We are hiking though the woods. We are on a path that leads down into a valley so we are using our heels to keep from sliding. The ground is wet and there are drops of water clinging to the plants. It is as if it has just stopped raining.

Wispy vines grow over the path and catch on our feet but they break easily. Mud clings to our shoes and begins to cake, each step picking up a little more weight. We stop to scrape our soles on nearby stumps but it readheres, each time a little faster. Soon our socks are getting wet and our ankles are covered with the sticky muck. You try to turn back but it is too slippery and you are unable to climb out. With each step we are sinking deeper. When it is up to our knees we are pulling each leg fully out and using our hands and forearms to progress.

We are unable to even crawl forward when the mud reaches our waists. The suction pulls on our feet like shackles. You grab for a nearby branch, but it is brittle and snaps off in your hand. We reach for one another, but our fingers are inches apart. We are looking around for an escape when you notice the kaleidoscope of red and brown leaves falling silently in an endless passing through the grove. You point this out to me and smile as I take a photo and wonder if it might make a nice holiday card.

Bryan Kring’s wife thinks that he is works as a graphic designer in Oakland, CA. In reality he spends most of his time making up silly stories, doodling, and playing with paper. www.kringdesign.com