On the third day, when the lake had melted and the sun like a fluorescent warmed the earth, Walter and Ellen came out of their hiding place and stepped out into the full gleam of the light. The forest was drowned in the melody of trickling water that descended from the leaves shedding frost.
“Be thankful,” Ellen twirled around. “The spring is here.”
Walter collapsed the tent and began gathering their belongings.
“Why?” Ellen asked.
“The earth here is soggy. We’ll find dryer ground somewhere in those mountains.”
While they strolled through the woods, amidst the cheer of squeaking birds, they spoke as though they were assured of rescue and refused to discuss their dreams.
“What would you do?” Ellen said. “When you get home?”
Walter regarded her steadily. “Tell my wife I prefer men.”
They laughed. Walter returned the question.
“What would you do?”
“I’ll quit my job and start a garden.”
Ellen shrugged. “Roses, forget-me-nots, tulips. Anything colourful.”
They walked into woodlands shaded by a canopy of trees that averted the full shafts of the sun. The sun pierced through the cracks where the branches failed to meet so that the light came dappled and bright. With its scattered light and modulated cool, it looked like a place where men came to die in peace.
“It’s lovely,” Ellen said.
“We’ve found our place.”
Walter dropped their belongings and they lay supine in the greenery. As they reclined in the verdure, a deep unbridled satisfaction washed over them. They no longer felt sequestered from their kind for they had found solace in the likes of them who feared to live fully. And because they owed their souls to nobody, their lives felt truer, more honest than it had ever been. “Look,” Ellen said, pointing. Walter followed her gaze. A finch had got its webbed feet lodged between the figs of an oak, it squirmed and scuffed its way plum of the trap. Freed, it floated towards the cracked shimmer of the light.
Adeoye Amurawaiye is an essayist and fiction writer. His work has previously appeared in The Kalahari Review.