Bosque de Las Almas Did I Do That?


Ophelia had always enjoyed the woods, the calming noise of wind through branches, leaves crunching loudly beneath her feet, and the many sorts of plants and animals that could be found hidden away in the tallest of trees or the smallest of bush. These were some of the many reasons that she often found herself wandering through the woods near her home, making her own path away from the main trails, and just allowing herself to explore the deeper parts of the greenery.

Or, what was usually green. Winter certainly took its tolls on the forest, wiping away all the many shades of green and replacing it with browns and oranges. Still beautiful, but only for the moment for soon the towering branches would all be bare, and there would be nothing to look up at except splintering wood.

It was why she was so determined to enjoy it all now, pushing her way down the familiar path as she gathered any interesting items that she found. Most of these items were strange rocks, pretty leaves, or even a few bugs, but nothing compared to the last thing she gathered. Tucked away beneath a large root sat the body of a possum.

This was no ordinary possum though, it was a dead possum, and as Ophelia neared, she could tell that it was quite fresh. Dead enough to be board stiff, but fresh enough that she couldn't find any outward displays of decay. It was perfect, and with a giddy giggle she would make her way back towards the main trails, unfortunately, her gaze was so caught up in her found prize that she wasn't paying particular attention to where her feet were carrying her.

As she neared the path, a large rock would block her path, Ophelia stumbling forward in a jumble of movement as the possum went flying forward.


As it happened, there was another delicate soul on the hunt for things to collect. She had garnered some success in her online business of resin art, and therefore in more of a demand for things to include in her pieces. It brought her here, to gather debris from the forest that sang of autumn. She had a small satchel in which she stored separate bags for separate things, some of which were growing full by the time she was aware of another body moving through the trees.

Her eyes turned to the woodwork, searching for the source of the noises her sensitive ears picked up. By the time she had spotted the figure, there was a commotion, and then something was flinging toward her. Gasping sharply, Parker took an inhumanly swift step back, clutching the strap of he satchel tightly as the object flopped heavily at her feet. Brows knitted, Parker took in the sight of the carcass, identifying it as an opossum, that it was either dead or playing dead, and that it had come from absolutely nowhere.

But of course, it hadn't. Had it? She puzzled over the idea of it somehow falling from a tree before remembering the figure of the person she'd been sure she'd sensed. Taking a tentative step forward, she peered around the trees blocking her eye line, only to find an upturned girl on the floor. Inhaling once more in surprise, Parker approached with unsure feet, "Um, ar- are you okay?" She questioned in her small, unsteady voice.
Ophelia was quite worried, not for any harm done for herself, but for the possum corpse that she had sent flying into the air. What if that perfect little corpse had been damaged in some way? The price would most definitely drop down on it, but more than that, it would not turn out as perfect as she had imagined and this was such a very sad thing to imagine.

Blinking towards the approaching woman, Ophelia would rise back to her full height with a quick brush of her hands over the bottom half of her dress. "Oh yes, I am fine." She answered, a frown pulling down at her features. "But the possum, is it okay?" Already her legs were pulling her closer, eyes scouring the forest floor.
Glad to see the girl was able to get herself up no problem, Parker gave her her space. She spoke with an accent Parker couldn't place, and had a slightly airy sense about her that she wasn't sure what to make of. Either way, it seemed her concerns were only about the possum. Right. It clicked now. Sort of.

Parker inhaled softly, stepping back to turn and approach the possum softly, "Erm..." She said, glancing back to the woman. Had she been chasing it? Or... well, Parker glanced back to the marsupial, listening now for a light heartbeat. Finding none, she frowned lightly. She wasn't entirely aware of the situation. Had it been dead, or had it just died? It was difficult to tell.

"I... think it is dead." Parker decided, tone soft and apologetic. If there was grief to come, Parker was well equipped to handle it.
Ophelia's gaze would follow the woman as she walked, spotting the gray fur of the possum as she spoke up, her smile returning as she dance forward towards the creature. The apologetic tone ignored as Ophelia quickly bent and pulled the stiff body into her hands. "Of course it's dead." She giggled, gaze moving from the carcass back towards the woman's face.

"I found this gem hiding near one of the bushes back there." She would hold the body a little higher, eyes shining as she continued. "Isn't it beautiful!" And the body seemed just as intact as it had before the fall.
It was a display many people might have found unsettling. A young woman boldly moving to pick up the dead body of an animal in the forest. Parker, however, was someone that did that often. Instead, she was only surprised to witness someone else do it. Intrigue bloomed in her, and her gaze danced between the carcass and the woman. A small smile tugged at her lips, and she laughed softly, "It is..." She confirmed. And it was, truly. "It's... very fresh. You have good timing."
She hadn't honestly expected the confirmation on its beauty, and so a smile would pull wider upon her lips as she lowered the carcass closer to her chest. "Yes, it was a very unexpected find." Most of the creatures she found were much further down the road of decomposition, and those were just not fit for taking home. It would be a waste of supplies to try and preserve them after a certain point.

"The body is mostly intact which does make me wonder how they passed." A thoughtful purse of her lips as her gaze narrowed down on the creature.
She had only ever gotten so lucky with birds. It was such a bizarre thing, to be so casually talking about this with someone. It was not often Parker found anyone with her same interests, which were considerably macabre. The question was intriguing, and Parker nodded softly as she stepped a bit closer, "May I look?" She questioned. Her guesses were old age, or perhaps some kind of internal illness. She would need to better look at the thing to be able to tell.
She hadn't really expected the woman to show any interest in her corpse prize, but that didn't mean she was put off by it in the least. In fact, she was rather excited by the idea that someone was actually interested in this sort of thing as well.

