Copyright © 2013 by Alex Rosaria
This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Mrs. Greenwich sat in her rocking chair on the porch waiting for him. He had promised to deliver a package to her brother, a recluse who lived in a cabin about two to three miles into the forest. John expected to be done with the delivery before sunset and be home for his diner date with Linda.
It wasn‘t the best paying job ever, and it was something Mrs. Greenwich could easily do herself, being she was still active and in good health for her age, and the distance wasn‘t that far. He wasn‘t really complaining. He didn‘t mind doing the job—he needed the money after all—and he loved walking in the forest. He just thought it weird that she didn‘t go herself, because she once promised her long-dead husband to never go near her brother again. Why obey someone who was dead? And not see your only brother because of that promise made long ago. It wasn‘t his place to judge. In a way he admired her loyalty; he didn‘t often see someone taking it that far to honor someone else.
Mrs. Greenwich tapped a cheerful rhythm on the package rested on her lap. There was happiness in the way she sat there, like she expected something nice that day. She was always nice, be it a reserved formal kind of niceness; however, today she had a reddish glow about her.
As John opened the fence gate, he grinned at her. "Good day, Mrs. Greenwich, a lovely day isn‘t it."
Mrs. Greenwich stood up from her rocking chair and put the long cardboard box on the seat. “Hello to you, young man.” She smiled at him, pointing at the gray sky. “But how in the world can you call this foul weather lovely?”
“It‘s nice enough for a stiff walk in the park.”
Her voice trembled with a mock sternness, her eyes glittered, and she smiled. “Nice weather for a stiff walk, you say. Honey, if not for my brother expecting me to send him this”—she pointed at the cardboard box sitting on her old rocking chair—“I would spare you the trouble with this weather.”
“Don‘t you worry; I‘m not made of sugar. A little rain won‘t harm me.”
“Joke all you want, but it won‘t be just a little rain. It could turn real nasty, at least according to the forecaster.”
John climbed up on the porch and took the box from the rocking chair. It was heavier this time. He looked up at the old lady. “Nine out of ten times their predictions don‘t come true. Though, in all honesty, I think they might be right this time.”
John rested the box against his shoulder, and like a soldier parading a rifle, he stepped off the porch. “I‘ll be going now, Mrs. Greenwich.”
“Bye, John. Don‘t forget to tell my brother that the next package will be at the same time in two weeks.”
“I‘ll do that.”
“And watch out for yourself.”
John waved goodbye and left her standing on the porch as he walked toward the tree line. With his date in mind, he increased his pace. He wanted to get this over with and return to Linda.
The sun was high in the sky but not much light came down to earth through the clouds, which filtered the light and cast everything in a dull gray. A clearing led to the dirt path into the forest. He watched as darkness crept over the field and into the forest. He was sure that the weather would get worse, and if he was delayed more than an hour, he would end walking back in near darkness. John wished he had taken a flashlight with him. It would be hard to find his way back without one. A vain popped at his temple as a curse escaped his lips.
Maybe he should turn back and ask Mrs. Greenwich if she could spare him a flashlight, but that would waste time, and he wasn‘t even sure if she had one to spare. No, he would be better off asking Lucas, Mrs. Greenwich‘s brother. He certainly would lend him a flashlight, or one of his antiquated oil lanterns; he had more than enough to spare.
John shook his head. Time was ticking and worrying wouldn‘t move him forward. He wasn‘t even sure anything would go wrong, and why would it today when all the other times nothing had happened? John followed the path into the forest while behind him the shadows crept after him.
He loved the way the tall, thick trees rose up, aiming their branches filled with dark green leaves to the sky, and he loved the sound the wind made rustling through the leaves. Usually, this scene would sooth him. The green plants, the flowers, the sound of the small furry forest animals. Any other day it would make this picture complete. His own personal Zen moment, the one moment of calm in the raging storm called his life. He looked forward to being alone, just him and the forest. It was his chance to contemplate where his life was taking him, but today the forest was not the usual beautiful creation of nature. His moment of tranquility was denied by the gray, which draped everything in a lifeless shade. The weather was to be blamed for this. What else could it be? It must be the dark clouds swallowing the light. However, despite being sure it was the weather and nothing else, a feeling of unease passed over him. It disturbed him that the sound of life was sucked out of the forest, leaving him in utter silence.
The joyous walk of blissfully contemplating tranquility turned into a thirty-minute walk of gloom that seemed to last an eternity. There was nothing to see, nothing to hear, not even the fresh smell of green nature. There was only the path to follow, and with every passing second the shadows gained on him.
With nothing else to keep his mind preoccupied, he noticed every discomfort he had: the stress on his knees with each step he took; the weight on his feet pressing painfully on his soles; the sheer weight of his backpack on his shoulders; and the long package sticking out of his backpack, making it cumbersome to walk with, and him afraid that it could fall out at any time and break. It was unbearable not being able to take his mind off the mundane.
His mood worsened. The little joy he had left in his body was drained by the lifelessness surrounding him. Why did it turn out like this on this day of all days? He just wanted the sun, some light to shine on his life—a life that had been dark ever since he had that accident that almost killed him six months ago. The recovery, the stress it created between him and Linda, he didn‘t know if he could stand another string of six months like that. Today, he hoped to turn things around for the better and go back to the way it was before.
John noticed a faint light ahead. Some of the tenseness left his muscles. He was about to see another living, breathing human being, and no matter how eccentric he was, it was a welcome sight. Finally, he would escape the silence.
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