He remembers this place
as they walk through the woods,
a place hidden in the deep forest,
dark with old, tall trees and rock walls,
well off the main track,
where, once upon a time,
he would come and hide
far from the prying eyes that chased him away.
He runs his hand along the trunk
of a tree he would never forget –
he had scrambled up there as a boy,
exhausted and frightened,
hiding himself in its branches one sleepless night
watching while those who pursued him
gave up and went away.
For a moment, he remembers
the taste of his terror,
how his arms trembled with fatigue,
how his heart pounded in his ears,
and as the wave of emotion the memory brings up
dark with the shadow of despair
washes over him,
a soft hand touches him
bringing him back.
“I lost you there for a moment,” she says with a smile.
“Almost,” he replies,
as he gives her a hug
and tousles the silver hair of the child strapped to her back,
their child who has never known fear,
who looks up at him with happy amber eyes,
and with a deep breath and a smile,
he steps out of the past,
and walks happy and determined
into his future.