She looked up and saw the fleshy leaves of the oak tree above her. The light breeze wafting over them lightly and filling the air around her with the scent of nature and the sound of rustling leaves. The green of the leaves so brilliant and full of life, as if they were celebrating their own creation, each vein and ridge pronounced. Her eyes following every curve and nuance of the tree in front of her. Feeling and sensing the tree with a feeling not unlike that of the blood rushing through her veins, like she was part of it. Her eyes scanned the bark, knowing its roughness without touch. The brown of the bark indented here and there with the pattern of its life. A carpet of cool green moss clinging to it with a life separate yet one with the tree, one feeding from the other, in an orgy of life.
She smiles lightly, breathing in the essence of its life with a deep breath, experiencing the tree as few can, looking at it, not as an object, but as a life form, not like her own, but pure and unravaged by society. An animate object, so beautiful in such a simple form, remembering with her mind's eyes everything about it, its look, feel, smell. Her love of nature flowing through her and back into the earth she is bound to. Under her feet she can feel the heartbeat of the earth, power flowing into her as she draws lightly from its essence, its life, and in return letting her soul flow through it, traveling under it, smelling the earth, it coolness surrounding her. Returning to the womb, her very life's blood pounding with the intensity. She leaves a trace of herself, always returning something of herself for that which she takes. It is her way, her own unspoken law.
She opens her eyes slowly, her body shivering with excitement, her eyes alight with her soul fire. She smiles again slowly at the tree and reaches out to run her hand lightly over its rough bark. Her fingertips tingling with the feel of life under them, her body reacting to the power contained within. Running her hand around she feels the smooth velvet of the moss, pressing lightly, its coolness spreading through her like ocean waves. Smelling and sensing it, almost childlike in its form. The moss feels to her like that of a young child, innocent, full of life, but needing the parent to exist and learn. She wraps her arms slowly around the tree, embracing its life, reveling in the feel of it against her skin, her arms outstretched around it, not able to enclose them around the wide trunk. She presses her cheek against the skin of the tree and smiles, tears flowing down her cheeks, a smile, bright as the summer sun, lighting her face.
She releases the tree from her embrace and looks again on its beauty. Whispering a silent prayer for it and herself, and thanking the powers that be that she is able to lay eyes on such simple beauty. She raises her fingers to her lips, and kisses them lightly, smelling the scent of the tree bark there, and blows the tree a silent kiss. She longs to grasp a leaf from its shady boughs but does not, for what right does she have to mar such a wonderful visage, none, she is the intruder here. She turns slowly and continues down the path, feeling the sounds and life around her within her soul.
The path winds through the forest, heading in random directions, but seemingly with some sense of order. Her feet pad lightly on the cool earth, the ground spongy with decayed leaves, and needles, moss patches scattered along it here and there. As she walks slowly down the path, her movement graceful, almost feline in nature, her eyes scan the forest. Light dimming as she travels deeper into the unknown.
She can hear her own breath in the stillness that surrounds her, normal sounds of nature gone silent from her passing. An occasionally bird can be heard, its song ranging from shrill to sweet. The warbled cries, the flapping wings, disturbing the limbs above her, she can hear them hop and fly around, not seeing them, but knowing their form with her minds eye. The small feathers, soft as down, bright or subdued in color, the delicate wings, fluttering with the need for flight. Their small beaks opening and closing with their song, too fast for the human eye, but her vision so clear and vivid, she can very well imagine them.
Caught up in her vision she barely hears the soft pad of approaching paws behind her. She stops and stands still, not knowing what is behind her, not moving, her breath shallow now, quiet. Her eyes open, but she does not turn her head, listening with a sense so attuned to the life around her. She hears the breath of the beast behind her, almost huffing, it smelling her scent, sniffing lightly, she can see the head, reared back, arching high to get a better scent of her. The tongue lathered with saliva flicking out and across its jaws, the smell of death and life there. This animal is intelligent, seeing if she is a threat, protecting its hunting grounds, or near by lair. A short snort, a huff and she hears the pad of its feet heading away from her and into the brush, she turns slowly, seeking out her observer, but too late, it is gone, like a dream, vanishing with the morning light.
