arilyn felt her son’s cold fingers tuck inside her gloved hand as they hiked through the woods. His small touch tempted tears, but she kept moving. They climbed over downed timbers, and Dalton shuffled his feet through the hard crackle of dried leaves exposing coal-colored crickets to late winter. After an hour, she still hadn’t found the right words to crush his world. “Are you sure you brought a turkey and mustard sandwich?” he asked. “Got it.” She squeezed his fingers three times, the soft pads of her palm crushing in on his eight-year-old fragility. “And apple slices—“ “And apple slices.” She adjusted the increasingly heavy picnic basket on her arm, letting go of Dalton’s hand as she did, and flipped her braided, brown hair over her shoulder. Dalton rubbed his palms together, cupped them, and blew air onto his fingers. March was always unpredictable, but this morning was chillier than the one before. They pushed through the forest, weaving the bare trees together with their trail until the slope of the hillside grew too steep to go in any direction but down. She peeked at his face, tight and focused on not slipping. “Be careful.” He yanked a twig from a tree and tossed it to the ground, stepping on it with a crunch. “I know, Mom. You don’t have to tell me.” She sighed. The shores of common ground between them eroded more and more each day. “I’m only saying it because I want you to be careful. I’d hate for you to tumble into that monster’s mouth.” “Where?” Dalton grasped her arm and dragged her down with him as he fell.
Published on Mar 1, 2012
From the Depths is a quarterly literary journal from Haunted Waters Press featuring works of prose, creative nonfiction and poetry. Issues a...