Tale #74: The Woman In The Woods

There was a woman who lived in the woods, in a tower as white as bone and as bright as teeth. The people of the town considered her a witch, and set the forest on fire in the hope of driving her away. But although the trees burnt to ash, her tower did not burn at all, for it was built of stone, and she survived unscathed.

In fear of her retribution the townsfolk fled.

Eventually the woods grew back around her tower, and in time, too, over the town. And the town passed into myth and beyond memory and was soon forgotten by all.

The woman who lived in the woods went on with her life, and was thankful to be forgot.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. A man came to her house and said, “You are a witch,” and to this she did not reply. For she thought it was not to for her to defend herself from baseless accusations of witchery, for was not witchery itself a projection upon her from another, and therefore a manifestation from without rather than within, and not within her capabilities to control.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. The people of the town considered her a witch, and warned their children never to go near her.

One day, when she was washing her clothes in the river, a group of concerned men captured her and brought her back to face the judgement and justice of the good folk of the town.

“Why do you torture me? the woman asked. “Could you not let me speak for myself?”

“The utterances of a witch cannot be trusted,” replied the inquisitors, and went on with their work.

It was only upon her death that any definite conclusion could be reached as to her nature, but alas by then it was too late for justice.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She was known by all to be a witch, and was therefore shunned, pilloried, despised.

She liked weaving, stargazing, and the reading of poetry (although she had no time for the writing of it). She claimed the friendship of wolves in lieu of human contact. She spoke the language of crows.

She prospered.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. No one had ever seen her, or if they had, they had not spoken to her. But it was true that their fathers had seen her, or at least so their fathers said.

She was exactly as evil and beautiful and as wise and treacherous as she was, and there was nothing that could be done about her.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She was the woman who lived in the woods.

***

There was a woman in the woods. She sat beneath a tree and watched the rain fall all around. When it stopped, she stood up and continued on her way.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods, far away from any other people. This was exactly how she liked it, and she lived quite happily to a ripe old age.

***

There was a woman who was sent to live in the woods. For the first few years of her exile she was sustained purely by the strength of her anger and the constancy of her defiance, and so she did not perish.

But anger can never be eternal, no matter how righteous the rage, and eventually she fell into a wellspring of despair, which, fed by her heartbreak and her betrayal, and shaped by means of its flow within and around her heart, built up a complex structure of misplaced guilt which shifted the blame for her situation from those that deserved it onto herself, who did not.

Just as anger can not last forever, even despair has its time, and eventually she drifted through many years in a haze of deadness and nothingness, and slowly she forgot there had ever been more than this, that there ever could be, ever would be.

Whatever help she needed was denied her, and where she went from there who can say.

***

There was a woman in the woods. They left her there to rot. But she would not rot. She would live her life. Hers and hers alone.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods
and spent her days painting pictures
of sheep
and cows
and other things
that she never saw in the woods
anymore

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods
She wrote herself a poem
on the bark of a tree
that said
we make stories of ourselves
we make stories of others
we make stories of our children
and they of their mothers

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods
She sat beneath the trees
and stared at the leaves
and dreamed
they were clouds

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods
She went out every morning
and sat by the stream
and recorded every word it said
onto cd

***

There was a woman in the woods
walking around
christ knows where

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. They said she could follow you around for a mile or more, and you’d never know she was there.

But she was there

the woman

who lived in the woods

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She told no-one her story, and after she died, no-one told it for her.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She told others her story, but everyone ignored her.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She told no-one her story, and after she died, others told it for her, as if it were there own.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She grew up, married a man, had a child, and then another. Eventually her children grew up, and went on their way.

One morning, at breakfast, she looked across the table at her husband and thought, “It has been so long since we were alone together. An emptiness has opened up between us and there is nothing now to fill it.”

She had know idea what to do, what to say, where to go. She would slip out during the night and scream her frustrations into the hollows of trees, whisper her desires to the crows in the branches, weep to no-one but herself in the shadows, and finally steady herself beneath the moon before going back inside for another day, and another, and another.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. When she got in from work she was always too tired to cook. She would make herself some sandwiches and eat them where she stood.

She dreamed some nights of a world wider than she could see.

She dreamed some nights of something unseen above, its shadow wider than the world, and widening evermore.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. One day a travelling merchant came to her house and showed her many things. She bought as much from him as she could afford, for she was lonely and hoped to keep him there as long as possible.

Eventually he left with her money, and she never received the goods that he promised.

***

There was a woman in the woods. The bass pulsed through her body, louder and louder, heavier and heavier. She closed her eyes, let it consume her.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She drank too much and she ate too much and she wasted what money she had on frivolities and indulgences and she dressed badly she never brushed her hair she was coarse and vile and rude and often unpleasant she was awful she was a disgrace she was shameful a wastrel did she have no respect did she have no self-respect did she have no idea of responsibility she should get a job she should learn how to behave she should learn how to dress she should get herself a man she should settle down and do as she was told she should do as she’s told she should have herself a baby and do as she’s told

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. The woods were the world, the world the woods. She tried to escape but there was nowhere else to go.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She dreamed of the city, she dreamed of the sea. She dreamed of the plains and she dreamed she was free.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods.

She wandered into town once. Went to the library. Looked at all the books. Counted them. Imagined reading one a day, for the rest of her life. Never even getting through a quarter of them.

