'Forest Walk' by Darren Saunders
'I feel her presence once more. Under the cover of darkness, carried on the cool descending mountain air, she comes to me. The tall, guard-like evergreens, standing shoulder to shoulder in infinite columns along my route, do nothing to halt her advance. I inhale deeply her perfume of honeysuckle and lavender. “Hello”, I say, in barely a whisper, “I’ve missed you”. We walk a while; my hand glides through the foliage at the edge of the track where flowers were once in abundance. I feel for her touch.
I take my place in the well-worn rut that forms part of the forest track. As carts and tractors before us had left their mark, so too had we, once. We had turned the same small stones and scuffed the same small ridge of grass between our two channels. My rut seems deeper these days. This walk had always been our favorite; it’s where we had first met, I had helped her over the wooden access gate through bouts of uncontrollable laughter; later we had walked the dogs and pushed the buggy along this same track. It’s where I had scattered her ashes one miserable summer evening.
As we round the final bend, guided now by a low, dry stone wall, I see the five-barred gate silhouetted by the distant farm lights. I sit on the cold, damp wall. She is still here. Soon it will be time to say goodbye again – she must know how hard I find this part. I close my eyes and mutter inwardly. I rise to my feet and with arms outstretched I take a hold of the gate and climb over. I turn back and stare into the heart of the blackness that I have left behind.