I don’t know how to sit still when I’m feeling stirred up. I harnessed the pooch up and set off down the path. Amongst the evergreen trees of the Pacific Northwest, these are the forests of horror movies. A hundred films roll thru my mind as we stroll on. I had forgotten she has an inquisitive nose and found myself stopping every five or so paces. It is quiet for an afternoon, and we are only yards off the road, but she keeps stopping and looking behind us. I hear no birds, just the crunch of my own footfalls, and the occassional snap of a branch. Much too large for the wind. Always behind me. And the trees with their moss and greenery too thick to see any distance around me. Just the path ahead, and the path behind. I see angry ghosts, restless and alone, waiting for one to stumble thru. They’re always angry, no ghost ever reached out to give you a hug. I try to quicken my pace, but the dog keeps halting, yanking me back, to sniff, to look up, to look back. Would she defend me, if an angry spirit stepped into the path ahead? We keep on, at our lurching pace, I wonder what it is she smells. The many animals that have traveled here, the people, could she smell if someone was murdered here? Would she tell me if she did? I spot a long discarded sock, half hidden in bush. If I peeked behind that bush, would I find a dead body? How long would it take someone to find a body out here, in all the bushes and behind all the trees? I hear another branch snap and executively decide to walk faster, giving a hard yank on the lead each time I feel it yank me back. How far does this trail go? Why can’t I hear any sound except my own footsteps, my breath coming out in pants, those damned snapping branches..
I burst thru the thicket onto a residential street. I don’t spare a look behind me, for fear someone might be looking back. There are birds chirping, and the sound of the ocean surf just below. A subaru drives past and an eldery man waves. I pass another woman walking two small dogs. I am back in the cheery neighborhood I woke up in. It smells of mowed lawns and blooming flowers. Everybody waves to everybody else. A woman passes me with a stroller. A boy plays ball in a driveway. This gated community is almost Stepford in its cheerful normalness..
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