Journey | The Last Forest

The latest entry in the Journey series is below.

Feedback always appreciated.

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The air is different. We’re in an old forest, lush with life and history. Father feels it, too, and he tells me stories about the people of the past – Native Americans, Romans, Celtic Druids, shamans.

“Full circle, Grey,” Father says. “We look to their example now, to survive.”

I nod. I like these stories: real ones, and not fairy tales like before.

“I feel like I might see one of those people,” I say. There’s a note of hesitation in my voice.

From Father’s furtive glancing, I know he feels the eyes on us in the forest. We are being watched, observed – maybe hunted.

And then there’s the other thing: the way his shoulders relax, like he’s not carrying any burdens at all. Like he’s finally at peace. He found it, because she’s here. There’s that undeniable familiar feeling of her in the air.

I get it now, when Father said he could feel her in the wind at the mountain pass. In these brief moments, I know more about my father than ever before.

Why he had to leave Sasha, even though we could have been happy with her. Why he drank to numb the pain of denying reality for a wish and a dream. Why he kept pushing me to hope for her, to find her, to not give up on her.

We’ll never get my mom back. She’s six feet under and going nowhere. Rose, though – we could have been with her this whole time.

An arrow whizzes by my cheek, so close I’m surprised I didn’t lose a chunk of ear.

“Hey, hey, hey!” Father cries out. He pulls me down to the ground, and we flatten ourselves in cool, moist dirt.

“You crossed the boundary for our town,” I hear a man cry. He’s somewhere in front of us, but I can’t see him. I hear movement on both sides of me.

We’re surrounded. Father coughs a little, and I look over and the shaft of an arrow protrudes from his right shoulder, out of place on his person. Shock overwhelms me, and I can’t move or think. It is only when I see the pained grin and the light in his eyes that I relax.

“I’m fine,” Father whispers, “only a flesh wound, right?”

I nod, my cheek pressing in the dirt.

“Why are you here?” Another voice asks from behind us. Maybe the archer, but that part doesn’t matter – because even though one of my ears is pressed in the dirt, and I’m afraid for Father, and that voice sounds muffled by layers of fabric, hardened by age and tough choices, I know it. It’s the voice we’ve been searching for, and Father knows it, too, and I can see through my own fresh tears that he’s crying, too.

“For you,” I say to my sister. “We’re here for you.”

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