A Beginning of an End

Once upon a time, in a land strewn with strife and fearsome monsters, there lived a mild creature.
            It was a small thing, so small that it lived in a low knothole of a gnarled tree—a tree of an age so great it could remember what the world was like before cruelty and terror ruled over the land.  Inside the knothole was a cozy home, complete with all things that bring comfort—books, good food, and a warming hearth fire—and protected by a thick door made of the bark of the gnarled old tree itself, so that the hole was hidden, and thus kept out the malicious foe.
            But where no enemy can wander in, nor can a friend.  And so the little creature was lonely.  A loneliness made all the worse by the quivers and shivers and shakes of constant dread that came from living with the knowledge that, outside its home, the world was filled with horrors.
            So powerful was the fear that resided in the little creature’s heart that even in its lovely home, it could not even imagine a different world.
The creature’s fears were made all the worse for, from time to time, it needed to venture forth to forge.  To do so was to risk being ripped limb from limb by prowling beasts.  Each day terror grew, as the creature watched the contents of its pantry diminish, until all that was left was the smallest piece of shriveled apple.  The time had come for the creature to leave its home in stealth and steal about the land, searching for food. 
            It happened that while the creature darted here and there, picking up seeds and bits of fruit, that it saw on the ground a gloriously large nut, beaming shiny in the sunlight of an open bit of land between the trees. 
The creature looked one way, then another, and, seeing no one, darted forward. 
It placed a hand upon the nut and was about to whisk it away when it noticed that it was not the only hand that sought the food.
Terror rose from the creature’s very core, and shaking as it had never done before, the creature lifted its head.
There before it stood another similar being; a gatherer like itself.  And it was shaking and trembling, too. 
            Thus, did the creature’s fear begin to subside.  And then, in a feat of striking bravery, it invited the gatherer to tea in the knothole.  And there they feasted and told stories of great imaginings, where the world was different, full of friends and travels and wondrous things.
            Which was, for the fearsome beasts of course, the beginning of the end.

Low, When the Stars Call...

I heard the stars calling me one night.But I could not listen. The world had taken me by storm, and there was too much to do to entertain it. It was not that I was unaware of the honor bestowed on me—for that the heavens would cry me forth was not something to be taken lightly.But eyes of a lesser plane watched me, and I delighted in easy fulfillment.Though I could feel them borrow into my skin and take ownership of my very being, it gave me no pause, for who so entranced could break free? There would be other times, I thought.Perhaps a host of them.I was young—I had energy to burn.There was no need, yet, to break with my audience. Time passed, as is its wont: slowly and all at once. I began to feel the gazes set upon my flesh, no longer gentle caresses, but piercing, sharp stabs of agony.I felt a haunting need, so foreign I could not say from which it came, to feed others’ visions, to let them have the whole of me.I scratched and scraped to meet expectation, dulling every thinking part so…

As the Leaf Fell

Once upon a time there stood a tree.
Where it stood is much in question.But that it stood is not in question at all.For it was from this tree that the first leaf fell. It fell in bitter mourning, ripped from its mother branch.Its body had changed, no longer yellow-green and fertile, with a crispness to its bearing.And so it was that with the first breath of the wind, it was plucked with ease—for it had already begun to die. With grave sorrow the leaf turned to the ground. But the wind sighed unexpectedly. Up and about it twirled, higher and higher, and it could see the sun before it rose and the stars in all their massed splendor. Higher still it flew until green lands faded into blue sea and all the world looked round. The leaf did not notice that its color had changed from green to orange to red and was now brown.Nor that its edges were brittle.For its life’s end had come about in wonder.And when the wind ceased its long exhale, and the leaf came at last to the ground, it met the dirt with…

A Riddle

The mist flooded the wood purposefully.It was time to offer the forest a gift: to feed—to soak through the rot and decay that lay on the forest floor.
The forest would thank the mist in time. But the floor gave way.Down the mist spiraled in mad descent until it found itself before a swirl of stone. A labyrinth. ‘Come find the words of patterned three,’ came a voice, as if it floated fast upon the wind, whispering in the ear of the mist in taunting tones. In desperate fear, the mist sought something warm, a bit of heat upon which it might rise.But none could be found. ‘Come find the words of patterned three,’ came the voice again upon the wind. The mist turned round and round, seeking a means of escape.But all it found was stone. ‘Come find the words of patterned three,’ the voice said a third time. And so the mist entered the maze of stone. The labyrinth went deep. Time stilled among the twists and turns.Until the mist reached the maze’s centre. There stood a table and atop it a ship, a shoe, an…

An Escape to Stillness

A shower of dust fell atop Leah’s head as she pulled down the old album, half hidden away on the top shelf of the attic bookcase.
What made her reach for it, she didn’t know—it was as if something feral had possessed her.Something that had nothing to do with the darkness that had come to settle about her and turn her world grey. Not waiting for a moment, even to sit in the old wooden rocker behind her, she opened the book.The painting that greeted her sung into the very essence of her being.It was a wild garden, riotous with colors.In it sat a small stone bench, and among the boughs of a full-leafed willow tree, a creek with white peaks seemed to dance along. How wonderful it would be, she thought, to be within a painting, this painting; no longer to suffer from the grip of the dreary, musty, old world. And that was when Leah fell, fast and deep, between the covers of the album. The light struck her first.It was much brighter, more golden, its hues more distinguishable than the world’s lig…