Free Hugs

Picture this. A teenage girl on a high handlebar bicycle. Her auburn dreadlocks fly behind her as she follows a man with a moustache up a dirt path to the place just past the edge of the woods where he lives. She knows he is interested in her mind and her body, but she is willing to move forward into that because she is not afraid of what he wants. She also knows that he is leading her to a place where she needs to be. She has felt it calling.

This place is in the edge of a dying industrial city, where ramshackle half-deserted suburbs end and a wooded ridge begins to rise. It is at the end of a rough asphalt lane lined with bungalows with unkempt front gardens where only the hardiest of perennials continue to spill across the lawn and creep around lawn chairs where no one ever sits.

It is Spring, muddy Spring. The air is crisp and there are still patches of dirty not-yet-melted snow on top of the matted yellow grass where a little green is just beginning to show through. The sun warms the breeze and the path she is on begins where the broken pavement ends.

She is not afraid to ride up the hill into the wooded area. She stands up on her bike and pushes down hard. . . pressing her feet onto the pedals and moving up the steep incline one strong push down at a time. Up and up; keeping the momentum going so that her bike continues to ascend upward on the muddy path.

The trees thicken and the air becomes cooler as she moves up the hill. She follows the man until he comes to a makeshift hut, in shambles. It is constructed of wooden crates, boards and old plywood skids. It is surrounded by a collection of large metal cans and wooden boxes which are almost totally covered by vines and creeping shrubs which have grown around the hut so that it is not visible from below.

Its very appearance is of course, off-putting and would make most turn away, but there is no malevolence, just that uncomfortable sense that Mother Nature is in the process of fucking with the man-made world. Where there is rust and rot and where words and labels are fading, the tendrils of leaves and new blades of grass are growing. She sees car parts, old tires, crates and tin barrels that have been cast off because they are no longer valued. Pale green shoots have grown up and around these in a possessive embrace where rust and wood rot meet the fresh green of spring.

This is a portal; this is a door. And the man with the moustache fades into the shack like a shadow and then turns to beckon her in.

Her name is Macy and she has begun a journey away from a world she no longer needs.