But what to do about it?

She woke up, three months later, underneath that would-be called tree again.

Here was her dress. It felt terrible to be wearing it. The blood wasn’t dry, not at all. Carine wanted to rip it off, but she had nothing to change into and she had no idea where she was. However, she had the distinct impression she was dreaming at that none of this was real. She shut her amber eyes and tried to imagine that she was somewhere else, anywhere else, wearing something nice and fuzzy or sleek or something that was not covered in blood.

Opening her eyes, Carine noted that she had failed miserably. She was still where she had been. She was still wearing this.

“Carine.”

And that voice. She knew that voice. It was the same one she hadn’t recognized before. “What do you want?” she shouted out, wheeling around to try to catch where it was coming from. There had to be a place. Yet there wasn’t any. She chewed at her lower lip. “Leave me alone!”

“I can’t do that.”

She hated to hear that. It made her heart beat faster. This had to do something about prom. She felt it, in the base of her spine. The pain she had felt before she stopped feeling anything from the neck down. She wasn’t dead. Was she? She had lived on from that day. It hadn’t been great, but she was alive.

Carine decided to do something about it.

No

When Carine woke up, she wasn’t dead. At least, she didn’t think she was. She wasn’t in the hospital either, which she would have expected after what had happened to her. Instead, she found herself at the base of a tree. The tree had no leaves, and almost no branches. If she wasn’t right up against the bark she might have thought it was some sort of metal structure. Because no tree could be without so many aspects which would make it a tree.

“Hello, Carine.”

She sat up, being able to do so. Oh, she was still wearing that dress. The dress her father had glared at when she had decided upon it and reluctantly had used the credit card for it. He had expected her to return it, she had thought, despite everything. Well, it was still stained with the blood from what had happened earlier, so there was no returning it.

Thinking about her father hurt.

She looked around for the owner of the voice. She didn’t see anyone. “Hello?” she asked, hugging herself. The fact she couldn’t tell who was talking to her, someone who knew her name, really bothered her. Moreso than being in a place like this where she had no ideas at all about how she could have gotten here. Where here was. What this tree was.

“Carine, I have a proposition for you.”

“No.”

The word came out immediately. She didn’t regret it at all. “No?” the voice echoed her.

“No. I’m not going to listen to anything you have to say. The fact you started by saying that tells me I shouldn’t listen to you. Leave me alone.”

Then Carine was alone. Dreadfully alone.