New Story, part five
(Parts 1 through 4 of this story are all posted earlier on this blog.)
That evening he lay awake in bed long after dark. His windows were open and the cool of evening slid down the mountainside and filtered through the screen carrying the rhythmic pulsing of the wild sounds of field and forest. The cicadas, the crickets, the tree frogs were all in full voice and the summer smell of honeysuckle wafted on the night breeze. He thought of the girl on the horse and he imagined the ways it could be between them. He might find her some day in a bad situation and he would know in the very moment what he would need to do and he would do whatever courageous act would be necessary without giving the danger a second thought. Then she would tell her daddy all about him and what he had done and the old man would not run him off of the land but would want him around and maybe even give him a horse to ride.
The next morning he went back into the woods but he did not go back to the spring and the field on the other side of the mountain. Instead he followed a little rill that wound and dropped over sandstone though a high ravine. At the bottom of the mountain the stream ran under a paved road. He walked out onto the road and tried to orient himself, but he found no landmark and no pattern that he could recognize and he retraced the trail he had blazed and made it home before supper. At the table, his father questioned him about his excursions.
“What have you found out about these woods around here, Johnny?”
The boy looked up from his plate. He was a little surprised. “There’s a lot of ‘em,” he said. “It goes on and on ever which way.”
“Seen any animals?”
“Horses. Cattle. I jumped some kind of big bird the other day. It was loud.”
“There’s little creeks here and there. Some of them are still running. Just trickles. Nothing with any fish in it.”
“Why don’t you show me around some? I’d like to look at this country. You want to go out Saturday morning?”
He did, of course, and he spent the three days between in further and more purposeful exploration and when the morning came his father fried bacon and eggs and fixed coffee and he asked to try it and his father poured him a cup. They were out and onto his first path, now well worn, just after dawn, in the cool morning mist.