There is a solid line painted in the middle
of her face. It’s red and continues down
the center of her torso past her belly button.
She sits still on the side of the path I am
walking and looks surprised to see anyone
else out there.
All the trees in this forest have thorns but
that doesn’t do very much to deter birds
from landing on the vast branches and
picking at their feathers. They remind me
of my past self covered in bandages.
Opening up thick scabs with jagged nails
and doing nothing about the blood until
I couldn’t take it.
She holds out her hand and points along
the trail to tell me to keep going the
way I was already headed.
It didn’t give me confidence that I was right
for choosing that path, on that day, but I
know better than to argue with a pretty
girl in the forest.
I pick up the pace and prepare anxiously for
whatever is waiting ahead, but occasionally
look over my shoulder and kick myself
for saying nothing when I could have said