Feb 13

Comfort in Obscurity

Apprehension seeped through my being as I realized I was missing something.
An image crossed my mind of a small orange flashlight laying on a blanket.
I left it in the tent.
There was still a loose congregation of staff at the council ring, but it was late and energy was needed for the following day. Rest was an important resource on par with food and water; I wasn’t willing to deprive my body of it. If I were to get any decent sleep, I had to leave now. 
And go out there.


Darkness enveloped my thoughts as I strode away from the smoldering bonfires with nothing more than a vague sense of direction. What was so easily navigable by day was now obscured by shadows draped over uncertain dips in the ground. Even the exterior lamps of the administration building were off. Nonetheless, I started up the trail.
The distance from the main part of camp to the staff site was no more than what I had walked to school, though the dense hemlocks and thickets of ferns made the path appear as if it meandered endlessly.
The canopy was laced together with dim, woven branches, hindering nearly any light from falling on the trail. As I walked, I would occasionally look down, relying on the faint difference between my faded brown shoes and the black soil. A slight chill in the air did little to quell my anxiety towards the haunting landscape. Reports of black bears from earlier in the week echoed in my head. While the animals were generally afraid of humans, their behavior was still unexpected. The latter gave me precaution. Precaution in the form of a spring-assisted knife lying in my pocket.
I continued, spurred on by the sort of primal unease retained from our earliest ancestors, still resurfacing at even the slightest feeling of loneliness in the woods.
I pulled my hoodie tighter, the soft cotton embracing me as the summer breeze started up again.
A chill ran down my spine.
Brushing against my consciousness was a sound carried in the wind. It was different from the ambient swaying of leaves.
Music.
Drawn farther up the dirt path, I discerned it as a woman singing quietly.
Muffled by the compact foliage, it was indistinct but still audible. It was a strangely beautiful aura, almost as if its source was beckoning me.
Come.


After an unknown amount of time had passed, there was finally a break in the undergrowth ahead, trees illuminated around it. Cautiously, my feet took me around the corner.
I froze.
Before me was the fishing dock, burnished with just enough light to contrast it with the scenery around it. Beyond the dock, Lake Eileen’s surface shimmered from a full moon. Below the stellar orb were two familiar figures cloaked in blue hoodies.
There was Will, who sat in tailor fashion with his slender hands cupped neatly in his lap. Beside him was Ella, hugging fair legs that were half veiled in green scout socks. Like a golden cascade, glossy blond hair poured over her shoulders and back.
No divergence could be found between Will and Ella's demeanor as their lithe forms remained like a pair of elves among the wilderness.
After a moment, I caught a glance from Will. He said something that couldn’t quite be heard. Hesitant toward disturbing them, I was fixed in place when Ella turned her head to inspect me with curious sapphire eyes. She welcomed me, directing my attention to the constellations.
An infinite amount of stars and other celestial objects dotted the monochrome sky, composed like a great mural. The wonder of it all had me in complete awe while the duo spoke back and forth. Only then could I truly appreciate why they were at the dock while so many were asleep. Looking over at them, I was met with Ella’s gaze. A broad smile leapt across her face. It filled me with comprehension. Stirred within me was a feeling that she understood me more than anyone except my family. My initial stiffness faded away as I matched her calm manner. Observing the forest, temperate words dissolved barriers in my mind.
What is there to worry about?
Just when I thought Will would finally surrender to tiredness, he pressed a button on his watch. An emerald beam reflected off his angled features as he noted the time. Ella rose to reveal the full extent of her taller stature, and lead the way off the creaking planks.
 
We slipped into the intense backdrop with no care about what lay ahead, moving in languid strides before reaching a row of cabins. A light turned on above the entrance of the center building. Its door opened as a woman stepped out to greet us; Rebekka, her loose copper hair vivid in the lantern’s glow. Ella waved before retiring to her quarters, and Will continued up the trail at a brisk pace after wishing us good night.
The light turned off and once again there were only shadows.
The cabins were only a halfway point, though the distance to the tent seemed shorter than ever.