Spare Beginnings

He looked to his left and then to his right before crossing the two-lane road. The street lay empty in that early, humid hour. He breathed in the musky air as he moved across it toward a fenced-in area on the other side, a protected habitat, a bulge of fauna sorely contrasting with the scrubby grass and angular terrain around it.

He heard just a whisper of civilization. The rustle of tall grass beyond the fence registered more profoundly on him. The fence itself was made to look like logs fixed together but that was an illusion of manufacturing. A warning sign posted there which read “Protected Wildlife Area. Do not Cross.” featured the outline of a heron-like bird which he figured to be more symbolic than anything.

He listened into the vegetation for any noise
of the living. He leaned on the fence and
whispered something apropos of nothing.
There was no echo.

Tiny violet flowers hung from a nearby vine,
slight but sturdy, subtle in their scent.

He thought onto the day ahead,
the inevitable stresses, the obligations,
the people whom he’d built
his life around.

And the loneliness of it all.

He’d once watched a rabbit creep out onto the tar-like surface of the road from this refuge. It hopped and wriggled in the twilight, seeming more like an abstraction to him than a living, breathing thing. When a car rushed by, the rabbit dove back into the underbrush from where it had come. How beneficial were its motives in emerging onto the road? How quickly it returned, he thought. It must’ve been wandering.

He huddled in his jacket as a brisk breeze swept over him. Yet he waited there in silence for the sun to rise. And then, for the warmth to return which wasn’t for hours after.

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