we walked down the highway in rural georgia since there were no sidewalks and saw a pattern
of no trespassing signs one after the other, the hills declining which paved the way for a pastoral view painted with a brush dipped in midwestern color. beware of dog with a confederate flag strapped to his chest was the gist of it, the houses each with their respective acres keeping one another separated.
a path just south of her house welcomed us, asking us to join it in the breath of a crisp march air so my two friends started to walk the path ahead of us which we intended to follow suit on when we saw a little boy unmoved like the trees surrounding him watch from the door of the house which shared the same air, the same sunlight, that the path did.
we called back to our friends to return from the path the invitation of the woods a misunderstanding of sorts so we turned around and began to walk back home this time on an incline up the highway with no sidewalks. speed limits ignored as cars whirred by from time to time as we sidestepped onto the grass to prevent any collisions or confrontations which worked fine until the woman of the house with the young boy frozen by medusa drove up next to us and stopped in the middle of the highway.
what were you doing on my property she asked
it looked like its own path independent of your property ma’am we apologize for the misunderstanding we replied in a futile attempt to dispel any hostility
That’s not what I asked what were you doing on my property this ain’t the first time you been walking around my place
That’s not true ma’am as we just got into this area last night and we only want to go hiking today and then we will return back home to florida
A sense of misunderstanding unfazed her, but her voice settled a little…
Don’t walk on other people’s property you might get shot. She said.
And it rang as we walked home
You might get shot
we walked back creating far less noise than we did leaving it. we didn’t want to upset anyone and set some jokes up on the conversation table to help settle the anxiety, urging one another not to say a word for too long not to look at a cloud too funny not to put the wrong foot forward first which helped return the atmosphere to the innocence it once was
later in the day the group of us four went hiking but most of that is irrelevant, even though the experiences of the day had that exact recurring motif of irrelevance but existed nonetheless.
I laid in bed that night thinking about the accusation and the reaction we constructed in response but the same thing continued ringing in my head, and I still feel baffled that some find murder to be justified because the grass under my feet doesn’t belong.