Posted on December 3, 2022
an old man steps over a fallen log, gripping a branch for stability. the sticks and loam crunch under his boots.
“this forest is my retirement fund,” he says.
he stops for a moment to lay his hand on a sappy fir. he licks his finger and considers the flavor, then continues his walk.
“my classmates have lived in the city their whole lives. working jobs, saving money… their whole lives.”
he looks up at the gray sky, towering pines shot like arrows into the cloud layer.
“i came here and planted these trees. see how tall they’ve grown!”
he pounds the back of his fist against a sturdy trunk.
“disease, blizzards, wildfire…” he trails off. “while they worked in the city, i worked here.”
he points across the trees at a small clearing. a deer prances into the underbrush.
“now, they’re done. they’re fleeing the city. they’re bringing their money and they’re coming here.”
his footsteps and words increase their pace. the trees sway lightly to a cool breeze.
“and i don’t blame them. the forest is unmatched. i’ve devoted my life to it for a reason.”
he stops and turns around, a pained concern across his face.
“but they outnumber me. and now, they’ve declared that forests can’t be cut.”
a distant gunshot breaks the silence, sending a flock of crows into the sky above.
“if they want a forest, they should’ve planted one decades ago, just like i did.”
he shakes his head, turns around, and walks forward.
“they’ve stolen my retirement for their own.”