There was that much. A little more. He was looking out. Wondering why there were so many trees. I think I feel lost. What I feel is lost. And this is killing me, said the boy.
Yet, it was clear that this is what the boy said.
“I have to take a graph, put it in my hands. Hear that which is never said,” said the boy.
The boy said things. Made jokes, sometimes, that were not funny. And needles and threads. It was like he was looking out, or just looking for you.
It was no fun to be lost.
There is terror here in the forest. In the way I look at you. And it’s taken me years to circle back. To return to the place I started. And just when I thought I was making progress, said the boy.
But boys are often wrong. And this was the way things were going. In circles.
At first the boy had followed the thread. And then the boy followed the breadcrumbs. And then the boy followed something else and the time moved. It went by. There was nothing left.
You are looking out the window, your window in the forest. You swear that you see something moving around.
You see something moving around.
The boy sees something moving around. And in the morning. When the sun shines. When there are tin cans left on the path. On this day the boy is finding his way. He is following a trail of tin cans. And there are oceans in the forest. And black ties. And all the things one, a boy, could ever want to eat for dinner. And good things, too.
But the day was getting away. And you had to listen to the voices that were already paid for. And the training came later, that is, the ability to know right from wrong, to know what to do when you were lost in the forest.
“I can’t believe this,” said the boy. “I am so stupid. So useless. I was looking all over the forest, and then I passed a tree. And then I saw to the other side. It was morning. I was following a trail of crumbs.”
And I have been here before, thought the boy.
You turn your back and it is not nice. There is nothing nice in this forest. You remember that time. I was alone.
It was okay to feel that way. But just okay.
The way the forest looks at night.
One could not imagine anything more complicated.
And this is because of the way the forest moves. It always moves, thought the boy.
But there has to be someone in the forest who will not obey. Someone who will listen.
Suddenly you were laughing. There were trees. A forest full of trees and bushes and branches of trees and flowers and everything was in bloom. It was beautiful. And even on that day. When you were whistling, trying to find your way out of the forest.
It rests on this and that calculation, thought the boy. You drop a crumb here, and then a tornado comes. You drop a flag there, and then the world comes to an end. It isn’t even any fun to think about.
But you are wrong and then you are right. There are magic numbers on trees. There are forests and kinds of forests. It does not require any thought at all.
And I thought you loved me.
You said this.
It was kind of unspoken.
The boy is finding his way. And there is a tone, of sorts, in the way he is walking, in the steps he takes. It is walking and finding out that tomorrow is about more and more things.
And just the kind of things a boy thinks about, too, thinks the boy.
It is already past midnight in the forest. The boy has been given up for dead. It happened days ago. There were news reports. And headlines.
Anything to take me out of the forest, then? thinks the boy. But will anything really do?
And on one occasion there was a light lit in the forest. And then on another occasion there was a storm and a jockeying for position. Or simply looking for a place to hide.
It was like music.
A storm was coming.
The boy had to look all around the forest just to see that he had actually come full circle. Repeated himself. Made the same mistake.
A lot, or that means there were a few more things present in the forest than one might have thought.
It was the middle of the night.
There was a clear trail of crumbs, at first, for the boy to follow. And then later there were poisonous chunks. And then red-tailed… a red-tailed something or another.
But you were supposed to give a real kiss and hold hands. But your wings never started beating. Nor your heart. It was what your heart said.
Something like freedom.
Or starting over.
The way the forest was organized.
And a boy could find his way in a pinch, if there was a certain attitude expressed. But it was hard to sit there as long as the boy did. It was not easy when his body started to hurt and there were no more crumbs, or anything else, to follow.
The boy put his tongue out and followed the raindrops. The dew. The mist. Every drop was exactly where he’d left them earlier that morning.
It was the perfect setting. There was no need, not even the need to continue, not really. But the boy became confused. Just what was it that he was following this time? A trail of real horse hair? Or a comb for grooming horses? Or his way through the forest?
