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Ghosts of the Past.
Ghosts of the Past.
Whispering through the trees, like the gentle breath of a lover, the wind was rattling the leaves of a century old Oak. The fallen leaves dancing in the breeze, like ballerinas with the whole world as its stage. The endless pines sway softly and creak like an old house. I think back to my childhood, seeing the ghosts of our past running through the woods. Playing in the trees, jumping from the skeleton of an old tree house, or splashing in the rank pluff-mud of the salt marsh.
Strolling on a path worn by the endless hours of childhood innocence and games. I stopped by a scrub cedar; I pull out my pocket knife and make a small gash in the tree; to enjoy the sweet scent of the pinkish wood. I pull at an old board leading up the tree, to a rope bridge that links the cedar to a nearby oak. Seeming firm, I still decided against climbing the old ladder. The rhythmic drumming of a nearby woodpecker shatters the silence of the woods. Climbing over the roots of the oak, I notice an old surveyor’s flag. Thinking back I remembered we used these to mark treasures we hid throughout the wood. At the thought of discovering treasures of the past, I kick aside the leaves. Again I pull out my pocket knife to poke the ground before I go digging through the moist soil. As I begin to poke around my knife strikes nothing, my heart began to sink, and then the tip struck something solid. An old military ammo can soon emerges from the ground. I flipped the latch and inside is revealed the priceless treasure of children, maddened by the prospects of timeless imagination. I pluck through the contents, and memories flood back to my brain, hitting me like a tidal wave of emotion. My mind reverts back to my childhood. The screams and laughter of familiar voices fill the woods.
I see a boy run past my peripheral vision. Startled by the sight, I fell to the ground from my crouching position. I quickly stand, and see another young child running, through the corner of my eye. I called out, and was only answered by the whistles of a lonely song bird, and the cooing of the morning dove, and the faint calls of the bob white from the broom straw field on the top of the hill. I realize from the silence these are just the ghosts of my memories, delighted by the thought I return to my task at hand, with a satisfied smile on my face.
I picked a notebook, an old pen, a deck of cards, a compass, a knife and a hatchet from the box. Setting each piece in its own special place gently in front of me. I carefully examine the knife and compass, satisfied with their condition I stick them both in my back pocket. Moving to the cards and the hatchet, I decided to set them back in the box for now. I plucked the pen from the earth, and pull the cap, knowing it would not write I was shocked to see a crisp line of ink following my hand over the cover of the notebook. I flipped the cover of the notepad open, as I turned each page, running my fingers over them, caressing the page, as though I could feel the memories, and the hands that wrote these letters and drew these lines.
Old diagrams, and notes on how to build forts occupy the first of the pages, signatures of all those involved in the construction and what ideas were theirs, marked the pages. Deeper into the book I find scores from some old card games. Deeper into my childhood I dive. After flipping a couple of blank pages, I find some jokes, and stories we told around campfires. Then I came to the true treasure, journal entries from each of us, on random date’s, and thoughts.
Anytime something exciting happened to us, and we wanted to share with the others, if they were not around it was logged into the book, so the missing member could read it at their next convince. Fights at school, first girlfriends, first kisses, and descriptions of the prettiest girl in class one of us had a crush on. Random thoughts of what a child thought was most important from June 6, 1992 was the first entry made by me, the last August 13, 1998 was the last entry from Tom, we were 16. He had his first experience with a woman, which went beyond innocence of a first kiss. I was lost in thought for hours, not realizing how much time had gone by. I glanced at my watch and had only an hour before sunset. I looked at the rest of the contents of the box and repacked them. The book I held in my hand, not knowing what to do with it.
I decided to make another journal entry, briefly describing the lives of everyone in the book, and dated it July 12, 2020. The names of our children, wives, what jobs we had, where we lived and the contents which I removed the knife and compass. I put it back in its container, and buried it back, carefully replacing the leaves and the flag marking the hidden treasure; in hopes that one of the other boys in the book would dig it up, or perhaps the next children to find this magical place of endless time, and amazing events. I thought perhaps, they will continue the journal and leave it for the next group of children, in an endless cycle of life, that our ghosts may live on forever, playing and meeting new friends every generation, to join us.
I turn back to follow the leaf covered trail, that was once so heavily used it was worn down to packed dirt, the laughter began to fade with the light and again the whistling of the leaves fills my ears. Tucking my hands in my pocket, I slowly fade from those woods for the last time in my life, leaving one last part of my ghost to echo there forever. Back to the land of reality, and responsibilities. And I feel the peace of the place slowly slip away, with every step toward the exit of the old woods. Maybe one day I will return when I am nothing more than a ghost, to play forever with the memories past.