me, silent and green. If I hadn’t been in this situation, I would’ve definitely stayed there and enjoyed the relaxing view. But now I had different matters. It was three quarters up the tree, close behind my heel, its black and orange coat a shimmer of colours under the leaves.
I had this block in my throat, that I couldn’t get out, that was stuck in there. I wanted to cry, to weep. But suddenly, and very quickly, I found a new strength in me. It was indescribable. I found a new ounce of strength. And that new ounce of strength was what kept me going.
Strangely, I had this feeling like I could fly. Soar up into the clouds and fly like a bird. And, but it was so vague I could hardly remember it, I also had this vision that I had wings sprouting out of my shoulder blades, and somehow the branches opened wide for me, and so I dove through it and flew away…
I opened my eyes, yawning.
“Wake up, sweetie!” Mum’s voice rang from downstairs. My insides flopped. It wasn’t real. It was just a dream. I felt like a sad, lost puppy. So much for flying…
And then I shrieked. For my favourite toy tiger that was lying in bed next to me had suddenly sprung up. It was alive!