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The Wild

She smelt of the wild.

Her hair was as tangled as strangling vines crawling up the thick tree-trunks around them. It was the colour of sodden dirt – looking as dark as a raven’s wing from afar, but up close had the warmth of the earth in its shine.

She swirled her skirts, hair whipping, and a grin spread over her face. A flash of wolf’s teeth in the darkness of the trees. The jolt of lightning through a bruised sky. The snick of flint conjuring sparks into a nest of kindling.

Spinning away from me, a laugh bubbled from her throat like a tiny brook lapping over my skin.

Sun-kissed skin tinged pink on the top of her arms and in her hairline. Freckles like specks of dirt dusted her cheeks and nose. Feet bare and worn smooth by the rocks.

She disappeared around a tree and peered around the other side. Eyes the shade of the sky when the sun had just dipped below the horizon – that perpetual twilight where the light can’t be seen by the sky is still caught in its embrace.

I stepped closer. The colours blur towards the pupil – baby blue mixed with darker violet and a scattering of silver as if the stars themselves were trapped inside her, waiting to burst free.

A twig snapped beneath my feet and she launches herself away from the tree. Her bare feet make no noise as she skipped through the ferns and scales a fallen log, slick with moss, as if it is little more than a pebble on her path.

At the top, crouched so her pale skirts drift across the top of the bark like fresh fallen snow, she turns back.

Smiles. Beckons. Disappears.

She was the wild.

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