Everyone's Journey

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Waking up in wondrous and strangely familiar woods, the narrator tries to remember their past as waves of impressions draw them in...

My first Shortstory, heavily inspired by E. A. Poe.

Submitted: September 12, 2019

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Submitted: September 12, 2019

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A droplet, searching for a way down my nose – leaving just a faint trail on it and my cheek – wakes me up. Dazed I open my eyes, trying to orient and discombobulate myself. Above: A sea of green leaves, shining in lush tones and varying shapes, dance in the wind. Around: Powerful stems, opaque bushes, deep grass and, just a few paces behind me, a curious crow – its black feathery coat in stark contrast to the livelier surroundings. Shrewd eyes watch my every move, as I slowly but surely get up, mindful of my still weakened state.

 

Where am I? What happened?

 

As if joining the inquiry, I spot the crow's head tilting slightly to the side, while looking for clues around me. Rays of light, fighting through the crowd of leaves, indicate that it might be around noon - a sunny one at that – at times almost blindingly bright when gusts of wind pave a way. The tree under which I was laying, an old birch, worn and – I want to say – cold, stands out like a man-made tower in a vast tundra, though. On it, my (un)willing companion, cleaning its feathers with some water, which found its way into a little well carved into the bark.

 

I...I know this tree...

 

Images flash into my mind: A familiar face – no, a loved one, I know so well. Joining it, with strikingly similar eyes and nose, a second one, full of unbent youth. I see a town by the sea – waves rocking steadily against the quay – and another one cornered by towering mountains. And this tree... It flanks the connecting road which I've travelled countless times. The way from warmth to void – from love to longing – from empathy to apathy.

 

But where is this way? The road, I know like myself...

 

My thoughts – confusion at first and last – are interrupted by a heavy thud on my shoulder and, with it, again, droplets on my face. Having bathed enough, the crow seems to have found a new resting place, despite my jolt of surprise at its decision. Increasing my reaction, raspy yet not hostile croaks fill the, till now, quiet scenery, as it points its beak from me to two strange looking bushes – a few meters behind the old birch, because of that yet unnoticed – and then back to me. Still a little irritated by the disturbance I obey, moving past the tree and, while holding on to one of its branches - which feels a little damp - inspect the plants further. Small, multi pointed leaves, while obstructing the view on their branches, build two, dark green columns.

 

It's like an archway...

 

Curiosity fills my mind upon seeing this unfamiliar structure and, after making sure I'm feeling strong enough to walk, I move even closer. To my surprise, behind this archway – the word "gate" comes to mind – I find nothing I don't expect. Just more trees and bushes, some rocks in between. But, anew, their colours and all sounds – at least, after my companion stopped cawing – seem, or rather feel unnatural, almost magical. Figurately and literally outshining even the most remarkable memories I've collected enjoying nature in its quiet and pure beauty. Before long, I lose myself in the rich greens, the leaves' - whose veins seem to form little paths - soothing rustle filling the air, when the wind brushes gently against my skin.

 

Natures untouched beauty...

 

Trying to take in all this scenery, I spot something which fails to live up to its surroundings; sitting on one of its white branches, my black companion. The birch, despite seeming rejuvenated, still sends a little shiver down my spine having retained its cold and even gloomy presence. Though I'm unable to look away and, as if led by an invisible, cold yet caring hand, I move closer and closer, having almost forgotten all the beauty around me. Drawn to its aura, my vision blurs as I hear caws - seemingly frantic and, despite me realizing them growing louder and louder, appearing far away and damp as I drift deeper into black water.

 

Deep, black water...

 

I gasp for air and, despite the blackness around me, I'm rewarded. Still gazing into nothingness, I try to turn my head – hoping to catch a glimpse of my surroundings – but I find it restrained. Neither forcefully, nor by a rope or something alike, but... arms. Warm and comforting. So comforting that it takes me a while to realize, that to escape this void, I must open my, until now, closed eyes. When I do, two glowing orbs – like two moons, or rather stars - await me. Filled with compassion, kindness, love and...worry? As well as sorrow? Coming aware of her presence, I realize that it's not only her eyes, but whole countenance expressing, what I know so well myself. Yes, of course – I've never been able to sleep, knowing I had to leave the next morning. Leaving those behind you love – not knowing when you return – losing kindness, tenderness, warmth – like the warmth I feel in her embrace now. Oh, how I'd love to go ba–

 

Argh!!!

 

Without warning, I'm ripped – almost literally, as the crow finally stops pecking at my skull – out of my...vision? Dream? No, memory. Yes, the memory which haunted me almost every night, listening to the waves outside. As soothing and calming as they are, they couldn't negate this feeling of being away – away from them. Before these lingering thoughts can manifest themselves, I'm interrupted by my, sometimes irritating yet oddly charming, companion yet again, proving to be the latter while placing some berries it fetched next to me. Following them with my eyes, I suddenly grasp the familiar position I'm in: Laying next an old birch – traces of Night's dew on its bark – and around me, colours and shapes - magical in deepness and precision – and sounds, rivalling all I've ever heard. Almost, safe for her voice.

