Walk. Walk through the door, through the cracks cutting open the asphalt like wounds, through the dogs, leashed in chaotic barking, already smelling something savage on you.
Walk. Walk. Don’t stop at the red light to consider its offer for a U-turn. Walk and feel the world moving with you: the ginger breeze, the crunch of the gravel by the road, the tickling stroke of the shrubs against your jeans. Walk and spot a deer among the trees lifting her ballerina head, scanning you up and down, and bowing back to graze. You’re not a threat. You’re welcome here.
Keep walking when the groan of an engine behind you makes you realize cars still exist – and with a silent whisk of leaves the deer, like a dream, disappears.
Keep walking when the car moans right next to you and the window winds down and a red baseball cap says, “You alright?”
Keep walking and say, “Never better.”
“Ain’t safe out here,” The cap insists, but you just listen to your feet beating on the earth to an ancient rhythm.
“Okay ma’am, I warned ya.” The window winds back up and shows you a woman you don’t know: first of all, she’s smiling. There’s no second of all.
Walk. Walk after the deer who saw the woman in the car window too and recognized her as her kin. Walk through the thick ground, alive with growth, and walk toward the face of the moon already smiling on the peach sky, like your Pop-pop in a brown picture: you’re as tall as his knee and just refused to hold his hand on your first steps, choosing to cling to your own, wild hay-hair instead.
Originally published by NFFD’s FlashFlood 2022.
Photo by me.