29th Aug 2016, 6:17 PM
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LilyRose 29th Aug 2016, 6:17 PM edit delete
Chapter Twelve

The tree is directly in front of her, as though it had been planted there just before she got to it. Laura looks down at the ground, thinking about its roots. But there are no roots. She doesn’t even see the tree. What she sees are feet; small, delicate brown feet, suspended above the ground, hovering at about the height of her knees. They are pointing downward, at the ground. They are bobbing slightly, like balloons on a tether. They are smooth, and the toes are perfect; perfect, round little toes, with perfect little nails, clean, uncalloused, the way she’d always imagined a baby’s of her own would be perfect. Perfect little feet, hovering over the forest floor.

Amazingly, Laura doesn’t feel frightened. Amazingly, she feels a stillness inside her. It’s not a feeling she recognizes at all. It’s not a numbness. It’s as though there had been a string inside her, holding everything tight, and that the string had suddenly broken, and let it all fall every which way. Even her thoughts feel still. Just these feet. Just these perfect little feet.

She slowly, unhurriedly, brings her gaze upward. She doesn’t really know what she’s looking at, hanging in the air there before her. It has the appearance of a person. Its face is like that of a young girl, or a very feminine boy, with just a hint of squareness to the jaw. Its brown body is lean and smooth; a perfection of graceful lines. It is naked; small round breasts like polished wood, a smooth round belly over a thatch of dark pubic hair, from which pokes out an uncircumcised penis. Its hips suggest the curves of a woman; its square shoulders that of a young man. Long hair spills over it in curling locks, some reaching down to its waist, and below.

It eyes are large, vaguely almond shaped, and stare at Laura with an uncanny intensity. She is suddenly aware that they have no white in them and they have no pupils; they are all one soft, slightly shifting color, a kind of grey - green - turquoise. No - they do have pupils; tiny, tiny black dots in those iridescent fields of color.

There is a frightening intelligence in those eyes, something Laura has never encountered before. They have the look of a wild animal that has gained a wisdom and self-awareness far beyond that of a human’s. Intelligent, feral eyes. They defy her ability to fully comprehend them, these eyes. All she knows is that they are looking at her, and seeing her, what she is, who she is, and they are thinking about her. This she knows, no doubt about it at all.

The air around its head is shimmering; a blurred, thrumming beat like the vibration of an electric fan. She can actually feel the push of it; an insistent rhythm, different from that unheard music. It has the feel of air pressure rapidly shifting up and down, playing havoc with her inner ear. It’s as though invisible wings were beating the air, churning it so that it puts the two of them at the center of a vortex. A dense perfume fills the air: grasses and flowers and rich, rotting earth. The air feels like a silken liquid filling her lungs.

They can only be seen if they want to be seen.
“Oh my God,” she whispers to the wild, fiercely intelligent eyes. “You’re a faery.”

As soon as she says it, she knows that it’s true. God help her, but she does. Now it all makes sense; the strange tree with the living skin, moving impossibly from one place to another. The flitting movement out of the corner of her eyes. That stillness in her mind somehow allows her to take this in, and accept it. She can’t turn away from those eyes. They terrify her. Even through this unnatural stillness within her, she can practically smell her own fear. She is sure, in the same way that she knows this thing before her is a faery, that she is going to die.

If only she could find the strength to run.

The faery floats in the air like a reed rippling underwater. The rapid beat of the air increases, the vortex wraps itself around them. The faery lifts a slender arm; its hand all long, beautiful fingers. It moves its hand toward Laura’s face, never looking away from her eyes, and she feels her body tense with the anticipation of its touch. She feels like a live, exposed wire is being moved toward her. She can smell the quickening of the air.

Its fingers reach her face, and she feels its touch on her cheek. Something deep and vast seems to open up in her. Her stomach does a roller-coaster drop. A swift, sparkling current rushes through: ice-cold water and white-hot electric light. It moves in her, through her, until she cannot sense anymore where the current begins and her own body ends. For a moment she understands that there are no boundaries; that the trees and the faery, and she herself, are only illusions; reflections of light on a great rolling ocean. She and the faery and the forest are one.

She could slip away into this knowledge like ink dissolving in water. Tear apart like smoke on the wind. She wants to, she can feel herself leaning in to it, already shredding, coming apart. Then like a reflexive jerk of the knee she cries out, pulling back, too afraid to escape into this nothingness. She cries out, and as she does, a light flares up in the faery’s eyes, its hand is withdrawn in an instant, and the strange creature vanishes from the air in front of her.

Laura is not aware of any more conscious thoughts until she crashes out of the woods and back into the hazy yard of the summer house. She keeps running until she is at the wooden deck, where she grips the rail and turns and looks back. Her race across the yard had disturbed some feeding birds, now they one by one flit back down to the grass from the trees they had taken flight to. The blue haze is still there, and the shadows have crept back all the way to the edge of the trees.

She brings her hand to her face. There are blank, numb spots on her cheek where the faery’s fingertips have been in contact with her flesh. The rest of her face is tingling; almost glowing with heat.

It touched me. She thinks. It touched me. What’s going to happen to me now?
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