The Woods

There’s a path that leads from her back door into the woods. Tall trees like skyscrapers mark the trail. In the Fall men go hunting in this forest. Deer, squirrel, rabbit, run amongst the pines, oaks, and maples. And at night it’s been said that old lovers from generations back chase each other and land in piles of leaves; making their beds for the night; happy to be out of the grave.

Jesse believed this to be true. The young woman claimed she’d seen all kinds of spirits out there in the wilderness not to mention her own house; the house she was raised in; never moved; stayed in the same room for thirty years. Never dreamt of leaving.

The old wooden white house had been passed on from one generation to the next. It became Jesse’s at the age of twenty-five when her mom and dad had both passed. Momma caught cancer and daddy died two years later of a heart attack one night in the room next to Jesse. She heard him pass on; didn’t go to check on him. Just sat up in bed and listened as he went from one life to the next. Didn’t take long. He didn’t even cry out for her. Just never woke up.

Well, Jesse would take walks in the woods. She had her whole life. Walking barefoot in the Summertime following the trail all the way back to a stream where hawks would swoop down and catch their prey. She’d strip down to nothing and go in for a dip. The cold running water felt good to her. It was pure, crystal like. It was part of her life. And now it was part of Mike’s as well. He would hunt and fish almost everyday. Together they’d walk along the path carrying fishing poles or shotguns and set up camp. Sleeping bags were laid under the trees and at night they’d count stars together. They’d count until he fell asleep, but not her. Her energy was too high. She sensed souls all ’round her. It didn’t disturb her though. ‘Least she never let on that they did. She kept her cards pretty close to her vest. She didn’t let anybody inside. Too scared to.

Although she stayed put, she was running from something. Some kind of fear had been in her all along. Ever since she was a kid she was scared. Some people fear death. Jesse was afraid of living.

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