“Where are you?”

My warm guiding voice seems to whisper in your ears. And with your eyes closed, and sighing gently, you slowly exhale, sensing the tension in your jaw easing, your shoulders and body sinking into the firm cushion of my long leather couch.

Coaxing your heart to ease, hearing her beat with a lifetime of holding on, soothing her to a place of safety, and trusting in the voice you hear inside, the one voice, guiding you to let go, as you will your words to surface from the deep.

“I’m at the edge” you offer, your words forming and filling the room, free of premeditation, a stream of consciousness, unfiltered and pure.

“The edge of where?” I press,

“At the edge…” A tight circle of trees, a hidden glade. And you’re utterly confounded, you’re both confused and curious, because you’ve walked these woods so many times, and you’ve never come upon this spot before.

~ # ~

The ground is granite hard. The waterlogged soil has frozen overnight and despite the lack of foliage overhead the exposed sunlight has felt more like a sharp blade of cold steel, cruel enough to cut, and utterly incapable of thaw.

And while your heavy boots and thick socks have not been tested with keeping your feet dry, they have none the less failed to hold on to any warmth. The blood in your body has fled the extremities, retreating to your heart, and determined to protect your most vital organs.

The sunlight strafes the unprotected undergrowth, burning the hoarfrost, seducing a steaming mist, set free to drift low among the frostbitten fern and bracken. A magical mist, intermingling with the mushrooms and the stinkhorns that dare defy the reaper of life in the middle of winter.

Looking up, the trees stand in stark silhouette against the empty sky, their blackened branches no doubt as brittle as your own bones when the temperature falls so low.

A snapping twig causes you to flinch. Triggering innate survival senses, you’re suddenly hypervigilant. You stand stock still, and scan the spaces between the trees.

You catch his eye. A Roebuck, majestic and composed, possessed of a regal air and confidence. His expression is inquisitive, curious, and with the slightest suggestion of suspicion or scrutiny. Is it possible he recognizes you? Else, somehow remembers you?

He dips his head, sniffing at the ground around his cloven hooves, then suddenly he straightens, and turns to fully face you, a statue, perfectly still, he stands. Waiting.

Have you unwittingly been tiptoeing your way along the same ancient paths of his ancestors? Somehow following hidden instructions, your senses sympathetic to the many layers of soft woodland scents, while your instincts have slowly been opening to the energies of hidden lay lines?

You’re a woman out on her own in the forest. It’s a freedom you savor, and why shouldn’t you, and yet there’s always a vulnerability that follows you like your shadow, and hard as you might try, you can’t quite ever shake it’s nagging.

Your mind tumbles with innocent curiosity, wondering, who is this cautious, covert, and carefully camouflaged, nomadic wanderer, weaving between the trees and following an otherwise invisible thread, as if tied to you by an invisible string?