The squirrels were out in full force. They roamed the fallen colourful leaves and chased each other up trees. Sometimes one would stop to eat a nut or seed, sitting on hind legs and holding food in tiny front paws. Others choice to bury their prize in the hope it would help to see them through the winter.
Autumn leaves stuck to my boots, a drizzle rainfall patted the trees. The sky was a dusky blue-grey-black, night was coming fast. Birds tweeted their last songs and somewhere a woodpecker knocked.
I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be home in front of the TV, eating snacks, being normal. My mind wouldn’t let that happen. I was going though so much therapy and techniques it was hard to keep up with it all. None of it was working.
Being in the forest helped, somewhat. The hour or two of walking in the evenings, no matter the weather, helped to tire me. If not, the all night gym did.
No pills, cognitive therapy or other practises lasted long. The voices and thoughts came still. They whispered for me to do harm to myself and others. They laughed, taunted, demand, said there was no getting rid of them. I was mad.
I should have stayed locked up in the clinic but I wasn’t ill enough; my problems could be controlled. What did the doctors really know? They didn’t have all these demons inside. I didn’t trust myself, no one could, it was only a matter of time until…I did what the voices wanted and killed the next person I saw.
Looking up at the copper coloured leaves, I tried to relax and clear my head but all I could think about was the flow of blood. Red and pooling on the ground, the taste of it in my mouth, the feel of it on my skin.
Footsteps behind me. I turned hoping it was no one but along the path came a man with his dog.
Autumn’s carpet lay at my feet. The trees above were almost bare having been forced to shed their coats by the strong winds. The sky was grey with rain promising clouds which would add to the water all ready on the ground.
It was the kind of brisked day I liked to go walking through the woods on. The cold reddened my skin, making me feel more alive then the summer’s heat had done. There was also so many different smells to be enjoyed; earth, wood, nut, rot, fire, damp and pine. There was nothing like the scents of autumn!
I could imagine my old dog going crazy through the crisp and crunchy leaves, chasing birds and squirrels. She would also find conkers and acorns to chew up then the biggest sticks to demanded me to throw.
My wife too would have loved this. Autumn was her favourite kind of year and she would cook the most wonderful of foods; stews, soups, hotpots, apple pies, pumpkin pies, fruit pies, ginger biscuits and so much more. She said autumn was her season and you couldn’t beat it.
Alone I now wandered, walking paths once filled with happiness. Autumn makes me both happy and sad, able to forget the hurt and remember more deeply. Out here, I can pretend my wife and dog are just over there, playing in the leaves and laughing amongst the trees.
(This story was inspired by the below ASMR sound video)
He wasn’t afraid because there was nothing to fear. He tucked up his hiking rucksack and carried on walking. Dry leaves and stones crunched under his boots and tall trees loomed on either side of him. A thick fog was rolling in and he felt a chill up his back.
The legends of the haunted forest filled his head. He didn’t believe them nor the recent stories of ghosts and demons. However, it was getting harder for him not feel like he was being watched. Were those footsteps in the distance? Was the creaking of the branches only the wind?
Wait….What was that fast moving shadow coming out of the fog?
The storm had brought a few trees down but as Ken stood before an oak that most have been over a hundred years old, he felt sad. He hadn’t seen the tree in it’s summer or autumn glory but he could imagine the heavy burden of colourful leaves. Moss and climbing plants covered the trunk of the tree which now lay on it’s side.
Ken took his axe and other tools and began chopping branches and the trunk down. He never felt happy about such work and not because it was hard going but because he was finalising the life of a piece of nature.
At least, the tree would have a second life and carry on being enjoyed in a new way.
In his workshop next to his cabin on the edge of the woods, Ken turned the fallen trees in to tables, chair and other handmade furniture. He sold his pieces to shops across the country and to people who ventured out to visit him.
Seeing his work being loved and knowing he had in someways saved a tree, made Ken feel satisfied that all his hard work had been for good.
The twigs appeared like a trail down the middle of the road. It could have been caused by the storm yesterday but Carrie thought not.
Pulling her horse, Sasha, more to the side to avoid any sharp bits of wood, Carrie cursed the council clearing team. They were always leaving a mess behind them after being out here and it wasn’t good enough.
After returning home and stabling Sasha, Carrie went onto her laptop and wrote a complaints email. She doubted nothing would come to it but if she threaten to sue if Sasha got injured maybe they would listen this time.
They say family roots run deep but how does that apply to an orphan? Especially one in his fifties who’s only just found out that his parents weren’t actually his.
Sitting down in the root maze, under my favorite trio of trees in the park, my thoughts were clouded by betrayal and lies. My ‘parents’ had never told me and now they had both passed, the lawyer had been the one to break the news.
Sitting in the leather chair, a huge desk between us, I had read the looks on the lawyer’s face and decided he was going to tell me some super bad news. Like; ‘your parents had nothing to leave you. Or your parents left everything to a cat charity.’ But no, it was; ‘James you are adopted. Margret and William were not your biological parents.’
I didn’t know what to say or then did he have the right family? Was this the last joke of my father? Funny man he was, always up for a laugh and a prank. But no, it was all true. Here was accounts from a police officer and social services and newspaper cuttings too; Baby Boy Found Abandoned In Park; Police Appeal For Parents To Come Forward.
The lawyer said no one knows who my parents were but Margret and William created a paper trail if I wanted to try and find out. The lawyer give me a box file then my not parents’ house, money and everything else. I left numb and not sure what else to do I came to the park and the trio trees.
Reading through the some of the papers, it interested me to note that I was actually found close to here, in a yellow blanket. Perhaps, that’s why I had always been drawn to here or maybe it was just one of those things. Whatever it was, wasn’t important right now.
I felt myself slipping away, everything I had known no longer felt true. Who actually was I? I felt like an actor playing the role of James McBride who had forgotten his true self.
I shoved everything back into the box file and looked up. The sunlight was dancing through the leaves of the trees, like disco lights. I shut my eyes.