A midnight stroll through the woods

Submitted into Contest #37 in response to: Write a story that takes place in the woods.... view prompt



It was the middle of January and the snow around Mark’s Rocky Mountain cabin had the effect of blanketing the area in majestic whiteness. Every morning after new snow had fallen, it was exciting to see the new deer and bunny tracks all over his property.

Tonight, he was planning on an extraordinarily special night because Karen was coming up from the city. Due to their busy schedules, they didn’t always get to see each other as much as they would have liked. They have been a couple since college and finally three years after graduation, they were able to work in the same town.  What Karen didn’t know was that he had a couple of surprises and some good news for her tonight.

He finished cleaning up, lit some candles, and had just opened a bottle of wine to breathe when the doorbell rang.


The porch light illuminated the flakes of snow in Karen’s hair as it had started snowing again. He caught himself staring at her when she reminded him that it was cold and snowy outside. He gulped and with a sheepish smile, let her in. She thought it was cute and started laughing.

He put on some music as they sat down for dinner.

Mark had some pretty good skills in the kitchen department as he had spent a number of years working in a variety of restaurants while he put himself through college.

Tonight’s menu included Caesar salad, pasta, and the smell of fresh baked sourdough bread wafted through the house.  She loved coming over to eat because she wasn’t that good of a cook and was always too busy to make a good effort at it.  He was a ski instructor at the local ski mountain, and she was a doctor in physical therapy. They talked and laughed about the day’s events.

It was not a big town and quite often, they had the same clients. She would hear all about how mean Instructor Mark made them crash. He was always yelling something about a pie wedge. What the heck did food have to do with skiing anyway? The big news that he could tell her over dinner was that he had been promoted to Director of Skiing that morning. He would now oversee all of the rentals, retail, and instruction. It was a big deal and a nice jump in pay to boot.  She was also excited for him and knew he was a perfect match for the job.

When dinner was over, Karen started cleaning up in the kitchen. Mark got some coffee started and went outside to get some more firewood. With the fire now lit and roaring in the fireplace, he brought over some coffee and Kahlua.  

Before they knew it, they had talked and laughed their way till midnight, and they were on their third coffee. As she looked outside, she had noticed that there was a full moon and the snow had stopped falling.

Mark stood up and told her to get her coat, as there was something she needed to see. They bundled up and headed out the back-door right onto an old cross-country skiing trail that led into the forest. The moon was high in the sky and cast a heavenly glow over the trees. All was quiet except for the snow crunching under their boots. He took her hand and led her down the trail. She asked where they were going, he said it was a surprise. Another surprise? What is this guy up to? Karen was quietly wondering. Now, she was a very curious lady and hated not knowing a secret.

 Mark just smiled at her and the twinkle in his eye told her that she would have to wait. They walked in silence for another few minutes and the surprise made Karen gasp and squeeze his hand.

What she saw was a very unusual tree standing in a clearing by itself. As the local legend went, there was a mysterious person every year that walked through the woods and would choose a solitary tree to decorate for Christmas. It was never the same one twice.

 The whole town thought it was the old man Henry Stevens. He was a town founder that never had a family to celebrate Christmas with. The current rumor was that it was his ghost that kept coming back year after year.  The mystery person usually picked a tree that seemed lonely, plain, and wanted to look as beautiful as the other trees in the forest. The brush was cleared from underneath and replaced with a tree skirt. It was black watch plaid and looked very vintage, like something a grandmother would have made. Ribbons and bows of all sizes and colors were tied to the branches. The decorative balls that hung from the branches were also special. Each one was made with either popcorn or birdseed so that the visiting deer, rabbits, and squirrels could also enjoy it as a snack. The final piece that tied it all together was the angel that had been fashioned out of branches found on the forest floor and secured with more of the colorful ribbons.

 As part of the scene, there happened to be a handmade bench nearby for visitors to sit on and admire the tree or just listen to the woods and what they had to say. It had been made by one of the local Boy Scouts.

They sat on the bench for a while in silence, hand in hand, just taking in the whole picture and enjoying the serenity of the moment.

Karen had never seen anything like this and turned around to give Mark a great hug. She whispered in his ear that this was one of the reasons why she fell in love with him and gave him a soft warm kiss. With that kiss, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a little blue box. “Karen, you know that I’m not good with this kind of stuff so just bear with me. I am sure you know that I have been in love with you since the first day I met you. I’m pretty sure you feel the same way.” He got down on one knee in the crunchy snow, opened the little box and said.” Will you marry me?” She fell to her knees as she hugged him and said,” Oh yes, a thousand times yes. I was wondering if you were ever going to pop the question. I have been waiting for this day too.”

Mark was tingling all over as they walked back to the cabin with their arms around each other. He couldn’t help but feel that Old Man Stevens was looking on from somewhere and smiling his approval.

April 15, 2020 07:31

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Sibusiswa Radebe
06:25 Nov 12, 2020

I really enjoyed the chemistry between the two. Though I am more curious as to who puts the decorations on the tree, overall really amazing story. It grabbed my attention till the end.


David Lastinger
00:14 Nov 13, 2020

Thanks so much and there in lies the mystery. LOL.


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Tim Law
10:54 Apr 23, 2020

David this is a truly beautiful tale... I wish this is how I had proposed to my girlfriend... These two are destined for a hundred years of happiness...


David Lastinger
00:14 Nov 13, 2020

Thanks for liking it, feel free to adapt it for your 1 or 5 or 10 year anniversary :)


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