Growing up as a little girl in the back woods of rural eastern Pennsylvania, I learned many things; how to make a fort, what plants I could eat, how to tell what track belonged to what animals, and most importantly, what places I should never go.
My earliest memory of the 200 acres of state game land that my property sat in the middle of was something I will never forget. At the age of around 6 or 7 I can remember that one day I heard meows coming from under the porch. When I peered around the wooden steps I stumbled upon two very different cats. My mom came home to find me grass stained and sitting with a fluffy black and white kitten and a scraggly old gray cat with matted fur. Not until she called my name did i turn to face her with a cut across my face. Right then she knew what we would name them; baby and scar.
I came home every day to play with these cats until my mom decided we couldn’t take care of them both and my neighbor adopted baby, the cute little kitten leaving me stuck with scar. Scar was a strange cat though, as much as I enjoyed him and he of course was not my cat so much as natures. He would always leave me dead things like birds and mice to clean up. Scar knew how to survive and thrive in the woods. Scar knew every path and hiding in the whole game lands.
although The beast would wander off always but he never failed to be waiting for me. So of course I was surprised when I got home from school and my lovely scar was no where to be found. I Decided I, of course, could find him. I trekked off into the woods past the stream on my property and into the dense forest.
The trees waved in the slight breeze and the sun shone ahead. Birds chirped and leaves rustled and despite how distraught I was about loosing my beloved monster of a cat, I was beginning to enjoy myself. Just as soon as I began humming to myself could I hear a meow off in the distance. Ah! Of course, that makes so much sense that scar would know my voice! I rationalized and bolted in the direction.
Soon I found that the sound of my feet crunching the leaves below blocked out the subtle mews in the distance. I slowed down to realize I didn’t just not hear my scar’s meows, I heard absolutely nothing. Besides the leaves crunching with my steps, I could not hear the birds and the movement in the woods. The trees had stopped moving and stood still, the wind no longer blew, and the sun had fallen behind the clouds creating a shadow of darkness under the already blackened tree coverage.
Maybe because I couldn’t, hear anymore did I begin to focus on my other senses. I looked around wondering where I was and if I could get back. I thought about how my mom must have gotten home by now and she must be so mad at me for running off before she got home.
My eyes focused on a cleared spot in the dense brush. I realized I had found a trail. My survival guide brain kicked in and I rationalized that it must lead somewhere so I figured I could follow it and get home, or at least to a road. So I began to walk and walk and walk.
On the beginning of the trail, just a few yards in I began to notice something that peeked my attention. I always kept my eyes at my feet while I walked because I was a clumsy kid and I was afraid I would trip over a root or twig. So when I was staring at my little boots in the mud and leaves, I started to notice a color that you don’t always see in nature, bright red.
I inspected the leaf with the bright dense red liquid, I knew what it was, I had seen blood before as I had scrapped my knees many times. At first my mind began racing, would I find scar... would he be... dead?.... no, no, no, keep walking, follow the trail. The blood followed the trail too though, every step i walked to avoid the drips and drops and splatters. But my little mind was relieved when the blood had feathers in it instead of fur. The shiny black feathers were large and had a green tint, I figured at some point I would find the creature they belonged to mangled.
I was dreading the gore until I had an epiphany, my Scar had killed many a small creatures. He had left a trail of blood up my wooden porch steps dozens of times. Left my dozens of “presents” as cats do. This had to be him! Had to be my scar! I raced and dashed among the branches and ferns. Somewhere the blood led, somewhere that my Scar will be! I just knew it!
My heart skipped a beat as i stepped and my shoe got tucked under a log sending me flying. I had skidded across the forest floor and my shoe had fallen off, still wedged neatly in the ground. My arm had hit a rock and it tingled. But I found myself brushing off my clothes and hopping back up.
I refocused, I was following a trail.. a trail... my eyes beaded back and forth the trail... where had it gone... I frantically turned searching for that familiar crimson color that I had followed for what must have been miles, but it was gone. I abruptly sat and cried. I knew it, that was Scar and now i had no hope of finding him.
Just as I opened my eyes, wiping the tears away my vision corrected and revealed another color that you rarely see in nature, fluorescent pink. I knew that color though that was the color my dad used to mark the trees on our property line, the ones he never got around to cutting down. I knew where to go, if i ran towards the tree my house would come into view soon after, and so i did. For the last time I ran overjoyed to be in a familiar place.
Just as my driveway came into view, my mothers car was pulling into her parking spot. I ran to her and hugged her with the biggest 6 year old squeeze. She smiled at me and said “ah you sure are happy to see me!” And I pleaded with her not to punish me, that I was sorry for being gone so long. She frowned and scolded me for being in the woods alone but said she had no idea what I was talking about because she had just gotten home. My mom got home from work every day only 20 minutes after I got home from school. This was impossible though, I knew that it had to have been at least 2hours that I spent in the trees.
My little kid brain wasn’t bothered by the gap in time however, the only thing that mattered was my home, safety, and the security of my mom. When I pulled out of her arms I noticed something behind her. The crimson drips across the concrete that formed a walkway to my porch. He was home. I knew it this time. I jumped across the concrete turned toward my deck toward the stairs. I was right he was home. My scar had come home to me just as I wished. I expected to see him there with a crow jutting from his jaws and however this was almost the case, something was wrong. i fell backward and a wave of dread crashed over me.
My scar had come home alright, he had been mangled and crushed with fresh blood still creating little plops on the steps below. His grey stripes could barely be seen under the coat of deep color liquid. His limbs peeked out out their sockets which were dislocated and broken. Bone shards and miscellaneous guts and organs sprayed everywhere. He has become a mash of carcass, almost unrecognizable. I knew it was him though, I could always tell him apart for as much as no one would believe, he was my cat. The only distinguishing thing in this mass of flesh was a single reflecting crows feather.
Now to fill you in on some things you didn’t know before, and certainly I did not know when I was 6, my woods are special. They used to be on Native American land, there are three signs outside of the development that say how the native gave the land to the pioneers. And however quirky and nice that sounds its simply not the truth. I soon found out that this land was sacred and was stolen from the tribes and it was covered up. One of the signs that is very dilapidated states that there was a wagon trail that led the moutaineers here and they started building mines under where all our houses are. I know the names of these mines but I wont be specific as I don’t want to give my location away. Anyhow, to verify this there is old mountaineer houses that are abandoned on a trail near my house.
Every time I enter the house there is another dead creature, not freshly dead however, just more bones. Their used to be a dead crow nailed to the ceiling of one of the houses however it has been moved by someone or something. And lastly during my trip to a clearing behind my house i found a arrowhead in the dirt. This land is now mostly owned by the state but my house is here and I know it wasn’t meant to be.
Now I’ve come to the conclusion that a native ghost or creature of some sort killed my cat and left the feather as a sign. I know that the crow feathers must mean something because I find them when something bad happens. I know it sounds very cliche and I wish i could be more informed on the subject. If anyone knows anything I would be more than grateful to know what this means. I know im not alone and the last thing I want is to be pissing of the natives and their spirits for the rest of my life.