A Barren Trail
By Allison Marbry
He set his back stiff against my cabin’s only couch, and told me that he’d tread between misty pews of fallen trees and against the thorns that tug like beggars to get here. His boots accumulated mud over dirt over blood throughout his journey, as I saw when he bumbled through my spotless log door, but his shotgun remained immaculate. The lantern beside him had an hour left.
Sharpening my knife in the kitchen, he put his feet up on the table and continued on about how he was lurking just as quietly as his pride told him to when he met the wind, when the clouds swallowed him. I saw it myself from the window; the holy light that once seeped through the thick layers of grey still bowed to the sky, and darkened to a deep cave stone. I heard the thunder tumble and trip towards us, the chorus of hail, though he and his gun never noticed.
I asked him if he was scared.
The Hunter supposed he was, but he made his way, ice-eyed, along the path until he found a split. He did not figure something so pristine as my dirt path still existed in this forest, much less that it would lead him to life. Over the sink, I nudged my thumb against the tip of the knife, gauging its slick edge. I turned and saw from across the room that he had finally taken off his shoes, still mumbling on in his gruff monotone. Even in his age, he did not realize the danger in trusting wandering men, or the gamble of a barren trail.
For not all trails were made by men.
And not all men were made by God
I am an undergraduate English and Computer Science major, inspired to write this piece while hiking with one of my most hated colleagues.