The swiftness of the intrusion jarred her stance and a moment of clarity. Across the river, the silhouettes of the attackers diminish into the shadows leaving her to die. A slew of withered leaves carried down by a sudden gust of wind land on the ebbing water about her.
The gleaming moon blurs on the water’s surface as her eyesight weakens. She breathes deeply as a pall of resignation settles in and washes away the silent anger that had laid claim to her heart all this time. It is the gap that formed when the other one enters their midst, the damsel in distress. She thinks back of the eyes that had stopped looking at her. His eyes. She feels the warmth of his presence. The quirk at the corner of his lips responding to her smile. The easy hands reaching out to help even when she needn’t it. The discreet glance he threw her way. She remembers, and she knows what they are now. Mere memories. And she accepts it. She can at last feel: the cold water wrapping her feet, the night air against her skin, the river babbling on the rocks, the frogs croaking at the fore of the forest night orchestra. And the poison. The numbing poison now coursing through her veins. She feels the mass of the arrow on her shoulder that feeds the venom. It stings.
She stops resisting and lets herself drop back into the water as she stares heavenward. The attackers are gone now. At least, her tribe is safe.