The Clearing

Thomas smiled as he wandered down the familiar winding path that made its way through the forest. It was early Autumn and the trees were in full color. Wherever he looked, a myriad of red, orange, and yellow was seen, making the trees look like a smokeless fire. Birds fluttered among the branches, while mice and squirrels scurried across the path and into the fallen leaves. Occasionally a deer might show itself, but only for a moment.

The weather was beautiful as well. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun shone brightly. It wasn’t too hot to make him sweat, but not too cold either. A slight wind rustled through the leaves, causing them to rain upon him as he continued his walk. Whenever a stronger gust of wind blew, it would cause small tornadoes of leaves to spiral past Thomas. Soon he arrived at his destination, a small clearing in the forest.

He loved the clearing, for the beauty of it far surpassed that of the forest. The ground was covered in a layer of still vibrantly colored leaves. A small bubbling stream came from the right, and made its way through the middle of the clearing, then disappeared back into the forest on the left. A large bare rock lay near the stream, it’s flat surface warm from the sun. A single tree was also nearby, offering shade to anyone who needed it.

Thomas had discovered this clearing a few years back while exploring the forest. Ever since then, whenever he was feeling stressed or anxious, he’d come to this amazing place to rest. As he sat down under the tree, listening to the soothing sound of the stream, a peaceful look was on his face. He let his hand sink into the cold water, enjoying the feel of the current between his fingers.

A family of rabbits watched him carefully from the other side of the clearing. They were familiar enough with him to know he wouldn’t hurt them; but all the same, they kept their distance. The gray fluffy creatures hopped around, nibbling at blades of grass. Thomas chuckled as a couple of the younger ones dived beneath some leaves, then scurried back out again. With a yawn, he shifted his position against the tree and closed his eyes, quickly falling asleep.

He woke shortly after to the sound of leaves crunching not too far away. Opening his heavy eyes, he saw a young male deer on the other side of the stream. It ignored the rabbits, who were still bouncing around the field, but it kept a very close eye on Thomas. Slowly and silently, it made its way to stream right across from him and dipped its head to lap at the cool water. Thomas didn’t move, barely daring to breath as he observed the majestic creature.

Finished drinking, the deer raised its head and locked eyes with Thomas. For a few seconds, they stared at each other, when a fly began buzzing around Thomas and landed on his nose. Without thinking, he swiped his hand at it, startling the deer. It bolted away into the woods, scattering leaves in every direction. Panic-stricken, the rabbits ran around in circles for a few seconds before they too fled to the shelter of the woods. Some pheasants that Thomas didn’t even know were there burst from the leaves and scattered.

With a sigh, he rose from his spot and wiped the dirt off his clothes. He looked around the clearing once again. It was such a beautiful and peaceful spot. He wished he could stay longer, but the sun was already beginning to set. Slowly crunching through the leaves, he made his way into the forest. It was cooler under the trees, and shivered when the wind blew across his face. Picking up his pace, he quickly made his way back home. He was already anticipating the next beautiful day to revisit his secret spot.

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