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Forest – The Awl

Iwasjoggingonceonadirtroadthatcutthroughaforest。

Itwasquietandeachofmyfootstepslandedwithasoftcrunch。

EventuallyIcameuponamanwalkingwithabigwalkingstick。

Itwasatreebranch,really,onethathe’dapparentlypickeduponhisway。

Itwasaslongashewas,thisstick,whichwasnotsoverylong。

IwastallerthanhimandIamshort。

Hewasolder,maybe?

65。

HewaswalkinginthesamedirectionthatIwasjoggingandasIapproachedfrombehindhimIsawthathewaswearingheadphones?

—?

thebigkind,thatcoveryourearslikeearmuffs。

Hecouldn’thearmecoming,Icould?

tell。

Itwasasmallroad,onecar-width,butIgavemyselfasmuchberthasIcould?

—?

fivefeetbetweenus。

Ididn’twanttostartle?

him。

Istartled?

him。

“Hey!

”Heshouted,andstopped,andspuntowardsme,swingingthestickupoverhishead,holdingitinbothhandslikeanaxe。

Hiseyeswerewildin?

panic。

Islowedtostopandraisedmyhands,palmstowardhim,toshowhimImeantnoharm。

Hiseyescalmedandheloweredthestick。

Heshookhishead,bewilderedathimself,andsaid,ashamed,“I’msorry,I’msorry。

Myfault。

Igot?

scared。



Hespokelouderthanhehadto,becauseoftheheadphones。

Ismiledandtoldhimitwasokayandkept?

jogging。

(Previously。