North Fork–Right Fork

May 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Four kids inhaled the star-brushed sky as they lay with their backs against the warm road, tar digging into whatever exposed skin it could reach like chiggers. This was a night like no other. They sensed it in the magic of the night, the gaudium essendi. Laying there with an eager sense of anticipation, a giddiness, a feeling in their gut that was not to be reduced down to a college-wide virus, they asked questions best discussed under such a sky: What is art? What is beauty? They were no longer freshmen; as newly college sophomores they were more daring. Matthew pulled out his pipe and a tin of tobacco, packed some in, and lit the quaint wooden pipe. He offered a smoke, and one girl took him up on the offer. She gingerly took the pipe from him and tentatively sucked in and blew the stinging residue out. Interesting but definitely not a lifetime habit.

When they realized their conversation was never-ending, the four acquaintances decided to take a nighttime walk. They could still soak in the stars, but not be as restless. They walked along the winding road, coddled by the mountain range. The giant’s steps quarried in the back of the mountain were cloaked by night’s absent star. A yellow glow appeared on the road, like a piece of broken car mirror reflecting distant headlights. The peculiar sight intrigued them. They hurried closer, not totally convinced they hadn’t imagined the thing.

The environmental science major stepped forward, inspecting the small yellow thing making itself known against the black—a glow worm. Up until then, these creatures had been a myth, but this was the night glow worms entered into their reality. Matthew picked up the ignorant little bug and gingerly put him in the woods that bordered the road, safe from the monstrosities of “human achievement.”

Their stroll continued along the well-established road leading to the watering hole, a beloved swimming spot. The four unlikely companions began making their way down the rocky cliff face, down to the river fed by a waterfall. Suddenly, they froze mid-descent. Voices were drifting up from the noisy water below. The same thought crossed each of their minds at once. They were going to get murdered. Frantically, they scurried up the boulders, back onto the road. Two of the friends took off at a sprint, shooting ahead. One was nearly back to the melodic resting spot they first chose when they had arrived. A billowing deep southern voice caught their attention. Glancing over their shoulders, they noticed flashlights on cell phones pulled out. Matthew and Jo were taking it easy, talking with the local. The country voiced echoed through the night, “Oh. Yeah…we thought you was the cops and were like oh hell.” The comforting laughter of their friends forged ahead to their ears.

Finally, they were on the road back to where their adventure began, periodically sniffing jewel-weed. The scent intermingled with the warm fulfilling night air. A long, drawn out coyote howl echoed across the cavernous lowlands from the mountain behind them. Another responded on the mountain across from them. A chorus of coyotes filled the bowl that the mountain range formed. With each howl the message became louder, more urgent. What was at first a beautiful end to their night quickly became less amusing.


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