The path is losing its fight with the wilderness. A few miles back, it was rutted and gashed by tyres. Now it tails off intermittently into brush and grass, the weeds on each side creeping inwards like Tour-de-France spectators eager to see their favoured rider. Soon it becomes indistinguishable with the forest floor.
My feet become my primary concern now. Roots rise from the ground like sun-bleached ribs. Sticky willow snags on my laces. I am so intent on keeping my footing that I don’t notice the ferns dragging their damp fingers over my forearms and across my rucksack as I push through the foliage. Branches reach across the sky above me, shivering against the grey sky. I am close now.
The shack emerges from the forest in pieces. Here a broken, mustard-brown window pane. There fallen roof tiles, stacked in the guttering like scrabble tiles. The forest stops short of the log walls, as though unwilling to crowd the building. No wonder. There is no blue wisp of smoke spiralling from the chimney here, no pair of boots on the porch, no flickering light from within promising warmth and welcome. All is silent. All is watchful.
It is an uneasy place. That’s how I’d best describe it. Uneasy with itself. Faded from the sun, the uneven logs allow glimpses of darkness within. They are like fingers trying to hide something that’s too big to conceal. There’s damp lichen on the wood, but it seems as though it’s seeping out of the building rather than trying to get in. The house is shrunken, squat in the forest, unwilling to do anything but stare with blank windows at anyone unfortunate to encounter it.
At least, that’s what I tell my therapist during the exercise.
Remember, he says, the shack is something your mind has created – a depository for memories you don’t yet wish to confront. I can help you. We can open that wooden door together.
Fool, I think. The shack isn’t somewhere I fear to enter. The shack means safety for me. It means sanctuary. You want to talk about things I don’t want to confront? You should see what I’m bringing to it in my rucksack.
***Thanks for reading, folks. Any comments or likes much appreciated!***