The rich orange sun rays beamed through the forest and kissed Nerea’s face. Her soft forehead and ridged nose regal; carved by Ngai himself, her eyes shaped like tear drops curved downward at the edge, cloaked with eyelashes that would make a horse green with envy. Her lips, luscious ruby; Nerea bit her lower lip and craned her neck further back to suck the slow dissipating warmth from the setting sun. She had been in the forest since noon, she needed her green lush ‘castle’, her fortress from the madness of the city. She wanted to get lost and never be found again.
Nerea left no word with anyone; she left her phone on her pillow. She needed nature’s caress and assurance to make her whole once again. The forest began to awaken; the gentle breeze kissing Nerea’s face shook the forest’s canopies violently. A song began to resonate; a nest of birds in the distance began to chime in their song, the contracting tree branches began to howl; forming a dark symphony casting an eerie feeling in the forest.
The cold began to set in and Nerea was awoken by a pulsating hot breath, the stench of saliva dominant, drool. She opened her eyes which met with bright white menacing eyeballs. Nerea sat upright startled. Her company was now snarling with the leaves above her shaking rapidly, something was above them in that tree. She inched away as fast as she could, she heard a snap, felt a rip in her calf and a loud break. Nerea fell to the ground, her head violently resting on a rock.
James wept bitterly as the sun shone violently, brows shone, reflecting the light. The dark parade concluded and the crowds dispersed no tomb stone, no eulogy, no one was to ever speak of Nerea again. James was lost, he sat by the wet mound of red soil staring intently at it. Tears flowed freely converging at the hook of his aquiline nose and dropping straight in to his handkerchief. He used the lapel of his dark suede trench coat to mop away his tears. A few metres away from James music was blaring, it was ululation and a feast. James stood and said nothing. He was craving to be in one place, the only place that mattered and comforted his grief.
It had been five years since Nerea had died, no one had spoken about her since. James had left the city and moved back to a small rural town. He ran a hardware supplies store. He had aged by 20 years in that time span. His countenance was downcast, eyes sagging from the weight of tears, his cheeks lifeless and limb seeking to reach their destination on the ground. His shoulders hunched over, arms rested on a long wooden cane supporting his weight. His shoulder blades sharp and more pronounced through his worn shirt and trousers held up by a sisal rope, shoes…he wore none. James coughed, his body shuddered violently. His feet dragged across the floor, inching for the black steel door. James opened it and as he turned to lock the door, he pushed the door open and looked up at the wall one more time. “Goodbye my love!” he mumbled longingly at the portrait of Nerea. James looked like a sage with his grey shoulder length thining locks.
It had been 3 months since the 7th anniversary of Nerea’s death. James didn’t join his family in the commemoration ceremony. He sat in doors at his shrine of Nerea. Pictures of her encircled by lit candles caked with layers of used wax. James said nothing he gazed upon his love rocking back and forth tears dousing out his candles. James whisked himself up, carried Nerea’s favourite blanket and book, “Where the wild things grow” and headed straight to the forest. He had been back in the city for a year.
2 hours had gone by and the sun had began to set. The forest grew cold, James wrapped himself up to fend off the chill. And just like his love 7 years before, he smelt an unmissbale stench of saliva and felt hot breath on him. The trees began to sway violently birds fleeing as they chirped. He turned and met eyeball to eyeball with a snarling and drooling beast. It smelt unusually like Nerea’s cucumber and watermelon scent. James was too tired and too frail to move. He sat there, then he heard a snap and felt an excruciating rip in his calf.
When James awoke, a silhouette stood before him, he saw nothing but blinding light. The silhouette moved and James saw the forest. It was cold, with the sun’s golden beams rushing through. The intensity of the sun grew causing a sting on his calf. James sat upright and looked at his calf, a hand touched him on his shoulder disrupting his self examination. The touch was familiar yet incomprehensible.
He turned and saw nothing, but he could still feel the gentle touch on his shoulder. It was persistent. James looked around him frantically, could it be? The birds chirped loudly and flapped off violently, something had disturbed them. The silhouette emerged once again. “It’s me honey! Take my hand. Take it!”
James reached out, he knew that silky voice. He took her hand and with a long effort he arose. He couldn’t gaze upon the radiance of the bearer of the voice. “It’s time” James involuntarily breathed in deeply and collapsed.
When he arose, he was on the top of a tree looking down at familiar faces, in a familiar scene; only they couldn’t see or hear him. The birds chirped, the tree branches snapped. And just like that, he and Nerea were together again, at peace, at home where they belonged.