I recently returned from a hiking trip where I found this journal. The journal seems to be that of an older teenage girl, “Serena Murphy” as the cover says, along with a phone number.
I’m writing in this book dad got me because last time we did this I was SO BORED. We’re going hiking for like a month. Or a week. Whatever. It may as well be a month since there is no wifi up here. Or cell phone service. I already miss chocolate. And candy. And pretty much everything.
< there are a number of hearts and “nom nom nom” with cookies drawn here >
Now it’s afternoon but still day 1 🙁 and we’re stopping for lunch. Halfway up our first part of the trip, which from what I remember was the worst. Actually the day after was the worst, when all my muscles were sore and thank god for tylenol. 3000 feet up and 2 days hike away from civilization if you make a straight shot. We were not.
This food tastes like sandpaper and dirt. SO dry.
I.AM. EXHAUSTED. < frowny faces dot the page, there are some crudely drawn ghosts coming out of a stick figure’s mouth >
Soooo, last night was a little weird. We set up tent, dad was exhausted and passed right out. I fell asleep but I always wake up the first night in a new area, it’s just a thing I do. We camped near these like, double lakes and were maybe like 3000 feet up, IDK, but it was a really nice area. Dad said the lakes were dead lakes, but I saw some frogs in them and I swear I saw some type of fish. Anyway.
I wake up, I’ve gotta pee, then I can get back to sleep. Of course all I’m thinking about when I’m out in the middle of the woods is bears and ghosts. Or ghost bears. Bear ghosts? I don’t go too far from the camp, I mean I don’t want to pee on the tent, but again, ghost bears.
Coming back I swear I hear my name from the woods, but not like HEAR hear it, it’s just a whisper like the wind could have blown across the trees, and in this area near the lakes it totally could have been. I would have looked into it but…I’m not into ghost bears.
I put some wood on the fire even though I know I’m not supposed to because we’re not watching it. But it helped me sleep, and I feel like a million dollars today.
I was gonna tell my dad about it like a creepy ghost story right away, but after some hiking he started to pull ahead. I told him to slow his butt down and he seemed like, legit confused for a second. I did end up telling him after he ate, but he told me I was trying to get out of the hike again… < these words trail off into small letters >
So yeah, maybe I played sick last time. Not like it’s a lot of good it can do you when there isn’t anywhere to go, so I just went with it.
We had to get water from the dead lakes on our way back, which was super gross and we had to put iodine tablets in the water which makes it look like dirt and pee, AND stains our water bags five-ever. I cannot wait to get back to running water.
Maybe I’m just getting older and more mature, but this place is B-E-A-U-TIFUL
< trees and birds sketched here >
I didn’t notice even half this stuff last year. The trees here are so tall, dad even said so. If you look close there’s even cool flowers coming out that I haven’t seen before. I don’t mean like not seen last year, I mean not seen before at all. Like these big berries and purple flowers. Strawberries. Loads of blackberries. I took some of the stuff with us to have later, but dad only ate his protein bars. I choked one down, but also enjoyed the most delicious berries ever, best when straight from the plant.
We also got chocolate, thank the maker for small miracles.
I am literally telling you this right after it happened so it’s fresh in my memory.
I wake up and as usual I am groggy as shit. The sun is hitting my face as we had the top of the tent open, just a bug net up there, because it was pretty warm otherwise.
“What are you doing in there? Get out of my tent please.” my dad says, looking through the top of the domed tent.
“Omg ok I’m getting up, jeez” I said unzipping my head out of my mummy sleeping bag.
“What are you doing in my…” dad’s voice trailed off as I got out.
I looked at him and he was legit not recognizing me. Like, slightly angry, confused look. He also always calls me by his nickname for me.
“Oh wow, I need some coffee Aowin, I thought you were someone else” he said, and then proceeded to start some coffee like nothing happened.
To continue with weird shit of the week, I am like 90% certain I saw lights in the forest last night through the bug netting. Not like hikers and flashlights, but lights moving like a car would move (did I mention we are two days hike from roads in every direction?). Purposeful, wandering around, sometimes grouping up, and then splitting up again. None of them got too close, so I didn’t pee myself or wake dad.
