The Bowing Path

As my husband and I drove home today we talked about various short stories we have read. Which reminded me that I have one short story that I’m proud enough with to show to the world. Not that it is fantastic – no, it didn’t even make it into my College’s yearly art publication although every year at least one of my poems was accepted – but at least I like it. Enjoy.

 

The Bowing Path

 

The fog was clearing, the wet mist still clinging to her cream-colored gown as the tattered ends drug across leaves like a cloth rake. Tugging her long translucent shawl free of the branches, fingers that gripped the delicate fabric from floating away, she placed the material loosely around her shoulders and blinking sought to look through the swirling drops of air. No, the fog wasn’t clearing, only shifting the concentration as if opening a path before her. With an odd feeling, as if she were meant to follow the course revealed, novel yet seemingly familiar to her, she stepped forward with bare feet crunching and tucked the shawl beneath her arms.

 

In the distance a dark speck grew steadily, moving ever closer as it drained the flow of light from its cavern-like edges. Its width became pulsing wings, an emptiness shaped like clawed featureless feathers and the oily blackness of a wind-born fiend, driving the silent darkness forward. Trembling in terror, she ceased to place bare foot before bare foot and abandoned the clutch of her pale hands on her shawl. Fluttering away from her like a dying butterfly, the silky-thin material caught on the fingers of a bare tree and hung there, captured as it rippled on a current.

 

Her charcoal eyes froze wide, unable to glance away, as her body refused to flee from the advancing depthless shadow. Before her nothing remained but the beating black wings, having devoured all light of the misty domain, and the face of the haunting shadow.  Eyes, the color of dark orchid shaped like horizontal teardrops, peered out from the depths unblinking with golden pupils. Beneath the ever-watchful eyes, rows of silver jagged edges, like metal lances of ice, slowly become visible, as if unseen lips peeled back in a feral expression.

 

Clutching her cream-colored bodice, she gasped as the invisible mouth descended to devour her in its massive maw lined with silver spears. Surrounded by complete darkness she felt hope being ripped from her, strand by strand like the threads of an ill-woven tapestry. Her body felt numb and empty and she fell to her knees as despair flowed from her eyes in cold droplets. Suddenly the fog returned, swirling around her shivering form, dancing around naked trees, and she glanced up, blinking away the last remains of anguish and desolation. Behind her the beating black wings retreated and she turned her dark orbs to gaze forward once more.

 

From her right a voice whispered her name, and she turned to find a gentleman, his hair like waving wheat, with hand extended in invitation. Lightly grasping his fingers she smiled, gently, and let him lead her away from the path. She knew him; with all her waking breath and beating pulse, she knew him. The placement of each pigment of his eyes, each crease around his mouth, she had committed to memory long ago, storing that image behind a locked door within her mind, protected while she still drew breath.

 

He bowed to her, she curtsying in return, and drew her close to him with a gentle arm about her waist, their free hands interlocked above and to the side like the necks of swans. They began to dance as her dress swirled among the fog, their bodies twisting in unison, weaving among thin trees to a silent song, spinning in elegance. She felt her life being wove once more, the ripped strands of the tapestry returning to their rightful place, though still not sown in perfection. Warmth returned to her pale skin as they spun, his eyes bright like rivers of melting snow piercing her charcoal gaze, and tiny droplets gathered in their wake.

 

Slowly he began to fade, his form turning into colored mist, and her hand passed through his image. She called out to him, grasping at the receding form, trying to hold him before her, to keep him near. But he vanished, leaving her alone betwixt the fallen leaves and lifeless trees. Cold streams threatened to escape her closed lids as she realized she had been dancing a dream, a wish, a longing of her illusions.

 

Then, in the distance, to the left of her original path, she heard his voice. Lifting the folds of her gown, she raced through the grey twilight, her luminous hair trailing like streaks of light, following the sound of the familiar voice. Weaving between reaching branches, fingers stretching in her path, she arrived at his side breathless.  She waited for him to turn to her with his face beaming with joy at her return, but his eyes remained fixed elsewhere.

 

Touching his shoulder she whispered his name. Though she stood at his side he seemed not to feel her presence, continuing to speak to another in the shadows. She gracefully shifted to stand before him, passing a hand before his eyes and drawing her face close to his as she placed her other hand on his chest.  He did not respond, as if she did not exist before him. With heavy breaths of suffering she lowered her hands to her sides and turned away, glancing over her shoulder as her cream-colored dress drug across the stiff leaves gathering grime, returning to the fog-covered path. Biting her lower lip she fought back bitterness and grief, unwilling to accept the reality she had faced. He did not know her. Even though she could paint his face in verse or write his voice in music, he did not know her.

 

And as she walked the bowing path ensnared in the realm separating her reality from illusions, she noticed the fog was clearing. Though the wet mist still clung to her cream-colored gown, the tattered ends drug across leaves like a cloth rake. She noticed her shawl flipping in the grasp of a naked tree and pulled the translucent fabric free of the knobby fingers.  She placed the material loosely around her shoulders and studied the hazy distance. No, the fog wasn’t clearing, only shifting the concentration as if revealing a path before her. With an odd feeling, as if she were meant to follow the course laid before her, yet seemingly familiar, she stepped forward with bare feet crunching as a dark speck began to grow in the distance.

 

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