Stones on the Trailhead
Mika was supposed to be spending the weekend at Angela's house. Evan had said he was going to visit his uncle over in Bracefalls. They were seventeen and in love, so it shouldn't surprise you that neither were where they had told their parents they would be.
So, where were they?
Hard making out, swirled as toothpaste along the backseat of Mika's older sister's Cherokee. It was parked under the shade of a fat beech at the mouth of Mount Hood Provincial Park in the hills outside of Hilltop.
The park had been closed to the public for 30 years and it had become a lonely place, darkly famous for strange sounds, warbling whispers, and eerie echoes. Of course it was thought by young and old to be haunted. Nearly everyone kept away. Except kids who needed privacy.
And Mika and Evan needed privacy. They weren't just in love. They were in teenaged love, which burns with the intensity to forge steel, its smelting glow pierces, blinds, and pushes all else into nothingness, so that all that is left is a soup of hormone fueled everything. Since they fell, Evan and Mika had plummeted from the cliffs of reason into each other, much to the annoyance of their crews. Mika's best friend Libby Gelman had randomly bitched her out after she confided that she was sneaking out to Big Bite with Ev on the weekend. To which Libby replied "No one cares about your stupid relationship!"
Evan's boyz had determined that he'd broken the sacred law of Though shall not lay your loyalties with hoes before bros, especially when Donnie's parents are gone and he knows where his Mom keeps her magic mushrooms.
Even their teachers had noticed that their grades were dropping as their eyes could no longer stick to the page. Mika's parents were not too pleased either, and not just because Evan lived on the other side of the river, the slum side, but because Mika was going to graduate in two years and attend pre-med at McGill University and Evan would be holding a stop sign near road construction. Evan's parents disapproved too, and they didn't disapprove of much, you'd have to care to disapprove, and their trailer, littered in trash from countless years was a landfill for the lost. His mom had said more than once that that rich bitch will leave you the second she can.
But Mika and Evan didn't care about anyone else, their hearts both pounded together, sticking to the hot leather seats.
They almost went all the way. It was close. Evan stopped it. A herculean effort. He didn't want to lose it in a parking lot.
"As far as parking lots go this is a nice one?" Mika said.
They grabbed their gear and each lay a stone on the post at the Trailhead. Adding to the totems of other teens that had gone into the wilds to lose themselves together.
It was a three mile hike to Big Bite and the trail looked as though it had traveled through every fairy tale's beginning. The shade above was speckled with bright sunny gold. A misting creek and mossy boulders led them downriver. The tops of their heads were warm and their knees cool.
Evan followed Mika. She danced over the rocky thumbs, slipped down stony tongues, she kicked wet muck from her hikers. She'd turn back and smile and it shot lightning down his spine.
The path finished by opening up from the dense woods like a magician pulling a curtain revealing the river bulging into a lake. A scar from a giant that had tried to take a big bite from the forest.
"Should we pitch the tent first?" Evan said.
"The tent can wait." Mika said.
And they lost it.
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WATTY 2016 WINNER of the HQ Love Award! Strange Yarns is a ball of tangled tales. Twisted, knotted, and intertwined. Like Tales of the Crypt, the Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. Strange Yarns is not just a collection of ghastly tales, these are...