A small sigh escapes her lips, and then she stops, realizing she could have very well been the prey in this scenario. Her heart beats faster, her adrenaline begins to flow through her, fear prevalent in her thoughts now, not the beauty around her, but the death that lurks in the shadows. She is the stranger here. She has left the safety of her home to explore the unknown, unheeding of the danger she may very well face. She turns, looking for her way back, knowing that to go back now, would mean possibly running across that which was behind her not long ago. What is she do to, go on and risk the unknown, or head back to face possible death. Her mind races with visions of what it may have been, a wolf, a large cat, something else. She closes her eyes and tries to calm herself, tears of fear and panic flowing from her eyes. She's lost, and doesn't know what to do. This world so beautiful a moment ago, now dark and clinging. Hanging on her like a cloak of death and despair.
Common sense tells her that she is letting fear control her, take her rational away and send her headlong into certain panic if she doesn't calm herself. She looks around, not unlike a scared rabbit, trying to hide from its hunter. She spots a large rock a bit ahead of her, green with age and fallen foliage from the tree above it. She turns and slowly walks towards it, willing her feet to be silent, slowing her breath. So silent she can here the beating of her heart, the blood flowing in her veins. Laying a hand on the rock, she leaps up lightly and sits on it, feeling the cool hardness beneath her bottom, something stable, hard. Marveling at how the mere presence of this inanimate object can fill her with a sense of safety.
Pulling her knees up to her chest, she rests her chin on her knees, watching, her long hair flowing over her arms, feeling the softness, the silk of it. She lets out a breath, that of relief, her sanity returning, the fear almost a shadow, a flicker of a moth near the flame of a candle. She can feel the strength of the stone beneath her, so old and weathered. What has it seen, felt, what other person or animal has rested on it. Can it feel, is it truly inanimate, dead, cold, void of life. She thinks not, for everything holds life of one form or another. She envisions the squirming microbes within it. Bacteria and fungi permeating its very core. Life, not as we think of it, or see it, but life none the less. This old soul of a rock, passed by for eons, not looked upon, taken for granted that it is only a rock, nothing more.
She grumbles, feeling the futility of the situation, the need to explain her views, knowing that they would fall on deaf ears. The laughs and snickers behind her back as she explains the feel of the stone beneath her, the life within it. Then she smiles, not caring, because who are they to judge her. She is whom she is and always will be. This rock, supporting her, accepting, unyielding, she almost feeds from it solidity, its strength.
The fear of the unknown past now, a peace encases her, enfolds her with its calmness. She stands and looks around, and stops, a trickle, a soft gurgling of noise, like that of a fountain. She realizes her thirst and hops off the stone, gently she turns and bows to it, thanking it with silent speech, for lending her the strength. Giggling lightly, knowing she would look quite the fool if someone were to pass.
Following the sound of the trickling water she leaves the path, heading into the deep forest, the shade causing goose bumps on her skin, shivering lightly. Not using any sense but sight now, she rushes towards her goal, watching her step lest she get caught in the tangled underbrush. Roots of trees popping up here and there, almost grasping at her feet as she passes. Shadows prevalent, masking reality with fantasy. The gnarled old roots, tangled and mangled amongst the bushes and the limbs, dead leaves, rotting vegetation, all emitting the scent of nature, cloying to her, mingling with her own scent, almost a heady fragrance.
Rounding an ancient tree, she sees the brook, the rushing water. Seeing the pebbles and rocks under the clear surface, smooth with the flowing of the water over them. The water sparkles, shines, in places like liquid silver. She marvels at it, knowing its flow mirrors that of life, always moving, forever changing course. Its purpose not know, only surviving in a place so chaotic. She wonders at its source, is it a mountain lake perhaps, clear and deep, teaming with life, the flash of a fish, scales reflecting in the light and water, casting a rainbow and myriad of colors around it, on it. The snow capped mountains, glistening, almost blinding in its pure whiteness. The sun, its eternal heat, melting the snow, sending waves of water down the side of the mountain to feed the lake, the tributaries of it overflowing, not being contained within the banks that were set so long ago. It as well forever changing, never constant. Water flowing and falling, going over miles of land, scarring the earth. Feeding the life around it, animal, plant, sustaining them with its life.
