Short Story: Shaded Wood

Note: I am practicing my story writing. Criticism is welcome, especially since I am a creative writing major I would love to hear the feed back. Whether that be grammar, spelling, description or over repitition. I wrote this in an hour and revised it thrice in thirty minutes. So please let me know what you think. Be advised, I typed this on my smart phone so it’ll have some spelling and grammar issues. Thank you!!

I walked through the misty forest until I came into a break in the trees. It was a space large enough to make a fire and sleep here. I looked up, towards the gray sky. Looking for the top of the seemingly endless trees. Reminding me of the pain I carry. Hundreds of days since my exile. I could not remember the last time I had anything but roots and water for food.

Just then, I hear a rustle across from me in the brush. I draw my sword, slowly, so as not to alert the possible beast. I drop my sack and bring my sword to the ready in my right hand. I slowly begin closing the distance to the origin of the rustle. Silence, a slight breeze blows and the most seems to grow thicker and my blade feels heavier. The brush rustles again, I’m now only ten paces from the brush. I prepare to fight what ever beast lies in wait for me.

Boop!! Leaves and branches burst from the brush and out comes a gray bunny. I can’t help but smile. I return my sword to it’s sheath. I pull my bow and an arrow, drawing back the string. The bow creaks against the tension from my body. I line up with the bunny. Breath in, chest rising and slight shake. Exhale, chest slowly falls, my bow and arrow steadies out. The bunny’s ears twitch, aware of my presence.

Snap!! The arrow cuts through the air, thunk!!!

It dies instantly, much preferred to watching it suffer. I retrieve my arrow and replace my bow. I skin, clean and hang the bunny on a tree. I make a fire pit with the heel of my boot. The earthy smell reminds me of my home. I place my sack near a large tree and go about gathering wood for a few minutes and return. I criss-cross the logs, grab some lantern oil from my sack and start the fire. I make a stake from the spare wood and place the bunny above the fire. I lay my bow and arrows against the same tree as my sack.

I lay back against the tree, sitting up with my legs crossed. My sword, unsheathed, lays with the handle and hilt against my left shoulder and my hatchet rest in my right hand. I kick off my boots and socks to let my feet breath. I loosen my leather trousers around the ankles, remove my leather vest and unstring my tunic from around my neck and chest. I sip water from my canteen, feeling exhaustion seeping in. My long, matted black hair sticks to my face. I breath in through my nose and out of my mouth. I bring my left hand to my face and rub my temples for a moment before returning it to my sword. I return my hatchet to it’s sheath and sip more water before capping my canteen. I stand and retrieve my meal. Theeat is chewy but food is food. It has been awhile since I had a decent meal. I’m half way through my dinner when I hear another rustle in the distance. This is much larger than a bunny. I grab my sack, wrapping the left over bunny and throw it in my sack.

I keep my sword and hatchet sheathed. I prepare my bow and an arrow. With the fire still burning I fall back into the trees and shadows, bow at the ready. The creature roars, closing the distance with heavy thuds as it moves rapidly towards my small camp. Maybe I should have eaten the bunny raw. The creature burst through the trees across from me. Three times the size of the average bear. This beast has fur as black as night, claws like large, steel blades with blood red teeth and pitch black gums. It’s roar is like a small gust of wind. It’s eyes have white pupils and iris’s and the rest is black. The beast is not just some large bear. It was one of the dozens of dirties of the Shaded Wood, or so I thought. If I run it will catch me and kill me. If I fight and use my size and skill I could defeat it.

I aim for it’s front left shoulder and send an arrow towards it. It penetrates and causes no reaction. The beast simply looks to me and locks eyes. Somehow, clearly seeing me in the dark. It roars, bending branches and moving my hair. It’s breath like death. It charges and I sprint to the right, attempting to encircle the forest diety. It swings it’s left claw at me and misses. I shoot another two arrows in succession into it’s left shoulder, locking it’s shoulder in place. It stands on it’s hind legs, rising to the height of four men. I jump back as the diety swings it’s claw at me. It’s blade like claws slicing through the air. They pass inches from my chest, tearing my shirt apart and slicing my chest with the pure power of it’s swing. I land on my feet. The diety takes a deep breath. I’d seen this before, I had to move. Now! The diety blast out dark magic from its mouth. Destroying the spot I was just standing in. The blast creates a pit of fire and smoke.

With night closing fast I knew I had to hurry, I knew I could not hold out forever in the dark. The beast readies for magic. I dodge three more of the blast in succession, as the deity destroys a part of the wood. I wonder, what if I shoot its mouth? I see it draw in a breath and I ready my bow and arrow. It opens it’s mouth. Snap!!!

Thunk!!! A good strike to the back of it’s mouth. I drop my bow and unsheathed my sword into my right hand and my hatchet into my left hand. It roars again, I throw my hatchet at its head and strike it between the eyes. I close the distance. The air grows thick as I come under the diety. Both hands on my sword. As it lowers onto me I drive my blade upward and into it’s neck and head. I could clearly hear the sound of the blade slicing through flesh. A pause of silence. Blood gushes and drips onto me from its head. It’s blood staining my face a dark gray. The blood of a god, covering my tears. I stood there for eternity. Covered in dirt, sweat, my red blood and it’s gray blood. My blade still in the deity, it’s body still, as if it is a statue. The blood of the diety healing me. My tears finally stop. I remove my blade and retrieve my hatchet and arrows. The body of the diety crumbling before me. I sheathe my weapons and sit down before the fallen forest god. I placed my right hand on the head of the deity and whisper, ” Forgive me, dear lord…”. Silence. The crackling of the fire to our right still going on. We are still sitting in the shadows of the wood. The body of the god inhales. I pause my thoughts, ready for death for my complacency. It speaks, ” Do not be apologetic traveler. I have waited for rest since creation has existed. I thank you. My power and spirit shall now be your own. Your blade is now eternal and you immortal. You shall carry my brand. Rise,” and so I rose form the ground, ” King of the Shaded Wood, Lord of the Most and the Dark. All fowl, animal, beast and deity is your subject and servant. Rule well.”

