The Woodcutter- A Fairytale (Part One)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A dream becomes reality.

Submitted: December 11, 2011

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Submitted: December 11, 2011

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A foxes scream could easily be mistaken for a woman weeping. Her jaw protruded, teeth pulled back and gums foaming. The vixens nocturnal howl draws the motorcycle to a breaking halt in a narrow dodge that saves the creature from becoming dinner for the crows. Yet still she screams, her soft padded paws dug into the road. A pitiful man made manly of scarf, whiskers erupting from various hollows on his chin, violently bounces from the seat, scattering unidentifiable shapes wrapped in brown paper. The sidecar topples into a ditch. He throws curses and scowls bitterly upon the fox as he goes about collecting his stash, heaving the wheels from the ditch to the sound of the her territorial jeer. Wheezing, the man pulls up his trousers and shifts the glasses balanced upon his nose, “Scat, shoo! Or I will have you for breakfast.” Clapping his hands and clucking his tongue the old man dances around the fox sending spindly legs skidding back to the brush. Mounting the bike, a booted foot kicks the engine into life and soon asphalt lazily drags at the tires as sleep revolves between dream.

The forest beckons. Orchids of old hags wrapped in shawls. Leafy fronds hang from the branches of dead oaks like babies jackets. I feel the worms crawl beneath me and the spiders spin their webs.

 

The thick curtain of firs pulls back to cut an end to prairie skies and reveal the wild darkness beyond. As the motorbike is drawn into the depths the road crumbles into roots and pine cones. Eventually pulling to a stop, the stranger settles his bike under the stiff thorns of a woody shrub and scatters it with leaves. Parcels in one hand and shovel over his shoulder he deciphers a path to follow, blind to the fungi that grow and entwine in the footsteps he leaves behind him. “It’s a curse, a curse.” Licking his thumb he raises it to the wind and changes direction, so does the fungus. Face etched with weariness he trundles to the top of a hillock bristling with dry ferns. “Now here we are my old haunt.” Bending down on skinny knees the old man sifts a pile of dry earth through his fingers, bringing it to his nose he smells it and whistles between his teeth. A curious bird watches head cocked, hopping from toadstool to toadstool and then begins to talk.

Roll up my sleeves to reveal the scars of ages. Lift my cap to witness the fruits of our labour. Prick your finger on the blade of my axe and the wound won’t bleed, it will sprout with shoots.

Oily boots bungle over a baggy grey sweater as the man’s arms cartwheel in mute surprise. Specs askew on the ridge of his nose he crawls upon his knees towards the hollow log on which the talking bird is perched. Nose to beak they take each other in, a bird of tawny plumage, shifty wings and eyes berries of black dye, the man a woolly jumper with hardened skin. “You’re a pretty one, you” he giggles. Reaching out to snap his fingers around his spoil, the creature swiftly shirks the old mans grip, airily landing upon his head. Slapping his crown the bird slips his muddy grasp again, sweeping out of reach and settling upon a branch. Grunting, the fowl mouthed vagabond finds his feet and shakes the sapling, shedding dustings of young bark but the bird only flutters its wings and nestles further between the leaves. “Come down, come down my pretty polly.” A shower of sharp-edged rocks follow, still failing to dislodge the bird, however something does catch its eye, a half-forgotten heap of neatly packaged parcels. Landing carefully to avoid being booted by swinging feet, it frantically nips and pecks at the brown parcels, until the man is clutching at one end and the birds talons are dug into the other. In an instant the stiff sacks fracture scattering mottled pearls of bright alabaster across the forest floor. Eggs wrapped in fine rags.

I was once a young lad, the skip still in my step. Out I’d go a riding as the birds performed their ballet to the hymns of my father’s father and the lavender melted into mist.


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