Water, life, without it we would die. The earth so lush and green, would be brown and dead, dust blowing in ethereal winds, our blue planet, drying up, dying. Tears fill her eyes at the vision of it. Pain courses through her, to know that one day this vision may very well become a reality. Anger flaring, hating society, the greed and selfishness of what we call the superior race. Her nostrils flare with deep breaths, her chest rising and falling rapidly as she feels the pain of the earth below her feet. Awareness floods her, filling her with a plethora of emotions. Slowing her breathing she relaxes, her emotions so strong easily set on fire.
Looking to the brook once more she bends down slowly, squatting near the water's edge and slips her hand beneath its cool surface. Breaking the flow and watches how the water adapts to her touch, flowing around her hand, never stopping, always shifting its flow to obstructions in it. The chilliness of it rising from her hand to her arm, the feeling of raw life flowing around her. She lifts her hand out, cupping this precious liquid in her hand and puts her lips to her palm, tasting the sweetness held there. Sipping slowly she lets the clear liquid slide over her tongue and down her throat, quenching her thirst. She feels the life of it fill her, spreading through her like the intricate network of her own veins, energy surging, sustaining her, rejuvenating her. She dips her hand beneath the surface and watches the dappled light of the sun filter through the trees, playing tricks with the shimmering water on her hand. Marveling at the light and life around her hand, kindred to fairies dancing in a glen, it twists, flows, dances around her hand.
Standing she lets the liquid drip from her hand, watching with fascination as the drops meld with their source once more, the drops leaving rings were they fall upon the water, ripples gliding lightly over the surface to be lost in the surrounding current. Such a wonder to her water. How it can take on so many forms, from large bodies to the dew that covers the grass in the early morning. She sighs, knowing that even she has taken it for granted, not realizing till this moment how much her life depends upon it, she lets her tears fall into the brook, her water mingling with it, forever now a part of it. Feeling warmth spread through her, once again, giving back from what she has taken.
Glancing up she notices the orange and pink cast of the setting sun. Day leaving soon, night approaching to cover the land with his blanket of liquid ink. No longer fearing what is not known, she continues along the brook, following its churning course through the forest, winding about here and there, surging in places with small rapids, slipping over a ridge to form a small waterfall, and a clear pool beneath it. It bubbles here and there as trapped air from the fall pushes its way to the surface.
The chill of the approaching night covers her as she wraps her long black cloak tighter around her, feeling the silk of the cloth against her skin, contrasting with the wool that layers it without. She pulls up the hood, blocking the light from her face, masking it in a shadow, only a tendril of chestnut colored hair peaking out. Ahead she sees light, like the ending of the forest and the beginning of a plain of sorts. She brushes a frail limb from her path, bending it slightly, being careful not to snap it. She lifts her head and gasps in delight at the sight before her.
Standing at the top of a high bluff, she looks down into a beautiful valley, its floor carpeted with color. Wild flowers abound, but a this height all she can see of them is the vibrant and brilliant shades of blues, purples, reds, and yellows. The lushness of it all taking her breath away. The setting sun washing the valley with pale light, soft and supple. Her eyes are bombarded with all the colors of life that abounds here, the brook cascading over the bluff to fall to the valley floor, forming into a large crystal pool.
Bending her head back she sees the sky full of pinks and oranges, and a hint of deep purple cast among the feathery clouds. Desert colors, bright yet subtle, melting together to form a vision of the painted deserts. Her body tingles with the excitement of it all, being here alone, nothing to ruin the peace and beauty before her. She examines her area seeing that she is surrounded by the forest behind her and the valley before her. A good place to rest for the night she thinks, to wake to such a wonderful visage.
She slips the hood of her cloak down, the setting sun's light covering her face with its dying glow. Her hair turning copper colored in the light, her lips deep red and full. The look of joy upon her face. She slips a small bag out from under the cloak and sets it down lightly. Slowly she wanders across the bluff looking for deadfall to build a small fire, picking up pieces here and there she loses herself, euphoria spreading through her, letting her mind travel to where it will. Thoughts blazing through her head, her subconscious reminding her body how to perform the simple actions and of the necessity of the wood.
