Everything was veiled in morning coastal fog. I had the trail to myself, and I was relishing the quiet solitude. When the trail turned to the right and leveled off, I stopped to take in the view. It was a fairly large clearing that offered a place to pause and take a sip of water, but not much else of interest.
My eyes locked on a fence about 20 feet long, four feet high, and made of spindly tree branches. As charming as it was, it looked out of place. It had no practical purpose since it didn’t line a steep edge. In fact, the fence was in the middle of a gentle slope. Still, this strange fence set against trees in the mist merited a photograph, so I snapped a picture and continued uphill.
From a higher vantage point I looked back toward the clearing. A man and a woman were huddled at the fence in a conversation that felt tense and desperate. Their clothes, old fashioned and western, looked as out of place as the fence. As I wracked my brain trying to make sense of this new and even odder sight, the couple turned their heads toward me and shot me a look that told me to get the hell out of there. I intended to bolt like a nosey child who had been caught staring, but before I could move, the couple vanished before my eyes.
I blinked several times, each blink longer than the one before, but the couple with the death stare never reappeared. Quickly assessing that there was no one to run to for help and no one to hear me scream, I willed myself to stay calm and climbed to the top of the hill as quickly as I could.
At the top, where the fog was starting to clear, I looked at the blue sky to give myself a reality check. What just happened? What did I just see? I’m not exactly a non-believer in things supernatural, but the Me who is often accused of overanalyzing everything could not stop trying to come up with a logical explanation.
Still beating back my fear, I decided to continue my analysis at the bottom of the hill, hopefully in presence of other living human beings. There was no way I was going past the clearing and the fence again, so I found another way down. I managed to put the encounter behind me without much difficulty, but I think about it every now and then.
When I researched the area where I was hiking, I was surprised to find articles about bodies being found in the area, several within the last two years. The couple’s clothing made sense when I read that people who were proud of living in the western frontier settled that area. Would I ever return to that clearing and that fence? Sure. But not alone.
©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.