She left a note. “I’ve gone to the woods to be with my friends. I couldn’t find rest here” No one knew what it meant until an old friend from her college days read the note printed in the newspaper. He called the police. “She used to research fungi, back in the 80’s. I think that’s what she means by friends.” Search teams were sent out, but they had no idea where to look. It was a gesture more than anything. A thing to put in the news. “We’ll look for you if you go missing.”
She was tired. Long afternoon naps did nothing to help. It wasn’t depression, she’d had that. Back in her teens and twenties. A spell in her forties when her research grant wasn’t renewed and she had nothing in savings. Moved in with a friend—”Just for this month, okay?” Sure, okay. But a month became six until that friendship was ruined and she was on the street. After a close call—no I don’t want to elaborate, thanks—found a job as a grocery store clerk. The only mushrooms she’d see were those people bought in little boxes.
She needs rest. The kind a nap or good night sleep can’t provide. How do you rest the soul? Oh, okay, fine, that question only works if you believe in a soul. Fair enough. Call it what you want, the part of you that isn’t physical. The part that’s still you even if you lose a hand, or limb, or two. She’s almost ninety now and wants to sleep.
She went to sleep, curled next to a tree. On the mossy forest floor dotted with mushrooms and rocks covered in lichen. A babbling brook, birds in the trees, wind in the leaves, the final sounds she hears as she closes her eyes. A true smile on her lips. The first in years.
She’s never found.