Friday, August 18, 2023


The Return

By Sharon Wynns

Ahh, serenity. It surrounded me as I hiked down the trail between two huge old beech trees when a sudden chill ran over my skin. I turned to look behind me. No one was there, but my body gave an involuntary shiver. I thought I had heard someone say my name, so softly I almost missed it. I shook my head. It must have been the wind. Turning back around, I stepped out from the shade of the beech trees. The path led through a sunlit meadow filled with lavender-blue asters. My eye was caught by a kaleidoscope of tiny yellow butterflies as they bobbed and danced from flower to flower. I stopped to enjoy the scene. Although it was fall, the sun still felt hot on my bare skin and the heated air rose up to envelop me.

Seeking this beauty, allowing it to calm and soothe my soul, had been my habit for two decades.

I was happy to be back on these trails—this being my first time since the accident. I had always felt welcome here and was surprised that I reacted to the sound of my name like that—perhaps because it had never happened before. A short huff of a laugh escaped me. I’ve always been told I have a not too subtle imagination. I passed back into the woods.

There it was again. I spun around, checking all about me. Nobody. This is getting a little spooky. It was another half mile back to the car. Fighting a sudden urge to break out into a run, I did pick up my pace, casting my eyes right and left. The trees were wide-spaced, and I had a clear view of the surrounding woods. It was brightly mottled with sunlight. The undergrowth was no higher than mid-calf, still lush but sparsely growing. I passed a sweetgum, Sharon. I passed another Beech tree. Sharon. My Goddess! It sounded like it was coming directly from the tree. I walked all around it, looked up into the large branches some ten feet above my head and saw no one—heard nothing more. This can’t be real.

“Whoever is doing this, come out. It’s not funny.”

No one responded. The woods were quiet. Another chill ran up my back. I could feel myself wanting to cry. Stay calm, I admonished myself. It’s just your imagination. I took another look around and then moved forward, one careful step at a time. I was approaching a group of trees that lined either side of the trail. I slowed even more. I passed the first tree, then two more. I kept going. Then a whole chorus of voices whispered my name. They didn’t stop until I ran past the last one in the group. Some ten feet away, I braked and turned around. “What! What do you want?” Whoa, crazy. Did I really think I’d get an answer? Silence.

Wrapping my arms around me, I once more turned in a slow circle. I had always considered myself to be open to the mystical, and yet... this was a bit out of my realm of experience. After my accident, I had spent a month in rehab. Maybe it was being around all those medical personnel. Their reality was definitely more based on the physical. Had I somehow become sealed off from the metaphysical? But... I was actually hearing these voices!

Taking a deep breath, I expelled it with a strong huff. I took a step forward, then another, until I was standing beside an old oak tree.

 “Sharon,” it said softly, its voice light... and kind, “Welcome back.”

Sharon is one of the original members of the Writers Guild at Bowers House. Her writings can range from whimsical to philosophical and are always entertaining and inspiring. Please leave a comment.

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