By Barry Yourgrau
A girl is crawling around down in the woods. She appears to be quite naked. I watch her for a while from the porch. Then I go into the kitchen and fill a pitcher with iced tea and rinse a glass and take these down to the woods, where I find a seat on some pine needles and continue my observations. The girls is below me, in a group of birches. She is young, in terrific shape, tanned all over, with a dark, short head of hair. She moves about agilely on all fours, jabbing and digging at the roots of the birches, staring intently. Suddenly she notices me. She springs to her feet and hides behind a tree. She peers around at me, giggling, discomforted. "Please don't look at me," she says, in a funny, fluttering voice. "It will make me very upset," she adds. The simplicity and earnestness of her declaration shame and touch me. I pick up the glass and the pitcher and get to my feet. "You know these are my woods," I tell her. "And it's not everyday I get to see a pretty girl sporting around in the altogether; but I don't mean to distress you. And I respect your modesty, so I shall leave."
Feeling somewhat dazed by my own gallantry, I come back up to the house. I find the binoculars, and blowing off the dust, I take up my position again on the porch, in discreet shadow. She is back at it among the birches. I watch, shaking my head in amused bewilderment as she gorges furiously near the foot of a trunk. Suddenly a rabbit pops out. She pounces on it. I drop the binoculars. I pick them up; with shaking hands I watch her flush two more rabbits and dispatch them in the same fashion-lifting them struggling to her mouth and biting them clean through the neck.
An hour later she comes trotting up my front path. She has on shorts and sandals now, a buff-colored shirt and knapsack of what was originally the same color. She looks like a big schoolgirl on a hike. She knocks on my door. After a long pause, with a pounding heart I open the door a crack and peer around it at her over the chain. "Yes?" I ask in a feeble voice, my eyes fixed on what I can see of the dark, wet bulges of her knapsack. "I just wanted to say thank you, for letting me use your woods," she says. "And for leaving when you did!" She gives a girlish, reddish laugh that makes me turn pale. "I would probably have done something mean if you didn't," she explains. "I mean, that's what I usually do..." Her voice trails off into an awkward silence. Her eyelids flutter abashedly. Then all at once, they stop fluttering. The eyes that fasten on me are stark, feral.
At this point the call of a horn drifts mournful and agitated from somewhere deep in the woods. The girl turns instantly towards it. I get a full-face closeup of the blotched, heavily slung knapsack. "They're calling for me," she says, twitching. "Well-bye!" She tosses me a hurried wave and hefts her burden, and jumps off the steps, and leaps across the lawn, and disappears at full flight into the trees.