Ellen's Dream Quest Page
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Through the Woods by Ellen Edgar "No way will I fall in love again," I said. Jinx regarded me gravely, then went back to grooming his whiskers with one sleek paw. The cat and I sat on the back doorstep of our home, a log cabin that looked out over a stretch of rough grass to the woods. I was troubled, wondering if I was wrong, wondering if the solitude I’d valued for so long was truly a good thing. It must be, I told myself. It would be impossible to write if I lived under the constant pressure of other people’s needs. Jinx yawned, stretched, and sauntered off across the lawn to curl up under the picnic table. From a low branch of the maple tree, a black-capped chickadee cocked its head as the cat passed beneath. A crow that had been digging in the grass cawed indignantly and flapped away to perch on the clothes-pole. Jinx ignored both of them. I wished I could ignore my mother’s chiding as easily. It drove her crazy to think of me holed up with a half-feral cat in a tumbledown cabin that used to be somebody’s summer place. Yesterday, Mom had spent an hour on the phone, patient, gentle, and utterly implacable. I should find another husband, move into a nice suburban colonial, start raising kids. I lost sleep over the call, but that was all she’d accomplished. No way was I getting married again. One painful failure was enough. Tired and grumpy, I sighed and scrambled up from the step. A walk in the woods might help get rid of my blues. There was nothing within miles of the cabin, except for one brooding, barn-like place with a humped roof, which someone—a long time ago—had built in the meadow that borders the woods. Even in summer, when the tourists flock north, the house remained unoccupied. The ugly building lurked at the edge of my territory, and I felt a creeping sensation along my spine every time I caught a glimpse of it, especially at dusk, when it resembled a crouching beast. As usual, I avoided it and followed a trail that went in the opposite direction. The path was narrow, thick with rotting leaves, and I scuffed my feet, releasing the moist, loamy smell that reminded me of greenhouses. Overhead, a blue jay flashed from branch to branch yelling, "Eeee", and another answered it from somewhere far off. The hollow whir of a woodpecker’s hammering sounded high up in a dead tree. The world and all its troubles faded and I felt at peace. I’d almost reached the pond when the back of my neck prickled as if someone were watching me...
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