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In The Forest

by dryyzz 

Posted: 14 October 2004
Word Count: 709
Summary: I posted an earlier version of this up a while back. It has been fiddled with and expanded. On re-reading, it did make me smile. Hope some of you enjoy it. Also, it does make me worry about my imagination sometimes. :0) Darryl

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In the dream I dream of the forest; I lived there as an only child. And in the dream, I am that child once more. A twelve year-old perfectly average boy.
I’m in the garden, on the lawn. With my red and white-hooped tee shirt a discarded heap, I lie on my front, dressed only in faded black shorts; I feel the freshly cut blades of grass prickle against my stomach; though this mild irritation does not concern me. From the lawn I pluck the head of a fat yellow dandelion, then gripping its decapitated stem, I twizzle the head between my thumb and forefinger. The madly rotating head makes me smile, though quite why, I’m not too sure. I’m thinking of absolutely nothing, and that’s just fine.
One cue, I look up at the house, and I see my future self at the widow of my parent’s bedroom. I see myself clearly as an adult imperfect. Stood, naked and guileless, pale and stupidly vacant, the older me looks out into the forest’s clutter.
From the lawn, I become aware of the forest around me, I can smell damp earth and rotting bark. I can even hear the trickle of a mossy stream; though to my knowledge, none exists.
It must be early afternoon. The too yellow sun pushes down a thick liquorice heat. In lieu of any bodily motion, my gaze painlessly separates from my body then winds its way across the lawn, over the ramshackle fencing and beneath the forest’s cool canopy. My gaze seems to know its way. It races between tree and branch, rock and lichen, deep into the forest’s pagan heart. I stop by an ancient stone built footbridge. The bridge leads from nowhere to nowhere, and there is neither river, nor even brook to straddle. Slowly I become aware of the forest, I start to feel its pulse, sense its base didactic intelligence. The swirling stumbling logic of dreams tells me that the forest has a secret. A secret it has kept only for me.
And so, I listen.
The forest settles then becomes silent. After an indeterminate passage of time, a light rhythm less tapping reaches my ears. The sound reminds me of pencil tapping against a desk. Or perhaps the wooden leg of a tiny pirate tapping against a ballroom floor.
A tiny pirate? A ballroom floor? Even for me, that makes no sense at…Ah –yes. Yes it does.
The forest smiles. And…

* * *

I awoke in the strangest of moods. The mood was neutral; neither good nor bad –at least not yet- but it was live-loaded with expectancy. I felt balanced between panic and love, joy and jealousy.
The mood was unusual but not unique. I had felt this fervoured expectancy before; though only once. It was the day Dad killed Uncle Billy.
As in the dream, I was twelve years old. But of that day I have perfect recall.
The essence of my childhood? We lived in the forest and we always had cats.

As a rule, Dad didn’t like cats, but he liked mice even less. Living in the forest, a cat or two made perfect sense.
But Dad did love Sinbad, we all did.
Until he was six months old Sinbad was simply called ‘the black one’. Then a fox took most of his left hind leg.
The vet explained that his life could be saved, but it would cost.
Dad surprised us when he agreed to pay. He said that if ‘the black’ one was willing to face up to a fox, then he was either very brave or mentally unstable. Either way, he’d earned a few pounds worth of treatment. Seven hundred as it turned out.
Three weeks later ‘the black one’ returned home. The missing portion of his leg had been replaced by a robotic looking strap-on appendage. Dad shook his head and said he’d have to do something about it.
After a secretive weekend in his workshop, Dad emerged with a tiny, but beautifully crafted wooden leg. Complete with a removable cap and secret compartment within, should the cat wish to store some tiny piratical treasure map. As soon as the new leg was fitted, ‘the black one’ was christened Sinbad.

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Comments by other Members

roger at 10:26 on 15 October 2004  Report this post
I like this, Dryyzz, and I think what I like about it is the childhood detail...so precise, so real; brought back memories of my own. Yes, I think you really captured the 'child'. Tell you what though, I didn't understand the relevance of Uncle Billy. Re-read, but still couldn't. Was that just an aside? If so, maybe it's a mistake because such bold statements should surely lead somewhere. Or have I missed the whole point? In which case, I'm sorry.

One typo - 7th line up from the end, shouldn't 'the black' one be 'the black one'?

Nice writing.

dryyzz at 10:59 on 15 October 2004  Report this post

Thank you for that. You haven't missed a point, it is a fragment of something much long that I was working on. Thus, Uncle Billy's death does seem out of place. Thanks for the typo', well spotted.

I'm glad you liked the writing and that is did stir some memories of your own. Perhaps I'm doing something right :0)

Again, thanks for your time and for your encouragement.


anisoara at 11:45 on 18 October 2004  Report this post

This was beautifully written, and I was really swept away. However, I don't feel that I "got it" in the end. I felt that you were working up to something different - the mood was so very mysterious, with your MC's travelling gaze and the forest wanting to tell its secret.... But I didn't have the sense of learning what this secret was.

I found your opening atmospheric, very dream evocative.

I found the following sentence overlong. (Maybe break it up with a couple of stops?)
I’m in the garden, on the lawn. With my red and white-hooped tee shirt a discarded heap, I lie on my front, dressed only in faded black shorts; I feel the freshly cut blades of grass prickle against my stomach; though this mild irritation does not concern me.

red and white-hooped tee shirt - It's hard for me to visualise this, but maybe it's just me.

typo: "future self at the widow" - window

"Stood, naked and guileless" - Stood?

Love the parallel between the vision of the future self staring vacantly and the boy whose mind is empty at that time. It suggests a connection that makes it possible for the child self to see the adult self (or vice versa).

And I love the gaze disengaging itself and moving off on its own, It reminds me of the mystics whose spirit disassociates from the body.

typo: "a light rhythm less tapping" - rhythmless

A very affecting piece of writing.


dryyzz at 08:01 on 19 October 2004  Report this post

Thank you so much. If you felt the peice was affecting, I can't ask for much more. I agree with the way you felt about not 'getting' it. Some of my nicest prose tends to occure when I just let thing go. Unfortunately, in this case, it didn't go anywhere that formed a plausible whole.

Conversely, when I have the bones of a plausible story, then I have a job making the prose quite so affecting.

I think I have a bit of a blind spot with the word 'Stood' I'm not sure what that word should be.

I do have an idea where I can weave most of this peice into a story, I'll see what transpires.

Thanks again, for your time and encoragement.


anisoara at 13:25 on 19 October 2004  Report this post

You may come up with something more for this yet. It's worth it!


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