Babes in the Wood
Wayland Wood is a place of folklore, enhancement and magic. Others use the ancient name, the Wailing Woods, and talk of a place of dark fairy-tales and death.
The spring equinox is a time when darkness fights light and in their annual war, they call an uneasy truce, that can last but only one day. In this dalliance of daylight, the children that never lived, or barely lived, will live for just one day, and by nightfall they will be gone.
The boy watches her from behind the shadow of the giant oak, cushioned underfoot by the drooping whites and structured yellows of spring.
The girl has seen him, she knows he hides, but she continues to twirl in the hushed winds of the Wayland. She dances as if today is the only day.
He approaches her. Softly offers his hand.
“Tommy,” he says.
“Isla,” she smiles.
Then she turns and runs.
By rising steam of the mid-morning sun, the two children who never lived are awkward teenagers. Stumbling and avoiding what is obvious and inevitable.
They hold supple and unwrinkled hands. They embrace, but they are too young to kiss.
By midday, the memories of their first kiss are but distant echoes in time. They no longer play in games of children but enjoy the exploration of young, invincible adults.
She dresses for him. Her hair is long and falls from her like the abyss of an endless night; a night they’ll never see. In the sky, the gaps between the canopies conjure stars made of pure sunlight that shine more brilliantly through the cracks than the glittering nebulae of the Milky Way. She fans the leaves of the maple tree and looks at him like he is everything to her. Everything.
By afternoon, they are tired. They lounge on the warm carpet of bark and soil. Isla rests on his rising and falling chest. And in the rhythm of his contented heartbeat she dreams of nothing but this moment in time.
By dusk, they hold hands that are weathered. They look through eyes of grey.
Before nightfall, they sleep.
In the autumn equinox, it starts again.
I got a wonderful runner-up place – my thanks to judge Rebecca.
I have to say this is one of my favourite stories of mine and probably one I’m likely to explore in the future.