Girl, Book, Fantasy.
Haiku #4 by Susan Mehr
I take a peep outside from between the lounge room curtains at my grandparent’s home; an enchanted forest stretches before me, my imagination runs wild, inspiring dreams, so many stories.
“Now I don’t want you to venture into the forest on your own. It swallows up children, you know.” Thoughts remind me of Grandma yelling and shaking her finger at me from her kitchen. She spends days preparing food. I can’t help and enjoy the amazing aromas of Christmas floating throughout the house.
“Humbug! You’re scaring the poor child.” Pop’s opposing replies always follow. The entire time he sits heavily on his couch in front of the television yelling out comments. A methodical routine begins each morning by rolling out of bed and into his couch where breakfast waits on his fold-up coffee table. Apart from a few moments during the day when he uses the bathroom, I can’t recall Pop being anywhere in the house except his couch.
Nan and Pop have the same conversations every year. This year is different. I’m almost nine and a young lady.
My finger reaches out for the door handle, and I open the door, slow. It’s early, everyone still sleeping. Next, the crisp morning air fills my lungs, and barefoot I take my first steps outside on the icy concrete verandah. It sends shivers up my spine, so I dash on to the dew-covered lawn. My toes squish at the wet grass. Quick steps turn into a stiff-legged frolic as if in a dream. I dance closer to the forest where I can hear the breeze whistle through the leaves. It invites me to enter.
Butterflies fly overhead and add colour to the smooth tree trunks. I make my way further into the forest and dry leaves crackle as I step, they form a thick layer of mulch everywhere. The twisted arms of the tree’s branches create a sunshade above and the entwine wooden fingers matt the canopy creating a caged atrium which now, I strangely find myself in. I look up; the sun twinkles through the small holes and dart on to the forest floor. I look back. I can’t see Nan’s house. Where am I?
Panic sets in, I turn, left, right, left? The forest is everywhere. I turn again. A book, bigger than me materialises. The book opens, I step back. Wind rifles the word-filled sheets turning the pages on their own and the book rattles. My eyes widen and my scream echoes throughout the forest. A ghostly mist fills the air. Halfway through, the sheets stop. There are two blank pages. Peacock feathers decorate the edges. No at second glance they’re not peacock feathers. I peer closer and focus. No, I cannot believe. Oh my god, they’re eyes. They’re giggling. The book is looking at me; it’s alive.
‘Oh my god!’ I can’t help repeating.
Bold words appear on top of the page, ‘A New Chapter.’ The peacock eyes are moving and speaking.
‘It wants me to read.’
‘No, I can’t, I need to find Nan’s house.’
Thoughts rampage. What do I do? I close my eyes, my heart pounds, ready to explode from inside my chest. I open my eyes again, hoping it’s a dream. I wince. Oh my god, it still wants me to read. Why? I must, to escape this cage then darkness descends. The atrium is closing in. I can barely make out the other smaller words in this mist. I step closer and start.
Screeching laughs squawk in the distance and echo inside my head. Shrills won’t end and howl in joy. Heart pounds faster and my eyes dart back and forth to where I think the echoes originate. “Who is out there?” I scream. My breathing quickens, it’s scaring me.
‘I must. No. I can’t. No, I must try,’ I whisper to myself. I inhale, take a step closer and start.
Once upon a time.
In a land far, far, away.
A wallflower waits.
In full bloom before her time.
Pink petals unfold.
Fingers slide down arm.
His hand finds, her empty palm.
The magic begins.
The dance floor awaits,
fingers’ grip tight and beckon,
flying without wings.
She curtseys, he bows,
under chandeliers they stand.
‘In his arms, I blush,’
Pink transforms a cherry red.
‘Enchanted we sway.’
My hand he raises,
heavens twirl, I pirouette.
Then the clock chimes twelve.
Embrace breaks, I run.
To safety, now I must seek.
Evil surrounds me.
Tears of sorrow drown,
a love never meant to live.
Apart we shall be.
I wince, head echoes.
Laughter, a menacing mock.
Devil’s eyes haunt me.
Paralysed, I stare.
Devils hoofs pound hard the earth.
Grey skies, thunder cracks.
Sword shines brightness blinds.
Knight emerges from the dawn.
Now, the clash begins.
Blade strikes devil’s horns,
he plummets on to his knees.
A coward’s mercy.
Helmet falls, sword trails.
On green grass, they lay to rest.
Serious eyes ask.
Chest draws breath, his arm welcomes,
Hand on beseeched heart,
‘You Believe in love again?’
Stares rise, hushed they meet.
To see love so true.
He comes, takes her by the hand.
Takes thy breath away.
Devil at death’s door.
Defeated by true loves kiss.
Amour’s magic tune.
Flowers unfold, secrets free.
Summer never ends.
I inhale deep, my body relaxes, I sigh and raise my hands to my mouth, ‘That wasn’t bad, it’s a nice poem,’ I whisper. The eyes are still giggling; they enjoy the poem too. They’re so cute; I reach out to touch one.
Suddenly, flaming blackened hands burst from the middle of the book and claw at my arms. Giggles convulse throughout the forest, and a deep bellowing laugh terrifies. Deathly squalls reverberate, filling the air and pulsates through my body. Blackened fingers fan out, long and bony, with red pointed nails, stretch out slow in front of my eyes then clasp tight my wrists and tug. I lose my footing. I try to free myself and scream, but it pulls me in.
Eerie silence follows. Birds tweet, leaves rustle and a hint of a breeze’s whistle fills the air; Sunlight returns shining through the forest. ‘Poof.’ the book disappears.
Published 18 November 2018. Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog.
Girl, Book, Fantasy on this site is an edited version.