 

Oh, almost forgot: The berries...

 

Remembering the gift, I taste one without much hesitation. My eyes widen as the berry reaches its full flavour. Strong but not intrusive, so fresh and full, lingering until the last bite and long after. Being unable to restrain myself I eat them one by one - black eyes watching me, seemingly kind and cheered up by the appreciation I show for their owners' gift. Indulging in my meal, I let my view wander – I can't tell for how long – again overwhelmed by the untouched beauty around me, until I spot another manmade tower. Not the latter, but seemingly the former, a little cottage finds its way into my view. With a thatched roof, colourful, nautical framed windows and an inviting wooden door – ivy vines building roads in between – it merges with its surroundings into one beautiful work of synergic creation.

 

An artist's creation...

 

Whispering water joins the tender wind in nature's symphony, as I venture closer to the beckoning door; A little stream rippling alongside the house mirrors an actual mirror, sending rays of light my way. Captivated by the water's reflection, I hear and feel my feathery friend – as I regard it now – flying past me, heading for the very same door. Just as I fear it might ram into the wood, the crow lands gracefully on the door handle and looks back to me. Seemingly satisfied that I close the distance, its black beak starts knocking on the door.

 

One, two, three, four...

 

Directly following the last knock, it swings itself back into the air, while the door handle tilts down. Just a few steps between me and the house, in a fleeting moment of uncertainty I hesitate briefly, before my curiosity and a strange yet natural feeling of familiarity brings me even closer. The latter grows into a warming fire inside me the moment I see the person standing in the doorway.

 

It's a woman...

 

Enveloped in wrinkles of age, a soft and amiable smile, as well as knowing, slanted eyes, instil an aura of wisdom and respect, the latter despite of her relatively small statue. Moreover, I feel strangely welcome. A magical familiarity not based on blood or relation – though I can't help but feel maternally drawn to her – but on a feeling of, I'd go as far and say eternal secureness - a Guardian angel's vigilant watch.

 

I've never felt that closeness... No, wait I di–

 

A friendly caw rips me out of my contemplation and thought – how I discern in what way it's 'friendly', I cannot tell – and I see the crow on the woman's shoulder moving its beak in an almost human manner to beckon me closer. Together with the welcoming feeling the elderly woman seems to emit, I can't but follow. Moving towards them and the beautiful house, whispers – not from the stream, but human – steal their way into my ear. So faintly at first, I think them illusions, they grow stronger and louder with every step I take. Noticing that the woman has yet to speak, I try to discern the origin of the sounds. Firstly at a loss, the nearer I get to it, the clearer the whispers – now I hear them as distinct voices, some a powerful bass, some a tender soprano, and all in between – seem to surge out of the door. Though now distinguishable, I still can't make out a word they say.

 

Like an alien language...

 

Before long I stand right in front of the door. The elderly woman has already stepped aside, still smiling like mother finding her long lost child, gesturing for me to go inside. The voices now drown every other sound – the whistling leaves as much as the stream to the side – but not at all deafening. More like a gathering of old friends, sharing stories of the past, urging me to share mine.

 

My Story of her, and our child...

 

I take one long look back, seeing nature in all its serene beauty again, my gaze passing the old birch – although saying 'old' would be wrong, seeing she regained her smooth white bark while miraculously continuing to rejuvenate – the small stream nearby and ending at the entrance where which I now stand. At last my eyes rest – after saying a silent 'thank you' to my new host – on the crow's black ones. It tilts its head again to the side and back, as if to answer the former inquiry. Smiling at my guide, who showed me what I couldn't even dream about – feeling an inner peace I've never felt before – I continue through the doorway.

 

A sun filled hallway awaits...

 

I step inside and the voices, now all around me, seem to clear up as everything else abruptly starts to fade, like a beautiful canvas being covered in black paint, leaving only one familiar sight.The birch, broken and soaked, as if struck by lightning in a furious storm – Her upper half completely bend downwards in a spiked fracture – stands alone surrounded by this utter darkness, her white body a stark contrast, just a few paces away.

 

Around: A Void. Above: Nothingness.

 

I feel like I should be afraid at this sudden change, should be freighted at the total blackness around me, but I feel neither. What I feel instead is a sense of 'homecoming' from a long, long journey. A journey, fulfilling or not, concluded or not, and, as I realize now, a journey everyone must take. Now, that I realize it's not only the birch I see but also someone underneath. Now, that I realize the tongue the voices are speaking is one which I have come to know.

 

The language of the dead... 

 


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