Child and Vine
By Maggie Rose
August 1st, 2O17
Trees loomed all around the child, leaves rustling in the breeze as if to say,
“Do not come in here.”
Still the youth continued through the forest. Fungus, flora, and beast watched the child. They watched the child stumble and fall to their undergrowth. The child's head cut, the forest thought, perhaps we should have cleared our vine. Then remembered humans should fall, no matter the age. The Child bandaged their head, while the vines absorbed their blood.
The Child huffed “ I shouldn't be here.” they said pushing circular wire framed glasses back up the bridge of their nose. Through a groan they muttered. “Dammit Dad.”
They tore the vine from their ankle, feeling the vines cringe at their touch. The trees watched as the child continued on. The huffs and puffs grew loud, gaining volume as the child entered a clearing. Taking a handkerchief from their back pocket the child batted sweat from their face, using their spare hand to gauge the time of day. The sun beat down through the forest’s ceiling, the child sat and made compass. Opening their pack they consumed treats. The forest watched them for awhile as the vines inched closer and closer, wanting another taste of blood. Just as the child was within their grasp they stood bursting into song, the vines recoiled and listened. Almost screeching the child sang, “Here I go again on my own, to walk the only road ive ever known, this forest is scary whoa whoa o, just trying to find my dumb dad ya.” They repeated this over and over as they continued on, singing it in various melodies. The forest knew where the child head, to the last human to walk through their wood. An older human who would cut, burn, and kill, though recently that human had become less a nuisance. The sky grew dark and the child set camp, in their sleeping bag they looked to the stars finding comfort. The vine chose to let them be.
That was their first night in the wood, they would spend many more, a year gone. The forest grew to care for the child.
The Vines would yield to the child allowing safe passage. There were long periods of bliss, bathing in the forest’s streams and waterfalls, eating wild berries, learning the speech of bird, boar, deer, and fox. There came a time however after their first year where no amount of bush, undergrowth or vine would keep the child from the center of the forest, where there father had laid claim. The forest knew this was inevitable, feeling reluctant to allow the child to see the father, and feeling afraid of the outcome of their reunion. The child sensed this knowing the forest well, still they set out, less a child now than they were a year ago. After a day of hiking they came to an opening in the forest, leading to a vast clearing. In the center of the clearing stood a hut and as the child walked towards it, vines grew from the earth grasping at their ankles, moaning, pleading the child to turn around and leave. The child felt frustration, tears streaming down their face. “I must, I must I am so sorry.” they yelped. The vines writhed in the dirt, pouting. The child knelt holding a length of vine in their palm, “ I will always love you.” They stood and entered the hut.
Herbs hung from the ceiling though they masked nothing, the scent of sickness ripe. In the corner shoved almost to the back of the hut lay a cot, made of metal and canvas. On top lay the child’s father. The Child walked towards the cot, towards their father. His eyes opened slowly and the child lay a hand to his cheek.
“ I’ve found you.” They said
Their father coughed, long and harsh
“Who are you?” He wheezed.