Author: Olivia North-Crotty
The man fell from the sky, crashed into the thicket, and almost shot her before hesitating, then fainting. Eve Winwood dragged his bloody body miles through the forest– an instinct, not a choice.
Body-thick vines were cut and woven to create a dome of concealing green. Eve removed the man’s gun and knives from his belt and noticed his little bracelet of braided blue swamp grass. She tied down his massive arms to the bedsides, careful not to harm the rugged band, and cleaned the purpled wounds on his torso with coconut butter, wrapping it in large, soft leaves. Eve made him her honeysuckle tea for when he awoke; its aroma could revive the dead.
Midnight eyes examined the man’s weapons and bracelet. The knives were unused– sharp and clean. She inspected the tattoos burned onto the sides of his head and recognized them. Nothing but artificial skin could form the scars. The battered gun revealed chambers with steel, bloodied bullets shoved into them with haste, riddled with dents and scratches. He must have been desperate to reuse so many bullets, running from something or someone.
Eve’s mother taught her it was acceptable to hide from problems as a last resort, but never to run. No proud Winwood ran from trouble. No proud Winwood except for her father, who tucked her in and whispered goodbye to her in a uniform similar to the man’s.
Eve poured some tea for herself, stepping out of her dome of vines to collect more water from the nearby spring. When she returned, she was startled by the man in the midst of leaving something on the bed. She dared not enter her dome, eyes drifting to the torn rope hanging off the bedsides. His knives and gun already packed, he hobbled towards her, looked through her soul, and disappeared into the thicket of mammoth trees.
Eve stepped inside and smiled at his empty wooden teacup. Alongside his little blue bracelet, he left a small photo of himself at a campsite at dusk. Flask in hand, the image displayed his arm draped around a smiling, red-faced soldier in need of a shave.
When Eve was small, that same scruffy soldier left her his treasured recipe for honeysuckle tea beside her bed that night he tucked her in and whispered goodbye. One stick of cinnamon, two leaves of mint, and one stem of honeysuckle soaked in the pot for five minutes or more. He always said its aroma could revive the dead.