(3) The Runaway
Hadara purposed in her heart that she was going to run away. When the first opportunity to escape came, she was going to take it. She did not know which way to go, she tried to remember which way the village was? She remembered that the sun was to there back, and that they rode for a long time before they crossed the creek. She thought, “If I go back toward the village that will be the first place he will look, so I will go the other direction.” The thought of running into the forest alone scared her. What if a wolf is out there, or a lion? What if I get lost and nobody finds me? Then it occurred to her that nobody but Zeev would look for her because nobody else knew she was alive. It was either run away or live with Zeev. She decided that she would take her chances and run.
She was snapped back into reality when Zeev yelled, angrily. “Abda! Abda! Get over here and let’s finish this goat! Abda got up, wiped her tears quickly away, and walked briskly to the tree.
“I got to teach you how to cut this goat up so you don’t waste a lot of meat, so pay attention!”
Abda did not say anything, she just looked down at the ground trying to avoid the pool of blood that was beginning to gel on the cold rocks.
Zeev, slapped her on the leg and yelled, “I said pay attention!” A sharp pain went through her thigh, and she stumbled and fell on the ground. She got up and for the first time in her life, she lost her temper and began to scream, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
Zeev grabbed her by the hair and pulled her face to his, she could feel his hot breath on her cheek, his breath made her sick. “You ever scream at me again, and I will kill you!” He took her tiny head and beat it against the dead goat’s body, at the same time yelling, “Now pay attention!”
Her nose was bleeding, and her cheek hurt. Zeev finally loosened his grip on her hair, and shoved her backwards. He took his knife, stuck the blade in the goat’s upper torso, and cut open the goat. The entrails fell to the ground.
Abda, felt like she was going to throw up. Zeev simply took his foot and pushed them aside. Zeev reached inside the carcass and pulled out the remaining innards, and slung them to the ground. “Now watch, this is where you have to pay attention. Zeev began making cuts around the back legs, and made a long cut on each side of the goat’s hindquarters, and began pulling the hide off. “You got to get all the hide off first.” He said gruffly. He then took the tip of his knife and ran it between the hide and the rib cage, peeling the hide back as he did. The huge man peeled the hide off like he was peeling a banana. It made kind of a sickening sound as the hide separated from the muscle. “This is going to be some good eaten’ girl! This will be the first meat I’ve eaten’ in months! I was going to get some things from the market when I found you.” Zeev said as he continued to skin the goat.
Abda watched without so much as moving an inch. Her tiny body was hurting all over. In less than two days she has been pushed down twice, once when she first got there and was coming through the door, her knees still hurt over that, and then today. She had been hit twice, once on the shoulder, and now on the leg. She had been shaken, and her face slammed against the carcass of the goat. She was cold and shaking, and wanted to cry again, but she was afraid to cry. All she could think about was getting away from Zeev.
Zeev began removing the meat from the bone, he started on the hindquarters, and made his way down the back, stacking the meat in a pile. “Watch how I cut along the seams of the muscles”, he instructed.
Abda, was not in the least bit interested, and found the whole process disgusting. But she did not remove her eyes from what Zeev was doing, she new if she did she would get hit again. So she just nodded her head slightly up and down, letting Zeev know that she heard what he said.
After all the meat was removed and piled up, Zeev wiped his bloody hands on his robe, and cleaned his knife, on his sleeve.
The head was still attached to the spine, and the hide dangled from the back of its head, Zeev took the head of the goat in his hands and with one mighty twist and tug, he pulled the head from the skeleton. Then he did the most disgusting thing that she had ever seen in her life. Holding the head in the palm of his hand, he reached inside the skull and pulled out the goat’s brains, and began eating them.
That was enough for Abda, she threw up…again. Zeev laughed out loud, finding humor in her weakness. “You been spoiled girl! You got to learn to eat what we got, because we don’t got much!” He wiped his mouth with his filthy sleeve.
