Drop #66: The Edge of the Woods

I follow the curve of the path through the trees. Buildings begin to reappear: ochre stains through the long grass. The human smells get thicker, replacing the must of damp woods, and I slow my pace to delay the return.

I see Margie near the nettle pond, the traffic on Maine Street now audible.

‘How long are you out for?’ she asks when we’ve said our hellos.

‘Not long. A week or so.’

‘You’re going to miss the woods,’ she says.

I look back over to where I came from. ‘Yeah. I think you’re right.’

We stop talking to smile and fidget. This broke-down dance lasts a minute till I say, ‘I should go.’

‘Please don’t, she says. ‘Not yet.’

I pause.

‘Please.’ She rests a weightless hand on my wrist.

I imagine her sitting cross-legged in a dimmed room, harvesting the sadness of soft songs. I imagine her frowning in a child’s pajamas, waiting for something to begin. I don’t subscribe to this melancholy brand of need, but sometimes, I wish I did.

So I stay.

‘Can you…be lovely with me?’ she asks, all eyes and shivers. ‘Can we be lovely together, here, at the edge of the woods, just for a minute.’

I feel like I do when I smoke a pipe at my spot, deep in the pines. It’s a first outside its cool and sympathetic shade.

‘Of course.’

She folds into my chest and I share of my warmth, and so we stand, defying time and loneliness, till she looks up.

‘You are very beautiful,’ she says.

I know it is meant in an innocent way, but remember the wolf and the heat in his veins. Sadness and skin will beckon me in, so I pull away, unwrapping my arms.

‘That’s OK, she says. ‘Every rapture is a fleeting thing.’

My smile feels like the one my mother wore when I’d fall off my bike, or have a nightmare, and suddenly I hate life’s callous circularity.

‘I have to go,’ I say, and Margie nods, like reeds do in gentle winds.

I walk away, bemoaning the ease with which it begins.

 By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

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