They were ten and twelve, scrawny arms and gamboling legs. Best friends on this late spring day. The rains had come and gone, washing away the remnants of winter’s debris. They race along the ridge, chasing winds that whisper secrets only they can hear. They follow those whispers deep into the woods, lured from an often trod path.
For who can resist the wind?
“Hey,” calls out the eldest, his ginger hair curling from beneath his baseball cap, “What”s this?”
The youngest, to prove his mettle, leaps over the narrowest part of the crevice, “Aw, probably just a cave.”
“It looks old. And deep,” Ginger says, his interest piqued, though he stands back, eyes narrowed.
The younger one, his hair blowing stick straight, black as a raven’s wing, says,” Could be Indian bones inside,” his brown eyes wide with challenge.
The gauntlet thrown, Ginger puffs out his chest, though his heart kicks up, “Let’s go to the edge of the cave, just to see?”
Raven grins, “You go first, I’ll stick close.”
Ginger lowers his legs over the crevice, than slips down until his feet touch spongy earth. Shale from the outcropping falls in behind him. He takes a step and then another. The decline drops suddenly, sharply. “Oh, oh,” Ginger cries out. The Oh’s echo up and up. Shale and stone slide in behind him, clattering and echoing.
“Hey, you okay?” Black has scurried back from the crevice, legs and arms careening in a crab-like fashion. He stands on hard earth, pacing, pacing.
Black calls out again and again; his voice, only his voice echoes back. They’d been warned not to leave the path. He had only followed.
The sun falls behind the trees; threads of purple trace their tops. Black picks his way through the shadows; the menacing trees.
The wind chases him, pushing him sideways, slapping at his head, twisting his black hair.
And the echoes, insistent, the echoes are inside his head.