Abda didn’t ask for permission, she just limped to the creek, and washed her mouth out, and wet her face. Zeev was gathering the meat up and was walking to the cabin. There was not a whole lot of meat, the poor old goat was old and scrawny.
Abda slowly got up and limped to the shack. She sat down on the bench and watched as Zeev placed some of the meat in a clothe sack, and the rest he just left the floor. Then he announced, “I am going to go to the village and trade this meat for some corn, and lintels. I got to find some grain for the animals. “You got to stay here, folks at the market know I ain’t got no girl.”
Abda’s hopes got up, as she thought about Zeev leaving her alone. She would have a chance to runaway. Zeev must have read her mind because he looked her in the eyes and told her, “You would be a fool to try and run away! There is bears, and wolves in the forest. They will kill and eat you!” Besides that, “If you run away and I find you I will hang you up from that tree and I will skin you just like I did that goat, you understand?” Abda, shook her head.
Zeev walked around to the stable and walked the horse back to the shack. Abda remained seated on the bench. “Girl come here!” Abda got up and limped out looking up at Zeev. “I will be back before dark, and you better be here when I return.”
With those words, he made sure Abda saw his knife. She again nodded her head. Zeev turned the horse around and began to ride towards the creek. Abda watched as Zeev rode off. Zeev glanced back at her a couple of times. Abda turned and walked back into the shack, wrapped her blanket around her and sat down on the bench. She was scarred. The thought of being eaten by a bear or wolf terrified her. “What if I do runaway and Zeev finds me?” She could feel her heart pounding in her chest.
She had learned very quickly that Zeev did not mind hurting her. The bruise on her arm and leg and her busted nose and bruised cheek reminded her. “But I can’t stay” she reasoned with her self. “I would rather die than spend another day with that mean man.”
With that thought, she stood up and walked to the basket and picked up the last three remaining ears of corn, placed them in the pockets of her robe. She grabbed her blanket and was about to walk out the door when she paused and glanced over at Zeev’s pallet, she went and got another blanket. She could not believe how horrid it smelled. It would remind her why she had to runaway.
Abda stepped out of the shack and looked around in all directions. Listened for any sounds that could be Zeev. The only sound she heard was the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, and the sound that came from the creek. She walked over to the creek, took a long drink of water. Got up and started walking. She got about a hundred feet away from the shack and began to run. Every time her foot hit the ground her leg ached, and it reminded her again why she had to escape.
She had no idea where she was running, or what direction she was going, all she knew was, she had to run! She ran until her lungs felt like they would explode in her chest. She knelt down, looked around and listened for any sounds, there was none. After a few minutes, she got up, and started running again. By this time, she was deep into the forest, and everything looked the same. Exhausted and hungry she sat down on the ground that was still damp but soft from years of falling leaves.
Hadara pulled out an ear of corn from her pocket and peeled the husk and silk back and began biting off small chunks. She wondered if she would ever eat anything other than corn again. How she longed for the hot soup, and fresh bread her mother cooked. With the thought of her mother, her eyes filled with tears.
She got up, looked around and walked for another hour or so. The sun was going down, and the temperature was dropping as the sun began to set. She took the blankets and wrapped herself. She was sure glad she took one of Zeev’s blankets. The thought of Zeev coming back to the cabin and discovering that she ran away sent a wave of fear through her. He had said that he would be back before dark. He was probably back by now, and raging mad. He was going to be really mad when he discovered that she stole one of his blankets. She felt good about taking the blanket!
She brushed some leaves back hoping to find some that were not quite as damp. She sat down with her back against a tree, wrapped the blankets tightly around her little body. Buried her face in the blankets but quickly changed her mind. The smell was worse than the cold. She leaned her head back and tried to sleep.
This was the first time in her eight years that she had ever been alone at night, much less alone out in a forest at night. Every movement woke her up. Every time a hoot owl called out, she woke up, the rustling of leaves woke her It was going to be another long night for Abda. Excuse me, her name is Hadara:
Read more articles by Rick Musick or search for articles on the same topic or others.