I took the photo and stared at it and felt cold air soak into every pore and into my soul as I remembered. The dusty, cobwebbed attic faded and time snapped backward until once again I stood on the bank of Smuggler's Creek.
I watched a leaf drift along on the current, turning and bobbing along until it disappeared around the bend. The stream moved so slow that there was barely a ripple to mar the dark, glassy surface, only an occasional swirl as something impeded its progress.
Although quite narrow, the water was deep and black with tannin from forest runoff. I tapped on of the pilings that lined the bank with my foot and stared into the water. Impossible to see the bottom but my reflection stared back at me with wide dark eyes, an almost pleading gaze.
I sniffed and looked across the way where the thick, nearly impenetrable forest crowded the bank. Cold winter winds had long blasted away the leaves, leaving thick knots of vines that would defy the best sailor. All around me, in every tree, they hung so thick it would take a machete to clear them. I glanced down at the one in my hand and turned to stare at the shed that stood at the edge of the stream.
As sheds went, it was in excellent shape. The weathered siding showed no signs of rot and the windows were all intact and tightly closed. Even the small row boat inside was in good condition. And yet, no one would easily stumble upon this place. I doubted anyone even remembered it was here.
Dead grass crunched under my feet as I made my way back to the shed. The rusty hasp made a rasping sound as I pulled it and the door hinges screamed. I had to clean up and get rid of everything. There could be no sign I was ever here.