Story F 'Backtracking' by Raelinda Woad

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When I'm living alone in the little one room cabin in the woods, I love to get up at 4am while it's still pitch black outside.

I quickly write down my dreams, and then I step outside the cabin and feel my way through the dark trees to the unlit country road. And there I pause for a moment and consider the fork.

But I always choose the right direction, the direction that leads me to the sunrise, which I fetch back for the rest of the world.

And then I wake up. And it really is 4am, and it really is pitch black outside, and I really am alone in a cabin in the woods. And I really did think it was a good idea to get up this early and go for a walk in the woods.

Just like I do every night before I go to bed. But in the morning it never seems like such a good idea and so I usually think of some clever excuse not to. Like: "If I get up all the blood will rush to my feet and

my brain will feel neglected. Only by remaining horizontal can I achieve

perfect blood-flow harmony."

But sometimes I make myself get up anyway and I write down whatever dreams I can remember and then I throw on some warm clothes and step out into the woods.

And I immediately feel terrified. It's wicked dark out here. It never gets dark like this in the city. The city is so saturated with artificial light that it can barely achieve slight dimness.

But as I feel my way through these woods the darkness is so dense it's almost physical, like a heavy, black fog. A fog that seems about to bubble over with wolves and bears. And escaped serial killers. And UFO's filled with aliens who just received an intergalactic grant to study storyteller internal anatomy.

Sometimes I turn around and go back to bed.

But sometimes I reach the road. It's an unpaved country road scattered with a luminescent, milky white quartz that makes it seem as if I'm walking across something that is paler than the night sky.

Like, for example, a ghost. Whenever I try to take a step it doesn't seem to want to let go of my feet. But this is actually a good thing because I am now so scared that my knees feel like they are about to float away, followed by my spine.

But somehow I make myself put one foot in front of the other and cross the fork, because a part of me actually believes that dream I had that it's my job to find the sunrise.

So I walk. And I walk. And then, at about 5am, comes that rare moment when the sky starts to lighten. But the road still glows. So they both look exactly the same.

It is a moment of feeling suspended.

And it is shortly after that moment that I no longer feel afraid. The road that I am on will curve up around the crown of the mountain, and then swing back down to meet itself back at the fork. It is a 3 mile walk, and by the time I am returned to the fork the entire forest has gone from a dark, colorless gray to a delicate, glass green.

And I just can't understand why I was so afraid in a place where everything is so beautiful, and green, and alive.

I must have some kind of solar powered brain that doesn't start working properly until it's collected enough light.

I am so glad that I am out here, walking in the new sunlight instead of still in bed getting waterlogged from too much sleep. I am so glad that I made myself do this.

And it occurs to me that this feeling is like the opposite of addiction. And that every time I make myself do something difficult, I am healing one of those times that I let myself do something easy. And got

pushed farther away from the balance.

Which is why I think it would be a good idea for me to get up early tomorrow morning and go for a walk in the dark woods.

I have a lot of backtracking to do.