Over the outcrop, on the rocky lip, the waves crashed in a ferocious thrust, thrashing against the drenched boulders.

Clara could hear the splash, the rush of that river’s surge – the power.

And was jealous of the force it wielded.

Because it had all crumbled a week before.

Her professor’s body was found in the men’s toilet.

The sigil that was burned into her front garden lawn, blazed until the neighbours called the police.

Her brother’s breathing down the phone, his kidnapper holding it to his trembling lips to drain her, to provoke her.

To tame her.

But there was no taming.

She wouldn’t relent like some broken beast, hobbling on its last leg as the hunter’s final gunshot rang through the forest. No sounds that would run terror or fear through her bones or veins.

A rod of defiance stuck deeply in her body and would not bend to any wind. Any call. Any bluster.

Closing her eyes, she allowed the waterfall spray onto her face and neck, the droplets cleansing.

She felt the pulse of the forest run through her, down her dark hair and tingling spine, and into her rooted legs and feet.

Today there would be no sacrifice; today there would be no submission.

Stepping forward, she dipped one foot into the water, then another, until the calming waters pooled and rippled around her waist. They emanated her echoing sadness, in how each concentric wave reflected the desolate sky; clouds overhanging and cushioning down the Brazilian humid heat within the earth a little longer. To madden its inhabitants in that press, that pressure, that would squeeze the moisture out of her body, if not for the solace of water.

She allowed herself to float like driftwood, a little away from the bottom of the waterfall, feeling the unsettling of what cried inside her to come out.

Only when she could touch the rod inside, could she take action, and not before.

Closing her eyes, she saw the book burst into flames in her room again, the dying cries of the crow outside before she threw clothes and her wand into a case, and fled into the night like a despairing shadow, leaving death and her captured kin in her wake.

She opened her eyes to the constellations of branches and leaves overhead, and beyond clouds puffing to burst their burden, and cleanse the earth.

Recalling her initiation and her days of living in the wild, of how she read the stars, cooked breakfast over a fire and shot arrows into her food. She longed for the simple life of living only to survive and take no more than what she needed.

She still has furs above her living room mantelpiece of a panther she’d encountered.

But those days were gone.

Now were the days of college, adjusting to a society she felt cold in and dealing with matters too dark for any of her fellows students to bear.

Slipping away from the water’s cold embrace, she thanked it for its imbuing clarity and walked to her tools by a sapling tree.

The forest birds called out her name but she ignored them.

Picking up her amethyst stone, it emanated a soft violet glow, and her mind ticked over the past week’s events.

Regardless of her plight, she knew what to do.