:: an excerpt from my previous project, set in 1924 ::
Hunter drove for hours, taking the quickest route out of the City and meandering through Connecticut’s country roads, the dirt and gravel gathering in mounds of dust along the sides of his honeysuckle yellow car. The rustling leaves overhead invaded his thoughts, prying him from a silent rage that kept his foot firmly pressed on the pedal. He released it slowly and leaned back into the ivory leather seat, his grip softening on the cognac steering wheel.
The countryside air lacked the oppressive nature of the city he left behind, carrying blackbird feathers and the scent of wild grass through his car, its top pulled down behind him. He soon came upon an area of forest he knew well, an expanse of blooming mountain laurel under the cover of great oak trees, a neglected corner of Blackbird Glen. Hunter pulled to the side of the road and leaned against his car looking out into the magnificent space of white and pink petals that contrasted with the inherent darkness of the forest floor. Their blooms grew different but the same, unblemished clusters of ever-frozen snowflakes. Its beauty was unimagined, an untouched, unexhausted ideal of the way it should be for three seasons of the year. In winter, it held only promise.
He walked into the forest, stopping near a particularly crooked trunk fifty yards or less from the road with a mark in its face, an “H” that he had carved some years ago with her, now overgrown and stretching over the bark, nearly indiscernible. He climbed into the hook-shaped branch over his head and sat a moment with his eyes closed listening to a cricket’s conversation with a blackbird and the mechanical hollowing of a woodpecker. The forest soon disappeared, his ears and mind filled with a stillness that one can only find when focused solely on the continuation of his own breathing. He opened his eyes and turned his head several times. He faced left: toward the Sound he could not see; forward: over more of the same unbound forest; and right: viewing the road that seemed never to end. Hazel held a particular fondness for this place, and yet, he could not figure just what she had come to see all those years he found her there.
Time dragged, his thoughts running through the forest in leaps and bounds as if dodging the blossoms, avoiding their destruction. Hunter tried to catch them, to hold them just long enough to unravel them, but they evaded his grasp and were lost in the fauna.
Sighing, he slid from the branch, his cream pants catching on the bark and ripping along the right seam. He ran his palm across the small tear, a blight on his pressed suit, and flattened it to his leg. The act lasted no more than a moment and trotted past his memory unexplored and forgotten. He lingered where the woods met the road, blades of wild green spearing up between the rocks, as if on the precipice of everything, breathing in the sweet wild flowers and the gravel’s dust, the old and the new.
– M. Ray Hall