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Written for word 123 over at [livejournal.com profile] 15_minute_fic.

I wanted to write something that was heavy on description this week, as a change of pace. So... I did. Yep.


Wood and Mud (flash, 385 words)


The mud was as deep as her thighs; she knew this because she'd stepped off the path more than once over the years and sank straight up to the crotch of her jeans. It was best not to venture into the woods alone, even these relatively tamed woods with quickly aging birch pallets nestled between the roots and soggy brush. There were holes in them where moose had stepped, and some had half sunk into the wetness and would get your shoes dirty up to the laces, but they were better than nothing.

Jeff walked slowly behind her, reaching out to her and touching her worn red flannel now and then as though for comfort - maybe for balance. It was his first time. She wanted to feel a connection with him here; to pull him into the regularity of springtime in the woods in a rotting cabin warmed with a wood stove as old as her great grandmother.

"How much further?" he said.

She stopped on a fat, wet root and regained her balance. He bumped against her and she reached back to steady him. His hands went to her hips; they were sweaty and moist. "Not far. Here - look up." They were in sight of the cabin now, maybe eighty feet away, with only forty of it messy bog.

"Holy shit - that came up out of nowhere."

"You've been staring at your feet. Ready?"

The sight of it always energized her, made her wonder why she always thought it was such a long walk. She took hold of his hand and started leading him through the pattern she'd learned for this part of the trail - to the long flat board that spanned a gap between the roots of two massive trees, to the little stump left from something that had died long before she was born, to the mossy island that squished under her feet but was always firmer than she expected. Then they were on solid ground.

"Man." He stopped and breathed for a minute. "Glad we don't have to do that again."

She didn't look at him. The clearing around the house was inviting after the wet overhang of the forest path, and so was the open bank that caved down steeply to the river like a soft, dirty cliff.

"It would be worth it," she said.
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