grey forest


a witch: eve.

she is short silver hair. delicate moonlit eyes. and, snowy lace sleeves. she lives in a dead forest, where the mist curls around ebony tree branches and sits on the roof of her weathered mansion. the earth is quiet, the air is cold, the clouds take away the sun, and, the only creatures that thrive are the night things. wolves with white fur coats, owls with honey- cream eyes, obsidian- scaled snakes under the mansion and wrapped around the trees, ghosts that waltz with the fog and fairies that hide in the earth's caves.


eve left her mansion with a heavy coat and her pointed hat― her cat, midnight, trailed behind her with his lilac- pearl eyes wide open. she was looking for the wise owl, she needed one of his feathers for a crescent moon's meditation, later that evening. while eve and midnight wandered into the forest, a few fairies slipped out of their damp caves and visited the old mansion. it looked abandoned, for the most part. it was lifeless, with pale roses climbing up the windows and clear glass jars filled with a variety of bones, herbs, crystals and fruits. the fairies tip toed into the empty dance hall, the skeletons of tired souls were piled in the corner of the room while thick wool curtains were draped over the broken windows. the fog refused to enter the mansion, hesitant of being caught in a glass jar for eve to experiment with. the earth trembled under her touch and her words, but, the night things called her sister and cousin. the fairies unfolded their small gifts, little glass vials filled with quartz powder and tenderly wrapped wings from the fairies they had lost. they liked eve and her cat, midnight. earlier in the year, when a bitter winter had visited their caves, eve had invited them into the dance hall, where the bones of old memories fed them and became a warmer home. the fairies left their gifts in the middle of the dance floor, to make sure eve knew it was from them, and, then, they left her home, tracing their ink-stained footsteps back to their cave.

a few miles into the forest and a clear "who" could be heard. midnight jumped onto a tree branch and led eve to where the sound originated from. after another ten minutes of roaming, a deep crack in a lonely shadow tree revealed the cotton feathered owl, dozing off.

"echo?" eve whispered, "echo― there is a crescent moon, tonight." the old owl stirred. his cloudy eyes opened, he focused on midnight. "oh?" he looked to eve, "i feel as if it was just yesterday that i had given you a piece of my wing... time moves so quickly, when the clouds swallow the sun. here," echo spread out one of his wings for midnight to bite and pull a feather out, "take one, once more. tell me, why is the crescent moon so special to you? you have been in the mansion for eight crescent moons, now, and you have taken eight of my feathers. why does this moon need a piece of my flight? why do you come to me, when there are golden and ivory owls?" eve smiled and took the owl out of the tree, "well, my sweet echo, you are the only owl with time in your rib cages," she placed him on her arm and proceeded to walk down the path her and midnight had taken. "you see, when there is a crescent moon, nearly a new moon, your feather sits next to a candle made of ghost tears, which i have yet to collect, and each strand becomes a piece of ash that floats up into the sky, keeping the forest dead and quiet. when i leave, ferns and honeysuckles will begin to grow, again. the trees will return to their walnut and mocha colors. the sun will come pouring through the fog and the earth you remember will return to you."

midnight followed beside eve, quietly, as she continued, "the crescent is important because it is the last remaining light before the darkness that falls, tomorrow. and, your feathers are cotton with smoke patterns, a mixture of light and dark. do not worry, i will not be here long, this will be my last new moon in your forest." echo turned his gaze from her spilling lips and stared at the forest around him. soon, he thought, soon the earth would be warm, tasting of nectar and yellow sunbeams. a part of him hesitated, the charcoal trees were so familiar, now; they felt like a home he had been waiting for. a hauntingly beautiful home.

echo returned his gaze to eve, "take me with you, when you go. please. your crescent moon meditation may use my feathers for as long as i breathe. just, please, take me with you. i do miss the warmth, but you have given me a place to rest my old wings... please, eve." his body weight became heavier on eve's arm. her eyes explored echo's thoughts. she was used to traveling alone with midnight, but it would be nice for midnight to have a friend when she became busy wandering through the forests they visited. "alright, my sweet echo, you may come with us. right now, though, i must dance with the ghosts― go with midnight and rest in the mansion, i will be back before dusk." and, with that, the old owl opened his wings and flew to midnight. midnight nodded his head at eve and ran down the path back home with the owl above him.