And this is funny, thought the boy.
“I love it when I lean my head back in this bush in the forest,” said the boy.
“It is love when I lean my head back in this bush of flowers in the forest,” said the boy. “But how come I am never really comfortable, no matter where I lie? I put down a trail of rice and cabbage leaves.”
“And I left a trail of cabbage leaves behind me,” said the boy.
Forests are a lot like fighting.
And then when the night came and the tree leaves were brandishing something powerful, though hard for the boy to identify. But it was loud because of the wind. Because of the night. Because of what was coming, and because of what had already happened.
The first group of trails, ideas for trails, were a terrible mistake for a boy to make. There was no getting through. There was no getting out of one’s own way.
At first there was a trail of pieces of rye bread. Fresh and delicious. And this is what you might say. What a boy might say to himself.
It was night in the forest and the boy had left behind a trail of blue leaves and of sprouts of some kind and in the moonlight it was the most beautiful thing in the whole world. The boy could hardly believe it. It just wasn’t like anything else he had ever seen before.
And still you say that you love the forest? That you want to be in the forest? That you want to take long walks and drink delicious drinks in the forest, and then sleep soundly all night?
It was a mistake. Had been a mistake from the start. Would always be viewed as a mistake. It was unbelievable. The forest was deceiving the boy again. There had been very many mistakes made. An enormous amount of mistakes. And what does one do when the calling begins? When there is something on the ground, after all?
The boy is not smiling. It has been a long night. There were tough lessons that had to be learned. And there are voices in the forest. It is hard to sleep in the forest. The boy had left a trail on the ground. He had left a trail of crumbs. And the way that one thing replaces another. And the way there is always something else to do. The boy left a trail on the ground. It was windy. There was a pile of dead leaves on the ground that would make a perfect trail in the forest.
It was night and it was windy. The boy, having come full circle, realizes that the small blue pieces of angel dirt that he has left for a trail in the forest have all but got up and walked out on their own. It is disturbing. There has to be a reason for this, thinks the boy. But the boy cannot think of a reason. And he has to get going because it is time to go.
One troubling. One morning. It was going to be a fine morning. The boy thought so. He looked on the ground at the trail he had made out of golden bread and dog-leaves. It was as fine as the horse hair he had once used to make a trail, used at one time, but then, change made all the difference in the world.
You love it when you talk.
You love it when you put your bits of blue leaves and pinches of red feather dust on the forest floor and make a trail. And this is what is said when the question inevitably comes up. Or that is why you have come here in the first place, thinks the boy.
The boy is rinsing his hands in a creek in the forest. It is afternoon and there are no more trails to be made at that time. It has taken the boy days and days of work, crawling on his hands and knees on the forest floor, to get to that point.
There is a storm coming. Like you were fighting that one time.
Look, there is a gift in a tree in the forest. The boy lifts his hands. He has been kneeling, crawling on his hands and knees on the forest floor all day long. And then the boy lifts his head. He cranes his neck. He swears he sees something moving. There is something familiar in the forest, but the boy has only barely ever noticed it before.
The boy notices that there is a trail in the forest that moves him. The forest and the trail are in the clothes the boy wears while he is making a trail in the forest. And it is just like math. This is making a trail in the forest, thinks the boy.
Harold Abramowitz is a writer and editor from Los Angeles. He is the author of several books and chapbooks, including Blind Spot (forthcoming from Les Figues Press) and Dear Dearly Departed (Palm Press). He has contributed, alone and collaboratively, to various publications and anthologies, including Fold Appropriate Text, P-Queue, Ixnay Reader, Area Sneaks, Source Material: A Journal of Appropriated Text, Abraham Lincoln, Aufgabe, MATERIAL, and LIT. Harold co-edits the short-form literary press eohippus labs, and writes and edits as part of the collaborative projects, SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS and UNFO.