she were queen of hunters and the hunted, a predator and a prey. My grandma had told me the tales of how she would leave housewives to mourn and children laughing, how her contradictions were what made her so intriguing to men and women alike.
The first time I met her I was but a young girl, a child, playing in the forest with my imaginary friends, and my dog, teddy.
I was picking flowers and braiding them to make crowns for my friends, and the faeries alike, for my grandma always warned me to always give as I take.
I heard her voice travelling with the breeze, ruffing up my hair and tickling my nose.
“come play” she said, even as a youngster I knew to not deny her wishes.
“where shall we go play?” I spoke, my voice suddenly deafening to my ears.
That´s when I noticed the sudden quietness of the forest, the birds had ceased their singing and the trees where no longer whispering.
I caught a glimpse of teddy running north, towards our home, and told myself I needn’t worry, he did this often after all.
Suddenly a strong wind picked up, pushing me in the direction of the denser part of the forest. Remembering my granny’s words, I followed it.
I don´t know how far I walked, or how much time passed before the wind died down, leaving my ears unable to pick up any sound at all. I had been led to a small clearing, a clearing made of silence, and purple flowers.
“where are you” I inquired, my voice shaking
She replied with a giggle and another question
“where am I not?”
In that moment, I felt her. I felt her all around me, in the trees, the soil, the flowers surrounding me, and most importantly, I felt her as a part of myself.
I felt her playfulness, her empathy, her sympathy, her rage and her hunger.
And then she was gone.
I only told my grandma, somehow knowing that if my parents found out I would no longer be able to meet her.
My grandma only smiled at me, and told me to stay by her side, and not let anyone tear us apart.
I had no idea what that meant at the time, but as I grew older and our meetings grew more frequent, I realized what she had meant. Our bond meant the world to me, I confided in her and in turn she told me tales, tales of people who had passed through the woods. An elderly woman collecting herbs, a young man taking picture, children building hiding places.
One day her demeanor were much different then I was used to, she had sometimes shown strong distaste of the humans who hurt me, and the boy who broke my heart, but this was entirely different, if she had taken on the form of a wolf that day, and not a flower, she would surely be baring her fangs. She spat poisonous words concerning a man who had recently passed through her forest.
She told me he had left something in her forest. Something she definitely did not want in her forest and she said his energy was poison to the animals and enriched soil.
I inquired her about it, but she only told me to stay away for a while.
This confused me at the time, but I knew she valued our friendship as much as I did, so i did as I was told.
2 weeks later the forest was a crime scene, they had found the remains of three young girls, the man responsible, apparently having been torn to shreds by wolves, while digging one of the girls a unworthy grave.
It wasn´t a day after they left, that she called me to her yet again.
“the forest is once again safe, my dearest”
she assured me as I stared into her wolf eyes, eyes likely belonging to the wolf who broke the murderers neck. Still, I did not fear her.
The years went by and so did the people in my life, her presence being the only constant. she was a comfort and my twin flame.
At the age of 25, I had found myself a boyfriend whom I loved very dearly, I asked her permission to bring him into her forest, and introduce them, and she reluctantly agreed.
“dearest, i hope his heart is as pure as yours. Only then will he be deserving of it”
I took the warning as nothing more than concern, something that I would eventually taste the consequences of.
He were no special looking fella, but he had a calm demeanor, that soothed my chaotic one.
She did not like him. I knew the moment he stepped foot in her forest, her voice carried to me by the rustling trees seemingly non existing to him.
“ask him about Kathrine” she sneered, and a cold shiver ran down my spine.
“who is Kathrine?” the question were aimed at both of them, but she let her voice die down to allow his answer to be heard.
I knew, as soon as his eyes went wide with fear. I knew.
“if you ever step foot in this forest again, you won´t get out unharmed”
i spoke with 2 voices, my own and hers, it was the first time she spoke trough me, and it surprised me as much as it scared him. I felt powerful, and calm, and like nothing could touch me.
The guy turned on his heel, and that was the end of it.
Everything went back to normal, and I was satisfied with her company, not needing more.
I spent many summer nights in the woods, with her beside me.
she´d always sing me to sleep, with the help of the trees, and the birds. I felt safe beside her. She taught me how to speak in the language of the forest, to speak in a tone of voice that left grown men trembling ,and how to heal with the herbs she presented me, and soon I was known as the village witch, something I didn´t particularly mind, but not something that deeply resonated with me either.
I wish I hadn´t gone to town that day, but she sent me.
I don´t know if she knew what were to come but I strongly suspect it.
It was a unusually hot day, with no breeze.
I searched the town for the special seeds she had asked for, but came up empty handed and therefore decided to stay the night at a small farm, in the town, the owner agreeing to letting me sleep in their hayloft with a laugh.
It was hard to fall asleep that night, I had grown so addicted to her lulling me to sleep, that in her absence, I felt empty and restless.
When I woke up next morning to continue my search I was met with melancholic stares and hushed whispers, the kind farmer bringing me the news.
The forest were gone. Burnt down, along with my cottage.
I were distraught, and confused, but I didn’t feel the sorrow I had expected to feel.
I was led to the local motel, to stay for free until I found new place to stay.
I later found out that my cheating ex, I introduced to her, had lost his arm a few weeks after being banished, when he had entered the woods yet again, I don´t know how it happened and I don´t care to find out. He was warned.
I am now settled down with a loving husband and two beautiful kids, who´s been told all of her tales.
i know that the reason I felt no mourning, is because she´s not dead, she´s inside of me, a permanent part of who I am, her wilderness and pure nature lives on and guides me through life. I can only hope that my children will inherit that spirit.