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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest · #1007979
A story about a walk in the forest.
I am strolling along a footpath, which meanders among trees growing within an arm reach of either side. Above me the leaves of cottonwood, elm, oak, box elder, and redwood trees cast flickering shadows across my path and the eons of leaf litter that covers the forest floor. The path winds around the trunk of a gigantic redwood, I walk around the tree, and enter an oval clearing surrounded by more redwood trees. I stop and take a deep breath inhaling the aroma of decaying leaves, the musk of skunk, and the perfume of wild rosemary, thyme, and sage. Then I advance toward the center of the clearing, while birds fly out of the forest canopy, land on the ground in front of me, scratch for insects and flutter off as I approach them.

I stop in the center of the clearing and look around. There are eighteen redwood trees making a wall around the edge of the clearing. Each tree has a symbol carved into its bark. As I look at the emblems cut into the redwood trees, I realize that there are only nine symbols. Eighteen trees with nine symbols, the symbols carved into the trees on the right side of the clearing are also carved into the trees on the left side of the clearing. And each of the emblems is the symbol of a different religion. Looking ahead, to where the path exit’s the clearing, I see a nine pointed star carved into the redwoods on either side of the path.

In the center of the clearing, showing through a covering of leaves is a white object lying in the path. Kneeling I brush the leaves off the object and find a white china teacup. I pick up the teacup and examine it carefully, looking for any chips, scratches or fractures. The lip of the cup is gold with a cobalt blue nightingale setting on a gold olive branch painted on the side. It is undamaged, so I wipe it out with my shirttail. Then taking the lid off my canteen, I pour some water into the cup. I take a sip from the cup; the liquid is sweet as clover honey and cold as new fallen snow. Then I place the cup carefully in my backpack.

Getting up I walk toward the clearing’s exit. There I pause beneath the overhanging branches of the redwood trees and look deep into the forest. On this side of the clearing the path looks similar to the path on the other side of the clearing. So I begin to walk down the path into the darkness of the forest. As I walk I listen to the noises coming from within the forest itself. I hear the songs of robins, nightingales and sparrows, as well as the howls of wolves, the growls of bears and the calls of various other wild creatures.

After an hour or two, I come to a cottonwood tree growing in the center of the path. The footpath splits and continues around the tree. A bear, walking on all four legs, came from behind the trunk of the oversized cottonwood tree. Unable to move, I stared as the five-foot tall one thousand five hundred pound brown bear approached me. Twenty-five feet away from me, the bear stopped and stood up on its hind legs. Standing ten feet tall, the bear walked toward me with its huge front paws extended. Raising my arms I approach the bear and begin to waltz with it. We dance down the right fork of the path until we come to the edge of the forest. On the edge of the forest, the bear leaves me standing beneath the overhanging limbs of olive tress.

In front of me is twenty-six feet high wall made of baked red bricks each of which is brick ten inches long and five inches high. The wall extends as far as I could see in either direction, with deep green vines hanging from the wall about one hundred sixty-four feet apart. Taking a deep breath, I walked to the section directly in front of me. The thin vine hung down from the wall and felt damp to my touch. Grabbing the vine, with both hands, I begin to climb the wall, but a door opens in front of me revealing a beautiful garden on the other side of the wall.

Word Count = 733
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