Woman in woods
“Ah, at last.”
Out of breath and quite tired now, she had finally reached the pathway.
“Had she remembered it accurately?” she wondered.
It was so long ago now, almost 10 years!
She paused to get her breath back.
Then, standing quite still, she breathed in the earthy aroma.
“Pure heaven scent.” She said aloud to herself.
Then breathed it in again and again, indulging in the effect of the scents of spruce and pine, rotting wood and vegetation, a mustiness that clings to insides of the nostrils and almost takes your breath away if you breathe too deeply.
The breeze was gentle, making a soothing hiss as it wound its way through the branches and needles.
With each breath, memories came flooding back.
The odd tear of compassion and joy rolled down her cheek as she indulged in times forgotten – until now.
“I suppose I had better see if I can find it. It’s going to look quite different now.”
She began to move along the path. Her senses heightening as the memories continued to flow. Her heart quickening in her chest, part in anticipation, part in trepidation.
“I do hope I can find it after all this time,” she whispered to herself.
Then….. there was a crack of a twig being snapped and a loud rustling noise coming from up ahead in what looked like a thicket.
She stood quite still.
A multitude of thoughts bombarded her mind. Her heart racing and breath quickening, she tried to breathe more quietly, hoping she was invisible whilst at the same time readying herself to run.
Then out of the undergrowth a young man fell to the ground with a thud and a cry of pain.
She stared at him, momentarily frozen to the spot.
Should she run, or go and help.
Glaringly aware she was alone, her mind told her to run.
But somewhere deep inside another voice was heard telling her to stay. Wait, reassess in a moment.
She checked how she felt, then how the young man felt to her. He didn’t feel bad.
Then he noticed her.
He looked startled, frightened, embarrassed.
He went to get up and winced.
He’s twisted his ankle.
“Damn, what a fool I look, he inwardly chastised himself. Typical, had to do it in front of an audience!”
He saw the look on her face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you!”
“Have you hurt yourself?” she asked.
“Only a slightly twisted ankle,” he replied, suppressing the excruciating pain.
“My name’s Alasdair, Alasdair MacPherson,” he said struggling to his feet and brushing off the undergrowth that had wrapped itself around him.
“I’m Katie Stewart,” she replied, still remaining at a safe distance.
The name seemed to trigger a reaction deep within, she repeated it over in her head. A vague recollection of a face drifted across her mind.
“Was this the same person? There were slight similarities. But then we can always see what we want to see. Must approach this logically,” she thought to herself.
“Katie Stewart? Not the Katie Stewart. From Drumbeg?”
“Yes, that’s me. How do you know me?”
“Well, we were both at school with Charlie Henderson. Remember. We used to skive off school and come up here to hide.”
“Yes, I remember you now.”
“It’s nearly 10 years since Charlie had to leave Scotland when his parents emigrated to Australia. And 9 years since my parents moved to Edinburgh.”
“Have you lived here all that time?”
“No, I moved to Edinburgh too, but 6 years ago.”
“Have you come here today for the same reason I have?” she asked, hoping that it was.
He chuckled, “Maybe,” a twinkle of mischief in his eye.
A rush of excitement rippled through her. This could be an even better experience than she had anticipated.
They stood in silence, watching each other’s body language and sensing each other’s reactions.
“Did you find it then?…..Before you fell into a thicket!” she added with a touch of friendly sarcasm in her voice.
A momentary flicker of embarrassment washed over his handsome face. He checked it quickly.
But he couldn’t maintain his composure and a smile burst forth that gave the game away.
“You have!” she sang excitedly.
“Come on it’s just through here.”
He led the way.
A few hundred feet and there it was……
….. A magnificent spruce tree stood before them towering over 10 feet tall. And flapping in the breeze, way up near the top branch was the orange ribbon (what was left of it) that they had tied to it almost 10 years ago.
They stood there, in awe of its beauty. Each reliving their own memory of the day they planted it and how they’d promised to meet up 10 years later.
Alasdair broke the silence.
“This deserves a celebration, don’t you think?” He looked at Katie enquiringly, inside hoping she would agree.
“Yes, I think it does.”
“I wonder if Charlie’s remembered?” they both thought to themselves.