I stand at the trail head, looking out from the forest edge across the fence gate and the field beyond. Vauthier's place I imagine. Funny how I've walked these trails all day, not quite finding my way back yet knowing where I am. The sun is lower in the sky, but it's too exposed. I turn back, planning to take a right at the third fork next time.
Iterative processing on these old hunting paths. Officially, hunting season is over. But the trails are still fresh. Deer hunters plowed or plain wore paths with their four wheelers in the national park area. The snow hasn't covered them up up.
It's well below freezing, but I don't feel the cold. Never the cold. The emptiness in my belly drives me. I pass the geographic coin pedestal for the third time. Stuck in this loop, I might get out before nightfall.
Still, there's something new, a ski track. Cross country. Can't quite tell which way they went. Even the ski tip holes look like they could go either way. Fifty-fifty chance if I didn't know better. Picking up my pace, I head away from Kelly Lake. I know my way less the farther I go, but I have a hunch.
It's dark when I come across Mr. Kelly coming back, along the trail. "You lost?" he asks.
"I got turned around for a bit." I sniff the air, crisp and almost void of scent. Almost.
"Well, follow me and you can get to the main road. It's not safe at night."
The rumble in my belly and the aroma of perfume reminded me. I smiled, showing my teeth.
"No. No it's not."
This piece came about from a writing prompt about either snow, being lost, and partly true. I hit all three, but I'll leave it to your imagination to what wasn't true.