barefoot and eager to see the ghosts, eve's footsteps traced along stones and roots, softly and quickly. after following the cold fog for five minutes she arrived to an empty lake, with a large mirror that leaned into yet another shadow tree. eve began to hum a tune her fairy- friends had taught her, it allowed her footsteps to glide across the lake's surface, as she made her way to the mirror. once in front, she knocked twice and kissed the cool surface. a wet and misty hand reached out of the mirror, eve took it, pulling it out into the world. the ghosts came rushing out, one by one, all taking eve's hand and leaving damp traces of their souls on her skin. with her hum vibrating through their thin existences, they began to dance across the lake. once enough had poured out of the mirror, eve twirled her way into each of the ghosts' arms and movements. she closed her eyes and let her hips sway above the ghost- filled lake. she reached into the folds of her heavy coat and pulled out a silver vial, she let her eyes follow each of the ghosts and she opened her mouth.

"the little moon wept in my bedroom," she sang, "and i tossed her back into the sky. i gave her to the stars, because i was too deep. i pushed pearl kisses into her tears and begged her to be silent. her moans were painful, and now she is far away. i move like a figment of a thought, crawling around the forests to find her in my chest, rolling down my spine and forgetting the name i called her. eve. eve. silver haired and whimsical eve, why did you leave me? my love, my eve, now you will chase me in shades of silver, shadows, and salt. now, little eve, you will sing to me..." eve's voice was gentle and broken, the ghosts had slowed down to listen. her fragile song had given their wet souls heavy emotions, a melancholy pain that caused them to weep, as the moon had once wept. eve repeated her song as she danced between the ghosts, collecting their tears as they fell from their empty eyes. within the hour she had nine silver vials filled with their tears. eve stopped singing and hummed a new tune, one that led the ghosts back into their mirror world. oh, eve thought, how i will miss your lake dances, my hollow friends.

midnight and echo waited patiently in the kitchen of the old mansion. midnight was busy clearing the counter, while echo rested. the black cat brought a glass jar with the bones of a bat's wings, the gifts the fairies had left, and a bundle of sage to the middle of the kitchen. that was all eve needed, plus the feather and tears she was bringing.  seeing his work was done, for now, midnight curled up beside the owl and closed his lilac- pearl eyes.

eve entered her temporary home. she took out the spotted feather and the silver vials, placing them next to the pile of items midnight had taken out. she walked through the kitchen, quietly, so that she wouldn't disturb the napping creatures. she let her fingers roam around the cabinets, in search of a cement bowl and an ivory colored cloth. then, she sat on the floor and poured the ghost tears into the bowl. in a hushed voice she spoke, "delicate web spinning on a tongue of daydreams, leave the sight of clouds in a tree's skeleton and taste the air." one deep breath in, and a breathless sigh― the tears began to separate into thin candle sticks, glowing with moonbeams on the tip. she took the candles out of the bowl, wrapped them in the ivory cloth, and placed them in the folds of her lace dress. then, she placed the sage, fairy wings, owl feather, quartz powder and bat-wing bones into the bowl. she nudged midnight and echo, arousing them from their nap.

midnight opened his eyes and stretched. he strolled over to the bowl and smelled the scent of sage and death, his favorite. echo woke and found his place on eve's arm, once more. she took the two creatures, along with the bowl, into the dance hall, where the fog had moved from the sight of the broken window to let the last of the moonlight pour into the large room. midnight curled into a ball at eve's feet and echo flew to one of the windows, where he could watch from. he did not want to be near eve when she meditated. eve placed the bowl in front of her and took the candles out and stood them around the bowl, the tops of their shape still glowing. in the moonlight, though, the candles began to hum, a sweet and slow song. midnight watched as eve moved her hands forward and backward from her body, in sync with her breathing. she always captivated him when she was simple and caught up in her routines.

"dripping lips of silver, fall into my hands, glowing song of moonstone, visit this old bone, take the life before you, learn to start anew," eve whispered under her breath, "take the life i offer, lead me home. home. to your escape, my home. my moon. my heart." with every word, the items in the bowl began to disintegrate and rise into the air. they were caught in the motion of eve's hands, being pulled to her chest and then pushed out, into the moonlight, where they rose out of the windows and joined the nearby fog. it was just as eve had told echo, everything in the meditation kept the forest in the dark. this was home. the grey forest. tomorrow, echo would never see this home again. tomorrow, eve was leaving with her beloved midnight and her sweet friend, echo― they were leaving to find another abandoned mansion in a forest that needed ghosts, fog, and silent songs.

Cheyenne RaineComment