Itch was astonished; she had never experienced a ghost, missing so much of himself, turning away from her. She had assumed her power over him was absolute. She threw stones and taunted him. Not taking the rebellion threat seriously, she shrieked his name and laughed at him.
She was following, always following, waiting for him to exhaust his meager supply of energy. When he dropped, she would make him pay for this impotent escape attempt. He would soon know that she had a legal right of ownership over him as he had chosen her after being made fully aware of her character.
But he did not stop, though the stones hurt his body and her taunts chilled his blood, he continued walking away. He felt exhausted and panic rose with the awareness that he could go not much farther.
He knew when he fell he would be recaptured by the Witch, but he suddenly heard the sound of a swift flowing river. The violent water crashed upon bodies of the protruding rocks; the strong current easily carried huge branches down the river. Though the river was dangerous, the churning water looked fresh and clean.
The weeks of grime, filth, crusty blood and rancid saliva that covered his body propelled him toward the water. The promise of being clean, even a moment before he would drown, gave him an unexpected burst of energy; he ran.
Once the Witch saw his destination she jumped upon his back and dug her nails deeply into his flesh. She threw all her weight backwards but, in that moment, his will was stronger than the force of her pull. He lunged into the river. His knees hit the hard rocks and splashed Itch with tiny droplets of water. She released her hold and jumped back to the shore.
Efren collapsed, allowing the strong current to pull him down deep into the belly of the river. All the filth and stench he had worn for so long slowly washed away layer after layer.
He had assumed, in his weakened state, that this would be his burial place, but the water was restoring him. It was clearing the fog from his mind and inexplicably strengthening his atrophied muscles.
He found he could swim to the surface for air. Alert, and with remarkable speed, he managed somehow to make it to the other side of the river.
He saw Itch far upstream. He knew she would not get into the water. Clean, pure water would torture her. It was his shield for the moment. Now, was his chance, he fled. He heard her words coming to him on the back of the wind, “You cannot escape. You belong to me. I am coming for you.”
He ran faster.