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Rated: E · Short Story · Emotional · #2273815
A woman discovers the peace of nature, far from the rat race
Katy pulled the soft, sherpa-lined blanket tighter around her to ward off the chill of the night in the mountains. Earlier that day she had lay on the cool grass in her underwear and the summer sun had toasted her right down to her bones. She hadn’t worried about anyone seeing her ratty old bra or the bits she hadn’t shaved, because there was no one for miles. There was just the gentle tickling of the grass when she ran her hands over it, the birds singing, and the hot sunshine. The memory made her wiggle her toes in contentment and the blanket felt even cosier. She snuggled deeper in the old camp chair on the porch, cocooned against the buzzing mosquitos who couldn’t help but dance around the lamplight hoping for a bare expanse of skin.

The black sky was littered with stars, more than she had ever seen before. Beyond her little porch lamp there was no man-made light to dull their glow for miles. How could you feel afraid of the dark with such an army of stars watching over you? The moon was a slender crescent as if the sky had been slashed with a sharp blade. The surrounding landscape of mountains and forests that made a stunning vista during the day were now a black hole of shadows. The air pulsed with the chirps of bugs like a hypnotic mantra. A strange and familiar peace settled in her bones, something ancient and primal.

In the city she half ran down dark streets at night with her keys poking out between her knuckles like Wolverine. She double and triple checked her doors and windows, refused to get in taxis alone, sprinted from the elevator to her apartment door, and let friends track her phone like stalkers when she went on dates with strange men she met online. Kids are afraid of the dark because of monsters. Adults know it’s just other humans you needed to worry about.

Katy had been hesitant to accept the offer of the use of the old hunting cabin from her uncle Joe even after years of tales of how many great times he had spent there with her father. Alarms had screeched in her mind at the thought of being out there alone in the wilderness, miles from the next house and shop and highway. The city-girl mentality was engrained deep. But her dad had been gone a long time now and she missed him terribly and the empty space he left cried out for some acknowledgement of his existence. Sitting there now in what was his old camp chair, that empty space was a little quieter. Her grief was soothed by joyful memories tinged by sadness. He had loved this place and sitting there quietly was like holding his hand again.

Maybe the world would end and she wouldn’t know it. She could go back to the city and find a zombie apocalypse, or find that the pause button had been pressed the moment she had left. No chance, life never stops, not for death and not for vacations.

"'I’m significant!’ screamed the dust speck,” Katy whispered to the stars, then giggled to herself. It was ok to be crazy when no one could see you. Her dad would have got a kick out of it.

Somewhere a wolf howled. It would leave her alone as long as she kept to herself and kept her food locked away (or so Uncle Joe had reassured her many times). It was just her and the animals. In a little while she would go to bed in the dark with an unlocked door. Tomorrow if it the sun was still warm enough she would strip off and bask half-naked on the grass in front of the cabin again, and maybe take a skinny dip in the fresh stream nearby. In the absence of fear, a woman could be anything she wanted.
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