The garden rose up the small hillside until it became tussocky humps and bumps. Her feet twisted and sunk between the hummocks as she went. Her hair blew sideways although there was no wind and a hot dampness pervaded and inserted itself into her mouth and nostrils. Inside her ears was low ebbing hum off distant traffic, a wasp dying in a wasp trap.
Why did she start? It was a very hard climb and she was wearing unsuitable clothes. A fur jacket and lace tights feet stuffed into low boots.The boots moved askance to her feet within and the bones grew sore and jangled as a chicken carcass in a bubbling pan.
The sun was sore and chafing above the woodland far above her.It was a forest of stark black trees that beckoned her.The trees terrified her at night with their magic leanings and swaying against the white moon . She wanted to go and show them that she was not afraid. But she was.
That’s what animals do. Walk into danger to blind it, to stamp it out!
Up she went, past the chickens with their shy little ways and soft rusty backs. She loved the chickens and brash brass feathered cockerel. The way they hid in the stalks of dead grass and peeped at her with their bright button eyes.
The deer had left a nice path, the tiny cleft alien toes had trotted out a walkway. The cats had left another path, all bendy and enticing. It led to a great thicket of brambles.This is where Whelkin hunted, her proud fluffy self in all her grand pouncing and bouncing, her swart eyebrows brought low as she darted and prowled. O how she LOVED Whelkin! How she tore at her heart with her independent mewling and her dear multihued fur of brown, silver and cream! Her great haunted green eyes as sherberty as grapes, as lovely and enervating as a man rolling his tongue into one’s groin.
She made your heart jump and a thousand smells litter your brain.
Never mind. She wasn’t here. Or if she was, she would be watching, not caring.
Down far below, the other cats patrolled.
Shumala was the piebald eldest, the wild biting cat with the incurved tiny paws. The Druid cat. Gentle silly black Fenella with her great grassy eyes and her silken fur and dribbly chin! Always the last cat. Number three.
Whelkin was number one. Whelkin rruled the garden, the hosue, the attic, the cupboards, the rats and mice all sang in a choir when she swung by.
Toads flapped and flopped. A great fungus rolled out its tongue onto a rotted lump of branch.
Eyes glittered. A small table was set with cheery moss, little red berries and an apple, quite yellow and red. She ate it. It was thick with juice, utterly rivetingly sweet.It was hot and stalky here, steamy even despite the chill of the day far below in the valley.
She was starved, thirsty. .. too scared to go on, too mad to go back.
Her knees were twisting and she was panting. She came upon the broken side of a cabin and peered through the glass at an old sign laid on the ground. It said ’Warning! 10000 volts’.
But it was old and stamped into the ground amidst shattered glittering shards of greened glass and some rotting wurzels in a great stinking steaming heap.
Here the foxes lay on a piece of corrugated iron; as rust as their backs and as hot.
The day was getting tangled and important as though a message would come soon. A portent, or a great healing flush of sanity, lust or love!
When she stumbled into the forest her heart started tearing mad waltz. There was the presence of Old Ones here, undisturbed and shimmering little voices which are just out of earshot like nasty little whisperers.
She looked down at her path; long and high she raised her arms and reached for a branch but it was unyielding and hard as coal.
This is the song for the forest which has been visited but never properly entered;
‘ Oh that is no courage, that is no life
To stand at the edges, ne’er take a wife
That is no lover, that is no gain
To take to your breast a mizzle of pain….’
Singing this she went home and tried to tell the tale of something which could have happened but never did.
“This is how we keep our sanity and lose it all at once. By travelling into nowhere with a pocket full of knives.”
But far above, the trees heard and snickered and whickered as Whelkin popped a fat mouse on her pillow.
Veronica Aldous 2017 All Right Reserved.