Author Topic: Poignant  (Read 641 times)

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on: 03:40:05 AM 10/24/17
The woods across the road from me has a bit of a reputation for suicides. I don’t really have any explanation for this. Though I guess could have something to do with it being the only place nearby that is open to the public and out of the way from the rest of the town.

From the top of my head, I can think of four deaths that have taken place there. A person jumped off the narrow footbridge crossing the river. At least two people have hung themselves at the old pump house. One person, in the car-park, set their car on fire with them still inside.

More than suicides alone have happened in and around the woods too. There have been three motorbike crashes that have happened on the road by it. someone by accident ended up drowning in the river Banwy that runs through. There was also a murder-suicide that happened in a house nearby. There could well be more but my town is too small and too rural for these things to have a record on the internet. I can only confirm one of these suicides as actually taking place too. It was the only one that happened since the BBC created their news website. Even then there is no actual information more than that it happened, and that it was a young man.

It’s a pretty unremarkable piece of ancient welsh woodland that I imagine only exists because of the fact It’s on a slope too steep to make farmland out of. Being unremarkable doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty though. Especially in summer when the trees have got all their leaves and the river is low enough for you to see the fish inhabiting it. It’s quite a nice walk.

One summer, I sneaked out to go to it quite frequently. I am a pet amphibian hobbyist, so I was going out to look for a common toad. I went out at night because toads are nocturnal and prefer cooler temperature. I didn’t find it scary, walking in the woods alone at night, so long as I had something to listen to. I always had one headphone off my ear though. I still didn’t like being unable to hear my surroundings. I remember the last time I went out at night to look for toads quite well. It was just after a rainfall so the air was cool and thick. My town couldn’t afford to keep the streetlights that were not on the main street on past one in the morning. My parents would not approve of me going there at night, so by the time I had my chance to get out the lights in the town were off. Once I had passed through the kissing gate I realised I had forgotten my torch and after a moment of self-deprecation pulled out my phone. Its light was far dimmer and didn’t travel far but was better than nothing. I was determined to find that toad. I took the lower path, my usual, and headed towards the old pump house.

It was the perfect night. I could hear the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and the water bubbling downstream droning underneath whatever podcast I was listening to. The woodland smell of rotting wood and foliage mixed with the petrichor to create a pleasant aroma. The kind to facilitate feelings of nostalgia. Memories of trying to find crayfish in the river with my brother when we were both young came to mind. And the time I and one of my friend had a pellet gun fight. As I got further along the path the scent of wild garlic hit me like a brick wall. It’s not a smell I’m unfamiliar with but as I passed a big clump of the plant, the smell changed to more of a burning plastic smell. for whatever reason I it caused a wave of paranoia in me. The thought of looking anywhere but the ground became increasingly unattractive to me as I realised how little the light of my phone illuminated the path ahead. I was too busy scouring the gravel path to notice the two eyes shining my light back at me from the pump house. When I eventually noticed them, I jumped out of my skin. They were very low to the ground. Normal British critter height to my relievement.

“Bugger off, you.” I said aloud to it “you made me jump”. The animal turned away at the sound of my voice and although I couldn’t make out its form, the sound of it crunching away through the dead leaves informed me of its departing. I turned left at the pump house, up the hill towards the Eisteddfod stone circle. Although the Eisteddfod  The clearing that the circle sat in was prime toad habitat. It would’ve been a great night to watch the stars if I wasn’t so on edge. Also, the orange streetlight in the car-park ahead wouldn’t help. It was flickering sporadically which didn’t surprise me judging by the council's budget going towards fixing rich people's driveways.

After spending about ten minutes scouring the area with no luck I gave up. I wasn’t really in the mood to anyway. Every time a twig snapped or my light caused an unexpected shadow I would jump which pretty much reset my anxiety every time It happened. I looped around the back of the pump house because I was nearby. The building itself was a red brick room with a grey cement floor, positioned on the edge of the river. All the doors and part of the walls taken off and the inside had been converted into a visitor information point with picnic benches installed. There were crisp packets and dead leaves covering the floor and the walls were covered in graffiti.

Some of the graffiti, rather poignantly, was put there by the friends and family of one of the people who hung themselves. On the spot where they did it, near a railing between the river wall and the structure, was a small memorial. There was a cup of stagnant water holding a bouquet of rotten flowers sitting at the base of the wooden fence. above it was an ink-stained laminated piece of paper, made unreadable by the elements. Some of the larger fonts might once have read "we miss you" or something to that effect. My mood switched as I headed home. I snuck back into the house is sure to very carefully close the heavy front door. I jumped into my bed and lay there thinking for some time. I remember thinking about the stars and how I should've stayed in the stone circle a while to stare at them. Thinking back to when I was that night I realised something.

I really don’t think there is a street light in the car-park of the woods.
« Last Edit: 07:49:00 AM 10/24/17 by Fly_trap »