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"If You Go Into the Woods Today" by Donna Vorreyer

The forest preserve rumbles with the deep-throated song of frogs, holed-up in fallen trees or testing the frigid indigo of the lake. The gulley is a bowl of fog, the lake unmoving, no tides to bring forth its secrets. Algae drapes the surface, obscuring what lies beneath. Fish, certainly. A dead tree, maybe. Perhaps even a body.

Last fall, a missing man, car abandoned nearby, was found dead in these woods. There were no details provided in the press, but time and weather are not kind to flesh, and animals will do what animals will do. In this maze of trees and unmarked trails, deer and coyote disappear like magician’s tricks when startled from the path. Like the man’s body, undiscovered for weeks.

How many times I must have walked right past it, unaware of him just beyond the treeline. There but not there. How many days no one knew I was there, too.

Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago and hosts the monthly online reading series A Hundred Pitchers of Honey.


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