Though my skin was bark, I still had a beating heart. I still had my blue eyes, to gaze upon
my half-brothers, surrounding the grove I stood in. I was rooted in the earth and my memories
were disappearing, like clouds being blown away by the wind.
I heard twigs snap and dried leaves crackle in the woods. Was it finally time for my torment
to end? Had I ceased entertaining the demon of the the forest? Instead a boy emerged from the
woods. His skin was glossy with sweat. There was a scrape along his forehead and bruises on
his legs. He panted as he explored the grove.
“What brings you here?” I asked.
“Leave me alone! I just wanna go home!” The boy cried.
“I am not the one chasing you*change,” I said and the boy frantically searched for the origin
of my voice.
“Standing in-front of you boy,” The boy looked upon me with fear greater than mine*change,
“Fear not my broken face. I cannot harm you.”
The boys legs shook and his shoulders shivered, as he whimpered, “I wanna go home.”
“As do I. Yet this dark forest does not allow such a feat.”
“What are you?”
“Hard to say. Perhaps more oak than man.” His fear turned to confusion and he approached me.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“And why, William, are you intruding in on my grove?”
“I don’t know. I’m lost. I just wanna get out of here!”
“Well, this dark forest is not particularly partial to humans.”
“Something was after me!” The boy said.
“What was after you?”
“I don’t know. It looked like a deer. But it had no antlers and it sounded evil!” William
explained. I knew what chased him. The mother of the forest. The evil of the forest.
“What would convince you to enter such a forsaken forest, William?”
“I ran away from home,” the boy turned his head away and said.
“You want to go home, yet you have run away. Interesting. So why then did you run away?”
“My mom and dad. They are getting a divorce.” I could not comprehend the boy’s angst. He was
like a riddle that I once knew the answer too.
“Your situation could be much more dire, William. You could be like me, planted in this grove
until you die. Fortunately, you have two legs to scurry about with!”
The boy sat on a rock and brought his knees under his chin. He looked helpless. The sun moved
to the west, as I watched the boy’s tears glisten. A callous wind ruffled the leaves, a
warning that it was coming.
“Why are you crying?” I asked. William looked at me and sniffed.
“Because I wanna go home. And I’m cold.”
“Come sit next to me. I will shield you from the wind.” William leaned against me.
“You’re warm,” he said.
“I am?” I asked, because warmth was a trait I did not remember possessing.
“What happened to you?” William asked.
“I was a boy once. I was then a man. And then I discovered this forest.” I thought hard,
about my past, but all I could see was fog.
I realized there were no memories to share with William; they had all evaporated. Except one
did not fade. It was like a scar on the skin. Every detail I could relive, such as my bones
disintegrating, my skin flaking off as if being burned, and finally becoming paralysed.
the pain did not weigh as much as the fear. The creature that chased William put me in the
I could not confess to William that I knew what was hunting him. I did not want to instill
fear in him. Like the fear I felt. The fear of not dieing; of being condemned in this rigid
body for eternity.
The sky turned dark. A doe emerged from the woods and came near with its eyes fixed on
William. The demon of the forest had finally come for William.
“It found me!” William shouted and stumbled backwards. A black mist enveloped the doe as
William hid behind me.
“Please do not take the boy!” I shouted and looked into the beast’s black eyes. Those
malicious eyes revived the choking fear I had felt when I was cursed.
“William. William please run,” I said, but William remained behind me.
“It is too dangerous to stand around. You must run for your life boy! Else you will suffer
the same fate as me! Please!” I felt the boy shiver and it was familiar.
The doe laughed like a child. The mist around the doe expanded.
“But what about you?” William cried.
“My life was forfeit long ago, even before I entered this forest. Perhaps I deserved this
curse. You, do not deserve a fate so twisted.” I felt him let go and as much as it pained me
to know I would be alone again, I felt relief in William’s safety.”
“Run William!” I shouted and then William ran into the dark forest. The doe walked up to me,
“Spare the boy. He is innocent, as you once were,” my voice trembled as the doe circled me.
The black mist caressed my bark. It was like rough cold fingers.
“Torment me for all eternity, just spare the boy,” I pleaded again, even though I wished not
to be wrapped in the doe’s embrace until the forest burns. The mist loosened and then finally
let go. The doe ran back into its forest, where it would watch me, and ever once and a while
come to play with me. Its games were sinister.