Guardian of the Woods

You are walking down a path, heavily shaded from the midday Sun by towering trees of oak and birch that have been left to thrive, uninterrupted by mankind for many years. Through the dense tangle of branches and greenery, you occasionally catch a glimpse of the sky, the purest of blues, as if looking into the most brilliant of lapis gemstones.

Nobody else has been to this place in some time. The once well-worn footpath has been reclaimed by mother nature. The rains and the shedding of leaves have taken their toll on the old brick and stone work, leaving only dust and mud. Despite the grandeur of the surrounding trees, plant life has survived, nestled between the bases and roots of their stoic guardians. Making the best of whatever sunlight ebbs through the living ceiling above, bluebells have settled new homes within great fields of windswept grass; bringing swatches of blue to an otherwise timid landscape of greens and browns.

It has rained recently, not that the now cloudless sky would betray the fact. The gently sodden ground sinks slightly with each passing footstep. The leaves on the trees have only just began to unfurl from collecting the much needed water. You can smell the rainfall seeping into the soil as the ground around you gives off a strong earthy aroma. The odd water droplet splashes onto your hair, which only becomes more slick as you progress through the woods.

The path twists and turns vividly, as if to avoid disturbing the flora. You proceed past several forks on the way, stopping only briefly before each to consider the way. It has been a great deal of time since you last visited this place. You was barely tall enough to comfortably hold your fathers hand as he walked you around the convoluted knots of walkways the last time.

The trees seem to be more huddled together in this part of the woods. As you carry on walking, the path slowly dims. Dusk is not due for several hours, the dense plant-life is simply becoming more possessive of the Sun’s rays; so much so that there is hardly any grass or wildflowers to be seen here. Your pace quickens slightly, in part due to the eeriness of the space around you, but also with the excitement of knowing what is to come.

You spot the first sign that your pilgrimage is coming to a close: a bright shaft of light that now seems almost alien in contrast to the gloom of the woodland. There is a small break in the tree line at which the path concludes. As you draw closer, the small opening becomes a wide vista of glistening grass and scattered wildflowers, basking in the slowly sinking sunlight.

You pause at the threshold to the meadow to take in the surroundings. Breathing in deeply, you take your first strides into the almost knee-high grass. The warm caress of the Sun graces your skin once again. Leaving a narrow path of your own in the now-trampled grass, you make your way slowly to the center of the field; your eyes straining to adjust in the radiant light.

The meadow slowly inclines towards the center, and you can feel the added strain in your legs as begin to climb, but this is soon forgotten as you spot the small rock structure up-ahead. You feared somebody might have happened upon this place and tampered with the shrine but are overjoyed to see it largely untouched. Now excited, you are almost jogging up the gentle hill.

When you get to the shrine, you see that it is exactly as you remembered it, barring a few places where the rain has eroded the rock slightly, and the Sun’s heat has peeled some paintwork. The shrine is a small model of your old family home, back when you used to keep and train horses; a spacious stone cottage with a log burning oven. The chimney had collapsed slightly on the eastern face, but you rush to gently rearrange the stones to as they were.

After closely inspecting the rest of the well-crafted model, you slowly sink to your knees in-front of the faded brass plaque that has been affixed to the base of the shrine. Shrugging off the backpack you had brought, you pull out a worn piece of cloth that looks as if it used to belong to an old, thick cotton jacket. You run the scrap of material over the grass around you to soak up some of the slowly evaporating rain water, and then begin to buff and polish the plaque.

After some time, the inscribed words once again become visible. You fall back from your knees to sit cross-legged, wincing slightly at the awkward movement. You stifle a small cough as you try to clear your throat, as if not to disturb the woodland itself.

“In loving memory of Dominic Robinson. A caring husband and father. He cared for these woods just as he did his daughters: with all his love and compassion, until the very end.”

You whisper the memorial to yourself, your voice catching towards the end of the recital, Instinctively, your hand finds an old scar covering the majority of your right leg from the knee down. Now well healed, the markings look as if to be from a severe burn wound, probably from a young age.

“I never did get a chance to thank you for what you did for me…”

Your voice now shakier than before. You slump back into the grass and unfold your legs. Looking up at the setting sky, you can see dark clouds rolling over tops of the trees. You lay there, lost in your own thoughts and silent prayers until the first drops of rain begin to fall once again.

============================================================================

I have been saying I wanted to write something fictional for a while but never actually spent the time on it. This morning when meditating, I had the meadow I described in this story stuck in my mind and thought it might have been a nice time to try and write something using it.

I am very new to story telling. I did want to give the character in the story some more description or back-story, but settled on leaving those details to the imagination. I quiet enjoyed trying to tell her story through minor details occasionally, rather than in one chunk.

Now that I am finished with university, I am tempted to use this blog now from more creative writing, as I promised many moons ago. I will still talk about life from time to time, but you know what I am like now for sticking to my word in regards to this site.

Sorry the story is a little sad, but I hope you enjoy reading it, and please let me know what you think!

Much love,

Alex

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