WHEN THE WILD WOODS CAME

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When the wild wood arrived, it surrounded us, and we walked through the dappled shade. We thought it was a garden, or a park. We thought we could enter and leave as we wished. We thought of timber and firewood. We thought of hunting wolves and bears. We plucked fruit and flowers, thinking that they were gifts for us. We wondered if the whole world was forest now.

The wood stood a polite distance from the town. It stood waiting with arms reaching up to the sky as if it were expecting a sign. It did not have to wait for very long. It was as if we were being watched. At night, we would sit around fires, looking out to the forest and feeling uneasy. Some of us laughed about it. There is nothing to be afraid off. We kept telling each other there was nothing to be afraid off. If we said it often enough, we would start to believe it.

The crows came; a whole mass of them started roosting in the trees right at the edge of the forest. They built wiry nests of twigs in the bare crowns of the trees and settled in for the winter. At evening they spiralled through the air, a harsh choir of beautiful croaking as they scolded and complained one to another.

One evening as the sun sunk into the trees, the whole rookery rose in alarm, circled round the sky and left heading out towards the coast. Something else had arrived.

First Published in FLASH FRONTIER SEPTEMBER 2017

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