Fog and Trail | Mark Lindsay

"Keep moving," I said to myself, almost aloud. I was retracing the steps of a hike I'd taken a few weeks before. Memory plays tricks. I had no map, just the sketchings of a currently-distracted mind. My head was trying to remember a trail set against azure skies. However, on this day there was a fog so thick I could barely see my feet. "Was this where I turned?" This time I said it out loud for sure.

My brain kept reminding me of things I hadn't done. This and that and that and this. I think there was a finger in the fog that was wagging, scolding me for a rotten life gone wrong. Then the jackrabbit appeared. For real. The damn thing was as big as a kangaroo, or so it seemed. He just sat there on the trail and stared right at me. "Oh," I exhaled.

The rabbit didn't move. Then he carefully scratched his ear. His nose twitched in that uniquely rabbit way. He then became still again. He kept staring. And staring. I stared back. I thought I might be hallucinating. But the rabbit was quite certainly real and he kept on looking. It made the chatter in my brain finally come to a stop. Stillness. At last.

The rabbit wouldn't move, his eyes unflinching. A coo broke the silence. Right there, ten feet away, a quail stood on a dead branch. "Coo!" The rabbit pretended not to hear. I looked at the quail and then back at the rabbit. The fog was getting thicker, the air denser. Three creatures stood there—rabbit, quail and I. Only the quail seemed alive.

I felt lost on the trail. I was between here and there and unable to see either. With a sudden leap the jackrabbit flew into the fog and disappeared. The enormous burst of energy scared the quail who then fluttered into the whiteness. And I was left alone.

Magic had cast its spell. My mind was silent with gratitude. Something inside laughed at the silliness of my chattering mind. I decided to stand still for a few more moments. I photographed the empty trail where the rabbit once stood. I then walked on, deeper into the fog.