The breeze grazing my cheek softly giving me a chill. Together with the soft-cracked sound beneath my shoes, I am accompanied in this new yet familiar surroundings. The smell of the damp forest is foreign but the dull brown leaves and the mist seems natural.
The memory is vague, even though, I simply walk among the trees. As the ground covered by falling leaves, no footprint left when I walked on. A glitter thought of the past, the same feeling of being watched and directed exist.
I was here, when I was a kid. My dad brought me here to visit grandma—from my mother side—who was living in the mountain, not so far from the main city. I remember I used to explore this forest.
It’s somehow a blurred memory, that’s why I take the left side not the right side in the last track. “Am I there?” I whispers. I can hear the rustle, making me pause my step for a moment, not yet keep walking. It said.
It’s getting colder, the thin clothes I wear are not enough to keep me warm—old sweater with old long-pants, even my bra is not perfectly fit my chest anymore. I was in hurry, so I don’t have enough time to be selective. Is it a bad decision, to come here without knowing anything? But again I have nowhere to go, there’s no way I will go back to that hell. Remembering the place even just for a second making my stomach flipping. So I keep walking, another hours, another mile, until finally I find it. Or that’s what I think, is it really the way? I am asking myself. A long gray bridge lays in front of me. Gray trees with red-orange leaves surround it—very different from the earlier trees I passed. Recently I’ve been dreaming of this bridge. I cannot see the end, but there is feeling of something or maybe someone is waiting for me there. The wind blows again, softly as ever. Now that I think about it, it blows every time I’m confused what to do, encouraging me like now. Cross it. The breeze said.
Go on. The wind blows for the umpteenth time, so I do as told. Take a step then another, then another, and another. Until I reach the middle of the bridge. Slowly I look back, the mist behind me is getting thicker blocking the way to turn around then go back to where I started—as if I have a place in there anymore. I turn back just to find a small orange creature in front of me, startled I lost my balance almost fall on my back.
A little fox sitting calmly while looking at me. It suddenly stands then turns around, walking away but not before looking back at me; asking me to follow. I walk right behind it, finally reaching the other side of the forest, the end of the long gray bridge. The fox turns back once again to me before starts to run, I am surprise but managed to tell my brain to do the same; running after the little fox.
Passing through the trees, some big roots in the ground, and small bushes the fox keep running ahead of me; there are three of them now and I can hear another sound from each of side. I smile to myself, how long have I not run? Like really run, physically run. The sensation when you move forward in fast-steady motion, breezing along the wind. Despite hours walking before I feel I can go more and faster than now, but I know they try to keep me save in this pace. There are more foxes than I can see and all of them are running with me. At this moment I feel light, I feel good.
The forest is clearer now, no trees blocking the way because by now they line up in each side creating a path without obstruction. The foxes start to slow down, so do I. When I stop running, trying to catch my breath—I can’t believe I can run that far without tumbling myself even once—I realize that I have reached the middle of the forest. The empty-round field is surrounded by the gray and red-orange trees. It feels strangely mysterious, like I just entered a different kind of dimension. Do I?
“You are here.” The voice said. I turn around, too fast that it could snap my neck. There stands—far but close enough to reach me in one leap. It—or should I say he— is different from the other. When the other fox has this red-orange fur, he has a snowy fur with sharp brown-eyes, there’s an orange stripe above his eyes, and taper white-black stripped ear. If not because of the long snout and the bushy tail, I would think that he’s a wolf; though he’s bigger from what I remember.
“I am here.” I pant my words. The run has made me almost breathless, though I enjoy it.
“I’ve been waiting, for you.” He said, or more likely think because his mouth was perfectly still. I am listening to his thought. He was sitting and looking even bigger than before, his tail swaying softly behind him.
I am not moving from where I stand and can’t take my eyes off of him. Suddenly I’m being overwhelmed by my own feeling; tired, sad, angry, disappointed, and scared but more than that now I’m feeling save. I don’t realize how shaky I am until tears rolling down on my cheek. I can feel so many eyes are on me, they are even more of them than the last time I came. Still rooted to the ground I feel a warm-steady breath on my face before soft fur pressing my forehead. As in comforting his forehead touching me gently, and rubbing softly. It will be okay now, you are safe with me. He whispered.
Instead of getting calm, my tears flowing even more, sobbing out everything I held as I grabbed into his silky fur. He shifted above me, taking me deeper into his warm body—embracing me in his way—under his jaw. Feeling his warmth seeping through my skin, I fall into a deep sleep.