Spaces Between

A breath went through the pines. Uncounted millions of gold-green needles quavered, heaved; pressed by a mild and resinous sigh. The air thickened, yellowed with cloying dust shed from boughs' young cones. Great beards of hoary moss wavered, licked their trailing ends to the forest floor, stilled. The breath passed.

In the ensuing hush, not one beast dared more than whisper. Crickets put up a rarefied, hesitant sawing. Crows croaked only briefly, distant. The chewing of green caterpillars, long and fat as forearms, was louder than even they. No beast let their paws crackle the ember-needled mat of soil. No paws, but two sets of boots.

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