The Forest

You feel safe as you traipse alone, drunkenly, from the road into the first fair branches of the forest. Only the moon, rapier silver, lights your way, as you wend through trees to that familiar clearing. At peace in this now-still scene of teenage fumblings, you sweep cigarette butts to the edge with your boots. You build a small fire, set it burning with your second-last match, and hunker down, pulling jacket and blanket round you into oblivion.

You sleep. Perhaps you dream. It’s all the same to the night. The forest inhales and exhales all around you. Inside your sleep, a sense of other sets part of your brain whirring.

“Wake up,” it growls, urgently. “We are not alone.”

You climb out of darkness to find it dawning. Smouldering embers and dewy moisture make life pregnant, all about.

You feel heavy pressure on your legs, dead leaves falling from your hair, as you look down the length of your prone body. Now you see it.

Unblinking, overpowering, in control.

It pins you, imperious, beneath its strength and its gaze. To look upon it with fear is certain death.

Your heart beats, beats again, as it strains sinews, consumes your scent.

It is satisfied.

It releases you, turns, melts into mist. Today is not your time. You must move on.

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