A Moments Wrest, Chapter 9: One Tree Hill
9 One Tree Hill
Oren continued walking deeper into the forest. It was easy to do between the rows. Occasionally he would look upward and admire the height of the trees against the deep blue sky. These must be several decades old, he thought, If not longer.
He would also look to the right and left, at the rows passing by him on either side. He did not like to look at the 45 degree angle, as there was no way to see past the grouping of trees. It was unnerving to not know what laid behind. Yet this time he did, and noticed something odd.
There was a small whiff of smoke wafting between the trees off in the distance. A fire?! He became concerned the forest might be in danger. He changed his course to the direction of the smoke and cut diagonally through the jumbled grouping of trees to investigate.
“Wow”, Sarah responded with an embellished tone, “McDonald’s! What a lucky boy you are to have a Grandpa who will take you to McDonald’s for breakfast. What did you eat?”
“Pancakes an’ hash-rownds an’ ketsup”, Aaron exclaimed, as he held up a small plastic toy that came with the meal.
“Sounds yummy,” Sarah replied. Her morning anxiety had already started to melt. Kids had a way of reminding you of the innocent things in life. She needed that now. “Did you bring any for me?”, she questioned, already knowing the answer.
“Me an’ Gampa ate it ALL UP!”, Aaron informed her with much pride.
“Well, I see. I guess I’ll just have to come next time”, Sarah mused.
The elevator doors opened and the three of them exited, and made their way past the nurses desk of the ICU and headed down the hallway towards Oren’s area. Sarah took her son inside the curtain while Gregg sat down in the visitors area. He would stay for a few hours until Lora would meet him there to visit. A few hours after that, Sarah would be back with Aaron and they would take him home for the night.
“Mommy, can Daddy hear us if his eyes ‘re shut?”, Aaron asked.
“Some doctors think people like Daddy can hear even though they’re brains are sleeping, Sweetie”, Sarah explained as best she could. She did not have to wonder if he understood.
Aaron had already bounced up to the side of Oren’s bed and then whispered, “I love you Daddy! Wake up soon.”
Oren made his way towards the smoke trail, though his view was obscured through the misaligned trees. It was much farther than he had first guessed. It was also hard to track. At times the smoke would blow in different directions. Other times, like now, he lost sight of it all together.
He stopped to look around. He realized he had no idea where he was going, or which direction he had come. He spun the other way. Everywhere looked exactly the same. Oren started to panic. There was no sign of smoke anywhere. Now what? The irony hit him. When he had nowhere to go, he was content to simply enjoy the scene. Now, he could not find what he was looking for and was anxious. There was no difference in his surroundings, but now that he saw the smoke, he is lost. Great.
As he took one more step forward a tiny ray of sunlight hit his left eye. He squinted and turned his head away. What the…? He had traveled through the dense forest many kilometers from where he started at the edge of the beach. Can’t be. The sun was not high or bright enough to reach that far. Yet here it was right in his face.
He pulled back enough to see where it was coming from, and in the direction where the light was pointing. It somehow managed to work its way through the forest to a single tree a hundred yards or so up ahead. As he stared at it, a slight trail of smoke peeked out from behind. Yes!
Oren moved quickly, never keeping his eyes off the lit tree. The smoke would come and go as he maneuvered through the forest. He finally reached it and looked back, only the sunbeam disappeared. He put his hand on the even bark where the light was. It was warm. Then the smoke wafted out from behind.
He was more surprised to see a man sitting next to the fire cooking something in a pan. Oren stopped to take a look. This was the first person he had seen in a long time. He quickly scanned the site for others. There was no one else, nor was there any gear other than a backpack. He did not see weapons of any kind.
He moved forward.
The man’s back was facing the tree, and he did not move at all when Oren slowly approached the fire.
“It’s about time you showed up”, the man said without looking back.
…continued with Chapter 10
Original Cover Photo Credit unknown