Forest

I want to know what those ancient trees have seen. I want to know what sort of men they’ve let pass under their arms, what kind of violence those fallen leaves have quietly buried.

Well. If they care they’re keeping it to themselves.

I stamp on the back of the shovel with my boot, and dig the hole a few inches deeper, getting down into the black, wet soil. She’ll rot quick, down here.

She is wrapped in black sacks. There are five of them; I can’t remember which bits are where. I slide them all in and push the mud back over the pile.

Above me, the trees watch, and rattle their hands.

On the way back to the road I hear voices. Shouts. Barks. It’s dark already, too late for walkers, and the police wouldn’t be here,  not with their dogs, not unless they’d found her car.

There’s rope, and bin bags, and bloodied clothes, in her car.

I leave the path, stomping over the roots and the brambles as quickly as I can without tripping, followed by the crying and snorting of dogs, the buzz of walkie – talkies, the slamming of van doors. I drop the shovel and run.

It’s her car. I stride over a ditch. Nothing connects me to it, nothing of mine, no fingerprints. I wade through wet ferns. If I can get out of here and home without being seen, there’s nothing to connect me with her at all. I stamp in a puddle. I could even go to the pub. I should go to the pub. I should sit under warm lights with a beer and the laughter of old locals and the click- tap of snooker cues and forget about her and act normal.

A root catches my foot and I’m thrown to the ground.

It takes a minute to realise why I can’t get up, why the inside of my coat is damp.

I’ve been impaled on a stick. I can’t feel it yet but I can see it’s tip, peeking out just below my ribs, red flesh clinging to the splintered edge.

The dogs are running, over pathways, over mud, calling their handlers closer. I can’t do much but lie here and look up. The tree above me waves its fingers happily.

Well. Perhaps they do care, after all.

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