“Are you ever going to turn around?,” she asked, and, as before was greeted with silence. “You should see what I’m doing right now. I’ve got plants on my head,,” she said. “They are balanced perfectly, it’s really a sight.”
His head cocked slightly. Had she not been staring she would have missed it.
“And now, I’m naked,” she said. Not a stitch on me, the animals are staring.”
A minuscule shudder, just a hint of a response before he could put it in check.
“Ha! You do speak English!” She accused, “Come on, turn around.”
His silence persisted. She watched a fly flit along the pattern of tattoos on his back, and found herself irritated it did not stay within the intricate geometric lines. She sighed. That was the least of her worries.
“What do you want with me, anyway?” She asked. “I don’t have any living family, no money, nothing but a yoga mat and a dog, who has probably peed all over the hotel room by now. My boyfriend left me, and he didn’t have any money either. I mean, what is the point?”
They had tied her hands and ankles, and tethered her wrists to a tree branch above her. This she now looped around her wrists to remove the slack until she could use it to help herself rise to a standing position with her back to him. He crept up on her so quietly she was taken by complete surprise when he grabbed her shoulders. She rounded on him, trying to throw an elbow at his abdomen, but he dodged her easily. He did not make a sound, even his breath on her neck was measured. He moved one hand under her knees and neatly brought her back to the ground. With a single admonishing finger he gestured for her to stay,
In two loping strides he crossed behind her to the place they had dropped her pack, found her sweater and folded it under her head for a pillow. She was angry with herself that this act of kindness touched her. He returned to his sentry stance, and she groaned in frustration.
She must have fallen asleep. He was still standing there, but the gloom of dusk had given way to a bright morning. She was covered in a bitter-scented dew, She opened her mouth to ask about breakfast, but found herself unable to speak. She knew the words she wanted to say clearly in her mind, but was overpowered with lethargy when she attempted to form them. She could not expel the breath or move her mouth to the purpose. Worse yet, she felt no alarm about this, instead, she was flooded with serenity.
Hearing the rustle of her movements, he turned. He drew a knife from his garter and approached her. She gazed at him without fear, and observed dispassionately as he cut the ropes from her hands and feet. He turned her onto her stomach, and she pliantly allowed it, feeling the cool leaves against her cheek, and enjoying the sensation of the spongy ground supporting her weight.
She sensed him call the others, although still in silence, and they returned, carrying a tray filled with instruments and vials. He knelt down next to her, holding the needle in his hand, and she smiled as he prepared the skin on her back for the first injection. She knew this was now her purpose, and these were her people. The grove was her home, and she would never leave it.