So I’m walking along this wooden fence…not atop, but next to. The fence is on my right, and it’s covered in dew. It’s probably early morning, because the grass is wet with dew as well. I know, because I can feel it sprinkling up on my bare shins as my boots plow through and over it, occasionally making a squeaking sound amongst the rustling. I’d say the sun had just risen, and was shining down through low clouds and fog, casting a nightlight glow over the sky…but that’s too easy. I don’t like that. Instead, the sky is dark. What light I walk by is cast by a nearly full moon…also shining down through low clouds and fog, and lighting up the dew. The lunar halo is immense, but I’m uninterested, and my eyes don’t leave the fence. The fence looks handmade. The posts are only a few feet high, and round…the old, cracked darkwood that you only see in pictures of farmhouses in the English countryside. They always show moss growing on and hanging from the two parallel beams that run between the posts…but no moss grows on this fence. Other than that, it’s exactly what you’re imagining. I’d run my hand along the beams, but I know I’d get a splinter…a cold, wet splinter. There’s no time for that, so my hands stay safely within the single belly pocket of my olive hooded pullover. The hood is on, but the strings aren’t drawn. The strings are gone…I pulled them out long ago because I didn’t like them bouncing around in front of me when I walked. Deep breath. In through the nose….
…out through the mouth. Keep breathing. I can feel my cellphone in my belly pocket. It bounces gently back and forth, with each step, against the brass button my my cargo shorts. There is no other sound. Only rustling. Squeaking. My deep breaths.
I come upon a patch of flowers growing at the base of one of the posts. They’re small, frail purple flowers with yellow centers. There are only four of them, and I only take one. No…I take two. They pull easily from the soft dirt around the post…the roots still attached. I twist one of them back and forth between the thumb and forefinger of my right hand, watching the dew glint on the petals. The flower dances and throws it head passionately as I spin it…dancing with me. I almost smile…but I remember I need to keep moving. The flowers will be safe in my hand…in my pocket. I look one last time at the two remaining, and then beyond…the fence?
The fence…the grass. I hadn’t seen it like this. This fence is just a circle…a large circular pen with a thick wooden post at its center. They walk horses here, I think. Break them. Walking in a circle until you break down….you don’t realize you’re going nowhere, until something makes you take notice. I’m certainly glad…I’m…not tied to that post. I’m on…the outside of the fence. Hmmm.
So I’m walking through this field. There’s a pen behind me…I know this. I don’t need to turn around and look…I’ve seen it. The grass gets longer now, and more dew soaks my shins. The moon is at my back, and my own shadow leads me on. “Come on, Eric…match me step for step.” Rustling. Squeaking. My breathing. I can feel my cellphone bouncing. Brass button on my cargo shorts. No one is calling. No ringing. No vibrating. Only rustling. Squeaking. Breathing. Where am I headed?…God, I can never get this one. It’s okay. I’m pretty sure I’m heading in the right direction. At least…I’m heading away from the wrong direction…which is no direction.
Someone will want to call. Someone will make this phone ring or vibrate. I’ll give them two small purple flowers.
“C’mon” says my shadow, “Keep up”.