Philo's Stories

"Appalachian Trail"

the night before she left to hike the Appalachian Trail, her friends threw her a little party
one of her friends gives her a friendship bracelet in her favorite shade of blue

"it'll keep the mosquitoes off you" she says, her eyes twinkling strangely, as though channeling the glow of the moon

as the days go by, she slowly but surely makes her way north

one night, she forgets to spray cedar oil and discovers that she never needed to in the first place, that her friend's promise is real
the forest's insects don't even notice she exists

by the dying light of the fire, she stares at the blue band tight around her wrist, and as she looks, the knots seem to reweave themselves into the shapes of hearts

she drifts off to sleep thinking of the friend who she was too scared to admit her crush on, the friend who gave the bracelet to her

another day and more than a dozen miles later, she stops for the night at a lean-to

she talks with another hiker and somehow, the topic drifts to the bracelet on her wrist, which the they immediately notice radiates with power
"she must really like you to give you that"
"oh? she just said it keeps off mosquitoes"

"it most definitely does that and a fair bit more"
she looks confused, but hidden deep within her confusion is hope
"the bracelet has some Power to it. that's all I'll say" they say, their eyes twinkling in the same way as her friend back home's eyes did

the silence hangs in the cool night air, as the campfire casts a strange shape onto the ground: a tapering point drawn above and flopped over, the area above their head empty in everything but shadow

as the next morning dawns, she has so many questions for her mysterious acquaintance, but they're long gone, headed south, leaving behind a strange hope and a new sparkling thread somehow woven into the bracelet, even though it never left her wrist

from the peak of the next mountain in their pilgrimage down the eastern spine of north america, the witch hopes that the girl she met will accept her crush's invitation into queer secrets and witchcraft