Coming back to her senses she sets the wood down and begins preparations for a small camp. Reaching into the bag she pulls forth a light bedroll, and a small package of food, dried berries and nuts, bread and a bit of cheese, a bottle of wine and a small silver goblet. Laying the bedroll out she wonders what the night will look like here, nothing but the light of the stars and the moon invading upon this bluff, the refection of them on the pool below her. She smiles imagining it, but knowing her mind's vision of it right now, can not possibly conceive of all the nuances of it.
She lowers herself to the bedroll, crossing her legs yoga style and leans in to construct a small fire pit. Whispering thanks and apologies as she pulls the grass from the ground, leaving bare cool earth there, she looks about and retrieves stones to make a circle. Being careful to place them close to each other to contain the wood that will be placed there later. Her hands lightly pat the earth, making sure that it is firm and stable. Reaching for the wood, she stacks it in the form of a teepee, setting kindling beneath it. She sits back and surveys her work, making sure it will not be a danger to her or anything about once she lays her head down to sleep.
Brushing her hands lightly she walks over to the brook and washes them gently within its current. Wiping them lightly on her cloak to dry them she saunters over to her small camp and opens the package of food and begins to nibble on the contents therein. Finishing her light meal she pulls a pack of matches from her bag and sets light to the kindling and watches the flame dance over it, spreading slowly over the wood, charring it black. Blowing on it lightly the small flame grows larger, licking at the larger logs above. Moving back from the fire, and watching to make sure it will stay lit she lays back looking up into the sky. Her cloak wrapped around her tight and her arms crossed behind her head, she quickly drifts into a light sleep.
She awoke to the sounds of the night, crickets, locusts, and the hoot of a distant owl. Slowly opening her eyes, she scans the sky above her and smiles. It is lit by thousands of tiny stars, like glitter against black velvet cloth. Life even there in the sky, moving, filling her with wonder and awe at how insignificant she really is. Sitting up she feels the cover of darkness enfold her, the soft glow of the fire casting the shadows about, pushing them back. Smiling she stands and walks to the edge of the bluff, looking down to see nothing but liquid night. Her eyes trying to pierce its veil. All she can hear is the brook splashing into the pool far below. The vision of the wild flowers gone, but still keen in her mind, she can smell them, the perfume laying on the air, wafting in the breeze to flood her senses with the sweet aroma of them all. She closes her eyes and listens and feels, her soul screaming to be part of the night, wanting to feel its chill flow through her, permeate her.
Taking a deep breath she scents the trees, the flowers, the water, even the chill of the night air. Raising her hand from her sides she brushes the cloak aside, a whisper of sound, velvet and satin brushing against her skin, The smoothness, softness of it making her skin tingle in delight. Smiling lightly she reaches up for the clasp of the cloak. The clasp a fine broach of Celtic knot work, entwined over and over again in intricate shapes, a steel grey stone encrusted in the middle. Unhooking the clasp the stone catches the moonlight, flashing brightly, like the stars in the sky, seemingly alive with a life encased in its hard shell. Gently she lets the cloak slip from her shoulders, falling lightly to the ground in a pile at her feet.
Lifting her head and arching her neck back she observes the Moon hanging in the sky, bright, like orb of marble in the night sky, darkness all around it, its light beating back the ebony cloak. The Moon's glow casting its light on her form, her white tunic dress, glowing with the brilliance of the Moon, her alabaster skin, smooth and unmarred in the light. Red lips, deep and full, curved in a slight smile as she gazes upon Luna. Her eyes, rivaling the sparkling stars with there own gleam, amber and clear, showing her joy of life and love of the night. This is her element, where she belongs, cloaked and wrapped within its deep folds, embracing her with its inky arms. It fills her with energy, love, passion, desire. She so longs to be one with it, entwined within it, her soul making love to the essence of it.
