This micro-story was written as a potential idea for an imaginative piece for the HSC. It was quickly abandoned for that purpose, but I haven’t managed to leave it behind entirely. My 5-day trek through the stunning Kunderang gorges served as inspiration, and my ultimate goal has been to capture the wonderful things that I see using words alone.
The arches of my feet ache as my trembling legs threaten collapse. The persistent ache creeps up my legs and into my back, hunched under the weight of a pack which is almost as heavy as the encroaching darkness. Looking up, I see the pale sky sifting through the canopy, but the foliage is too dense to act as anything besides a ceiling in which to capture the darkness.
My gaze drops to my feet in hopeless exhaustion, watching each footstep become little more than a shuffle, barely stirring the dull, dry leaf litter. Sighing, I straighten up and scan the area.
The forestry has become skeletal and eerily still in the muted half-light. The cover of trees appear to inflate and enlarge around me. My gaze slumps back to the ground, to the fading track.
The stringy bark curls into shapes which become silhouetted predators, and my aching muscles tense against the threat of uncertainty. Watching the leaf litter rise and fall like the tide, with my footsteps, I don’t immediately notice a shift in my surroundings. The ground’s leaves thin.
One stride leaves the forestry behind, an expansive clearing opening before me. With my only canopy the thin vein of clouds overhead, the world re-illuminates. The ground beneath my weary feet is spongy; a rich, hydrated and healthy green. The light freshness extends even to the air, light and rejuvenating and smelling of a late spring evening.
The hills rise steeply around the wide expanse of luscious, blanketed grass before me. They create walls around the valley, forging a microcosm into the pause of the forestry.
Looking wistfully over the luminescent greenery, I could be viewing the entire world. It is the place of fairytales; it is Eden’s garden, and entirely empty of humanity until this moment. I could be anywhere at all. Anything could happen anywhere in the world and in this moment, which seems to evade the confines of time, I would not know.
The cacophony of the rest of the world is barreling past with oceanic ferocity, yet cradled in the security of this valley, all is still.
The sunlight is sapping rapidly, but it is departing with celebratory lights strung to the horizon and from the clouds. The stars emerge tentatively, peering down at the world which is too busy to look up.
A distinct and unfamiliar sense of ease falls over me like a blanket, and I breathe in the essence of all that is natural and calm and perfectly as it should be.