Run as fast you can, child!

What he told her to do, she did. But these words were different. She knew now that if he were chasing her, it was best to get away.

You're just a child! You can run, but how far can you get? You know I'll catch you... I'll just keep getting closer.

"No!" She fought as hard as possible, her rain-soaked hair flying behind her and flapping around her face. The flashes of lightening coming down through the trees that towered above her. The roar of thunder that clapped violently, causing the earth below to tremor.

Why do you battle so? It will all be over if you just give in. It won't hurt, I promise. Just let me do-

"I don't give up!" She screamed, her voice was high and rusty, raspy and scared, but she continued on. Her bare feet hit twigs, leaves, and soggy, muddy ground. It took everything inside of her to continue on.

I'm very close now... Right behind you. I could reach out and grab you and no one would ever know.

"I'm sorry!" She saw the tree trunk seconds late to give her mind a way to miss it. Instead, her jump was milliseconds late, and instead of missing it, she fell, sprawled on the ground. Her face was scratched and bruised, feet were dirty and black, and her mouth held the ashy taste of earth.

Scrambling to stand back up, the man jumped on top of her before she could escape. "I'm sorry! Please let me go! Let me go! Let me go!" She sobbed, the tears and rain mixing together on her dirty face.

"I'm sorry, child. You must learn to obey." The man thrust his arms around her, picking her up by her frail shoulders and slamming her down on the ground several times.

"Acacia, what do you think you're doing? We have guests and here I am chasing you through the woods like a maniac. I'm sick of these temper tantrums! Sick of them!"The dark voice was replaced by an angry tone.

Almost as if realizing the panicky girl's sobs, her screams of agony, her tone changed. "Why were you running away?" Her tone had softened slightly, but not enough to make a difference.

At the girl's silence, her mother looked around, as if to say "What am I to do?"

"Acacia, calm down." The woman, her mother, began to stroke the young girl's wet hair. Acacia clung to her, weak, scared, and hollow.

It was the man again. He wouldn't leave her alone. But none of them did. They chased her, threatened her, and promised to get revenge. But they always left when she thought their promises would come true. When she thought they would finally hurt her. Sometimes they did, sometimes they left her alone. But like today, they had been persistent.

Acacia's sobs quieted, but still racking her thin body. "Acacia! Acacia, everything is going to be okay. Tell me what happened."

The girl was silent.

"It's okay, Acacia. What's wrong?"

No sound.

The woman, now growing irritated, "Acacia, tell me what the hell is wrong!" The girl, who no longer sobbed, stared off into space. Her dark eyes were glazed over, and her mouth moved while no words came out.

"Acacia! I'm not a freakin' mind reader."

The woman grabbed the young girl up, squeezing her thin wrists, and pulling her along. "Shh, baby. I'm sorry. Let's just go home." Although her tone was motherly, it held an edge to it.

Now, walking to the side door, her mother attempted again. "Are sure you don't want to tell me, Acacia?

Acacia, watching the cold, stormy weather turn to warm, spring weather, looked at the man in the distance. "He was chasing me."