She imagined all the other libraries. All the books, in all the languages. All the films. All the plays. All the episodes of all the tv shows.

She imagined the seven billion people alive. Imagined meeting every one. One person a second, 31 million a year. No sleep, no stopping. 200 years to meet them all, assuming death was abolished. Death, and also birth.

Outside she looked up, saw for once the whole of the sky. She saw the stars. Saw the milky way. Imagined everything from which it was made. A 100 stars for every person.

She dreamt of all the galaxies. A 100 galaxies for every star in our own. A thousand maybe. A million. A trillion.

An infinitillion.

She began to weep. A single tear for every one. Every galaxy. Every star. Every person. Every word. Every thing she would never see, every thing she could never know, every thought she would never have.

That was why there was a woman in the woods.

***

There were four billion women who lived in four million woods and every one of them was different and every one was the same and every one of them deserved more than they had and more than they got and more than they were given and more than they could give.

And every one of them lived and every one of them died, and every one of them was remembered and every one of them was forgotten and the forgetting lasted longer than the remembering and that was the way of the world and that was all there was and all there every would be.

A moment of not-being. A moment then of being. A moment more as echo. And after, silence.

***

There was a woman who lived in the woods. She was born. She lived. She died. Now there was no woman who lived in the woods.

__________

Notes:

1. Written in August 2014
2. Except for a few bits
3. Written here and there
4. Between then and now

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Tale #56: In the woods in the winter

In the woods. In the winter.

Snow on the bridge. The river frozen below. Wind in the trees.

All beneath a birdless sky.

The wolf limped forward, one footprint in four as red as the moon. In her jaws, a child.

She held the child delicately between her teeth, kept her warm with her tongue, with her breath.

Silence at the camp. The sound of sleep, of the watch going unwatched.

The wolf placed the child by the fire. Licked the blood from her face. Then retreated to the shadows, made enough noise to raise the dead.

She watched as they came. As they shouted, as they panicked. As took the child delicately in their arms, took her back inside to keep her warm by the fire.

The child’s cries were carried on the wind, through the trees, over the bridge, across the river, through the dark and on and on through the night.

Back to where I fell, to where she was found. Back to where I died, where she was born.

___________

Notes:

1. Written on September 25th, 2017

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Tale #39: The town, the forest, the past

The forest was a perfect history of the town. The founding mothers (who the fathers were we cannot say) each planted a tree for themselves in the centre of a field, in the form of a circle. They planted a tree for each of their children on the occasions of their births, which in time formed a second circle. And later there grew a third circle for their children, and a fourth for theirs, and so on, until today, until tomorrow.

A child’s tree is planted in sight of their mother’s (as far as space allows) and in this way, for any person alive today, you can follow their motherly line all the way back to the centre, all the way back to the beginning.

When someone dies, the roots of the tree are poisoned. The bark is stripped from its bones, and their likeness carved into the dead wood beneath. Likewise, when a living person’s tree dies, they are poisoned. The flesh is stripped from their bones and their skeleton is arranged outside their home in the form of a tree.

It is said if you walk in the woods on a fog-thick night you can speak to every one.

__________

Notes:

1. Written October 2014

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Tale #12: The Old Woman Who Lived In The Woods

There was an old woman who lived in the woods.

“Are you a witch?” asked the crow.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the crow cawed and shared with her its breakfast.

“Are you a witch?” asked the cat.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the cat purred and shared with her its lunch.

“Are you a witch?’ asked the priest.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the priest fell silent and kept for himself his dinner.

__________

Notes:

1. Written on August 9th, 2014

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Tale #9: The Saddest King Of All

There was a king in the woods who was ever so sad. Every day he looked out of the window of his castle and sighed. “If only these trees did not block my view,” he thought. “Then I would be happy.” So he ordered his soldiers to cut down all the trees in the forest.

The next day he looked out of his window again, only now he could see another castle on the horizon. Again he sighed. “If only I had never seen that castle, I would still be king of all I surveyed,” he thought. “Then I would be happy.” So he ordered his treasurer to buy the castle from whomsoever it was that owned it.

The next day the king and all his court travelled there to the castle by the sea and set themselves up in their new home. In the morning he looked out of his new window and saw before him the sea. “I hate the sea,” he realised, sighing more deeply than ever before, for he knew the sea could not be controlled, and nor could it be moved away. “If only I was back in my old home, quietly away from the endless roar of the waves. Then I would be happy.”

So he went back to his old home, which was silent and empty. He sat down upon his throne, and began to weep. “If only there was someone here to talk to,” he said. “Then I would be happy.”

But there was no-one for him to talk to, for his family and the members of his court much preferred living by the seaside and would not return. And so he wept and wept, all alone, for the rest of his days.

As the years passed, the forest grew back up around the castle until the trees were thicker and darker and deeper than ever before (for there was no-one there to cut them back), and the many empty rooms of the castle were claimed by crows and foxes and other creatures of the forest (for there was no-one there to shoo them away), and in time the walls themselves began to crumble (for there was no-one to repair them) and eventually the king died, unhappy and unloved and unremembered, in the ruins of his home.

And all the while the city by the sea prospered.

__________

Notes:

1. Written June 6th, 2014
2. The title, premise and opening line of this story are inspired by (or parodies of) The Saddest Bear Of All

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