Beyond the Woods 1

There was once an old man that lived beyond the woods. He was a quiet man, kept to himself most of the time. He never said much to anyone, never really had to and if he did he would say it in a whisper. Nobody knew his name, not even I when I encountered him down by the river in his rickety, old, wooden house that sat on top of the water, near the edge of the bank. I would see him often standing outside his house, watching the river, watching me as I rowed by. He would give me a simple nod and I would wave back and that was all that was said between us. He lived alone for a long time. Then one day, his family came and took him away. I never saw the old man again.

His house stood vacant for many days. I didn’t expect to see anyone living there. I assumed the house would deteriorate and slowly crumble into the river, but, for now it stood alone, beyond the woods. Not many people lived here and the ones that did had eventually abandon this way of life. The river was long and not very wide, it was surrounded by foliage of woods. At one end it met up with the ocean and the other side the wetlands where criminals hid. But not many survived the wetlands as a fierce creature made it its home. Not even I dared to row that far.

To my surprise, the old man’s cabin didn’t sit alone for long. Before summer arrived a new owner had taken possession of it. I was rowing down the river during my usual routes as a Ranger when I took notice of the new resident. I rowed towards her, greeting her.

“Hello, I didn’t think old man Withers would ever sell his place,” I say to her.

“He didn’t,” she says. “I bought it from his daughter.”

“I’m surprised to hear he has a daughter,” I say. “I never saw anyone visit him.”

“Apparently, he liked it that way,” she responds. “I’m Lucy.”

“Ranger Stewart, I parole these waters.”

“Then I will be seeing much of you.”

“Possibly,” I tip my hat to her. “I won’t take much of your time. I have a long row ahead of me.”

I bid her good luck as I believed she was going to need it. In a few days a torrent would be ravishing through the river as the rains were approaching. The river would be flooded again as it did every summer and winter. Once more I would be deployed to row through the river to seek out lost fisherman or stranded wanderers. I wouldn’t doubt I would have to save her too. The river was a dangerous place to live, even I feared it.