A Place in the Forest, Part 12

A tree had fallen across the brook, partially damming it.  The pool into which the waterfall fed had swollen, creeping silver up the sides of the rock, washing the spongy moss which now unfurled like emerald green silk in the gentle current, the hair of mermaids.  Mava sat on the broad, smooth tree trunk with her back to the fall, looking downstream to where the brook bent out of sight into the open mouth of the forest.  

You are feeling sorry, Pey pointed out in their resonant thought-voices. There is no need.  The tree does not mind falling.  The shape of the river does not regret changing.  Life will gather around this place in new formations, blooming.  Elsewhere it will wither and fade.  What you feel is an illusion–that some things should be, and others should not.

“A human illusion,” Mava said aloud.  She remembered the anger she had felt in her male body, the storm of rage, and shuddered.  She had not known she could feel such a thing. “Perhaps that is the value of drawing closer to the human,” she whispered. 

Perhaps that is why we stopped.

Mava stretched out on her back on the tree, letting her fingertips trail in the water as her three eyes opened to the sky.  It was a cloudless day, and the sudden absence of so much foliage allowed the sun to penetrate the clearing with unfamiliar intensity.  “If we stopped…” Mava wondered quietly. “If we stopped, that means that we have done this before.  Why can’t I remember that?” And the answer, arriving in her thoughts and simultaneously passing from her lips, losing itself in the murmur of the brook: we will remember soon.

Mava’s nodes trembled in a soft but insistent vibration, unfolding something new in her mind.  The growing pool, the fierce sun, the fallen tree…there was a message written in it, but it was as if she was forgetting how to read it even as she saw it plainly, the knowledge coming apart in her thoughts, escaping just out of reach, down around the curve of the stream.  Following only led her to another bend.  It was strange, excruciating, exhilarating, this unknowing.  She savored it, felt Pey swirling, delighted, watching her watching herself feeling this.  Mava was afraid, yet the sun shone relentlessly.

One thread of the vibration clarified, became intelligible: Ivan.

For some reason, Mava closed her eyes.  When she opened them again, Ivan was crouching over her on the tree, so she saw his face upside down and darkened against the bright sky.  “Ivan,” she said smiling, “how long have you been there?” The light coming from him was orange, concentrated.  Her nodes opened that strange sweet feeling deep in her body, wreathed in apprehension.  

“Not long,” Ivan told her, returning her smile. “You didn’t know I was coming?”

“I must have been distracted,” Mava said.  Why was she lying to him?  It was so new, so strange, and yet so natural.  The ease of it was disconcerting.  But he was pleased; he preferred this lie to the truth.  

“Mava,” he said, “I want to talk to you about something.”

She sat up and scooted closer to him on the tree, placing a hand on his knee. “I’m sorry if I frightened you,” she said. “I wanted to.  But I’m sorry now.”

His face showed confusion, and then quickly, a flash of anger.  She felt him recoil, even though he didn’t move. “I wasn’t frightened,” he protested. “And besides–that wasn’t you.”  Mava opened her mouth to disagree with him, but he caught her hand and stood up, wobbling precariously for a moment before moving along the tree trunk toward the bank, pulling her with him. “Come on,” he said. “I can hardly hear you over the river.”

They settled in between the limbs of the crown of the tree.  The leaves had not yet had time to realize their roots had been ripped from the soil.  They whispered buoyantly in green-gold clusters as if excited by the change in perspective, undaunted by the prospect of inevitable wilt.  Nestled in among them, Mava and Ivan were silent for a while.  He leaned back against a smooth fork in the branches, and Mava lay comfortably on his chest.  She felt his heart thudding heavily and insistently against her ear, felt as if his orange light was soaking into her.  

“I want to take you away with me,” Ivan said at last. “I want to go south, to the ocean.  We can live at the edge of the forest there.  I’ve thought about it, Mava.  I know my family won’t accept us, but I’ve decided I don’t care.  I’ll leave them.  Come with me.”

His heartbeat picked up in speed as he spoke.  Mava’s nodes received an image: Ivan, the ocean, and her–a singularity of her.  It broke like a wave and receded.  She pulled away from him slightly so she could look into his eyes.  He didn’t let go of her. “But why?” she asked. “Why should you leave your family and everything you know?”

“Because I love you, Mava,” he said earnestly, the pink spiral of light breaking from his chest and spinning in eddies around her. “I want to be with you.”

“But you are with me,” she replied. “Look.”

She placed her hand over his heart and sent him the current of her focus: the vivid greens and blues, the fine, scraping texture of bark, the gleam of light on his brown skin, the warmth, the response of every living thing growing and dying beneath the sun, every mossflower, each tiny creature that moved in the dirt.  He gasped and a tear escaped him: he saw it–but he didn’t know how to hold onto it, to see it for himself.  The moment faded. “It’s not enough,” he told her. “I want you to be only mine.” 

Forcefully, he pulled her closer and kissed her.  His light enveloped her, made her dizzy.  He shifted so she was beneath him on the ground. “Stop,” she protested as his hands pulled at her soft gray clothes. “I told you Ivan, I’m not like you.  What you want…it doesn’t make sense.”

“Then why do you have this body?” he demanded.  Tears sparkled angry and beautiful in his dark eyes. “Out of all the things Pey could be, why this?”  

“What a strange question,” Mava said with a genuine laugh. “Why not ask it of yourself?”

He stared.  “But you do want this,” he said slowly. “I can feel you too, Mava.  I can sense you too.  I can feel you wanting me.”

“I don’t know what it means to want you,” Mava said.

“Let me show you,” he said.  His hands came to her face, softly, and he kissed her.  Mava let the strange, bittersweet fire sweep over her, surrendering to the call of the mystery.  This, at least, could be known.    

Afterward, they lay in each other’s arms panting.

“I can’t hear them,” Mava said suddenly. “I can’t hear Pey at all.”

“Good,” Ivan said quietly.

By queenofelves

Writer, artist, and magic-user. Lover of fantasy and romantic poetry. Always exploring!


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