She moves lightly, her step graceful. Not a whisper of sound as she walks, her body akin to the night, she takes on a visage that matches it completely. Approaching the fire, its dying embers now casting a light glow, deep red, wisps of smoke can be seen floating into the air. Lowering herself to the ground she sits, and crosses her legs, meditating. Her hair shifting with the slight breeze that blows around her. Catching the moon's glow it looks like a curtain of silk, flowing and moving, graceful in its own right. A small sigh escapes her lips, and she opens herself to the night, letting it flow through her, around her,. She opens her eyes and prepares herself.
She stands slowly. Listening to the sounds of the night once more. She hears the chorus of sounds, feeling them in her soul, like so much a part of her. The music it makes permeating her, her body swaying lightly to the sounds. The music she hears only few know of, its raw, feral beat humming to her, it is the music of the night. Consuming her, her body loses control of itself and sways to the melody in her head. Arms outstretched over her head, she closes her eyes and allows the night to control her. Her lithe body, moving sensuously to the music, arms, long and slim, catching the light, move with a fluidness through the air, legs, long and slender, kicking out slowly, raising one high in a kick, level with her head, she arches her back and falls backwards, her arms catching her as she falls, back bent, her hair brushing the earth. She flips back up effortlessly, her body gyrating to the sound. She reaches up to her shoulders and pulls the light fabric from her arms and lets the dress flow to the ground, her body alight with passion and ecstasy. Flush, pink with an internal glow few have ever seen.
All that observes her is the night, for she is its lover, her body belonging to only it. An orgy, of love making, passion, desire, darkness, a sense of right, and wrong surrounding her. Her hands glide over her body, her breasts sensitive to her touch, her nipples erect and hard with passion. nails, gently scratching her smooth skin, leaving traces of pink at their crossing. Hands caressing and sliding up her neck and over her face, embracing herself within her arms, no, the night's arms. For her body does not belong to her, she belongs to it. She is Nite's Chylde, Eternal Daughter of the Night.
Fingertips send electric shocks of desire through her, washing over her like a wave of ecstasy, hands exploring, touching, caressing. She bows back once more,. lying on the ground, her legs bent under her at the knees, the soles of her feet pressed into her buttocks. Her head leaning back onto the ground, arms outstretched over her head. She looks as to be offering herself as a sacrifice to the darkness within her, wild abandon. Her body shudders with desire, her hands once more traveling along her body. Her fingertips twisting her nipples lightly, her hands cupping her breasts, nails digging into the soft flesh, pain and delight coursing through her. She runs her hand down her stomach, nails scratching lightly, the polish blood red during the day, now looking black as coal. Her face once a visage of love and beauty, not that of darkness and desire, beautiful in its own right. It is the part we all hold within us, but that which she embraces and only lets out when the need is strong. Long slim fingers glide over her stomach, feeling her belly button, circling it lightly, nails grazing the flesh. Moans, demanding and loud escaping from her lips, her body longs for release, demanding pleasure. Her voice once light and melodic now deep and whispery, whimpers and moans sounding out into the night to join the other sounds. She feels her thighs under her hands, smooth, strong, fingers exploring them slowly, feeling her excitement grow, the wetness between her legs growing, warm, hot, demanding attention.
A deep guttural moan fills the air, her hands now sliding along the inside over her thighs, she spreads her legs lightly. Letting the night in her, thrusting deep into her, filling her completely with blackness, desire. Her fingers gliding between her lips, lightly tickling her clit, crying out in pleasure and delight at the feel of it. Control, the night controls her, without a word, its essence demanding her to please it, show it how she needs it, can't live without it. Fingers lightly whipping herself into a fever of deep passion, her soul wrenching to be free and join her ebony lover. Like a sleek panther it mounts her, her fingers plunging deep into herself, screaming out her passion for its ears only.
The panther takes her, its claws digging into her, tearing her delicate flesh, blood dripping, flowing from the wounds. Thrusting into her deep, pain and delight washing over her. Her own fingers plunging deeper faster within her eager sex. Her body glistening with sweat and passion, legs splayed wide, nails clawing at her tender breasts, pinching and teasing the nipple hard. Moans urgent demanding, urging her lover to fill her with its seed, wanting to give it the pleasure it gives her. Body feverish, covered with sweat, red, flush with desire, she feels the wave cresting within her, demanding to be let free, she screams out, her scream like that of a baying wolf, her heart and soul bursting with the feeling, the pounding surf within her consuming her. Her body arching high into the air, her fingertips pushing herself into oblivion, demanding more. Screaming out one final time her body shudders and collapses to the ground, spent, exhaustion overwhelming her.
