A Familiar Feeling

Image of Shaima Saleh

Shaima Saleh

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The Autumn breeze outside had captured my complete attention and steered me away from my responsibilities. The Fall smell consumed me. Its earthy fragrance reminded me of burning wood and pumpkin carving. I wore thick layers with boots and a beanie as a brisk wind practically blew me towards the bottom of this hill where above it lies something I had never seen before. With that knowledge, there was still this sense of familiarity that was indescribable. I walked up the steep hill that was trailed with tall evergreen trees. It's beautiful that in the middle of this cold season, these radiant trees retained their vibrant green leaves. I was utterly mesmerized by the scenery I had discovered. I couldn't help but credit the wind that had led me here. As I had finally reached its peak I was panting. My throat was dry from the cold and crisp air. I let out a few coughs and gulped down the water that was left in my canteen. In the midst of me doing this, I heard something rummaging through the bushes. My soul had left my body. I was thrown back by the presence of another when I thought I had been alone in this quiet sanctuary. After all, the only thing I could hear was the sound of birds and the sound of trees brushing against each other as the wind blew. I turned around slowly and saw nothing. This only made my worries grow stronger. I took a look around me, it seemed like I just entered the woods. Something about this place was still different, there was an uncanny vibe that I could not shake. The sun was starting to set and the moon was creeping up on me. It was hard to keep exploring since I had gotten the impression that someone was watching me. With nothing left in my canteen, I decided to walk towards the trees ahead of me filled with bright orange and red leaves to see if I could find clean water to drink. The sneaking suspicion I had gotten from this place was as if all entrances to these woods had DO NOT DISTURB signs plastered on every tree. There were no signs of others within these woods but somehow I smelt burning wood. I shook this feeling off of my body since I had convinced myself it was just the smell of Autumn. Walking downhill and tripping over broken branches I had discovered a small lake down ahead. I paused for a moment to catch my breath and suddenly I heard a noise behind me. Someone was following me. I heard faint footsteps coming to a pause as soon as I had stopped. I clutched my canteen with the intention of using it as a weapon of defense and turned around quickly, only to see a cat. A cat as black as midnight with sharp green eyes, almost like the eyes were reflecting off of the evergreen trees. The cat wasn't scared, and neither was I. I didn't mind the company, and something about the cat's determination to follow me led me to believe that the cat knew more about the woods than I did. I continued my route and arrived at the scene of the lake. I knelt down to pour some water into the canteen and as my hand reached the water, the cat had placed its paw on my arm. I turned to the right to see the cat glaring at me, but in a worrisome manner. I understood what the cat was trying to tell me, the water was no good. The cat was warning me, and after that incident, my faith in the cat had only grown stronger. I got back up and dusted off the dirt on my hands and pants. When I picked my head up, the cat had walked across the lake and stopped to turn its head back, waiting for me. I was no longer in charge. As soon as I caught up, the cat had continued on its path, leading me into the unknown. It had gotten darker, the moon was full and the wind blew stronger, making me shiver as I crossed my arms in hopes of warming up. The smell of burning wood intensified, it was still the same setting surrounding me though, towering trees with broken branches covering the ground. I noticed the sound of animals hunting around the woods, other than that it felt like a never-ending path of trees. I started getting apprehensive, but the cat seemed insistent on leading me to a special place. I trusted the cat, as crazy as that may sound. Finally, from a distance, I could see something. The misty fog was hiding most of it but I was close enough to see that it was an old cottage. I was chilled, the moonlight highlighted the damp wood on the roof of the cottage. The cat reached the broken steps in front of it and with its body language invited me to follow. I could see through the door that it was dark inside, practically vacant. I was hesitant to follow, this ancient cottage was deep into the woods, hidden from the eyes of others. The cat's aura was not evil, nor was it deceiving, so I decided to ignore any feeling of distress and trust the cat once again. I took my first step into the cottage and the sound of the floor creaking echoed across the entire woods. Out of nowhere, a crow flew from the window across the room and over my head, vigorously flapping its wings to leave through the door. I stood there shaking, not able to comprehend what had just happened in a flash of a second. The musky cottage had begun feeling creepy and to say the least, I was frightened. I ran my fingers against the vintage china table as I continued walking in and dust started to fill the air. The cat circled my feet and rubbed its head against my leg. I felt comforted after that, unable to figure out if that was the cat's intention. The cat began crawling down these stairs that led to a basement. It was too dark for me to follow, I looked around to see if I could find some sort of flashlight or matches. I started to smell burning wood once again, this time stronger than ever. I looked around and found myself in the living room. The couches were wet and the smell of mold almost masked the smell of the burning wood. Unexpectedly, I heard rustling, like the sound of fire crackling. In the corner of my eye, I saw a beam of light in another room, I walked to what seemed like a hallway and into a bedroom. Lo and behold, it was burning wood creating a fire in a fireplace. I was right all along, but how did I smell it miles away far deep into the woods? Then it hit me, how did a fire start on its own? Questions ran through my mind, I was unable to come up with a reasonable explanation. There was no trace of anyone else being here, nor was there any indications of anyone living here. The whole cottage was on the verge of falling apart and the putrid smell of mold convinced me enough to believe that this place had been abandoned for years. Sometime in the middle of these thoughts running wild in my head, I noticed a box of matches sitting on top of the fireplace. I grabbed one and followed the cat down the stairs. When I reached the end of it I saw the cat's eyes all the way in the corner of the room, its body wasn't visible since it had disappeared into the darkness. All I could see was its glowing eyes. I explored the room I was in. Boxes were scattered everywhere with different items stored in each of them. Books, old clothes, and old photographs. I studied the pictures, it seemed to be photos taken of a family that used to live here. A mother and a father with a boy and a cat. The cat was midnight black with vibrant green eyes, just like the cat that led me here. The little boy had thick dark hair, and bright colored eyes as well. They were green, but not as bright as the midnight cat, more like a soft green with tints of brown. I wanted to see more pictures so I dug around deeper into the box to find more, but all that was left was pictures of the cabin. A hand was placed on my shoulder. Once again, my soul had left my body. I turned back cautiously with the match in my hand, this time to see a face. A beautiful face filled with light, not darkness. Soft green eyes with tints of brown were staring deep into mine. The feeling I had gotten in the moment in which we met was familiar, for it had consumed me like the smell of Fall.


Image of Through the Woods


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Image of Reem Saleh
Reem Saleh · ago
Beautiful description!
Image of Amira Mustafa
Amira Mustafa · ago
Captivating from beginning to end! Great job
Image of Anna Tran
Anna Tran · ago
Very creative !!