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Faint Dark (Part 3)

Title: Faint Dark
Author:ciaranbochna
Disclaimer: This is a creation of my own feeble mind. All rights reserved
Length: 7203 (posted in three parts)
Rating: PG

A/N: A gift forlurkingwombat Vaguely based on something that happened to me as a child. Thought I would post it today, as it is a little dark. Beta is the ever-patient caffienekitty



Cassie collects leaves from below her favourite climbing tree, bits of bark from the pine and spruce trees as she goes down the path. She picks fiddleheads from beneath her fallen snag, and bits of wheat grass from the ditch beside the road on her way back. Cassie carefully picks a few blades of the razor grass too. Somehow she thinks it should be part of the trail. She picks blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries and a handful of Saskatoon’s (she will crush them in her fingers and smear them over the thread).

Cassie comes home late in the afternoon, and starts tying while sitting on her front step. The sun warms her fingers and the fuzzy blue and green thread as she works, tying knots over Alder leaves, bark, grass and bits of berry pulp. She puts a few berries in her hand for every foot of yarn, pulling the yarn over the juice and pulp. She uses all both balls of yarn, and keeps tying until her fingers sting. She cuts the tip of her thumb on the razor grass, wiping it down the thread as she goes.  By the time she has done everything in her pack is gone. Cassie takes the weighted string and walks over to the edge of the road. She waits until it is clear and unravels the yarn, pulling it behind her as she walks to the other side. There is just enough to reach. Cassie gathers it up and puts it away in her pack. She has to wait until her parents go to bed, and then she will sneak outside to roll it out.

There is just one small problem with her plan. How does she convince the shadows to follow the string to the other side of the road, and how can she talk to them without opening her eyes?

Cassie doesn’t remember dinner, except for the worried looks between her parents. They think she doesn’t notice, but she sees it every time they look over at the cork board, where the letter mom was reading is stuck with a blue pushpin.  The symbol at the top of the letter looks like a little yellow daffodil.  Cassie isn’t sure why flowers would upset them, but she will ask tomorrow, Dad doesn’t say anything when she tells him she is too tired for a story, he just hugs her (longer than usual) and closes the door behind him. Cassie makes her decision when she hears her parents whispering in their room, and hears her mom starting to cry.

She hears a rustle, and smells blackberries.

“I’m not pretending to be asleep this time. I don’t think you want to kill me, or take me away. I think…” Cassie tries to swallow and coughs.

“You’re lost aren’t you?”

Cassie feels something sharp drag down her cheek.

“You shouldn’t speak. We don’t need you for that.”

“She’s right. Did you feel in in her garland? Have you forgotten already?”

“What use is remembering? We cannot go back. We take what we can. Here.”

Cassie cheek goes numb and she gasps. “I can give you the forest back, if you let me.”

“Give?”

Cassie hears one of the shadows laugh like blowing snow. They start whispering near her ear.

“I gave you a gift once. Do you not remember?”

“Before the dark. Before we hid between. You stayed.”

“I will always stay. You risked yourself then, just as I did.  Let the child try.”

“If she fails?”

“We continue as we always have.  I wish to see you in the sun again my love.”

Cassie feels the room get warmer, and her cheek tingles.

“Very well. You may open your eyes. You will not see us. We will walk behind. If you turn around, you are ours. Do you understand?” Cassie smells something like ice hovering over her nose.

“Yes.” She opens her eyes and sits up, shivering. She walks over to her dresser and quietly slips into her jeans and t-shirt. She reaches into her pack and quietly opens the door. She hears nothing, but resists the urge to turn around. Her parent’s room is quiet as she passes. She doesn’t take her shoes, closing the front door with a quiet click.

It’s a cloudy night, but the moon is trying to break through. Cassie walks through the wet grass, dew soaking the bottom of her jeans. She stops at the edge of the road, just past her yard.

“We can’t cross.” There is a rasp behind her.

“I know. That is why I brought this.” Cassie bends down and lays the end of the blue/green yarn on the grass behind her, feeling for the edge with her hand so she doesn’t turn around. Then she walks slowly across the asphalt, imagining reaching for the lowest branch on the tree and pulling herself up. The moon slips out from the clouds, making the alder leaves tied in the string silver.

“The string is the path. Climb across it and you won’t touch the road. I hear you in my bedroom window, I know you can climb and fit in narrow spaces.”

“I can hear the wind. Can we make it?”

“I slipped my skin for you once. This is such a little risk.  Yes”

Cassie continues unrolling the string until she reaches the other side of the road. She feels like she is swaying on the highest branch, with the sun warming her inside and out. She walks over to the tree and leans her forehead against it, suddenly exhausted.

“You can turn around now.”

Cassie turns around. At first she can see through them, but soon the moon paints the two shapes with light. They draw the green from the grass below their feet, and the earth below that. Cassie can see touches of green in their hair. Soon she can see his antlers, and those of the lady beside him, as they stand on two legs. The lady holds out her long pale hand to Cassie.

Cassie pushes away from her tree and steps forward.

“You have given us a rare gift Cassie, though it has cost you greatly. You will never be able to climb your tree again, or any other. But our blessing is upon you, and you will find it is not without its own gifts.”

Cassie nods. “I knew I had to offer something, just like in your story. I think I will stay close to the ground for a while.” She looks back to the house.

“You will always be welcome in our wood.” The forest god rumbles and reaches out to lightly touch each of her eyelids.

Cassie smiles.

The lord and lady turn and look at each other. They remind Cassie of her parents. Then two black deer – one with flames of russet beneath its eyes - vanish into the trees behind her. Cassie slides her hand against the alder tree, and walks over moonlight crossing the road.


Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
suchaprince
Dec. 24th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC)
Wow. This was absolutely stunning! Just beautiful. Reading this was a bit like having a spell cast upon me. I can never praise the images you paint with words enough.
ciaranbochna
Dec. 24th, 2012 07:25 am (UTC)
Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it:) A spell is rather the effect I was going for! *blushes*
suchaprince
Dec. 24th, 2012 09:39 am (UTC)
So, um, there might be a mix coming out soon inspired by this.
ciaranbochna
Dec. 25th, 2012 07:18 am (UTC)
Pardon me while I sputter and gape like a fish. Err...yes, wow.
suchaprince
Mar. 11th, 2013 02:19 am (UTC)
An age may have past since I told you I wasn't making this, but, um, here you go. I hope you think it does the story justice.
(Deleted comment)
ciaranbochna
Mar. 11th, 2013 08:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, I am glad you think so!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )