The forest and such sweet things

By

The forest was such a gentle thing. It would sing in the sun and whisper in the rain, forever laying a hand on the shoulder of all those who needed it. You could not dream of such comfort. Time in the town had been busy, loud and so full of people, but there had been no life. It had been the cause of much heartache that the Witch could not walk those streets again. 

The Witch was supposed to be alone, but there was another here, they were weeping in the rain. It seemed to her, incredibly futile, for the rain would kiss away her tears before they even fell to the ground. It led her to a terrible confusion, for whose decision to come here could bring them to tears? The Witch approached against her better judgment, not wanting to startle but not wanting to creep either. The forest let the leaves crunch beneath her feet to alert the weeping stranger to her presence. Their head shot up and they saw her out of the corner of their eye. They offered up a single sentence to explain their tears as if words were too heavy a burden for them to bear.

“They cast me out.” 

Tenderness was a foreign thing, but she moved closer to the other, alarmed that their being here could spark such despair. 

“Who did?” she asked 

“My home, the people there, they learned what I was, and they hated it, they sent me here and my heart is truly broken.”

It angered her to hear such things, the naivete of the stranger cast a childlike ignorance around the forest, who prided itself on wisdom and such sweet things. The Witch lent forward, and rested her hand upon the stranger’s shoulder, in the way the forest had once comforted her,

“A heart is an open wound. You’ll find that they pave the floors of this forest; warriors lost on their journey home, younglings who tripped when they went out to play. All arrived with hearts of gold, and the forest took them and saved them, so they would not be broken. Do not fear the forest, thank her, for she understands your weaknesses better than you. There is magic here, in the very fabric of the trees and the earth where you tread your feet. Do not dismiss what doesn’t make itself seen to you, assume that you are simply not worthy to look upon it. I was not banished here, the forest took me, and saved me, so I would not be broken. For that, I would shun the company of others for as long as I live, for nothing could soothe me more knowing that I can never again give my heart to another.”

The stranger knew then that this was not a tale of a witch condemned to banishment, but of a woman who had been beloved, who had known love and then known of its absence. She was in mourning of what she had that could have lasted, of the future she had lost. There was little that could be done to console her of such pains, had her tears fallen, the forest would have shied away from their bitter taste,

“But what of love?” the stranger asked, “what of magic?”

“There is no such thing as love, only the thing that exists before heartbreak. You must know this by now too.”

The Witch’s truth settled in the stranger’s stomach, and the weight of all that she had lost laid heavy on her soul, but the Witch did not stop.

“And magic? My dear, look around you, there is nothing but the magic here. This forest is alive, it is company and solitude, it is familiar and brand new, and we have the fortune of being right at the heart of it all. If you stay here, you will never long for anything ever again.”

The Witch spoke with such surety and admiration. She may have claimed she did not love, but there was no other word the stranger could attach to such emotion. Maybe there was a home to be had here, in the heart of magic; maybe banishment wasn’t such punishment after all; maybe it was better to love alone, and to love something that couldn’t change its mind. There may be happiness to be had here, happiness, and such sweet things. 

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