I saw no less than a dozen squirrels staring at me while we talked this afternoon. Not running. Staring. If I wasn’t so freaked out about their little rat bodies, I could have reached out and petted them. I’m seriously digging some of this nature stuff.
I must have rubbed against some poison ivy yesterday while gathering berries because my arms are itchy as hell.
I grew a leaf out of my arm.
I don’t know how else to put that, there was a leaf, and it was definitely attached to me. It didn’t hurt, it just came right off. Both my arms also have a rash that looks like my skin is turning into bark. Dad says it looks like a regular old rash, but it’s not the best light with all those huge trees and it’s evening. He says I’m tired but I feel full of energy. He said it must have just been sap and it got stuck to me, but it was like…I don’t know, I felt what it touched.
So clearly, I have been eating some bad berries.
I thought I even saw another person moving around in the woods and heard my name again.
So maybe I’m ACTUAL sick this time.
I’m going to bed early.
< this page is splotched with wet spots >
Um, so, I have some confessions to make:
- Sorry dad, if you find this, I don’t have a crush on a guy named James, I have a crush on a girl named Jaime. Surprise, I’m gay! I know you were accepting of a lot more when you were with mom, and she was as far from Christian as you can get, but you two still loved each other. When she died, you haven’t been the same and I was scared to tell you.
- I have never tried a cigarette, but Maize offered me one. I didn’t tell you because I know you wouldn’t let me hang out with her anymore.
- I know our cat Ms. Whiskies didn’t go to a farm when I was 9.
- I snuck out of our house a few times to go to a friend’s house and chill and watch movies, since my bedroom has a window that exits right onto the ground, I don’t think you ever knew.
- Uh, haha, so that friend is Jaime.
- I always eat the last cookie in the cookie jar.
< there a bunch of scribbles of trees and eyes, along with cookies, cats, and “Serena + Jaime” >
I woke up in the night, somewhere in the woods. I don’t sleepwalk.
Lights spin about, much closer than when I saw them in the tent the other night. They whispered my name again and again. They were saying other things but I couldn’t understand them. I felt like if I followed them I would. So of course I started screaming bloody murder for dad. Or I would have, if my voice didn’t sound like it was scratched and burning to hell.
So I had a good sit and cry until dawn, which felt like forever but was probably only an hour. You know how they say “stay where you are when you’re lost”? I was like…10 goddamn feet away from the trail. I know they say that so they can find you or whatever, but I think they really mean “stay within a vicinity, but look for some signs you idiot”
When I got back to camp all dad’s stuff was packed up and gone. He always forgets a stake or two. My stuff, however, was growing roots. It literally had flowers and moss and was decayed like it had been there for 10 years, and totally useless.
I’m writing this and totally not crying my eyes out at the place we camped.
I’ve headed in the direction we were going…but I’ve missed the trail. It’s not impossible, it’s a small trail. There’s another reason I missed it though. I’ve just started wandering like that isn’t the right way. I see the trail, but there’s another trail leading off and around it. Next to it sometimes, but it goes so many other places.
The voices are back too, now for daytime TV! I’m beginning to understand them but I can’t put it into words on paper. It’s like speaking French to someone who doesn’t speak French. Like touching a feeling or remembering something you didn’t do.
There’s a circle of flowers growing on my head. My arms have grown a flexible bark, and I have bracelets of leaves too.
I might be a bird because I know where the trail is and somehow where dad is. I’m going to head him off.
Something spoke to me in the forest today, but I don’t think I could tell you what yet. There are many of them, and many different kinds. They sing in grass, and are of the trees. I think you could figure it out if you watch our favorite movie dad. And of course, read this journal.
You’re sitting across from me right now eating dinner as I write this by your firelight. You don’t see me, it’s like I’m not even there, no matter what I do. I am like the wind. The craziest part is where I’m not in your pictures anymore (sorry, I went through your wallet).
I have to go, but I’m going to stuff this journal in your backpack for all the good it might do. Maybe it will disappear too.
Something is going to happen, that exists both near and far away. It’s really dangerous, and I’m scared. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be here for your safety when it does though, and you’ll come back. I’ll be ready when you do to protect you, and to guide your path, as I will guide others.
Love, Serena (Aowin)
< end journal >
My name is Tobias Murphy but I don’t have a daughter.