The words are etched in planks of beautiful cedar, each board glistening with a honey brown finish. Opaque porcelain of green, blue, and red enamels pool in the carved words. “Two Rivers School and Recreation Area,” the sign announces. An onyx arrow indicates the gravel path below.
Early in the day, clouds had wept mist on the road that ran between where I stand and where I was going. I walk across the tarred road and there I find another sign advertising the business and owner’s name, Linsey’s Milling Co. It hangs there in its graceful age, no shame of its condition, proud of a job well done. It centers itself between two log columns and suspends from a railroad tie. The rusty chain holding the sign shrills when a wind comes along. The carved words are still raised from the wood, but only slightly legible. There are no bright colors pooling in these weary etched words. It just hangs there, displaying itself in a manor that was once fashionable.
The wood’s surface was left raw from a process called hewing which has taken its place in history. Rough, jagged edges were left on the surface as though to protect it from its only predators: those that made it. Blanched, weathered colors of mauve gray and black prove the twenty-six years of occupation. Subtle tones and oils were lost to forty and fifty below temperatures, unseasonal rains and warm draining rays from the summer sun. I stand there watching the sign sway in the wind.
My nostrils open wide to take in the smells of lavender and wet, decomposing spruce. I feel only conscious of the sign and the smells. I know that the sign acts only as a cover to the novel, and the rest lay along the dusty path in front of me. I don’t walk the path, deciding to leave it for another to explore.
If you like this story, read more by getting the full collection of my short stories: Mama Takin' Me Downtown
Photo by Nicole Rodriguez on Unsplash
There were three men that were enemies and hated one another. All three spoke a different language, their skin was different from one another, yet they also spoke a common language they all understood.
One night all three were in the same woods. One had been hunting, another had been gathering mushrooms, and the other was simply enjoying a walk. Time passed quickly and the evening was turning into night.
Now, this was a night that had no moon. If you had been caught in the forest, you would not be able to see your own hand right in front of your face. As dark fell quickly, all three had found themselves engulfed in the black of night.
The hunter came upon the mushroom gatherer. In the dark, the mushroom gatherer called out towards the movement he heard. When the hunter heard him speak, he knew it was his enemy and immediately shoved his long barrel gun into the man's back. The hunter knowing the lay of the land, having hunted these woods and regularly navigated the dark. He forced the man to walk by the threat of his gun in his back.
They came upon the third man that had been out for a walk. He had sat by a tree, humming a song to comfort himself while he waited out the darkness for dawn to come so he could return home. The man with the gun seized the third man. He knew he was his enemy by the song he sang.
This hunter used many methods to hunt various prey. He would set snares for small rabbits, covered pits for large game, or set in a blind and just wait. He reached a place deeper and darker in the forest after a long walk stumbling and falling through the tangled vines and uneven ground. Without so much of a word to them, the hunter pointed his gun and pressed it against the back of each of their heads. Then moved the barrel down to each of their backs and shoved them forward hard.
Both men fell forward crashing through limbs and brush, then empty space until they hit the forest floor at the bottom of a pit.
The next day they awoke to fragments of light flickering through the leaves and limbs the hunter used to cover the trap. The two men did not speak during the long night. One lay seemingly lifeless after hitting his head and was unconscious. The other man set nursed a broken foot. Immediately, they too recognized each other as enemies. Forgetting their circumstances they began to argue and fight with a desire to tear each other apart. However, the severity of their injuries halted their rage. Eventually, they had no choice but to work together to gain their freedom.
One had a satchel of mushrooms and edible plants they used to gain strength. The other knew how to bind wounds. One was tall and muscular and the other clever. Using the wit and knowledge of each other, they climbed out of the hole to freedom.
Now freed, one would have expected that they would aid one another the rest of the way to safety from the woods.
Once again their hate for one another and the rage of what had been done to them overnight took any reasoning they might have possessed. They fought viciously, rolling and punching one another on the ground. Then just like that, their anger and rage came to an end. Both men fell again headfirst into the pit. One broke his neck and the other impaled himself on a broken tree limb that had fallen from the snare the hunter made.
The third man went on hunting and took home several rabbits that day.
What is the moral of the story? Or is there a moral to this story?
I am a truth-teller. It has not always made me popular but I will always provide a searing frankness to the world I see and experience from my perspective. I continue to reach for a better world by holding us accountable for the world we have created so far. I hope you enjoy my pondering and see yourself in my writing.