Blood pattered down onto the dry leaves from his body. He knew his time was drawing near and hastened his pace. He had to see her one more time, one last time. Her smile would make it okay. Make his struggle worthwhile.
Dizziness almost toppled him but he leaned against one of the dogwoods and forced himself to fight it off. Not now. Not until he’d seen her. He pushed away from the sapling’s trunk leaving a dark smear on it’s bark in the pale moonlight and staggered on.

There was a gurgling in his chest now and the dark fought him at the edges of his vision. His limbs were cold and it was spreading up to his body. Moisture trickled down him though he noticed not at all, so intent was he on his purpose.

He could see the fence up ahead through the trees where they had played, and where he had first declared his love for her. He was getting close but he was so tired and heavy. His feet shuffled instead of walking. He couldn’t feel them now.

His chest was burning and he felt bubbles as he exhaled. Breathing in enough air was a monumental task. He blinked and his eyelids were almost too heavy to open again. The roaring in his ears had a new tone, voices whispering.

“It’s finished. Lie down. You can do no more.” They whispered and his legs shook and almost betrayed him as he half fell against the rough bark of a towering oak. The dark was closing in though he could still see moonlight on the ground a few feet away.

“I’m so sorry.” He whispered to her as he slid down the trunk to land in a sprawling heap, roots pushing into his ribs. Breathing was too hard now, so he quit. The dappled moonlight on the ground rose up and whirled in a dervish around him.

“I love you.” he imagined he screamed, as the cold dark swallowed him. He tried with a mighty effort to suck air into his blood filled lungs but nothing worked anymore, so he gave in and let the darkness and the voices take him down that black waterfall.

She came out to the fence to wait for the school bus. Her eye caught a glimpse of something under the tall oak past the barb wire fence. The lump that rose in her throat threatened to choke her as she threw down her books and leapt the strands to run to the huddled form.

Cradling his head in her arms, she sobbed and wailed, her tears flowing down her face. She gently wiped the chicken feathers from his jaws that could never bark joyously for her again. “I told you they would shoot you if you didn’t quit stealing chickens.” She sobbed into her collie’s fur.

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