Julie ran through the woods, through the trees, her footing always stable, her steps fleet and sure.
Behind her he ran, tripping. She heard him fall with a muttered grunt on more than one occasion, and as she fled deeper into the forest, a scream.
She slowed her steps, breath rasping out of her, and wiped her face on her sleeve, breathing in deep gasps, exhaling sobs. Something patted her shoulder, and she whirled around to face, a tree. A tree with the face of a girl.
"You are safe." The words conveyed through rattling leaves and branches. "He will not follow now."
"Who... who are you?" Julie didn't recoil, too tired.
"We are the trees, and you can help us, as we've helped you." The slender branch that had patted her shoulder reached out again, and patted her shoulder again, trying for reassuring she guessed. "We need someone to speak for us."
"You need someone... me?" She blinked.
Seven years later, Julie watched the painter finish the sign on her office window: Julie Michaels, Environmental Law