8.2.12

William Spends a Night in the Park

     William grabbed his bag from the shelf overhead and stepped down onto the pavement. When he got off the bus, it was already dark. From where he stood, William was about ten blocks away from the only park in the city, a place he used to avoid after the sun went down. Now, however, it seemed like a welcome respite after such a long trip. The walk was refreshing and it felt good to see the sky again, to be alone again and feel his suffocated mind begin to clear. As William walked down the street, he looked into the store windows and was drawn to the warm lights and pretty faces of the employees inside. The streets weren’t crowded, but there were just enough people out to remind him that he wasn’t on the mountain anymore, that the woods he had grown to love and depend on over the past few months were long gone, gone forever maybe, unless he could figure out a way to get back to them one day.
     William reached the park about an hour later. The entrance lay just across the street; a silver archway inscribed with the name of an important member of the city everyone had long since forgotten. He found a clearing situated well off the footpath, laid down his bag and stretched out on the cool, even blades of grass, and looked up at the crescent moon. The stars were shrouded by streetlights, and the sky appeared distant and unfamiliar. William lay there listening to the electric buzz of lamp posts, closed his eyes and reflected on one memory in particular from his time on the mountain.
     One morning, as he trudged through the thicket of the forest, William suddenly stepped out into a field where a young deer was grazing. Its head shot up and turned in his direction. William paused to admire its golden coat shining in the sunlight, its slender neck, and trembling shanks. A few seconds later, the deer dashed off across the field, leaping several feet into the air with each powerful thrust of its legs.
*
     William prepared to leave the park before daylight; he took a deep breath, lifted his bag up onto his shoulders and swayed slightly, dizzy with hunger. He looked around, but couldn’t see much through the fog and the steam of his breath. William started off walking in no particular direction, reluctant to end up anywhere, yet not wanting to stay in any one place for too long. It reminded him of the day he decided to step out of his house and never look back. Although he had no plan, William had a great sense of purpose.

-Zac Herman

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