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What Happened in the Woods

I was headed out once and for all – gonna get away from Bob, my bipolar mistake. My plan was to head to Ashborough, another town, then from there, I wasn’t sure… Maybe call Eileen, ditch the car? One thing about it, the further north I headed, there was more trees. May be I could hide and get lost in them. I was still shaking, thinking about what Bob would do to my dog when he discovered I was gone. I couldn’t take him. I knew this, the one friend that I had where I might possibly hide, had told me she couldn’t take the dog. In a violent rage, in which he often was, Bob had threatened to shoot him in front of me. I had left the back gate opened, and told Beau to go, I remember him looking back at me like I had lost my mind, which apparently, I did.

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I drove through the town, and outside of it, the number of trees increased greatly. I had grown up in the sparseness of the west Texas dessert, so I appreciated the giant towering green tree lords, gateway to the wilderness. I planned to drive for awhile, and I was hoping there would be some place to stop. I needed something to eat and maybe some caffeine to get my wits about me.

The evening shadows started creeping in, although I was still in deep drama, I wasn’t as panicked as when I started this journey. I noticed a convenience store up on the right, tucked into a fold of trees, “Kat’s Corner Store.” I pulled into an absolutely empty parking lot.

Inside the store, a middle-age brunette woman greeted me. “Hello, how are you doin?”

I smiled quickly, I didn’t want to talk to anyone too much. I could smell burritos, something I was interested in after not eating all day.

“Oh, you have fresh food?”

“Yes we do, the food counter is back there to your left.”

“Thanks,” I said.

I watched her slow smile…

“You’re welcome darling.”

As I rounded the corner, I saw another woman also with brown hair cooking the food. As she raised up from putting utensils in the bin, I noticed that she also looked just like the other woman up at the front.

Oh, wow.You two ladies are twins!” I said, gesturing towards the front cash register.

“No, not at all,” said the woman, giving me a curt look.

“Oh, I mean, I think you two look so much alike,” I stammered. “I guess people tell you that,” I smiled.

“Nope, not at all,” she returned.

I felt folish and too chatty at the same time.

“What would you like?” she asked.

“Are those BBQ sandwiches?”

“Yes, they are,”

“OK, I will have one.”

The seemingly offended woman put the sandwich in the bag.

“Have you ever tried our churros?”

“No, I’ve never been here,” I replied.

She scopped a serving of the cinnamon sprinkled sticks in a bag and placed with the sandwich.

“Lite dessert, delicately golden friend with cinnamon sugar sprinkles,” she said.

“Oh, well thanks,” I said.

“And on the house,” she responded.

“Thank you.”

I picked up a can of ice tea and walked up front to the woman at the front counter to pay.

“That’ll be $7.38. Oh wonderful, I see you are trying the churros, you’ll love them. Where are you headed?”

“I’m going to see a friend,” I said.

“That’s nice, it’s a lovely evening to drive. There’s a table outside, if you like.” She smiled and touched a pretty lapis pendant around her neck.

“Thanks again,” I took my food and went outside. It was rather nice out there, the large fir trees swayed in the breeze, my panic and my hatred of Bob had somewhat quelled. I ate the sandwich, then absently grabbed the churro sticks although I was trying not to eat desserts. They were indeed sweet, and the cinnamon was almost overpowering. I found muself to be in no hurry, although I did wonder why the store had no other customers, it was almost as though I had fallen off the end of the earth.

At some point, I must have gotten up from the table and got in my car. Still feeling oddly calm and separated from my predicament, I was driving and watching the landscape become dense. I couldn’t even remember seeing all these trees before, they became even larger, almost menacing. The highway had given way to some sort of small road, I knew I was lost, I pulled the car over – trying to punch in the GPS on my phone. Bob had called – 15 times. The road ahead was starting to resemble a trail, my phone wasn’t working, all I could do, was turn back – I went to get into my car, and the door would not open, I kept hitting the unlock button.

“WTH??” I screamed. My voice filtered upward, then vanished. Dusk was falling, what was I doing here in the middle of nowhere, how had I taken a wrong turn on the highway?”

I stuffed my keys into my purse and decided to walk. There was no choice. Bears? Madmen? Whatever was in the woods, I couldn’t think about it. Resolutely I trudged, jumping at the sound of birds screeching. Then I heard the sound of rushing water, some sort of river or spring. I walked toward it. I don’t know why, everything seemed hopeless, lost as if I weren’t already. I sat down by this river and looked into the water. I no longer felt I could walk, my legs were heavy, my thoughts deep. As I stared, a big splash came from the center of it, and all of a sudden, two men surfaced from the water, fighting with swords. I shook my head, behind them was an army. I shook my head again, what complete madness! I was bonafide crazy. The river and shoreline came alive right there in front of me.

A pale woman with ashen gray skin, fine brown hair engulfing her face like spider legs, appeared in front of me in a forlorn mist.

“What do you want?” she said. She held her hand out toward me, then turned.

It was as if I was in some sort of 3-D movie. The war in the river raged on, the ashen girl now floated above the river. There was a man screaming “Plague!”

I turned, my heart in my throat, it looked like Bob. Then he saw me, he stared at me with his red eyes, smirking while I sat there on the bank. A knight fell in front of me, he was bleeding. The sound of death echoed, a heavy foreboding knell. Archers rose up, fired their arrows. The death lady’s hands began to bleed. I felt sick, so incredibly sick.

“You there! Beware the battle! You linger too close to the edge!”

I turned, it was the brunette woman from the convenience store.

“It’s you!…What are you doing here?”

She smiled, she wore a long, white dress, red lipstick and around her neck, the lapis eye pendant.

“It’s true, she who hesitates is lost.” Then she began to melt in front of me.

“No wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave, I need help!” My words fell on hollow ears. She was gone. In the middle of the river, the Ashen Lady was motioning to me. I shook my head. Then it was as if the bottom fell out of the convoluted world I was in and I must have fainted.

“Darlin’ are you ok?” I heard a voice. I started to see myself looking into the eyes of the convenience store clerk.

“Now take it easy, you must’ve had a dizzy spell out here.”

“Where’s my car?”

“Well, it’s right here,” she said pointing. We were in the parking lot of the convenience store.

“But how did it get here?”

“You drove it to the store, don’t you remember coming in the store? You need some coffee.”

“You are the same woman, you are even wearing the lapis necklace. You weren’t twins, there’s just one of you!” I shouted.

She just shook her head. “My shift is over,” she said and just like that, walked away.

I got up shaky, but steady, and walked into the store. A blonde woman was behind the counter now.

“How can I help you?”

She just shook her head. “My shift is over,” she said and just like that, walked away.

I got up shaky but steady and walked into the store. A blonde woman was behind the counter now.

“How can I help you?”

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