A slow walk

There is a chill in the air this late autumn day, but she doesn’t mind. There is a freshness on the breeze that roses her cheeks, her warm breath forming mini clouds in front of her. She loves days like today where she can take her time and enjoy life; she takes pleasure in all the sounds around her, the rustle of leaves underfoot, distant birdsong.

It’s the rhythm she enjoys, the gentle pace, the repetition, one foot after another, left, right, left, right. The destination closer with each step. She feels herself relaxing as she follows the twists and turns of the path, knowing she will unwind further when she arrives at her destination.

A movement catches her eye and a dark blur bursts into view, dashes across the path before disappears into the long grass on the other side. Startled she jumps back, scared by the sudden appearance of a local cat on the hunt.

She laughs out loud, reassuring her fast beating heart with the sound before continuing on her way.

Evening is settling in around her, the sun sneaks through the gathering clouds to brush the tree tops on the horizon, spindles of light cut through the trees and leave strange shadows across the path. She feels the first droplets of rain, puts her hood up and pulls her cape tighter around her body.

Up ahead she glimpes the first sign of the cottages, a trail of smoke rises into the air, buffeted gently by the breeze. She imagines the roaring hearth inside and quickens her pace towards the warmth.

Through the gate at the end of the path now, the long mechanical groan of unoiled hinges seems louder in the gathering twilight and then, there in the cottage ahead, she sees him standing in the window, watching and waiting for her.

She walks briskly now, the quiet of the woods behind her, a new focus in front. He is waiting for her and she urges time to move faster. She walks with purpose now, striding up the path to his cottage, her red cape billowing.

The door opens and there he stands, silhouetted as the night descends.

“Hello little girl”, says the wolf.