DAY SIX

OUR SMALL TOWN

    We grew up in the city. I”m no sure what we were thinking when we decided to move to the middle of nowhere. Small town living had always seemed so ideal. Cute little mom and pop stores, cafes run by a staff of two people, family owned and run restaurants, knowing everyone by name. It all seemed so appealing when you’re from an overcrowded city. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the small town we had dreamed of finding. We got a whole new kind of nightmare. 

    Years went by before Kristen and I settled on the perfect place to start our family. Granted, we had been together since we were 15 and had shared the same dream since the day we met. At the age of 21, we had gotten married. It would have been sooner, but we thought it only right to be legally able to drink at our own wedding. 

    Two years later, after more research than one would think humanly possible, we purchased our first (and hopefully only) house in Giddings, population 93. The house Kristen picked out was absolutely stunning and a steal. Can’t beat small town prices. 

    Our belongings were packed before the final papers were signed. We set out to our new home the next day, too excited to stay in the claustrophobic city a second longer. I thought Kristen’s heart would burst, she was so excited. We had waited so long for this and it was finally happening. 

    We pulled up in front of our new home, an ancient Victorian, two days later. She all but ran to the door, eager to explore every nook and cranny of the place. I joyfully laughed at her excitement. If only we could go back to that. 

    Months flew by as we got settled into our new tiny town. Happy months. The community had welcomed us with open arms. I had feared they would hate us, thinking we were rotten city folk they didn’t want ruining their town. hey proved to feel the exact opposite. Until everything changed, anyway. 

    I started noticing little changes in Kristen. She became restless and unhappy very suddenly. I was at a loss as to how to help her and it seemed she didn’t know hot to either. The more I tried to snap her out of it, the worse she got. 

    Not long after, the townspeople started to act strange, as well. People would glare at me as I ran my errands. I tried asking many of them what I had done to offend them, but they would ignore my questions and hurry away. Everything really started to take a toll on me. 

    Slowly, Kristen and I stopped talking all together: and not just to each other, to anyone at all. The community had pushed us out and we had withdrawn even further on our own. Just looking at Kristen hurt. I could see how unhappy she was just by looking at her face. 

    She began to wonder around the woods surrounding our house. I had broken our silence to tell her to be careful, we didn’t know what was out there and had been warned of mountain lions and possibly wolves. We had heard howls recently, but wouldn’t identify them ourselves. Her only response was a small nod. 

    This had become her routine. She would spend hours a day venturing through the trees. I never knew exactly what she was doing out there. I also knew that she would never tell me. 

    One night, she hadn’t come back. It was getting dark. Normally, she had returned well before the sun began to set. Naturally, I got worried. I found a flashlight, laced up my boots and set out to find her. 

    To no avail, I yelled her name into the dense trees. Every second felt like an eternity. 

    A path of trampled flowers caught my eye. I hoped it was a trail she had carved out today. I followed the wilted flowers through the trees. 

    Something, a few feet away, was slumped against a tree trunk. My heart leaped into my throat. I knew before I got close enough to be completely sure that it was Kristen. 

    My beautiful wife was dead, leaning against that tree. 

    I ran the rest of the way and gathered her into my arms. I didn’t just sob from the pain, I howled with deep sorrow. My howl wasn’t the only one to fill the dark forest. The wolves had joined me to mourn her death. Their howls marked my demise, as well.     

    We should have never set foot in this town.