Opening her eyes she observes the stars above her once more. The chill of the night sending light shivers through her body. The breeze bringing goose bumps to the surface of her skin. She sits up slowly, her muscles straining at the unusual position, Screaming with the effort of it. She winces and stands her naked form outlined in the moonlight with its own glow. Smiling wickedly she looks for her dress and cloak, and stops. Words flying through her head, shame, guilt. What has she done, a blush brightening her cheeks with its deep glow. Shame at her nakedness, shame at the thought of what she has just down. To allow herself to be lost in the revelry of the night. Her mind giving up control of herself, letting subconscious rule her.
Shuddering she runs for her dress and quickly slips it on, scrambling for her cloak, wrapping it around her, covering herself. She returns to the fire, stoking it up high, beating back the night around her, fending off its evil presence. Sitting close to the fire, her heart racing, tears of shame running down her face, she whispers to herself, 'Why, what has happened to me, one so filled with light and love not 6 hours ago, now filled with darkness and unabandoned want and lust. Am I losing myself to my own demons?' She remembers the beast in the woods, feeling no better than it now. Human's are the intelligent race, we can control our passions and desires, but yet, why does she feel so much like that beast, and what was that beast. Was it the panther she envisioned raping her not to long ago, or perhaps the wolf, that she now knows lives within her. She sighs, calming herself. She has done nothing to be ashamed of, she has let that side come forth that few dare to and reveled in it for a brief time. Oh, she well knows that she could lose herself to it, wanting to be dark, raped and consumed by the night and what it represents.
A whisper of padded feet, she turns quickly. expecting someone she knows to be there, watching her, to chastise her on what she has just done. Her eyes widen as she looks into the trees and beholds a floating white form, a blob of form, her eyes unable to focus on it. Moving closer towards her she sees the shape of a huge four legged creature, the white form something within its jaws. Backing up closer to the fire she grabs a branch and pulls it closer to her, the only weapon she has. her body trembling with fear the beast approaches her slowly, reaching the edge of the firelight she can see it clearly now. A wolf, huge, power contained within that body. Muscles toned and hard from life in the wilderness. Its coat, as sleek and black as the night, eyes intense, deep, amber in color, but so light as to be yellow. In its jaws it holds a dead rabbit, traces of dirt here and there marring the white fur, patches of blood, now brown and dried flecked along its frail body.
She looks into the wolf eyes, what does this beast want, why has it come
here. it is not threatening her, did not attack, just sauntered over with a
purpose not unlike a human. Staring at the wolf she hears a sound in the
brush, her eyes leaving the wolf she sees another black form, slim and
powerful, it pads, towards the wolf. Eyes wide she looks upon a panther,
darker than the wolf, so black all that can be seen is its piercing grey
blue eyes. Staring at her, summing her up. The power beneath that flesh
hidden, but so well known, it could take her and snap her neck in a flash.
Death quick, but she almost laughs to herself, at least a noble death, by a
noble beast. The panther nudges the wolf with its muzzle. As if
communicating with it. How can this be, a wolf and a panther, together,
here, HOW? The wolf lowers its head and drops the rabbit at her feet, its
teeth flashing in the light, eyes level with her own now, and she shudders.
This wolf shares her soul, it understands her needs and loves. No more
shame, understanding, simple understanding. Kindred soul contained within
an animal. She smiles and bows her head to so noble a creature, the wolf
presses its cool nose to her forehead and runs its hot tongue over her
brow. Smiling she runs her hand over the ruff of the wolfs neck and feels
her departing. yes, definitely a her, and the panther a male. She looks up
and sees the two walking into the woods together. Two creatures, so
different, but so alike, sharing the same soul, twins in heart and spirit,
but different of form. She smiles brightly and looks at the gift, thinking,
'I could have very well been that rabbit.'
back to the Short Story Page.The Path, 27 August 1996