They were her father’s woods by day, but at night, they were Laura’s woods.
In the darkness, she could just make out the smoky shapes which twisted in her vision’s corners. She called them shadow’s shadows, and they waved her onward down the path.
The every movement of her legs was deliberate, brought about by a fierce concentration in her mind. Her body had stopped being capable of quiet, instant response to unthought commands some time ago. She felt truly awake, truly alive—and so did the oaks.
By day she would sometimes look up from this very spot and see unearthly trees above her, floating in languid suspension across oceanic sky. By night, their scabby limbs writhed in activity, restless under the pagan stars.
And they spoke to her, in violin tones of suggestion. They didn’t speak outright, through the mouth, the way a human spoke. Instead, their music swelled up in her mind, inspiring distinct and separate thoughts which she identified as originating in the oaks.
The air at night just made sense. It discarded harshness and hung calmly in the air, a pond unrippled by the rocks of a waking humanity. Her toes rubbed themselves, the forest debris that had gathered between them squelching. She closed her eyes, sinking into that cool pond of air, letting it cover her up.
She sighed and stepped forward carefully, again and again, up until the moment the violin strings began to snap across her mind.
No good. No good. No good. Over and over, a hundred voices in her head. There was something else, something in her forest. Her secret shattered.
She caught sight of movement in the distance. Something was coming towards her. The trees seemed to bend away in a circle around it as it came down the path.
She turned around to run, to run away from whatever had come to get her. And though she didn’t want to, didn’t mean to, she ended up catching a glimpse of it out of the corner of her eye as it came around the bend, something barely visible the moment before her head turned away.
It was something human, only too skinny and too pale. Something that looked as if it were dragging itself towards her on stilt legs.
Laura ran away, she ran and she ran and she prayed to whatever God had created her forest, prayed for it to save her from the thing.
When the something grabbed her shoulder, Laura stopped, but did not turn around. She waited quietly, shaking, shrinking away when it placed another hand on her other shoulder.
“Laura, turn around.”
She didn’t want to.
“Goddammit, Laura. What the hell are you doing out here? Trying to give your mother and I a pair of heart attacks for our anniversary?”
“No. I’m sorry.”
“Laura, why are you out here? Turn around. Now!”
She didn’t want to, but she did, though she never looked him directly in the eyes. “Dad, I’m sorry. The trees, they told me to come.”
“Laura, we both know trees can’t talk.” His tone softened. “Honey, how many Ambien did you take tonight?”
“One. And then it didn’t work, so five more.”
“You can’t do this, Laura. You just can’t do this.”
“I’m sorry! The Adderall makes me stay up, and the Ambien is the only thing—”
“I know baby, but you can’t—”
“You cannot come out here anymore, Laura! You are not allowed, not if this is what’s going to happen.”
“From now on, you are going to stay inside the house.”
“You’re not my dad!”
“Not this again. Laura, I am your father.”
“You’re not my fucking father!”
“Okay, then what am I, Laura?” The thing with her father’s face canted its head, smiling. “If I’m not your father, then what am I?”
She didn’t want to say.
Been busy but I wanted to post something on the blog so I dug this up from a year or two back.
Honestly cannot wait for this semester to be over.