I begin to avoid my campsite and therefore the goat-man. Leaving doesn’t seem an option. I am enamored by early morning swims beneath the waterfall and my evening campfire under the forest canopy. So I wander further, where I discover other magical places, and I stay away until the daylight slips behind the mountain.
After three consecutive days, where I breathe the air of silence and feel the heartbeat of the goddess in every ancient tree, I return to my hearth for the night. Alone, I instinctively pause on the threshold just as a blood-curling cry tears through the stillness. Fear clutches at my throat. I know this is the goat-man and I feel his suffering.
I am a stone, invisible to the naked eye. The goat-man rushes past me and disappears further into the forest. Only then do I remember to breathe. My pulse beats slow motion. My feet find ground. I am propelled in the opposite direction, away from the fingers that tighten around my freedom.