THE SINGING FOREST

The trees looked so bare now. Every now and then a few  leaves rustled to the ground. They were shades of brown and yellow: ochre, chocolate, rum. As she walked deeper and deeper into the forest, she noticed that her feet compressed the leaves into dust and that little clouds of it flew aloft with every step. If she walked faster, it looked almost as though she were wading through smoke. Ah, she thought, I am the fire-walker, the death-lady. 

 

She walked for miles, and wondered to herself whether it was much further: all her bones hurt. The weak sun was going down, and there was no turning back. Suddenly in the distance she saw a glimmer, a glitter, and heard a rustle and a quiet ululation. Something was there. 

 

She broke into a run. Suddenly she could hardly believe her eyes, for there in front of her was a wall, and in the wall was a door. She knew without a doubt that this door was meant for her. She threw her weight against it and turned the handle, and tumbled into a different world. 

 

The leaves here were new, and were pushing their way towards the light even as she watched. Some were variegated, and all were soft and green. The flowers, all sorts, were yellow, and the birds were too, or they had yellow wings or beaks. The sun was so intense that she had to shade her eyes. And then the sounds! The forest gave forth this muffled roaring tone. It was  deep like an organ, and so sonorous that she could feel it reverberating in her sternum. In the foreground was the lighter sound of birdsong. 

 

This place was clearer than anything she had ever known. There was a precision to it, a sharpness of line. Nothing was blurred, nothing was random, nothing was empty. She could have turned back, but instead chose to linger until the door slammed shut behind her. She walked on, and realised that both the forest and the grass were singing. 

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© 2020 by Sue Harper

feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | supernatural | fantastic and paranoia | literary female gothic | gothic narrative | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest | portsmouth university | emeritus professor sue harper | feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | outstanding achievement award | british association of film, theatre and television | professor of film history at portsmouth university | film, media and creative arts | british academy and the arts and humanities research council | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest |