My dad didn’t leave. He didn’t die. But there were things in our woods that wanted to hurt us, so we moved. We lived in every backwoods, or back road clump of trees, we could find. We should have stayed away from trees; those things kept finding us. One’s own demons do have a tendency to follow.
My mom, my little brother, my two sons: they were all with us. We tried to keep everyone safe.
Dad went to sleep in a bag a few feet from mine. He didn’t wake up again. Something else used his hands to squeeze my throat. I nearly died. Whatever was left of my dad made it stop and dragged the thing away with him. I was left with open eyes; I could see the truth: my dad had been dead a long time, my little brother had never been born, and I only have one living child.
Three of us were alive. The rest were the things we had brought with us, moving place to place, hoping to escape the past.
It got weird after that…
I stopped wearing shoes and smelled like a pine tree. My mom said we were related to Anne Rice and were going to go live with her. I tried to avoid it; I didn’t like the thought of having to pretend to like her books. Anne Rice does not impress me.
My son was the only rational one in our group. He went somewhere I couldn’t follow. I wasn’t worried; I knew he’d be all right.
I saw a man named David. He and I went to school together. He grew up to be a jerk, with good looks allowing him to get away with it. I walked away from him when he said something rude. I walked away from my mom telling me about Aunt Anne. I walked right by a man with a cane who said hello and asked how I was.
It was Aristotle. I looked back, and he was gone, walking away. I ran after him. A group of people were between us. I couldn’t get close. He went inside a church, and I followed, in spite of my vow.
I found him sitting in the middle of a pew, surrounded by people. He held his cane in front of him, looked straight at me, and said I love you.
His eyes were green.