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a forest, lost and found

Words by Jessica Oats

The forest has always been her safe place. Where trees have seen centuries and the dirt could write novels from all that have walked its path. She could get lost here, in the magic and wonder. Fireflies dazzle the air and flowers bloom in the most unusual places. 

Fairies have guided her every step. Woodland creatures have kept her warm. 

 

Yet, on occasion, when glimpses of light break through the canopy and echoes of sound creep in from the far beyond, she dreams of dancing in sunlight, of chasing music that whispers through the trees. She does not know where the tree line ends, if she can leave these well trodden paths behind. 

 

Surely beyond the forest is only danger. 

Wolves that chase and bite, snakes that slither and poison. 

Why else has she always remained?

 

For the forest has its darkness too. Growls emerge on moonless nights, branches cut like knives in traitorous hands, and she cannot trust where she places her own two feet. 

But then the sun will rise and the shadows dissolve into nothing. It is then that she finds meadows full of flowers, pink and purple and blue. It is then that birdsong fills the air.

And suddenly, how could she ever leave? The woods, after all, are all she’s ever known. 

Except the forest has known more than her. And it will know many after her. She could burrow her bare hands into the ground and still not know the roots’ depths. The trees would not care if she laid her bones in this place. She would simply become one of thousands, one of millions. Of leaves and critters and fallen rain that have merged their being with the forest floor. 

 

The forest may be her home, but some homes are meant to be left behind. 

Every day the echoes of music get louder and the treetops let through more light. It calls to her, the outside world, beckons for her to run, run, run, until the trees are far behind her and she is awash in sunshine. The twigs will fall from her hair and the dirt will be washed from her feet. 

 

She does not know what awaits her outside the forest. 

She does not know if she will be safe or hunted. 

She does not know life without the magic of the woods. 

But the songs and the sun are calling to her, their whispers turning to screams. She cannot hide behind tree trunks forever. The moon will rise, the shadows will come. 

The forest has always been her safe place, but with one final look at her home, she runs. 

 

Jessica Oats

The author Jessica Oats

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