Second and last of my stories in this interruption from Blood and Lies and Sonata in Red. I hope you enjoy this brief romantic tragedy.
She looks mournfully across the still water as it shimmers in the moonlight. The hard stone feels nice against the bare skin of her legs where she is seated. The air is cool, but she is comfortable here, regardless. The night is bereft of the sounds of life, most conspicuously missing to her ear are people. The people were all asleep, and far from here. People never came here at night, not any more.
Resting here in the glade she is overcome with bittersweet nostalgia It used to be so lovely here she thinks to herself. People would come and bring her little gifts. They would sing her songs and always wear their most beautiful clothing. The memory of those days still brings a smile to her cherry lips. No flowers grow here any more and the trees are barren and dead. She misses the days when the earth was soft with vitality under her feet. When the moonlight was tranquil instead of haunting.
Gracefully on paths paved in moonbeams she steps through the air to rest on the slender branches that stroke the heavens. From the peak she can see miles in every direction, with only the gentle light from the stars and the moon, the world is as clear as day before her eyes.
At the centre of a long dead forest, her glade still catches the ancient magic that drips from the stars and pools at the mountain’s peak. One day the forest might be home to life once more, but that day is a distant dream. Until that day comes, she waits here for the signs of life to return.
Down in the city below a young man is woken from his sleep by the moonlight shining through his window. He looks out the window with confusion, the bright light so strangely beautiful he couldn’t remember ever seeing anything like it.
Climbing from his bed he crosses to his window, wiping the sleep from his eye with a barely suppressed yawn. The full moon hangs in the sky above the mountain that overlooks his home. So close to the outskirts of the city, the scars left by the fire are still clear even in night.
He opens his window to better see the world beyond. A bracing wind caresses him through his bedclothes, raising goose pimples and a pleasant shiver in its passing. He imagined the air before the fire. He has no memories to draw upon for an image of how the vibrant greens and the stunning wildlife enlivened the land, but somewhere deep inside his heart the he knows something is missing.
He tries to imagine what it had been like before the fire, the story his mother told him about a vain man who had spurned the love of a fairy and brought their vengeance upon the forest in his pride. He could never understand the story, for it said that the people and the fairies had been friends and neighbours before the fire. The people in their city of stone and the fairies in their moon-glades. He couldn’t fathom why the fairies would burn down their own home to spite the people over something so small. But understand it or not, the scars remained. Burned into the earth.
With stories of fairies dancing in his head, out in the night he spies a dainty figure moving beyond the cities edge. The minds of a dreamer can easily recognise magic where more wakeful people cannot. Barely free from the world of dreams and under the enchanting light of a full moon, he could no more have ignored the need to follow what he saw than he could return life to the fairy wood.
Far below her something moved in her forest, she sensed. A vibrant brilliance that reminded her of music and singing. Of baked treats and silk cloth. Her heart wept at the sensation long left behind, unable to contain itself at the beauty it felt.
Perched high up in the branches she imagines running down to find the beautiful sound. In her imagination the forest is vibrant with life, soft with moss and brilliant with every colour of flower and berry. She has barely enough magic in her moon-well to remain awake, but she dearly wants to leave and play with whoever walks in her woods.
He runs lightly over cracked black clay. His body snapping twigs and crashing through the blackened debris that would bar his way. Never before had he dared to venture out past the edges of the city and into the wild. Never before had he felt such euphoria as he does in this moment. Somehow he knows that he has been missing these woods so deeply that it aches and now that he is amongst them that constant ache has been lifted. In it’s place only the mournful sorrow at the pervasive death that surrounds him.
She dances upon moonlight and sang her sweetest song. Her soul cried out to the one who approaches her, beckoning with every fibre of her being. She can feel him, her beloved returning at long last to be with her.
The hot air rises and swirls around him as he approaches, the air shimmering and crackling as he enters the glade. Before him she burns internally arms outstretched calling to him. Witnessing her he can feel her heat radiating outwards searing his flesh and with the deepest longing he can muster he can tell she is beautiful.
Beckoning him to join him in the fire, her glamour burns brightly in his heart. His flesh peels and blisters painfully as her flames caress him lovingly. Like so many before him she draws him into her. Consuming him lustfully in the fires of their passion, the very air ignites and with the final clarity of realisation he cannot even find the breath to scream.