The Forest

April 14, 2009
By Anonymous

Hand in hand, we walk down the gravel path, throwing dust and dirt to the blue skies above. The gravel crackles beneath my bare feet and I wince now and again. Some of the dust enters my mouth and makes it dry like cotton. He squeezes my hand tighter as we approach the opening to the forest, our footsteps become lighter. The outside of the forest is deceiving, with dead and toppled trees, little greenery, little life. We stop to gaze at the entrance, excitement growing.

And then we enter and I am filled with the smells of wet earth, perfumed flowers and sunshine. Stepping into the soft, cool mud feels nice on my stinging feet and after taking in that first moment, we wander. The weaving path we take follows the stream, which is deep and flowing fast. Everything is emerald and bronze and a golden light makes the earth and trees sparkle with an unearthly beauty. The air is filled with the sound of insects humming and birds singing their happy tunes. The creek laughs it’s tinkling, bubbly laugh and I close my eyes and laugh softly with it. So does he.

We come to our favorite tree, the tall oak in the very middle of all the magic, the one we carved our names in. I press my hands to the soft moss and trail my fingers down to the bark. The bronze bark is rough, just like his hands. We both close our eyes in the warmth of the moment, just feeling these swirling emotions. Nothing else but feelings.

This forest is so full of magic. Or is it simply us, imagining it is? I smile and decide it doesn’t matter. Here, we can still be carefree and innocent. In this forest, we can still think about all of those stories, all of those impossibilities and believe them to be possible. Lost in this forest, we find freedom from the world, from reality.

And then a cold breeze blows through, shattering the thought. It is soft and at the same time harsh, and the leaves crackle dryly. The spell is broken, autumn is approaching. It is the end to another season, another chapter in life. His hand slips slowly out of mine. I don’t want to let go but I know I have to. I don’t want to part from him, but it must be done. I will hold strong to one thought. We will meet again, I know it.

I’m walking down that hard gravel path once again, but this time only one pair of footsteps is heard. I am alone this time and have been alone for an eternity. As I walk, the gravel stabs into the bottom of my feet, hurting me but the clouding dust that enters my mouth chokes and silences me. My footsteps are heavy and as I draw nearer to the entrance, I realize it doesn’t feel the same without him. I stand just outside the forest. It’s still broken, dead, deceiving. Small trees are now growing out of the dead and there is a sense of new life. But I still feel empty.

A light summer breeze pushes against my back and I finally enter. The smell of mud hits me and there isn’t a trace of flowers in the air. The mud over powers it. My ears and heart are filled with the cries of the birds and insects, and this time the river cries and so do I. I follow the maze-like path, trying to find something. That spot where we would spend so much of our time. I fall a few times but no one catches me. The stream is dull and there is no light in my eyes to make the trees glitter. Another wind blows through and the trees bend under it, whispering angrily.

I finally make it to that one tree in the heart of the forest. I run my hand along it and it is soft for the moss has smothered it. I trace it down to a spot I recognize and sweep the moss away to reveal that our names are still there, carved in this old oak. That was such a happy time and now it’s gone. I smile to myself sadly as a lonely realization sets in. It’s just a forest. It’s never been anything magical, that was just us as children, pretending it was. It was him and I, believing that the world wasn’t so mean, that life wasn’t so hard. It was our last tie to childhood and my last to him.

I sigh, feeling empty once again and lean against that rough tree. I notice that my oak tree has changed. It’s gotten taller, older. It’s grown up, like me. I have changed, I wonder if he has too?

The author's comments:
I had to do this for a creative writing class! It revolved around setting! Thanks for reading!

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