the score was 7-5 when we saw the salamander and I gave them and extra point because I had never seen a salamander on the ground before. had watched them in the pond turning circles in the autumn morning light but here it wriggled over the leaves like a living gummy worm. a translucence to its skin that made me want to poke through it with a stick. both of us admitted later we were tempted to pop it into our mouth to chew its tiny legs like gum.  this one was bright orange like a fox or fire. it means fire and water. salamander does. that’s what I told them. not then but 


I was entranced by its movement when they said my name quietly. no one was there. you could yell if you wanted. first, I saw their face, foreboding. clear in its focus and delivery. I looked to the right and saw the lumbering outline. people say in crisis you cease thinking but you don’t. you have a million cogent thoughts a second that coalesce to

“don’t run.”

we had prepared for this because I made us prepare for this–going over a thousand times what would happen if it happened. turned and walk up the hill, brisk, no running. don’t run. a few steps up and my deep breathing began. they said they heard me when I started. I have a metronomic heart. we could time the seconds by the steady pulse if we ever wanted to. I remembered the years of hearing the run and the go right when you want to go left and rarely employing it. never making sense but always wafting around my encumbered head. there’s a lot of thoughts in times of stress. there’s a lot of thoughts in me at all times. its the opposite of what everyone says. crisis is instinct deployed and brain on overdrive but body–body is moved by a deep well of force. head is scrambled but legs almost swim. 

 for a split second I veer.  I saw the divet to the left and felt confused even though I had confidently turned when it popped in again: go right when you want to go left. heart bored against the bones looking for escape. my breath kept my feet on breath kept us straight. gmy breath kept me. nothing felt so airy as the top of the hill. nothing felt so good. that path was particularly dark and overcast and suddenly; sunny moments before we entered.   I remembered before I said it, right before I spoke to them again, I remembered the three webs I walked into at the beginning of the trail, exclaiming this is Arachne’s forest.

“they said it’s 8-8,” I began before turning around.  “we both get the bear.”

they said I said we’re ok now but I don’t remember that. I remember a shiver leaving my fingertips and

they said I said we’re ok now but I don’t remember that. I remember a shiver leaving my fingertips and asking to leave and like a snapshot– the large, lumbering black body walking towards us from thirty feet away, repeating.

 and I remember the cloak of gray sky pregnant with storm encasing me.

“#12 or Arachne’s Trail”

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