The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Solitude

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The fields and tennis courts were desolate of human sounds and smells—no children’s screams and laughter on the swings, no smack of wood hitting cowhide, no sound of bouncing balls on asphalt, no smell of charcoal or grill-dented hot dogs. This spot on a hilltop above town afforded an expansive view of the river except that any view of it was hidden by the summer foliage of mature trees and shrubs. There were the sounds of leaves and branches rustling in a breeze that seemed to be concentrated only beneath these trees, and birds calling to each other, and small animals moving beneath the weeds. Down the hill and on the streets, I could hear children’s voices in their backyards and sidewalks interlaced with the sounds of passing cars on the streets. My companions were teeny-weeny spiders that even a slight brush of the hand might fatally injure. A lithe yellow-green worm slithered along my pants raising its head and body as if feeling blindly for obstacles in its path. Finally I helped it to the ground. A car pulled up and a woman smoking a cigarette climbed out. She walked to the edge of the hill without looking at me, put out her cigarette, then climbed back into her car. My presence had stolen her hope of solitude, but she left me with mine.

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