She had known that particular corner of the woods since childhood. It always seemed terribly ancient to her. Moss grew there, and some kind of exotic wild flower that she had never learned the name of. She never asked, for that corner of the woods was her secret.
Ever since then, before she went home after a school day, she would go there and sit under a huge, gnarled tree that looked as though it had been there forever. She was safe from bullies there. There was an eldritch sort of peace that haunted the place. She liked it that way.
She had only ever told one person about the place, and that was him. She had not been there for a long time. He was long gone. But they had shared their first kiss under the tree, and a picnic, and it had always been their meeting place. He was a secret, too.
It seemed forgotten by time. Even the insects and other creatures had a prehistoric look to them there, and she liked to imagine, when the sun fell a certain way, that it was the light of another time. For all she knew, it was. Sometimes she would throw her arms around the old tree and feel the thrum of its years from deep within its heart.
Once her secret, but not quite so secret any longer... since him. She did not know if he had ever been there again since they said their goodbyes. She could not bear to go back, and there was an ache in her soul, as much for the place as for the person she had lost.
Today, though, fall was just beginning to give a luster to the air. There was a faint chill, and a golden quality to the light, and on a whim, she parked her Jeep near the outskirts of the forest, and walked. It was very dark once one got into the depths of it. She liked that, too. However, if one looked up, the branches were suffused with a dappled fairy radiance.
It was the same as ever, and she wondered why she had stayed away so long.
Then, "Hello," a voice said. She nearly jumped out of her skin, conscious at that moment of the cliche, and knowing for the first time what it really meant. And it was he.
"I've been thinking about you for weeks," he said. "I don't know if I can live without you."
And she smiled.
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