I walked through the dense woods every Sunday after we got home from church. It’s all I thought about during the morning. As people prayed in the pews, I thought of meandering through the dark woods.
My mother said it was a waste of time. I could have been reading something. Learning. I thought prayer was a waste of time. I did not tell my mother that. At sixteen, I was understanding that we are all architects of our own meaning. Mother had found meaning in prayer. I found it in the woods.
The woods were always quiet. I listened closely for the flutter of wings. Little feet scurrying on the pine needles. The wind lifting the branches.
I scratched my hand on the bark of a tree when I noticed a foul smell. I thought it might be a dead animal. I followed the scent.
It was a man. Dead. Limbs sprawled. The beginning of putrefaction. He was starting to get puffy. I could see no injury on him. He was dressed in flannel, a jacket, and jeans. His shoes were missing. His toes were purple.
I stared at his face. His eyes were open. Glassy. I was not afraid. I was disappointed. His face confirmed what I suspected. Life was nothingness. The soul was a fiction. When it’s over it’s over. The task ahead of me was difficult. Creating my own meaning from all the tragedies of living.