Dust caked the soles of his bare feet. He had been dangling there awhile. The local birds picked and pecked at his clothes, no longer strangers to his presence. “A strange branch,” perhaps they thought.

The man peeked through one eye to see shapes shrinking in the distance. “Probably safe now,” he thought.

He closed his mouth and swirled around what little saliva he could muster to spit the dirt out of his teeth. After a stretch, he pulled himself up to squat on the tree branch and slid the uncomfortable rope from his neck, before throwing it down to sway alone in the wind.

He scanned the horizon once more, and saw that the shapes were growing. It was time to run.

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