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Footsteps in the Dark

Wed, 21 Jul 2021, 09:34 AM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

It was night. It was late. The forest was dark. 

The ground was marvelously soft from the rains the week before. Yet even though the man knew the path well, whenever he took his eyes (and his headlamp) off the ground at his feet, he found himself wandering into the softer softness of leaves and pine needles to either side, sinking sometimes well above his ankles. Often when he did this, his bare feet would step on a concealed bough fallen long ago and buried under the litter but still pokey enough to make him hobble. In this way he made his way to the outhouse. 

When he reached his destination, he went around the corner and stepped inside. The small space exploded in the brightness of his headlamp. Then he heard footsteps in the dark outside.

He turned quickly. His headlamp shined out the open door, lighting the forest floor and tree trunks standing in the dark and other trunks fallen rotting on the ground. Three feet away from him was a porcupine. It stood next to a log and had just turned its back. Its black and white spines stood erect. 

The man stomped his feet. He slapped his hand on the outhouse wall. The porcupine held its ground and shifted defensively. The man began to reach toward a stick to poke the porcupine so to scare it away. But at the last moment, he decided otherwise. There is no visit to an outhouse worth that risk. 

Instead, he tucked his head, stepped back out onto the soft, leaf-strewn path and walked back whence he had come. He would take his business elsewhere.

© jumpingfish by David Hasan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License