The Girl in the Woods: Old Alice's Story

Image: source unknown
   "There was this girl who lived in the woods. Some folks called her a witch and all, but I never set much store by that. Between one thing and another, she got to be our local legend, and most everyone claimed to have seen her. Some folks were probably telling the truth, a lot of them were just making it up, you know. But the girl was real, and I know because I saw her."
   Old Alice paused, waiting for her granddaughter to prompt with a question.
   Young Alice leaned forward expectantly. "What did she look like?"
   "Well, no-one could tell you that. It was her eyes, you see, they were so big and deep, and they just sorta pulled you in so you couldn't look at anything else to notice it. But this girl, she had a way with animals. They just followed her around everywhere. Wild animals, you know, deer and rabbits and such, but they were just tame as tame for her. That's why folks called her a witch. But I never believed in witches. I think some folks just have a way about them, you know, and animals understand things like that.
   "Well, this one time I was lost in the woods. And I mean lost. I was just starting to get scared, when here she came, just sorta flittin' through the trees, with squirrels and things all around her, and she waved to me with her hand, like this, and I just followed her, you know. I was scared of her, too, but I just kept following, and pretty soon I knew where I was. I saw that big old tree stump, and thought 'I can get home alright'. Well, she up and disappeared, just like that, melted away into the woods without a sound, and it was all so strange, with those animals and things, you know, and I thought I must have dreamed it or something. But the next day I went back to that old stump, and there were those tracks, all around, and so I knew that girl was real."
   Old Alice let out a long sigh, folded her hands, and looked at the child expectantly.
   "That's a good story!" Young Alice's eyes shone with excitement, "did you ever see her again?"
   "No, I never did. Other folks did, though. But no-one's seen her around here for a long, long time. She's gone away, I guess."
   "Guess she'd be pretty old by now."
   "Folks like her don't get old, not the same as the rest of us. You ought to know that! You keep a good lookout, Young Alice, and you might see her yet.
   "Leaving already May? Haven't scared you off with my stories, have I? Well, I guess it is a long drive. Come back when you can, and bring this Young Alice with you."
Image: 'Grow' Kirill Vorontsov
   "Mama, when we come back, I'm gonna go out in the woods and look for that girl."
   May, her attention absorbed with navigating the hairpin curves of a mist-obscured highway, did not seem to notice what her daughter said.
   "I'm gonna look for that girl." Young Alice tried again, "I bet she's still around here somewhere."
   She had gotten May's attention at last. "Hmm? What girl?"
   "You know, that girl Grandma Alice was telling me about. The one that lives in the woods with the animals."
   "Oh, honey, Grandma Alice was just telling you a story. There isn't really a girl in the woods."
   "But Mama..."
   "Shush!"
   Young Alice pressed her nose to the window and watched a vague mist world roll by. Dark tree trunks marched away into obscurity. Her eye followed deeper into the woods until a flicker of movement attracted her gaze - some darker shape in the shifting grey mist - flitting between the trees. Something, someone...
   "Mama! It's her!"
   "Alice, what are you...?"
   "Stop Mama! It's her! It's the girl! I can see her Mama."
   "Don't be silly. We're not gonna stop here in this fog."
   "Mama! Please!"
   "No, Alice, we're going home, and we're not stopping 'cause of some made-up story. That's it, understand?"
   Young Alice turned back to the mist and the trees. "I'll find her." She promised herself. "Just you wait and see. Next time, I'll look for tracks."

Image: source unknown

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