The Forest: Chronicle of a Shadow behind the Mask

September 30, 2009
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As I sit here, etching my sorrows into the moss-covered skin of my only neighbors, the void in my bosom throbs and widens. If one were to gaze upon my pathetic being, I do not doubt he would deny my existence, as they all have before. My skin is frail, nearly transparent in the haunting moonlight that seeps through the shanty canopy above me. My eyes have dulled, now clouded with time. My once golden locks have become ashen, without life. My bones ache, and I have taken on a rather delicate form, as if I would break upon touch. My clothes are torn, dirty, and compliment my appearance with their antique features. I had often hoped death would swiftly come, yet I am still walking, still thinking: a mobile corpse awaiting an end, a beginning, or anything. In somber solitude, I am left to reflect upon my thoughts. I tremble still at the remembrance of who I was, who I could have been before my journey into the forest…

My permanent prison was once irresistible, even to me. Glowing, amber branches reflected upon crystal creeks; winds would whisper sweet nothings to the untamed foliage, and large, plump fruits of every color would sprout in all seasons. I could not accept the forbiddance of such a beautiful place in my youth. Such accusations were preposterous, and unpleasant. Warnings of infatuation, and ultimately consumption were tales of the crazed and simple-minded.

Years passed since my first sighting of the forest, but the thought of its beauty never left my mind. I excelled in my schoolwork and encountered many new faces, but no one could overtake the temptations of the forest. Oh, how I yearned for a bite of one luscious fruit, plump with crimson ooze, or a sip of shimmering water, or a joyful dance among the amber pillars. Upon such a thought, I left all I had come to know and returned to the edge of the fated forest.

And so I stood, hooded like a vandal, eyes locked on my destination. Surely all of its tales were juvenile, meant to scare children into remaining at home. Fiery spirits danced delightedly within my bosom to the beat of my fluttering heart. My thoughts ran wild, and I could no longer concentrate. I took a deep breath and glanced at the earthen floor beneath me. It’s covering of deceased leaves rustled and skidded into the forest, as if they were eagerly urging me forward.

Submissively, I entered the forest. I felt both undying excitement and a biting fear as I passed two symmetrical amber towers. It seemed eyes would sprout from their trunks and follow my footsteps with honest warnings. I was taken captive by the fountain of pure bliss that had been bestowed upon me. The forest was as beautiful as I could ever have imagined. I ran my fingers along amber columns, and refreshed my heated skin with the cool creek’s water. All of my previous joys were nothing in juxtaposition. I carefully climbed one of the many columns to retrieve a large fruit clothed in the color of night. My spine tingled at the thought of such ecstasy. I took a bite, consuming the greatest temptation of the forest. Its flesh was sweet. Thick juices of the darkest color dripped from my pink cheeks onto the lace of my peach dress. I recall my disappointment in its comparative lack of beauty.

When the chills of dusk slithered into my paradise, I was reminded to have taken my leave. I walked in the direction from which I believed I had come. Hours passed, and a sudden panic broke upon my brow. My chest rose and fell at an alarming rate. I quickened my step. I had to calm down. I repeatedly told myself that all was fine, but I was very unconvincing. The frantic beat of my heart pounded within my ears. Sweat began to trickle down my temple. I hurried my feet along. Walking. Trotting. Sprinting. My face drooped in terror as my sights never changed. Streams of salt ran across my cheeks. My legs grew weary and I fell to the ground, disrupting the peaceful slumber of the fallen leaves. Insects ravaged my body, previously hidden. I screamed, jumping into the air, and began smacking and swatting until I was free of the vermin. With every passing moment, the forest grew darker until I could no longer see.

Blind and panting, I ran my frantic hands upon the ground, scattering eight-legged bodies and limbless earthworms. I curled my legs into my chest and wept as I became subject to the sounds of the forest. All I could see were the ghoulish faces of the crazed who bid warning. I pushed my face deeper into the crevice between my knees. How could I have settled for such an iniquitous bargain? Why did I remove the forest from my mind as soon as I heard of its forbiddance? An image of the beautiful forest, now unmasked for its true horror, came to mind. I shook my head, yet I had no sight to counteract the image. I bit my lip as the salty river continued to flow. Only one thought resided in my mind, and now reaps for all eternity, ‘if only, if only, if only?’

Four years have passed since that fateful day. The forest has taken all of me, for I am nothing. My heart has been replaced by a greedy emptiness. I have grown weary, bitter, and hateful: a haunting shadow hidden by the deceitful mask of the seemingly beautiful forest; its truth only discovered past the point of no return. The forest filched my once vivacious soul, and I have surely paid the hefty price. The once mighty temptation is now my grave: a foolish price for a human life.

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Inkspired said...
Oct. 27, 2009 at 8:34 am
This is great! Very original, well written, and deep!
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