Midnight finds me easy, just after twilight dropped its light. Armed with a headlamp, I trudge through darkness in flip-flops and warmth on a path bedded down by others before me. Two dogs float ahead, their collars aglow, painting an eerie scene at our feet. We stop for a moment to marvel at the Milky Way in the clearing, watching its reflection on the glassy water, where conversations echo. I wonder many things in this moment, yet do not speak them.
Like adolescent fools, we howl out into the night to stir the rest of our party lingering by the flame across the way. In response, a toggling light travels around the bend toward us, speaking in saturated conversations. We devise a plan to spook and lose ourselves in the tall grass and trees.
“Shhh,” the darkness speaks, as the voices near our base. Silence overcomes us in the surrounding shadows, while fear snaps a twig behind me. Conversations in the toggling light attack each other, their lips smacking accusations, while the bright light fans toward us freezing at the beady eyes I’m holding back. We remain statues, holding our breath, even though we’ve been made. Our plan, now compromised, we zombie out of the forest towards laughter and swaying limbers telling stories, just before the tree line grows thick.
While dark grew darker, fear lurked at the edges. Could there be a bear lingering beyond my reach? A Sasquatch staring us down after hearing our pathetic howls? An owl waiting to make eye contact? One will never know tonight, for voices are too loud, too quiet; too inebriated, too focused; and too lost in midnight to care.