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Fort Richardson State Park, Texas

At night the ghosts come out.


They roam the corridors of my mind and wander the graveyard of my soul - the parts I thought I’d put to bed long ago. I hide. Up a flight of stairs and through an attic door. They don’t know this place, but I do. I’ve been here many times before.


The remnants of the past draw me. The forgotten ones, strong in their day, made by the blood and sweat of men. Every nail driven and every beam raised by hand. The murmurs and echoes of well-worn lumber, stacked masonry and rusted tin. Only a hint of what they were before - all but buried under the changes of time and a shifting society.



From camp we follow a shaded path along the creek and then under the highway, past Jacksboro Municipal Airport where a small plane practices takeoff and landing. I dismount quickly, knowing the ground always feels harder than it looks, but the horse does well so we move on. Around the reservoir and across two wooden trestle bridges where rusted metal rails cradle us on each side and the horse moves tentatively. His steps echo against the hollow beneath.


I’ve heard it said to dream of a home is to dream of your soul and perhaps that’s true. If so, my soul is solid with its wood floors and white board and batten. An old house, strong but empty and in need of tending. A place with hidden passages and safe rooms. Where those that rise in assault are dealt with swiftly. Dreams are so much easier than life aren’t they?


My stomach growls, reminding me it’s time to eat. I rein the horse around and we retrace our steps along the mesquite and oak lined riverbank, past an old mill half standing and a dilapidated stagecoach bridge - remnants of the old Butterfield Overland route. Past the crumbling pillars and stacked rocks of the old dining hall and barracks where officers and calvary still breathe in the morning fog. Protectors of a once thriving passage to the new frontier.



At camp I pen the horse, fill buckets and toss hay. A pink cast descends on the world and a tarantula saunters its way across the green carpet at my feet. The dog sits, watching with her ears forward and her nose making constant small corrections in the air as if smelling the sunset.


A moth lands on my arm. Quick but gently, I scoop him up in my fist then open my hand. He sits on my palm - as if waiting for something. Some signal it’s okay to go. With a single breath I send him off and he flutters away into the failing sun never to be seen again.



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