excerpt from Our Berried Summer

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I swore off meat as penance, headed to the woods for some deliberate living.  In the end it felt more like desperation, a creeping hunger that nosed its way up a tree like a parasitic vine.

They understood at work.  I was allowed to take administrative leave through the rest of spring semester.  The unusually chill nights kept the summer canopy at bay and drove it lower to the forest floor where wild leeks split the earth.  I dug them out first in the shadow of my house.  Without meaning to I would pull them up half a dozen at a time and brush the black humus off the slender, white, tube-like roots.  I lopped off the base tendrils with the Swiss Army knife I bought as a kid.  I was never a boy scout, but liked the thought of being prepared even then.  I took the rest of the plants and stuck them, leaves trembling into my mouth.  Gnawing the bitter roots I spat the tandem of green foliage over my deck rail as I stared out over the tree tops across the road.  They spun to the earth like maple seeds, but immediately began to shrivel in the afternoon sun.

By morning my colon shriveled, expanded, breathed, then vomited.  I ran to the bathroom and shit a bolt of liquid fire.  I could not catch my breath as I stared at my stubbled chin in the mirror.  Cosmetics still littered the bathroom counter between his and hers basins.  I could not touch them to put them away.

I wandered out past our spring-fed pond uncheered by the heads of giggling daffodils that nodded gently in the wind.  I left my house without intention, ass still smoking.

A quarter mile farther on the trails wind past a rigid stand of red pine planted sixty years ago by a former landholder.  The straight rows of scabbing bark rise up over a soft bed of auburn needles and I lay down in them.  A nap grew over me covering my eyes that had spent the night staring listlessly at the moon, missing everyone.  When I awoke, I decided that I would not be going back.  I became a forest creature.  The spring beauty and trillium hinted at survival.  They after all had risen again from underneath winter’s cloak.  And if I never poked my head out again it was hardly a matter to alert the neighbors over any more.


Alert your neighbors and tell them read more by purchasing purchase a copy of my short story collection Waiting for Bells at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/BrettRamseyer>.


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Book Excerpts, Short Stories

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