I kind of feel like I grew up in the woods as much as I grew up in my home. As a child, I would run into the woods to play. I once made a fortress out of a mostly fallen tree that, even while it was completely on the ground, it still clung to life with half of the tree still connected to the stump. Since this tree was on the ground, the branches that still grew created a small enclosure where I would pretend to be a fairy who ruled over the other fairies in the forest realm.
Once I grew older though the woods served a different purpose. It was where I would go to clear my head, I would run until all my problems and anxieties felt minuscule and far away. The woods always seemed to calm me and the chirping of birds overhead always lightens my spirits.
It was the early hours of the morning when I set out to the woods for my run, as is my routine. I cranked up my music and took off at a light jog, feeling my feet pound into the dirt trail. Due to the dim morning light, I decided it would be best to stick to the trail, no sense getting lost before work.
I was well into my run once the sun had fully risen, casting a soft glow through the trees. I paused my music and let my headphones rest on my shoulders, slowing down to a casual walk as I did so. I listened to the sounds of the birds chirping and the gentle breeze causing the trees to sway. I took a minute to enjoy it before I turned back and headed home, but when I turned around there was someone standing there… at least, I thought there was. When I blinked, they disappeared and I chalked it all up to a trick of the light, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t.
I started my walk back, keeping my headphones resting on my shoulders. But as soon as I started walking, the birds stopped chirping and grew quiet, some even took off and flew away. My heart started beating faster and louder as a small panic took hold inside of me. I wasn’t sure whether it was the fear that made me feel as if I was being watched, or if I had truly seen something out there before. Either way, I decided to resume jogging, but as my heart began to race, I was unable to jog, instead, I sprinted along the path before me. I was jumping over roots and fallen tree limbs, narrowly avoiding everything in my path.
In the back of my mind, I knew that I should slow down, that it was probably nothing, just a tree’s shadow but I couldn’t bring myself to slow.
Once I could see the edge of the woods, my fears began to subside, and I felt a bit of relief, however, that quickly vanished when I felt myself falling. I quickly threw my hands out in front of me, trying to not land on my face and before I could hit the ground, someone picked me up and threw me outside of the line of trees.
My mind was racing, and as soon as I landed, I pulled myself up and turned back towards the forest. I tried to spot anyone or anything that would explain what just happened, but no one was there. Against all logic, I just stood there, trying to put my thoughts together. That’s when I heard the birds pick up their song again.
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