Off Limits

Woods. Forest. Trees bare, naked from autumn’s winds. Brown pine needles along a path leading him to a stream. Cold, clear water running at a rapid pace. Coyotes and stray dogs drink from it. Beavers build dams. Young boys just piss in it.

Summer went into fall. And fall into winter early. Soon the stream was be frozen. Young men playing war can cross over to the other side. Going deeper into the woods. Seeing the same sites they saw last year. And, the year before that. Abandoned cars from long ago. An old horse drawn fire engine. Huts and tents left behind. The snow seeped into their shoes.

They carried guns. Men in camouflage with whiskey on their breath. Climbing trees and staying put on a strong limb. Looking for the perfect shot. Deer would walk by. They sense a human presence. The young boy would whistle loudly to drive them away from the hunters. He hid in the bushes.

And, he never thought of the danger he was in. Trying to sit still in the bush. Trying not to laugh when hunters missed their targets. But, as boys do, he moved and the hunters saw this. A shaking bush. Movement behind it. They fired.

Boys no longer go into the forest. They no longer play on mounds of dirt, red clay. Kids will remember the boy who got shot that morning in November. Learn from his folly. From then on, the woods were off limits.

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