Alex hiked deep into the woods looking for the perfect place to kill himself. He carried no food or water. He would be dead long before thirst or hunger became a problem. He had no suicide note and had posted no video with final words. Alex knew that there was no point. As far as the rest of the world was concerned he had died long ago.
At the busy mall where Alex worked he was completely invisible to everyone. He was the old guy behind the counter. He was of no more importance than the napkin dispenser or the soda machine. Alex was just an object. Alex could not remember the last time anyone had looked him in the eye as he handed them the food. People did not even bother to glance up from their iPhones.
It had not always been like this. In what now seemed like a different lifetime, Alex had been the gorgeous guy all the girls turned their heads to see. Two hundred sit-ups every morning had given him the washboard stomach he had shown off at the pool every summer. Now he was almost out of breath from his long hike, and the days past when he had a perfect body seemed like something out of a dream.
Alex looked up and in the distance saw the place where he was meant to die. It was a dead cedar tree, denuded of bark, with a soft carpet of leaves and dirt under it. Alex reached in his pocket to make sure his suicide device was still with him. He pulled out a clear plastic bag, and a long length of twine.
Alex had thought for a long time about exactly how to commit suicide. He had no way to get a gun, and knives seemed so painful. Then he came up with the idea that was so simple he was amazed he had not thought of it before. He would put the plastic bag over his head, and use the twine to make sure it was air-tight. Then he would lie down and let the peaceful sleep come to him. In just minutes it would be over.
The weather was cold and there was supposed to be a deep snowfall that night. Alex had chosen this day on purpose. He wanted the deep snow to cover his body. He was hoping he would never be discovered. Alex wondered about wolves, but then realized that no wolves had been in these woods for more than a century. Nothing left now but some deer and hundreds of chipmunks.
Alex reached the tree and lay down under it, exhausted by his hike. He lay flat on a pile of leaves and stared up at the cedar tree and the sky. Then he noticed something odd. There was something blue and shiny on the tree. Alex stood up and saw it was a Christmas ball.
Alex looked around to see who might have put the decoration there, but he was alone in the woods. It had taken Alex three hours of driving and two hours of hiking to reach this spot. Why was this decoration on this exact tree in this exact spot on the last day of his life?
He reached up and took the ball off the tree, and saw there was a tiny hand written note taped to the back. In beautiful cursive writing the note read;
“The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But you have miles to go before you sleep”
A shudder ran through Alex’s body. Who had written the note and why had the words of the Frost poem been changed? When Alex was a boy the old folks has told stories about witches in these woods. Had the stories been true all along?
Alex carefully replaced the Christmas ball on the tree. Then he searched through the woods until he found three lovely pine cones. He took the twine from his pocket, tied the pine cones together and hung them on the tree as another decoration. He steeped back and admired his work. The pine cones looked good next to the blue Christmas ball.
Alex was very tired and it took him almost three hours to hike back to his car. When he got back to the parking lot he took the plastic bag out of his pocket and threw it in a trash receptacle.
Alex got in his car and started him motor. He looked at his watch and realized he had just enough time to go home, take a shower and then get to his night shift at the mall.