Short Read: On Mossy Hills

Moss or muse?

This is the second in a series of short works of fiction inspired by images of ordinary beauty. I hope you enjoy reading it, and your comments are welcome.

I stumbled upon the hills one day as I wound my way down the rocky dirt road to wherever it led. By the time I arrived, I was thirsty and tired, a bit sweaty, and the beer in my backpack called to me. When I stepped into the hills, though, everything changed.

It may merely have been my imagination, but the temperature felt like it dropped at least ten degrees as I surveyed the coolness of the stones, dripping with textured moss. I remember this kind of moss, in a green that’s almost indescribably deep and primordial, from when I used to spend time wandering the orphic rainforests of home.

As though I were under a spell, I began to remove my boots, freeing my hot feet from their binding constraints. Peeling off my socks, I set my tender feet upon the ground. And the ground – not ground as much as carpet, thick and cushioned, sodden with life-sustaining moisture, embraced my tired feet. I took a few steps, gingerly, afraid that I might be pierced by some sharp, hidden edges, but it soon became clear that nothing hid in the comforting coolness. It was just the mossy stones and me. I started carefully up the hill, toward the crest, curious about what lay ahead.

As I walked, my pace slowed. I relished the softness of the wet moss between my toes, and its energy seemed to radiate up my legs, a tingling sensation. Strange, but very pleasant. I stopped and listened: what was I hearing? It sounded like a breeze whispering to me, saying something unintelligible yet important. I strained to hear it.

I needed a moment to focus on the sound, so I sat upon a large stone, encrusted with lichen and moss. I spoke to no one in particular: “hello?” The whispers sounded louder, but I still couldn’t understand them. “Hello?”

Digging my toes into the moss, it soothed my weary feet. I could sit here for a while, I thought, and finish my climb up the hill in a bit. The whispers agreed – stay and rest a while. I rested, content, and the moss continued to whisper to me. In stillness, I understood that I wouldn’t be leaving the mossy hill yet; the crest would be waiting there tomorrow, but today I would be sheltered by the moss. And shelter was what I needed.

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