I’m slowly getting used to cold showers, I think – I managed to rinse myself much longer and enjoy it more than the first time today. Or maybe I’m getting used to the colder temperatures in general, because I get pretty hot sitting in the sun afterwards.
In the afternoon, I go for a long walk. There’s a path leading off the road on the left not too far from our house, and last time I went there I turned around when it seemed to end at another house, but according to D it leads past, so that’s where I go today: past this house (catching a glimpse of a few people playing with a black labrador puppy in the garden) and past the next, deeper into the forest.
The world turns out to be much bigger than I thought, and I find paths upon paths leading to places I haven’t seen before. I choose almost randomly, going only by the impulse of staying away from the houses visible between the trees every now and then. My way leads me through brush so thick the leaves blot out the sky and past clusters of boulders that look as if a giant had accidentally dropped a fistful or two on their way across flat land, and I get thoroughly lost without ever getting worried.
When my path ends at a street I know, I cross it only to find it doesn’t continue on the other side. It seems like there used to be a path – there’s an overgrown swath I choose to follow for a while, across a narrow river by means of a single plank, until it simply ends between the trees.
I am loath to simply turn around, so I try to find a different way back. The forest here is coniferous only, and the ground is barren: covered in needles, roots snaking through, but bereft of blueberries or grass or ferns or any other kind of green. Too little sunlight, maybe, or too little water – I’m on a slight ridge, and it’s possible most water seeps down into the valley – , or both.
It’s an eerie place. A short way down from my vantage points, various large pieces of metal are half-buried in the ground, twisted and rusted beyond recognition. I walk past them and stumble into an even eerier small clearing: it contains a blackened, molten-looking tree trunk, maybe burned or tarred or somehow both, and a thin stake with a piece of string and something like a plastic bucket attached that looks like some kind of animal trap, surrounded by downy feathers. I’m sure there’s some kind of explanation for all of this, but it’s eerie all the same, and even just being there feels uncomfortable.
I leave the clearing and shortly afterwards the trees – only to stumble upon an impeccably maintained strip of lawn, a small river in the middle. The stark contrast to the dry, seemingly wild forest behind me does not help to dispel the lingering uneasiness.
I follow the lawn strip anyway, first to the left and then (when it ends at a hunter’s raised hide) back until I reach the street again, which I cross to get back to my original forest. The blueberry-lined path there seems soothingly familiar after all the weirdness, and inviting enough for me to break into a run, jumping blueberry shrubs growing across it the way I used to jump shrubs in my grandmother’s garden when I was little until I’m out of breath and my heart is racing. (Maybe I should start running again – I’m apparently pretty out of shape in that department.)
Finding home is surprisingly easy after that: whenever I see a house, I force myself to act against every impulse in my heart and go towards it, and it takes only two houses to find the path I came on.
Because I haven’t had enough creepiness for today yet, we watch The Descent in the evening. (It’s not as scary as it was when I saw it the first time. Which may have something to do with the fact that I saw it with my ex, who found it so scary he actually screamed a few times, whereas now I watch it with D who seems thoroughly unimpressed. I swear, most of my emotions at any given time are just emotions I caught from other people who let them drift around unattended.)
Day 13 brings heavy, incessant rain, and I hole up inside for most of the day, only leaving for a quick grocery trip. (On a Sunday! Which might seem like no big deal to most people, but would be unthinkable in Austria, where stores have to remain closed on Sundays by law with only a handful of exceptions, and everyone does their weekend shopping on Saturdays.)
I also pack some of my stuff in preparation for leaving tomorrow, and reorganize the things I need to leave outside to dog-proof them – D’s partner, one of her brothers and their dog are supposed to arrive around midnight today, and as far as I could tell during a brief visit of them, the dog has no manners to speak of. I’m pretty nervous about their arrival – I don’t know the brother at all yet, don’t know his partner well, and their presence as well as the dog will be quite a change from the calm and quiet we had so far. I’m nervous about that. I’m also stressing out about the bus tickets – we’ll try to get them printed at the library tomorrow, but I have basically no backup plan in case that doesn’t work, which makes me antsy.
In the evening, D checks his email and discovers they won’t arrive until tomorrow after all. Might mean I get even less sleep than expected before getting up at half past six for the drive to Malmö, but my last day will definitely be calmer.
Then we watch The Descent 2 together, which is pretty bad, and go to sleep.