As we tromped through the Japanese ‘suicide’ forest, I tried to remember what number this activity had been at on Robin’s bucket list. Somewhere around the middle maybe?
Scrambling over a large tree root, I pressed my hand into the mossy trunk of a tree and carried on following our Japanese guide. He was wearing a yellow high visible jacket and blue waterproof trousers. Though there was a lot to take in but my eyes were mostly on the ground. Also, I didn’t want to step on any more rotting clothes and human bones.
I looked back at Robin walking at the tail end of our small group with his wife, Tia, who he was talking too. It was hard to believe the doctors had given him only a year to now live. Robin seemed so full of life and excitement, a newly married twenty-six year old with everything to live for.
The loud snapping of branches brought my head up. Our guide was breaking his way through, cutting down things with his small sword. He said something quietly and I wasn’t sure what but then I saw it.
My hand flew to my mouth and I turned away, stumbling into Greg who’d been behind me.
‘Don’t look!’ I gasped out.
‘We’ll go around,’ the guide said in his American accented English.
‘Is it a body?’ Robin’s voice half-shouted.
Though I had my head buried in Greg’s shoulder and the imagine of the two bodies danging from the tree, I was aware of Robin pushing his way to the front to see.
‘Don’t go any further,’ the guide spoke.
‘I won’t,’ Robin answered.
I risked a peek over Greg’s shoulder and saw the others standing still, waiting. Robin was close to my right and he was looking up in wonder.
‘Let’s go,’ I uttered and took Greg’s hand so that we walked away together, ‘I wished we hadn’t come here.’
‘He’s facing death and he wants to see it first hand,’ Greg said and shrugged. Nothing seemed to bother him.
I stopped and took in a few deep breaths. I slide my hand from Greg’s and we waited for everyone to join us. Then we walked in silence until we reached a glade and set up camp for the night. I couldn’t sleep. That brief image haunted me but instead of those unknown faces, I saw Robin and Tia’s.
Tears soaked my cheeks and I broke into sobs. I couldn’t picture a world without Robin but it was one I’d soon be living in.
(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/10/05/thursday-photo-prompt-glade-writephoto/ with thanks).