A single drop of rain raced along the broad surface of the spade-shaped leaf that stretched out in front of my hiding place. It followed the intricate pattern made by the indentations from many snaking veins until it finally found the downward sloping valley at the center of the leaf. It picked up speed, as well as nearby beads of water, until it finally reached the pointed tip. It clung desperately to its final point of contact and I willed it to hold on.
I held my breath as another droplet followed the same water-slick trail, racing heedlessly, straight into the still-clinging raindrop. The delicate balance which allowed one or the other to remain was upset. The first drop fell. I closed my eyes and then plugged my ears. I did not want to hear it hit the ground.
I tried to hold on to the image of the raindrops, but against my will it changed. In my mind’s eye the droplets morphed into two children, sliding recklessly along the mossy branches, laughing and shouting, until one of the children slipped. At the last minute she grabbed the branch with one hand and screamed for help.
The other child moved quickly, lying down on the damp moss she gripped the other child’s arm. Both of them were glistening from sweat. The thick mist that hovered around them was beginning to coalesce into a light rain.
The dangling girl let go of the branch and wrapped her long fingers around the hand of the other, the one who was safe.
They screamed in unison as their hands slid apart and brilliant green eyes that were wide with fear disappeared into the mist below.
It was the last image I had of her. I would see it forever.
I squeezed my eyelids together more tightly and a tear worked its way loose. It careened down my damp cheek until it reached the tip of my chin. I wiped the tear gently with the palm of my hand before I opened my eyes, eyes that matched hers, and then I closed my fingers around the small stain. I pulled my knees into my chest and rested my forehead on the bony peaks. My long green hair shifted and curled around the dark brown skin of my arms and back. I blended perfectly into my surroundings.
I listened to the rain make music on the leaves and I told myself I would go back as soon as it stopped. In my heart I knew that was a lie.
I could never go back.