Vacant Branches Reaching Out Across the Bitter Decline of the Day

“We’re lost.”  Charlotte said.

Jack Altomare, her husband, grunted something unintelligible under his breath and continued walking through the tall grass.

 “Hey!  Are you even listening to me?”

“Yes, I’m listening.”  He said.

We’re lost.”

“It will be okay.  We’ll pick back up with the trail eventually.”

“That’s what you said an hour ago.  Now the sun is setting, and it’s cooling off.”

“Listen- We’re going to find our way back to the car and we’ll be laughing about this on the way home.  You’ll see.”

He continued walking for another minute or so, then stopped and looked around.  She’s right.  Jack thought. The sun was setting behind them and it was becoming increasingly difficult to see.

“What’s wrong?  Why did you stop?”  Charlotte said.  She had caught sight of the worried expression on his face.

“We’ve been here before.” He said.  “We are just going in circles.”

“How can you be so sure?”

He pointed at a nearby boulder sitting next to a large tree.  The tree appeared to be dead and the branches were bare. “I remember walking past that about half an hour ago.  Remember it clearly.  I thought the side of the boulder looked like the profile of a woman’s face.”

“Is it the same one or does it just look like the same one?”

“It’s the same one.”

“Well, this is just great!  The phone does not even have a signal out here!”

I know, I know!”  He said.  He placed his hands on his hips and looked up at the darkening sky.

“Do you have any idea how many predators live in this forest?” Charlotte said.  “Creatures with sharp teeth that would love to munch on our bones tonight…”

Jack walked over to the large tree.  He removed the backpack straps from his raw shoulders and sat down on the ground.  He leaned his back up against the ample trunk.

“Just calm down, honey.  I’m going to sit here, smoke a cigarette, and come up with a plan to get us out of here.”  He said.

He rummaged through the backpack to find the pack of cigarettes while she paced back and forth a few feet away.  He was just as concerned about their predicament but had decided not to show it.  At least not yet.  He exhaled the first drag off of the cigarette and looked up at the vacant branches reaching out across the bitter decline of the day.

vacant branches

[Original writing and art by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013  J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

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