Staring up at the stone wall gave me the chills. The vines seemed to only grip the stones even tighter as I reached a hand for it. I hesitated for only a moment before I wrapped the foliage around my arm and began pulling myself up the wall. I needed to see the other side.
I needed to give her back her devotion, her reason for living; her magic.
My breath was labored as I continued up the wall; the bones of the dead peeked from between the pack dirt and stone, taunting me of what could happen. I stopped and touched my shoulder to feel the strap of the flour sack hanging at my waist. Blood had started seeping through the bottom of the sack and onto my legs in a sticky mess. I gave a sigh to release the tension that was slowly growing in my chest and continued up the wall. The stones became sharper as I went; cutting into my feet and hands, mixing my blood with hers. But it didn’t matter to me; we were born with the same blood.
I finally reached the top and found roses growing all along the edge of the wall, my heart swelled at the sight of them; she was here. The roses had dark layer of ash covering them, masking their deep red beauty. I stared at the roses and their meaning: silence. I swung my leg over the roses and felt the thorns slice into my knees, making me wince. I sat there for minute contemplating my next move since there were no vines on the other side of the wall, just branches from dead trees that had gnarled and twisted over time. I grabbed the first branch that I could reach and tried to climb down the tree but the blood on my feet caused me to slip and fall, scraping my elbows and neck as I went. I landed next to the trunk of the tree and tried to clear my head. My sight finally came into focus and stood slowly, feeling head ache in rhythm with my heartbeat. At the bottom of the wall was a small worn dirt trail that I knew would take me to her, and I felt sick.
Walking slowly and deliberately I made my way past the forest; wondering what was waiting for me at the end of the trail. My anxiety rose with every step I took and I felt my stomach turn in knots. My chest began to freeze and I felt tears sting my eyes as I continued down the trail. My hand touched the flour sack at my side and felt the bulge against the fabric. I’m almost there.
Finally I could see through the trees where a red sunset stained the sky and I felt my bones quiver. I continued my pace weeping tears of pain; soon it became a struggle just to make my legs take me forward. My anguish increased with every step; eventually my nose and ears began to bleed. I took a shuddering breath and kept moving until the path ended and all I could see was a giant hill. I stopped and tried to catch my breath, trying to find the courage to look at the top of the hill. My eyes began to hurt with the effort and I found that my tears had a pink tinge to them. I blinked away the blood stained tears and struggled to move again; I had to get up there. My hands found the flour sack and I gathered it up in my arms and held it close, feeling the blood seep through my dress.
I started up the hill but couldn’t walk more than four feet before I pitched forward and landed on my hands and knees. I gasped for air but couldn’t find any. I can’t stop here; I need to give her back her magic.
I dug my nails into the soil and began crawling toward the top of the hill. The flour sack dragged behind me through the dirt, leaving a garish mark behind me. I cried and sobbed in misery but kept my screams at bay while I crawled up the hill. I would make it through this. I would save her.
I finally made it to the top of the hill and fell against the ground in a heap of agony. “Never scream. Never scream for anything,’’ I told myself. I shuddered and tried to get up, but couldn’t. Instead I forced my eyes open and face my fears.
And there stood the tree of teeth. It was enormous as it stretched against the red sky, its black branches reaching for the clouds as if to try and escape from its own evil. Imbedded into the bark of the tree were the teeth of millions. They were wedged into every inch of the bark; and I realized that these were the lives that had sought revenge. I felt fear feather across my spine and I curled into a ball from the sheer terror of it all. My breath came in quick gasps and I reached for the flour sack. But before I could reach it I heard faint whispers all around me, making me shake from my very core.
“Carne,” I heard her whisper and my body froze. She’s really here. I closed my eyes and let myself remember her in life; all her beauty and grace and passion…all of it died with her. I opened my eyes, “Yes, I have brought it,” I said as I painfully got to my knees. I opened the flour sack slowly and reached inside. “Come back Donna, we can still send your soul to God,” I said as I revealed her heart in my hands, cold and lifeless. “We can make it right.”
But there was a piercing screech that filled the air and I dropped her heart into the dirt as I covered my ears. The tree frantically turned and whirled as it raged in anger. Then I heard the bark breaking and popping while the tree shook as a wind picked up. I cried and tried not to scream as I watched in horror.
The tree broke apart at the trunk, pulling and snapping, spilling teeth everywhere. Then a hand reached out of the bark as a body stepped forward. A mass of black hair with teeth scattered throughout escaped the tree and the body dragged forward.
I knew it was Donna but I couldn’t see her face. “¿Me robaste el corazón de nuevo?” she asked making her voice reverberate throughout the air. My ears quivered as the sound pierced my being, I gasped and nodded my head looking to her in hope that she would return to God. But what I saw was not love reflected in her face, but demonic delight. Her lips curved into a wicked grin and she began to laugh, making my hope evaporate away into dread.
Her cold hands grabbed me by the front of my dress and lifted me into the air. Tilting back her head she revealed her face and what I saw almost made me retch. Her eyes were missing leaving two empty pits. I looked down to see where her heart was stolen, a large black hole made itself known barely covered by the tattered cloth.
Then I looked back into her face, searching for mercy in her features. I never found any as she slowly brought me closer to her.
“I didn’t scream,” she whispered. “Will you?”

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