I was watching my feet and the path ahead, noticing the elongated shadows of the stones on the path.  The sun was high in the sky an I had nowhere special to be.  I was just wandering.  Sometimes its good to be alone.

I had walked for some way.  On my left hand side were yellow fields of rape stretching for miles and on my right was the edge of some woodland.  Unaffected by their pollen, I have always been enamored of the wide expanses of yellow flowers reflecting the sunshine and bringing brightness to my day.  I like to walk the paths between the fields and imagine that they stretch on forever, that the cities and towns of day to day existence are nothing more than memories of a dream.

The sky was an aching blue and the heat of the midday warmed my bones, encouraging the knots of tension in my muscles to unravel and my limbs to become light.  I found myself smiling.  I hadn’t walked this far in a long time, and as much as some distant part of me was aware that I should really be checking up on the time, I was far too happy in that moment to even consider turning back now.

I looked up from the alien landscape at my feet to drink in the glow of the day and feel the sun on my face and as I did so I noticed an opening in the shrubbery to my right.  I peered in through the greenery.  The grass was long and tall and there were nettles guarding century but I could nevertheless see a pathway through and I was entranced by the tall trees and the white blossoms.  I stepped through the opening into an enchanted other world.

The sun was not so strong here, high branches offered mottled shade and there was a feeling of moisture in the air.  Each step I took released the scent of grasses and low growing flowers into the air to mingle with the perfume of the trees as they swayed resplendent in their spring time finery.  I imagined that I was walking along the roads and crossings of the life of the woods, where foxes, rabbits, hare and deer found their way out of sight of human eyes.  Walkways disappeared into the undergrowth ahead or veered back toward the treeline and the open fields beyond.  Each time I found a fork in the road I felt compelled to continue towards the heart of the forest.

‘The woods can be more dangerous than you know, you should watch your step.’

The voice was like a whisper spoken in my ear and yet it was all that I could hear.  Like the roar of the wind on a stormy day and the sigh of the breeze in the leaves all at once.  I had assumed that I was alone and looked around in shock for my companion.

He was tremendously tall.  His face, hidden in the dappled shadow of the canopy, appeared mottled and rough, like tree bark.  Dreadlocks hung like vines around his shoulders.  He lent against one of the oaks with his arms folded across his broad chest, a faint smile playing at his lips.

‘The way you choose your path one could almost believe that you want to get lost.’

And what if I do.  I thought.

‘Hmmm.  There are those that would miss you.’   It was almost as if he had heard me.

‘And the woods can be a dark and frightening place.  You would be wise  to find your way home.’

I looked behind me to see the way back and found that I could no longer see the path I had followed.  I looked around and around in fear, my eyes clutching at each branch and flower trying to find a familiar landmark but there was none.  I suddenly felt very isolated and very, very afraid.  My skin prickled as I began to sweat and the warm air felt cold against my hot, damp skin.  My heart raced.  I became aware of every movement around me and I knew somehow that there were others there,  in the grasses and the branches.  I could feel their eyes watching me.  I looked back at my companion for reassurance.

He smiled, a broad lazy smile and simply gazed at me.  I couldn’t speak.

‘The woods can be a dark and frightening place.’  He said again.

I looked at him, imploring, pleading but to what end?  Did I expect him to help me find my way home or to save me from the watchers in the grasses?  Did I expect him to care?  They, the others watching from the grass, moved closer.  His eyes were impenetrable.    He held my gaze.  Did the seasons turn while he looked at me?  Was I cold because it had become winter again?  It felt as though days and weeks had passed.

‘Go.’ He said suddenly.  I looked in the direction that he was pointing and saw a path just to my left which lead to a break in the foliage and clear views of the rape seed beyond.  How had I not seen that before?

I nodded wordlessly and ran.  The eyes in the grass grew legs and began to chase me.  I heard them rustling in the undergrowth and shaking the branches above me as they leaped from branch to branch.  I ran as one who fears for their life and his voice followed me as if he were pacing me step for step.

‘You cannot expect kindness when you have not been kind, human.  The woods are not your friend.’

I stepped, breathless, into the sunlight, spinning to see my pursuers but I saw only eyes in the dappled light before the leafy walls closed shut behind me.