My chest slowly began to burn, and soon it felt as if hellfire was burning on my chest. I clenched it with my fist and felt darkness envelope me. Power and life. Then sleep. I awoke to a gray sky and bird songs. Night had passed. I stood up and could feel the wood as if it were my heart beat. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Exhaling slowly. I could feel the pulse of my forest, of my kingdom. I touch my chest and feel the scar of the claws and the brand of a crown. I look down and accept my responsibility. I look upwards as I feel my pupils and iris’s transforms into pure white and the rest of my eye become pitch black. King of the Shaded Wood, Lord of the Mist.

Valley

I step forward, into the veil,

Full of fear and doubt, Never sure of myself

But sure of others, As we bare our own loads

We step forward, into the veil

The dark, it always engulfs, It is overwhelming

Like crashing waves of a tsunami, or the splitting earth of an earthquake

It swallows us all, The weight, it grows heavier

With every step regret sets in, Fear takes form

Rearing it’s ugly face, inches from my own, inches from theirs

I dare not look away, I have fallen to my knees

Sweat rolls down my face, this load has become unbearable

Yet I stars back, gritting my teeth, this indomitable monster before me has lit a fire

A fire deep in my soul, once there was nothing

Now heat and rage, rising within me

I rise, We rise, My fire has lit others

Now an eternal flame, We stand, We say

This is my valley, I shall bear this load

I will step forward, you will kneel

I shall scorch this Earth, Grow my own

Forward I go, For I am he

He who steps through the veil, With fear and doubt

With a load to bear, And a fire in my soul

Kneel, For this is my valley

This is my own, This is me

Aware

“More thoughts to paper.”

Jan 2019 13

For a while I have wondered why I have been the way I have been.

Not reactive but expectant. Forgiving and apologetic. Expecting the very best of myself and absolutely nothing of others.

I would not say I am at peace, or sad, or remorseful or even angry. Happy, yes, but I don’t chase the joy anymore.

It’s almost like I’m simply present and aware. I know where I am. With who and why. I know what I feel. It is strange to be aware of it.

What a sensation it is to just be and at the same time subdue my shadow. I sit here in silence, whether that be in joyful silence or depressed silence, but I sit there and shove down the negativity. I shun it and send it away.

This takes place even when I lie.

I catch it now, “Dammit! Why did it do that!? That’s wrong!” I say to myself.

Before it was smooth, no thought about it and carry on with my day.

I am enjoying this situation but at the same time it is making me rethink so many words I have spoken and actions I have taken.

Notably, the bad ones and how those actions were a simple lack of control of the mind, a lack of self discipline.

So many moments that could have gone much differently. Better, maybe, but I don’t know, but absolutely different, yes.

I atleast know that much.

Shadow

I am yesterday
I am a memory

I am pain
I am trauma

I am man stuffing his face with cherries
Except the red looks like blood

I look like pain
I look like trauma

I am everything I hated
I am everything I didn’t want

I am what yesterday’s friends hate
I am my mistakes

Every trip
Every crack stepped on

The car accident down the road
The drunk at the bar

The angry man telling off friends
The addict shooting up again

I am me
And I am the shadow

I try
I fight

Like a mad man
Repetition after repetition

Attempting again and again
Hoping, praying and thinking

I’ll get there
I’ll be there

And then I don’t
Then I relapse

Every few days
Every few hours

I am this empty
This puddle

I am what I didn’t want to be
What yesterday’s friends hate

I am painful
And I am trauma

My fight, like an ant lifting a Mountain

Or a row boat against an Ocean, Enraged and unforgiving

I am he who burns Bridges, knowing, They will take twice as long to rebuild

I am full of life and joy
And yet, I know I am regret

I am my mistakes
I am me
The shadow

A poem about what passes through my head when I ponder every mistake. How I know I should have and can be better.

Strings

I can never forget this moment. It’s the end of of another decade that I managed to survive. The people around me have been here for what seems like forever to me. The room smells like cigarette smoke, line and liquor. Laughter fills the empty space between us. Happy arguments we make and forget in the moment.
My mind doesn’t recall that nearly two years have passed since we last sat like this. My mind skips the sad reality that there are those who are not here this time.
The creeping wood of barstools and the sound of foot steps and pouring whisky engulfs the small kitchen we have occupied for the next few hours.
Their stories pass through the air to my ears. My stories to their ears.
We have plucked each other’s strings in life, much like I pluck the strings on my cheap guitar.
Playing songs of yesterday about coming as you are and songs of today about sipping liquor with the homies.
In the end, no matter how long it takes for me to forget.
I can never forget this moment of us. Full of noise, yet, so quiet.

A Memory

We all sat in a quiet book mine with an awkward joy between us. The love of my life speaks of strange recipes for things that aren’t edible and my mother-in-law speaks about coffee liqueur recipes she had found in a book. Both of them seated in old wooden chairs from the era of my kindergarten classes, while I sat on a plastic stepping stool reading a book about a young college girl with ambition and talent.

The air between us shared out words, smiles and laughter. The atmosphere filled with our fondness of knowledge and the words on the paper. I treasure this moment, for it is one of the few I can truly feel and keep forever. This is how I wish to remember my days.

Reading and joyful to read with those around me.

Air between us sharing joy, smiles and laughter in the warmth of each other’s company.

Now a memory I wish to keep.

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