Tom's Hill by Rebecca Gaffron


This morning, I want nothing more or less than to step out my door and be elsewhere. On the path to Tom's Hill. Crunch of tiny Cotswold pebbles under my wellies as I slip through the hedge and across New Ground to the field where the walking path runs indistinct and lost, until you catch it's opening in the thicket. You know, the spot where Doran carried boulder-sized snow balls on his shoulders, just because he could. Over the stile in the sheep field, step carefully around the poo, it's slick in the cold and that stuff never comes off, and up the steep slope. Past the cottage with the Labs, who learned not to bark at us—we passed so often—where roses bloomed in December, crimson petals on frosted glass. Along the tarmac for a bit, too many trails to choose from. It took months to learn how they criss-crossed. Think how many times we accidentally ended up at he The Valient Trooper, or in Ashridge commons when we thought we were circling back to home? But I will take the wide way, across the top. The one where foxglove higher than William's head bloomed pink and purple, swaying in the warm summer breeze. Along the row of holly trees to the spot where we first found ash, oak and hawthorn standing in their fairy circle, and Haven chased the muntjac. Almost caught it. From there it's not far to the elephant tree, you remember, its roots made a perfect trunk. I will linger in the Greenwood, under branches of ancient trees, their gnarled roots and trunks familiar as friends in a strange land that felt more like home than home. I'll ramble 'til I come to our huge beech, all five of us joining hands couldn't reach around it. The boys played in its limbs, an entire world above the world. And I will sit with my back against its magic gray bark and wonder why we have no trees like this at home. Wonder why we went home, and if everything would still have fallen apart if we had stayed. Remember lying in a sea of bluebells, acres of purple bursting from the forest floor. And fallow deer, moving through fragrant shadows like my other ghosts.





Rebecca Gaffron lives in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania and is fascinated by sea-green spaces, words, and men who behave like cats. She is a sometimes writer, fortunate enough to have prose and poetry in various print and online journals including: Cent Magazine, Dogzplot, Camroc Press Review, The Birmingham Arts Journal, The Camel Saloon, and Six Sentences Review.