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Crawling to the End of the World (how older people feel all over the world)

It’s dark, cloud covers the promised moon and I am lost.

Placing my hand flat on the slug caused the problem.  I cursed, scraped my hand. But, some slime was caught between my fingers.  Wiping my hand uncontrollably, I inadvertently moved off our foot-path.

The smudgy glow of moon through the clouds is only enough to distinguish shapes. My knees sink into soggy moss. It had rained lately, I could be anywhere.

Why am I doing this? A tired old woman, lonely maybe?  I’ve seen no one, touched no-one since the Isolation began. No one has been near me for almost five months. I wonder if I am real. But my dream was real. So here I am, maybe thirty feet from my straight path with wet pant legs. So far from a goal I promised myself I would do this morning. I dreamed this goal and I am determined.

Resignation sets in but I will finish my crawl to the end of the world.

My cold hands, my wet knees supply enough information to navigate. The problem the slug caused will be remedied soon, I know this bit of land.

Feeling less apprehensive now. I’m past the soft crunch of maple leaves. My knees snap small twigs, I feel the squirming mass of them under the poplar. I scramble over a patch of mushrooms, their musky smell released as my hands flatten some, they’re slippery when my knees sink into their whiteness.

The forest floor gives me directions. I swear as my knee hits a rock. The patch of dog tooth violet leaves squeak as my hands weigh them down, they guide me past the Trilliums, their odour strong. I know where I am. I haven’t run into brambles which means I am on the path side of the large old pine; I turn to the left. Another twenty feet of rough and my sore hands by luck find a rippled rock. One of the river fossils I placed on the path years ago.

I rest for a minute now that my goal is close. There’s moon glow in the opening ahead. I hear my heart beating in this silence. A rustle of to my right, I’ve disturbed a small creature; I hear a voice drifting from a neighbour and the swish and gurgle of water ahead.

I continue crawling along the path I’ve walked thousands of times.

The clouds race by the round brightness and everything is clear, limned in a glow that quickens my heart. The fullness of light gives the landscape limited colour. My goal reached.

I throw back my head and scream, howl with all my strength. And howl again!

I am here! Hard, low sounds, then higher ones echoing across the river, loud enough ‘to wake the dead’ and announce to the world: I am here! I live!

I hope the dead do wake, company for the walk back.