The air’s saturated. Heavy. Hot. Humid. Impossible to feel warmth from the evening sun on unavoidably damp skin. A tangerine hue blends with the last bit of afternoon light to paint a glow over the countryside. Enchanting the forest like the touch of a magic wand. Gold to bronze, bouncing off the leaves in sparks. Absorbed into the clouds. Nature’s trick to add a bold halo around our white, coral sun.
It flirts with the clouds, sinking to embrace the darkening horizon.
The world’s invited into this setting palette. Lush fields that race into the forest line, burst into bright ferns between the trunks of saplings. Skinny trunks, that only yesterday bobbed in a light wind.
But, not today.
Today, the world’s silent and heavy.
It begs for release. A slight release that should come moments after the sun sets, under the shade of twilight. Only a few hours to wait for the shelter of another night in this valley.
It’s strange to crave darkness. As, you know, a human.
From the doorway, I hug my knees, eyes on the forest. Shirt damp and stuck to my back. I’ve pulled it away enough times in the last hour, to surrender to the discomfort. It’s been seven days and there’s no sign of their return. In faith, I keep my gaze on a slight pause in the trees. Where the path began. Where their path should end. A slight opening into the forest that guides travelers into a world of welcoming shadows.
There, ferns bow from the heat. Leaves, neon in the sunlight, seem to vanish where they bend into the woods. No light able to pass through the ancient canopy. Even now, they could be within feet of stepping into this hazy world and I wouldn’t see them. When they’d left, their shadows blended before I was ready to say goodbye.
Now, that darkness held my gaze. They could be waiting there now. I couldn’t know. Waiting for darkness to race across the field.
They left me. Me and this bum leg, with a week of food and water.
They left with the promise of a quick return.
But, seven days have gone.
The last sip at my feet.