Where The Wildflowers Grow
The path that led into the forest was overgrown now. Jamie could still see the meandering ribbon of lighter dirt beneath nodding clumps of grass and leaves.
This would be the last time she’d go into the woods but she didn’t mind. They elders didn’t ask her to leave but she left anyway. How could she stay and be a burden to the little ones?
Her days were done, she could barely walk far less work and one more tired mouth to feed would deprive the children of what little they had left.
They said there were bears here once. As big as four people. Some even bigger. Teeth as long as fingers, hungry eyes shiny and brown like river stones.
But there were no more bears in the green spaces. No more mountain lions, no more wolves. She would’ve liked to see deer but like the elk, they were gone too. They all drifted north when the weather changed.
Still, she steadied herself. You never knew for certain.
She tightened her grip on her walking stick, felt for her knife and took a tentative step forward. There was no going back. Cool grass closed behind her legs. And then she was walking painfully towards the dark heart of the woods where the wildflowers grew.
The forest was thick and heavy with shadows. Despite the evening light, darkness pooled beneath the trees and hid among their heavy branches. She really didn’t want to get lost.
She thought about leaving the knife behind for Cora; her grandchild always loved it, maybe she’d hang it on a branch over the path before she got there. Cora might come looking eventually.
She kept her head on a swivel. The branches high overhead hit and clicked and slapped into one another almost as if they were talking. The trees creaked in reply.
Wind whispered to the long grass and the leaves nodded as if they understood. In the sky the sun moved west till it was just below the tree line.
Her legs ached. Her feet felt numb. She clutched her walking stick with both hands, almost bent double. Her back hurt. Each winter it hurt a little more as her body unraveled. Soon all that would be left was a knot…