The Bothy: a short story by Anita Neilson.

Take a few minutes, sit comfortably with a warm cuppa to hand, and lose yourself in this short story.  Estimated reading time: 3 minutes!

“The Bothy”

Thick snow crunched underfoot as Jim quickened his pace through the forest towards the clearing ahead.  His eyes winced against the glaring sun piercing a sky of cobalt blue.  Cheeks flared red with the intense cold which clung like a second skin.  This was the coldest winter for a long time, he thought as he gave an involuntary shiver, wrapping both arms around his chilled body.  He knew he was close though.  He remembered she’d told him, “A couple of hundred yards or so after the clearing.  For heaven’s sake, go there, and find yourself.”  “It’ll clear your head,” she’d reminded him, “help you make sense of things again”.  If only it were that easy, he muttered under his breath through cold-numbed lips, shoving both hands deep into the pockets of his all-weather jacket.  She’d bought him it for his 50th birthday last year to encourage him to do more walking!  Well, he’d been walking for just over an hour now.

He had to admit she had a point though.  He had been feeling pretty lost these past few months.  Blowing out his frustration with puffs of icy breath, he heard the buzzard’s eerie call as it soared overhead as if pointing him in the right direction.  Carving his way through the trees, he knocked off excess snow from his boots each time he stepped over a fallen log or leapt across a small stream which seemed to emerge from nowhere.   He couldn’t put a finger on what was behind this lost feeling he’d been experiencing.  His job was fine.  His relationship with his wife was fine.  The kids were doing fine at university.  Everything was fine.  “Was that it?” he thought, “Was he expecting more than fine?  And what was so wrong with that anyway?”

Finally, it came into view.  The ‘bothy’ or wooden cabin, nestled in the valley between two sides of an ancient ice-hewn fracture in the landscape. A few tentative smoke whirls rose from its little chimney sitting atop a roof of grey slate tiles.  The walls were thick stone with one small window to the front to keep in as much heat as possible.  In summer, it would have looked impossibly pretty, he thought as he ventured nearer.

The smoke he’d seen signalled that it was occupied.  Jim swore inwardly to himself.  He’d wanted to be alone there.  “Wasn’t that the point?” he assumed. “Didn’t you have to be alone to find yourself?” His legs made to turn back, but his mind said, “Just go in and say hello and then you can leave”.  It wouldn’t do to be rude………………(to be continued)

What do you think happens next??

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