"Of course!" She sang, offering the possum up. "Are you really familiar with this sort of thing?"
She took the creature delicately, first and foremost feeling for the temperature. Cold, though not entirely rigid. Hours old, maybe even less than that. As she cradled the thing like one might a baby, she glanced up at the girl, "Yes, I do taxidermy in my free time. Though not usually such large creatures." She expressed, feeling somehow less intimidated by speaking so many words into the air.

Comfortable, with this similarly strange girl. "I'm also a mortician." She added as she carefully pushed the lips of the possum up, revealing the teeth which were aged and yellow, the gums white as lilies. "Old age, I think." She decided as she lay the lips back down.
Wait? Was this for real?!

Ophelia was bubbling with energy on the inside, excitement quaking deep inside her soul, although her face would show nothing but a wide smile with equally wide eyes as her back straightened.

"I do taxidermy too." She gasped, "although I usually do larger creatures, like deer heads, bobcats and just your typical hunting trophies." Would she have preferred a bit more variety? Sure, but that's why she went out into the forests like this and gathered them for herself.

"I haven't ever worked with a human before though. I imagine it is quite different." She would have loved to try though, she'd definitely read on some strange body preservation techniques that they used back in the day.

Specifically, the embalming technique used on Rosalia Lombardo, although she didn't imagine many people requested things like that anymore... Or even if they were allowed.
It made sense, then, why she was out collecting the dead. Parker smiled softly, nodding to her explanation. She had considered moving on to larger things, but it was a bigger time and supplies commitment than she wanted to invest in. As for working with humans, Parker laughed, genuine. "Yes, very. Humans keep their bones." She joked, feeling unafraid to make light of something so morbid as she would have with someone she did not think was so like minded. "Mostly."
Ophelia's own laughter would follow after the woman's, her nose crinkling in mirth as her fingers brushed through the coarse fur of the deceased possum in her hands. "Of course." She nodded, "how long have you been working with people?"
She smiled, genuine, at the girl. Feeling warm, despite not even knowing her name. The question surprised her. It was a strange way to pose it, and might have sounded like an entirely different question altogether, were it not that she knew the context. "Five years, I think." She said. Professionally, at least. School did not count, she decided. "How long have you been doing this?" She questioned in return, gesturing to the opossum.
Wow it seemed that they were more alike than she had originally thought!

"Around the same professionally." Ophelia answered easily, "about tenish years if you include all of my amateur practices and apprenticeship." She hadn't really started doing it on her own until she'd moved to Colorado.
Very strange, to be looking almost into a mirror in terms of things less likely to be a mutual interest. Parker laughed softly, nodding. "Well, if we are counting those years..." She joked. She hadn't touched a corpse before medical school. Head shaking, she crinkled her nose, eyes closing. "That was a bad joke." She admitted, blinking her eyes back open.

"What's your name?" She questioned to soften the blow.
Ophelia would laugh right alongside the woman, head shaking for her follow-up remark.

"Oh no, I rather liked it." She corrected, "we work around the dead all the time, surely we can joke about them as well." Honestly, who was going to chide them? The ones who had already left this world? Surely not.

"I'm Ophelia, you are?'
Right. She had a darker sense of humor, and she knew many in her line of work did, but it wasn't often she felt comfortable enough around anyone to explore it. Parker didn't make jokes. And yet she made them here, with this girl, Ophelia. "Parker." She said with a small smile.
A lovely name for a very lovely girl, Ophelia was sure that she could see a friendship blossoming somewhere in here because how often was it that you ran into people with similar hobbies to yourself out here in the forest?

Not often at all, that was for sure.

"Well, it is very nice to meet you, Parker." She hummed happily, "I wonder, would you be interested in meeting up again sometime? Maybe when I don't have a dead possum in my arms?"
Oh! Parker was... not used to this kind of kindness. Certainly, pleasantries and friendliness were things she often received from people. That, or careful, uncomfortable navigation through a productive conversation. This extension of interest in spending more time than just this chance meeting in the woods together was unexpected. Unexpected, but not unwelcome. It reminded her of her meeting with Suri. How warmly and readily she had welcomed her in. It was a strange thing to find a kinship in a human these days.

Parker nodded nevertheless, flushing slightly, "I think that would be nice. We can... have coffee, or... something normal people do." She suggested with an unsure laugh.
It was nice to make new friends, nice to meet people that had a similar interest to herself, and half the reason that she wanted to get to know this woman better was because of the fact that she was different to other people. Who would want to spend time with normal people when there were such interesting people in the world?!

"Oh please," she huffed in good nature. "Normal is boring, I much prefer unique and interesting things." Now what they could do that could be a mixture of that, she wasn't quite sure.

"Surely there is something you specifically like to do?"
Right. Allegedly, she was interesting to this girl. It coiled anxiety in her gut, but she chose to push past it. Nodding, she inhaled some as she glanced around, "Hmm. Well, we could forage together? I do that with most of my free time." She suggested. It was what she was doing right now. "Or," She worried the backside of her lower lip for a moment. "I can take your number and text you when I come up with something else." She suggested.
There had never been a day in Ophelia's life where she hadn't been up for foraging, and so, of course, this idea sounded absolutely wonderful to her ears, Head bobbing in agreement, Ophelia would wait until Parker had retrieved her phone before rattling off her numbers to the quiet woman.

"I'm totally up for foraging, but if you think of something you'd rather do, I'd be more than happy to attend as well." Honestly, she was down for just about anything if it offered the potential for a new friendship with Parker.
"We'll make it happen, then." She assured, feeling bold in that moment. Brave, like the wildebeest in its herd. Strange, but she wasn't complaining.
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