Stepping through the hem of the tree line you scan the opening and your heart sinks as you confirm with total reluctance this is not the field, this is only a small clearing, and not one you have any reason to recognize.

Pausing for a moment to check the sunlight, you again reassure yourself there’s plenty of time, but you also acknowledge you’re thirsty and getting low on blood sugar, some food would be good. You’d have brought a piece of cheese, or chocolate, god damn it, but you never planned to be gone this long. Oh, bugger!

You head across the clearing, convinced the direction you’re headed is true and fair for finding the camper van. Reentering the wood on the far side you’re not too far in when panic swells and grips you, as you confess you don’t recognize a single feature of the surrounding scenery. You’re lost.

Where once you saw epic beauty, that rekindled childhood innocence and love, now you wrestle with the twin demons of adulthood: cynicism and skepticism, dear lord they’d make an evil pair of gargoyles, fit for guarding any safe haven or sanctuary, no?

Determined, you turn back, and for the first time you gauge the light is beginning to dim. Now you’re really being tested. No torch, no phone. You must focus and find a path, or road, or anything, in the next hour.

Thirty minutes later, you’d guess, and you’re close to tearing up. You don’t see an edge to the woodland in any direction, and you’ve lost all confidence in which way you’d now trust to proceed. You only know backwards won’t work, but you’re not sure you know which way that is anymore, else you’d have found the field hours ago.

You push on, and there, at last is the edge, well, an edge at least.

Stepping out, the sun still above the tree line, but cooler colored than earlier when its rays reached out in all directions. You scan the opening, it’s not the field you’re looking for, it’s another clearing, and with confidence the sun is setting in the West you try and think where in relation to where you stand the camper van might be parked.

You’re deep in thought when you almost jump out of your skin and boots, as the crystal clear sound of an axe splits dry timber with a crisp thwack.

Slowly turning, where you stand, you can’t hardly swallow, and you’re visibly frightened eyes come to rest easily on an incredibly masculine working man, his eyes, a burnt deep hazel hue, his strong jaw bristled with a russet and ash beard that’s a fair few days grown, evenly covering his ruggedly handsome full face.

His features seem worn and warm, and as he looks up from his work his every minute movement and gesture seems to smile as if he’s greeting someone he has known well and hasn’t seen for years.

“Hey” he offers with the warmth and welcome of an open log fire. And you tilt your head just slightly, your eyes sharpening just a little as they become curious, quizzical.

“Fox?” he continues, that deeply warm smile of his never yielding for a moment.

“Excuse me?” you say, feeling your vocal chords falter. His glowing warmth expanding to reassure you, his soothing, deep, secure voice, beginning again, “Fox, you’re safe here” he reassures you, seemingly confused by his needing to remind you: “I’m just finishing up before taking a short break and heading back.”

continue…