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The Rain Song
For years, that tree had stood dormant on the top of the hill. Still, lifeless. Around its fallen neighbors, its intricate collection of intertwined branches cast a shadow, an eerie pallor of moonlight, over the ground.
Nightlife crawled over the floor of the dead forest while rain fell down in a torrent of warm drops and gentle whispers, trying to thaw the forever frozen ground.
Once, there had been a red rose placed at foot of the tree, but had long since been carried away by scurrying feet and curious mouths. Once, there had been a girl who loved to sit at the base of the, then alive, tree, listening to the song of the rain and feeling the light of the moon soak into her skin. But, by now, she was probably dead too.
This forest was nothing more than a collection of dead leaves and hollow trunks, once jubilant animals and peculiar sounds. It’s closely woven branches overhead created a sky of shadows, no glimpses of the sun, save the wintertime, which brought bitter temperatures and suffocating colds.
It was a permanent eclipse and the plants living underneath these dry and dead leaves missed out on the breezy summer days and the sunsets where pink stretched across the sky. If they weren’t dead, they were quiescent, except for that tree. The tree that years ago was the only living, flourishing plant in the whole wood, thriving on the late night meetings and special feelings.
No one talked about the forest; in fact, they avoided it and pushed it to the very back of their minds. The older residents of the town adapted a grim look, turned away and shook their heads, remembering what memory they refused to pass on. The younger generations did their best to hide the curiosity and held the wandering youth at bay, answering their questions with half lies, because they didn’t even know half of the truth.
A new resident to the town would half expect to see red eyes glowing out from beyond the tightly woven leaves, as their teenage neighbors would pass on horror stories of murders and death, and a blood-stained forest floor.
Underneath the largest tree that no longer grew was a box, buried only a few inches underneath the topsoil. The box contained nothing sinister, no dead bodies, no murder weapons, but a simple collection of notes, tied together with an elegant bow, withering away.
Before the leaves on the trees died and blew away, perhaps it meant something. Maybe within the creases and folds of that bow hid a deeper meaning, a metaphor of undying devotion. Maybe inside the box was a tragic story of love and loss and maybe it was a prophet of change and what unites us all.
At some point in the past, maybe a beautiful young girl had loved a dashing young man and maybe, just maybe, their love had fizzled out, leaving nothing but some tattered love letters to remember the flame. Or maybe some young boys wanted to leave a treasure for the creatures of the forest. Maybe it meant nothing.
But then why did the forest seem to have a strangling hold on the town, keeping its residents tight-lipped and protective of its secrets? Why did the woods radiate a feeling of loss and grievance that the town seemed to reciprocate? Why, when the shadow of the trees beckoned you in and when the branches swayed in a come-hither motion towards you, just pleading, begging for you to uncover its secrets, why could you not help but say yes? Why did the town live for the forest, when no one ever stepped foot inside of it?
Maybe it was because when the water stopped pouring down from the sky and the rain song ceased to make its music, the whispers and stories of the forbidden forest would be the only thing they would have to listen to.