I Found A Leather-Bound Case In A Tree And I Really Wish I Had Never Found It

Shutterstock / Julia Ivantsova
Shutterstock / Julia Ivantsova

I know this is going to sound like the stupid kind of disclaimer everyone gives to a these kinds of stories, but my hands are shaking and I don’t know what to do. I had hoped I would never have to tell any part of this story to anyone, but now I’ve gone and fucked up and I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t start telling people. Odds are, the people who need to see this story will never even see it, but maybe, just maybe, I can save someone’s life. Okay, enough bullshit, let me just tell it all before I lose my nerve.

When I was a kid, I lived in a house that sat right next to a national forest. All I had to do was head out the back door and walk across the backyard and I was in over a thousand acres of forest. For a kid, it was an amazing place to be. To this day, I still fondly think of how many afternoons I spent sitting at the top of an old pine tree daydreaming and swaying in the breeze.

My mom wasn’t wild for the forest. My parents weren’t what you’d call religious, but they were a bit superstitious, especially my mom. She revered the woods with a sort of wary admiration; she didn’t mind living near all that dense old growth, but it was rare for her to actually go in it. If pressed on the issue she’d say something cryptic implying there were spirits in the woods and leave it at that. I wasn’t convinced that there were spirits in that wood, but I also wasn’t convinced that there weren’t. I guess I’m still not. I mean, I had the kinds of experiences you have at that particularly imaginative period of your life where occasionally I’d be out there and think I heard, or even just “sensed” something out of place but it all might have easily been in my head. I did have a few pretty strange things happen to me while living in that house, but the woods themselves never seemed to be at the source of any real weirdness. Except for what happened with the pencils.

It was all because I wanted to draw. Living where I did prevented me from having a great deal of friends, but the ones I had made up what they lacked in quantity through the sheer quality of their friendship. There were two in particular, Ricky and Keith, that were truly exceptional friends. We spent so much time at each other’s houses and doing things together that in a way we were almost like siblings, even our parents treated us like we were all their kids. As much as I loved them as friends though, I envied them both for one thing; they could draw. Growing up, my dad would draw and paint a lot and I was always in awe of his art. From the time I could grip an artist’s tool, I wanted to imitate the thing that he did that impressed me so much, but when I’d put pen or pencil to paper, I’d always end up with something that looked like, well, a kid’s drawing.

While I kept drawing kid’s drawings, however, Ricky and Keith started to create real art. Though he was a bit more technically minded, Ricky had a good eye for aesthetics and a steady hand, so given some effort he was able to turn out some impressive works. Keith, meanwhile, had a truly exceptional talent. Keith could do any style seemingly without effort, and the thing he did best was his comics. Keith would produce pages and pages of his own incredible comics every week. He’d write fantasy comics, sci-fi, surreal humor, he’d even make comics about the three of us and our other friends. His talent made him stand out in such a way that it filled me with envy, especially since it was that particular talent that I coveted so dearly.

Slowly, this feeling of jealousy began to eat at me and finally I felt that I had no choice but to do something drastic. I had to talk to mom about it. I can remember clearly after one afternoon, coming to her, eyes wet with tears, one of my sloppy, uncoordinated drawings in hand, begging for an answer as to why I couldn’t do this. My mom sat me down and comforted me for awhile as I explained my frustrations. At the end of my rant, my mom suggested that maybe I should try to find answers in the woods, since they were well-known to be my favorite place at that time. She even threw in some cryptic advice about asking whatever forces dwelt in the woods for help. As she said that, an idea clicked into my head almost like a flash of lightning. While I was already somewhat skeptical at that age, nothing else I had tried had worked so I figured maybe it was time to try something metaphysical.

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