Forest Dark

      It was not yet night but that soft bitter sweet end of the day, the sun had gone down and no stars had yet come to peer down through the leafless bows overhead. It has happened before, not just like this for no day or night is ever the same but there are unmistakable similarities that link each time from one moment to another.
      The birds who only a long sigh earlier had chirped and fluttered were either silent or gone. The twelve skittering squirrels, and chipmunks who made this clearing their playground were no where to be seen or heard. There was an owl somewhere gazing down from a shadowy branch, for a folding wing ruffled moments ago but now there is no sound.
    Not a twig snap, or even a moaning bow easing against another, not a scratch of small feet on fallen dry and molding leaves. The only sound that pounded through the darkened forest was that of a heartbeat. Blasting, booming, thumping inside a chest and some one breathing, in short tense gasps, a small sniffle, another gasp but mostly the drumming of a heart.
  From under a cloak sleeve a gray trembling hand reached out into the empty pit of air that enveloped it, the fingers spread then clenched into a motionless fist, held steady for a moment then retracted back slowly into the frayed sleeve. There was a click.
  A beetle, perhaps a juvenile cricket, a tree toad, broken twig snapped by a passing deer snapping back into shape, maybe but definitely a click. The beat of the heart moved up one rank from a fast walk to a steady march, the gasps of breath held silent to hear, to strain in the growing darkness to hear another click. The pause oozed into a monster pause and a large gasp was taken followed by the quick sniffle to check a damp nose or a chilled one, but definitely a sniff.
  No voice spoke out, no sounds were made but there were words, still calm, cold words that came not from the air, not from the blackening sky, not from the ageless tree, not from the faithless soil, no these words were just there. Like some oral voiceless mountain tolling somewhere deep behind the ears, to loud to be ignored, to clear to be a voice from this darkness.
  "You are here,. . . . again." A gasp as both hands shot from the cloak and cold taught fingers grasped cold ears as palms pressed over them and another sniff. "Is this,.......Is this - what you want, what you are looking for what you think is to be found?"
  There was no stopping those words, the hands held on muffling the ears, the eyes were scrunched, squeezed and pressed shut but still more words.
  "Cold can cough, candles and cotton, keepsakes and caution, candy and covers, canons and coulees, cats and coffee, copper and cacoons, covens and coffins, cantaloup and cranberries,. . . . .coal and confusion,. . . . . courage and convenience .. . . . cucumbers, canaries and cactus. . . . .catch, caught and condemned."
    The hands were waving, sawing through the mist of exhaled air, there was a sob, a voice made that sob not some inner circle of words but a voice, thick and wounded. The hands fell limp beside the knees buried in the musty dampened leaves, feet no longer baring weigh but splayed out behind, toes pointed to each side and a voice, not a sob this time but a clear, controlled voice.
      "I am not here again, I have never been here, this is no place and I am no one."
      The head was erect, as no one rose to their feet, gray hands swept away the leaves that stuck to the knees, keen damp eyes look up to a needle sharp star piercing its way through the branches and an owl unfolded its wings, whack, whack, whack it was flying.
        by: Timothy W. Shire