Ch. 1A Chapter by Ardeth Lane
It is near winter. The trees are all bare, and their thousands of leaves now inhabit the forest floor by their stumps. The air has transformed from humid to crisp, and the only breeze that blows is smooth yet chilling. Within this very populace forest stands a house. Not a new one, but an old, worn down, brick abode with holes in the walls and threatening cracks in the foundation. Upon first glance, it would appear to be abandoned. Depraved. Forgotten. But, within its molding walls it is anything but.
Within the walls there is lively music, dancing, and conversation. Men and women alike dress in exotic attire, and glance at one another with lascivious eyes. Every now and then, a couple would find themselves in a back corner where it was dark and private and alone. Magic is in the air here, and not the kind one would find in an infant’s ten page picta-book. Rather it is the kind many search a lifetime hoping to find, but do not. In numerous countries throughout the world, and time, people have held ceremonies to obtain such power. Some humans believe in the use of charms, potions, and or spells. They title the power as either dark or light, as if there is an acute difference and from which title the magic’s host. Witch. Wizard.
Most every one of the names given to the holders of such power has been counterfactual. Fake, a lie. The only remaining title given that is factual, would be Warlock. It is mono-gender and shadows over the entire race of the hosts of said power. It is as equivalent to the title most humans give to those of authority. A Police officer, fire fighter, doctor. None of which, are specific to a sex.
In the midst of the forest, one of the Hosts of Magic treaded silently. She waded carefully through the sea of broken leaves. Her long red hair hung to her waist in a loose, winded fashion that gave way to the length of time she’d been walking. Her skin, pale, was splashed gingerly with small, light brown specs over her lean body that was clothed in a black cotton dress, which hung to her calves. Her feet were bare and dirty.
In her arms was a newborn wrapped in white. The baby was asleep; her dark eyelids resting against one another in a peaceful harmony. The woman’s cutting eyes softened against the child’s innocent face. From where she stood, she could hear the faint sound of laughter and violins, and smell of liquor in the air. The further she walked through the trees, the less detectable the fiasco was. Within the hour of her departure, only she and the child’s breath could be heard. Her child’s breath. She stopped walking. She didn’t need to glance up to know that the forest had ended. Past the forest line, the human world lay in placid slumber, unaware of the event taking place, and how drastically it would affect them all.
Her eyes left the child’s face and searched the perimeter for someone. The one she was supposed to meet, where was he? Where was-
“Leni.” She froze at the sound of his voice. It’d been so long since she’d heard its deep gravely rumble. A bulky figure emerged from nowhere and approached them. He wore a suit that was so black it shone a green and purple tinge. Like the way crow wings shined in the light. Except, there was no light for it to reflect off of but, that did not concern her. The man narrowed his eyes at her and sighed. “Leni. It is you.” The woman winced when he repeated her name. “That old witch. She said you’d be here but I didn’t think-I didn’t-”
“Eleanor.” She said firmly; a band tightening around her lungs, making it hard to breathe. “My name is Eleanor. No one calls me Leni anymore.” She pulled her shoulders back and straightened her spine.
“I call you Leni. I always have and I always will.” He said confidently, which caused her buoyancy to deflate a little. In her arm, the baby began to stir. Neither of them spoke for a long while, and they simply watched the baby twist around in the blanket.
“We have to hurry.” Eleanor said suddenly. “It is getting cold. To-the baby won’t be able to-“
“Boy or girl?” The man asked stretching a hand out to the baby’s forehead. His hand was old and knotted; much like, Eleanor noticed, the knots in the trees.
“The baby.” He said and glanced up at her with a soft smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
“Oh.” She said, cheeks turning a light shade of red. Of course he’d meant the baby, what else could he have been referring to? She swore at her stupidity once before informing him that the baby was a, “girl.”
“And her name?” His calloused hand slid beneath the baby girl’s frail body in an ungraceful manner. She was about to jerk herself and her daughter away before her eyes met with the old mans and she remembered; it had to be like this. There was no other option. No plan B, C, or D. Just, this. And in the back of her mind, she silently sang a joyful song knowing that she would be safe. The baby, that is.
“She hasn’t one yet.” She shrugged. “And I don’t want to know what it would be anyhow.” Eleanor lowered her now throbbing arm. She’d been holding the girl for what seemed like hours and-let’s face it-she wasn’t the lightest thing in the forest. But that didn’t seem to faze the man. In fact, seeing her cradled in the crook of his arm like that seemed to fit. Like, she belonged to him more than she already did. And with his free hand, she watched, as he tucked the blanket a little closer around the girl’s body and then rested it on her little stomach protectively.
“Well, we should go.” He said remorsefully. “It’s been good seeing you Leni.” When she didn’t respond he added, “Your Mother-” He stopped short at the wave of one of her hands.
“I don’t want to hear it.” She paused a moment unsure if she should say, “Father.” His eyebrows went up, and then immediately back down. Hiding the fact he was ever as surprised as she felt. And in that moment, though it wasn’t said, they both knew that the other was thinking of the same thing. The same day. “Take care of her. Please.” She folded her arms over her chest and winced inwardly. Though her body had somehow prepared itself to do self-feeding for the baby; she’d never feed her. And the thought of it bothered her.
The man-her Father, nodded once. “You know I will.” And with that he leaned forward to lay a kiss on Eleanor’s cheek before turning and taking the first of many steps that it would take to get back. After all, it’s not like he actually lived close to such a highly inhabited forest. Only crazy people did that.
People like the witch.
© 2012 Ardeth Lane
Added on January 2, 2012
Last Updated on January 2, 2012