The habitat resists

"Listen," Jandra whispered. "Where's that sound coming from?"

"From the dell," I replied, "at the bottom of the hill."

"Let's investigate," she said.

The trail leading down the hill was even more obscure than it'd been when I was there five years earlier. Stegosaurian fern fronds, king-like, and moss-padded fallen logs crowded the edges of the trail.

"What do you think it is?" Jandra asked.

"Must be hurt," I answered, "the way it's shrieking."

The noise grew sharper as we approached the dell.

"Do you think it's dangerous?"

"Not to us," I replied. "It might think we are, though."

The dell was dense green with ferns and plush leaves. Long purple flowers hung from rain-blackened branches. Jandra's ruddy scarf jangled against the forest wall. She was funny when she was onto something serious.

The howling animal was quite near. Jandra and I approached its domain respectfully, not sure how we might stir it.

I saw a rock that had slipped through the mossy floor. I'd seen it before and knew I'd thought other things then. I thought those things again now. Memory compares, but only differences are added. How does that work? I smell the musty fungus. That's the same.

"I think we should go back," Jandra said. "The habitat is resisting."

I think I felt it, too, like a gentle tug.

It was getting late by the time we got up the hill and back to the car. We soared over the coastal mountain range, and home for the night.

Michael Webb, July 30, 2006

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