The Lines Drawn

It was the shortest distance between two points. He didn’t disbelieve it. But every time he ducked beneath that fence, the land rebelled, rising up in waves of broken green to swallow that small definition. Time slowed, and his senses sharpened, though the heifers, casually grazing, rarely lifted their necks to acknowledge him. And he too was more focused on the task at hand, slipping through the half-brambled pasture, wary of the dark, still shadows watching from the farmhouse windows.

Cutting through this plot meant he didn’t have to walk around the outer edge of the quarry, though he usually did. The old farmer had been long dead, his land leased out by his reclusive wife to some immense dairy aggregate, but the apprehension of trespassing here strangely never diminished.  Strewn with sinking corpses of pickups, stiff twisted trailer frames, and flipped-over farm equipment, overgrown in places with multiflora rose and bush honeysuckle, the pasture was a battlefield which offered ample cover, the danger in this seemingly protective gesture being that around any corner he could come suddenly upon his enemy, the cold snout of an old shotgun tying him to the will of this neighbor who preferred that proximity meant remaining strangers.

Like passing from water into a fluid more thick and viscous, it was a shortcut which stretched space and time in his perception, such that usually the jaunt around the quarry rim proved more advantageous. But today he hurried, not along the seams between the patches of land, but across them – a mouse which, in a frantic moment, dashes across the abandoned kitchen from its path along the wall, braced for the heelfall of a steel-toed boot, knowing full well there is no danger without believing.