Winter Road by Evgeni Dinev

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On a snowy winters day, we took a walk down the old dirt road just because we could. All bundled up in our bulky coats, we trundled down the path full of wonder at the post card landscape that scrawled before us. The fog was dense as we began, and we ran into the mist, pretending that if we ran far enough we could find the fabled fairly lands. Icicles dangled from trees, creating a forest of diamonds. If we could string the icicles to our necks, we would have become queens.

Soon the sun peeked a bashful glance out from behind the clouds and chased the fog away. But we kept walking, not really knowing where we were going. It didn’t matter anyway, we were young and free.

When Lisa veered off the road laughing, we watched her gleefully play in the knee deep snow. We didn’t know it would be the last winter she would be with us at the time and I look back on that time fondly. No, at that time we were simply enjoying the cool winter air and quiet stillness.

A dainty track of a deer passed the road only a short while before us, but the creature that had made those tracks was long gone, the forest faithfully masking her from our watching eyes. A gentle chirrup from the trees reminded us that the world was still turning.

About half way down the path the snow began to fall again gently. We opened our mouths and tried to catch the snow flakes on our tongue. Just the little hint of cold that faded within a heart beat. The golden sun bathing us in a warm light.

We carved our names in the trees with Gil’s pocket knife. Lisa claimed the largest for herself, scurrying to the highest branch she could with her short little arms pulling her along. We laughed at the sight of her, so small cradeled in the loving arms of the mother tree.

We made an entire family of snowmen, only to knock them down later and roll about in the deep cold. Never again in my life did I feel quite so alive as I did that winter.

Years later, as an adult, I drive my old Volkswagen down this road. Sometimes I try to find our foot prints in the snow, searching for the small ones that belonged to Lisa. The trees are taller now, the sun never quite as gold as it once was. Perhaps those were the best years of my life.

I found Lisa’s tree, far back in now haunted forest. If I listened carefully I could still hear her laugh on the wind as it rushed through the limbs. Even mother tree drooped closer to the ground, feeling the loss of the child so full of life.

I climbed Lisa’s tree and found her name still lovingly where she left it. I had no knife with me, and found I could only stare at the small letters.

The grayness that comes with an adult winter is all encompassing and overwhelming. And when the sun tries to remind me of its warmth, all I can do is wince at the brightness of it all and pull the curtains closed. The days pass so quickly now, but the nights are long and lonely. I wonder if Lisa were still here if she would agree. Perhaps if I could only reach out and touch her once more I would find myself less lonely.

I find myself chasing my childhood. We were in such a hurry to grow-up, and now here I am wishing I could find my way back there, to the enchanted forest we created in our minds.

Sometimes I pass my old friends in the markets and streets and we only nod a quick hello. Too busy we are now with our technologies and our fast cars to remember those simple pleasures. I think we call carry the same pain of losing Lisa. We never went back to the enchanted forest after.

I heard the Gil went back a few times. He took her loss the hardest. He would go on a search to find her, but she was no longer there. She was lost to the winds of time. Each winter I walk our path alone and wait patiently. If I try really hard, maybe the fairies will lead me to their world. And maybe then I will find my lost friend. Maybe then I will be able to hold her again.

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