The in the forest thing.
I kept driving like I had been doing for the past three weeks, following a road that was never ending and never getting me anywhere. I yawned, it was wet and misty outside, bits of cloud drifted across the street, I had the windows down in an attempt to keep comfortable, a cool breeze blew through the car.
I knew the road would come to an end and perhaps I would have to turn and try a different one.
There wasn’t enough time to try them all, so anywhere may never be reached.
Things shrank that way, they got smaller, perhaps started to make more sense too. I could hear birds when I slowed my speed, Freddie Freeloader by Miles Davies came out of the radio, somehow illuminating the world around me, it all started to make sense and feel right. I stopped the car when I could and just sat there, the music had become part of it, helped to create an image that fitted the moment.
A perfect picture in fact.
The distance between the end shrank some more, there were gleams of sun reflecting on the moist air like they were dancing to the tune. It didn’t mean anything, but created an ideal of a moment, I wanted to keep it, hold it, freeze it in time, loop it around then replay from the beginning again and again. That was all that mattered, I took a deep breath, cut the motor and got out of the car.
The ground made from years of growth and decay felt soft under my feet, the air, scented by all that was green and alive had a sweet taste. I felt a thin delicate layer of moisture settle on me it was fresh and cooling. I looked up into the trees, they too were covered in a thin film of dew, their brilliantly green leaves would bend under the weight, let go of a drop, bounce up again and repeat the process. If there was a thing like a happy tree these were just that. They seemed saturated by the immediacy surrounding them. It all fitted into place, to create moments like these.
I felt the hum of my phone then, a voice from a distant place, I tried to explain where I was but couldn’t fit it into words. They would never know unless they were here and I could never record to give them that same feeling. Too many parts of the moment were something you couldn’t convey, like the temperature or the moisture that settled or the sweet scent of air or the sound of birds, the slight noise the trees made when a breeze touched and rustled their leaves.
A solitary car went by breaking the silence, shaking the world some, then gone again.
I hung up the phone, it was irrelevant, I was somewhere else.
With the music still playing, I sat down on a rock, lit a cigarette inhaled got up again to get a gone cold cup of coffee from the car, sat again. It turned 7am just then. The music stopped and the news came on. There were more dead everywhere, some disputes over the dead and the living, everyone blamed someone else and no one claimed responsibility. We presumed to know the guilty and were ready to have them punished. But not in all cases, some were of a noble nature, bettering the world or so they said. Someone else had died, a famous one, of natural causes, at a high age and no one was to blame. Then it was over and the station switched back to smooth tunes with the aim to create perfect moments which would let me forget there were bad things out there, happening right now as I enjoyed the being alive thing. I stubbed out the smoke, to climb back into the car and drive on, then changed my mind and wandered a little off the road to touch and be touched by the wilderness which started just feet from me. I was becoming part of it I thought, rather than just being observer. I thought as I had thought many times before that I could leave the world behind like this, just walk into the forest, then live of it. The thought made me smile, as it made me think of being a kid never having to worry about anything just out there in the wilderness returning only to be fed. Of course it was never quite like that, but it’s the notion you remember some twenty years later. Right ahead of me a bird suddenly came up from the undergrowth gave me a fright, and flew off. A nervous laugh escaped my lips, I became weary about what else was hiding beneath the bushes and trees, stood still for a moment listening, finally turned, slowly making my way back touching and plucking some leaves, rubbing them between my fingers till I could feel their juices cover my hand, then lifting it to savour the fresh scent.
It was good being outside the norm, somehow reliant on no one in a place so different and alien to a city dweller. There were no distractions out here, other than perhaps the urge to twist a twig or turn a stone just to see what lies beneath. I wondered how long I would keep out here before going quietly insane. I used to talk to trees, I remembered, when I looked at a particularly fine specimen from the same family. Then I could see the car reappear in the distance, I was like a kid caught up in a jungle-world climbing over an array of fallen trees caught in the process of decomposure. When stepping onto one of those they would give way and I plunged through the whole thickness of tree just like that. No effort on my part was required, you just stepped onto and then through. A million bugs would get disturbed and leave their hideout in a rush to escape. The bugs were much bigger than any I had seen before, maybe there were more trees or the ones here were tastier than the ones in other places. I watched them for a while how they curled around themselves, around bits of wood, around each other. Someone was being eaten constantly, I had somehow revitalised the food chain.
Right then there was some commotion ahead, birds went up in the air and I thought I saw something big moving. It went silent, the only noise being my heart which sounded like a couple of drums in my ears. Trying to calm it I started breathing shallow, frozen in a cowering position, then slowly I rose. Imagining to be an Indian of sorts I made some small steps in the direction of the car, then stopped, listening to the slight breeze, finally relaxed. I started walking feeling an urge to get back to the safety of the known, to drive off and dream of the wilderness as before. There I was, the distance between me and the car was negligible, I walked faster then felt something ripping at my chest pulling and pushing me all the same, an explosion was echoing in my ear. Once more I lifted my leg, which didn’t seem to belong to me anymore, pulling it forward without really raising it off the ground, when it went down again it went all the way, as if there was no ground anymore. I could feel myself falling forward, but couldn’t get my arms up, I fell onto my face, flat on the ground tasting the forest one last time. The ground was moist and warm, I was tired, my eyes closed, I smiled.
They were playing Miles Davies again.