It's time for Unicorn Bell's A Picture Paints 1000 Words Blogfest.
Here's the image I chose:
I chose the least fantasy-ish image, and since my laptop was dead or dying for the last 2 weeks, I didn't much time 'cause I only got it back Saturday afternoon and then had to install the OS, transfer all my data, etc, so please forgive the rough nature.
I decided 1,000 words was too long, so I stuck to exactly 500 words.
Into The Woods
On the way into the woods, James always took my hand and helped me down steep ravines, over fallen logs, and across meandering streams. When playtime was over, he walked far ahead and left me to stumble on my own. Behind his brother’s back, Alex shoved and poked me with sharp sticks. He’d bend saplings which would spring back and whip my face and hands. He’d spit and say I was a city-girl. That I was noisy and would scare the deer. That I should stick to sidewalks instead of crawling on animal trails through the thick underbrush. Alex reminded me how easy it was to get hurt in the woods.
He was right. My hair and dress would snag on twigs and my white shoes and stockings would be dyed black from wading through swamps of foul-smelling mud. My bare limbs would sting and bleed from flushing birds who had nested deep within briars or a tangle of nettles. But it was worth it.
When we’d get back to the farmhouse, James would bandage my scrapes and worry about my pretty clothes. He’d wash them clean before mother came to pick me up, and while they were drying on the clothesline, I’d be bundled in one of his huge, plaid shirts that tickled my nose with the smell of sunshine and warm grass.
I’d smell like James did before we went into the woods.
When we came out, he always smelled like blood.
Sometimes he carried an air rifle, sometimes a bow and quiver of arrows. He shot raccoons from the dark crooks of tall cedar trees and bright-eyed fawns in sun-dappled glens. When I’d flush nesting pheasants, James would dress my hair in their feathers while Alex thrashed the wild grass flat with a stick and hide tiny eggs in his shirt pocket. I watched as a coyote’s growls went silent and crouched close to see the final, twitching kicks of a tawny rabbit. We pulled quills from a dead porcupine one afternoon and ate blackberries until my hands were stained nearly as dark as James’ hands. He didn’t suck his fingers clean like I did.
Alex didn’t have to, but he always came with us into the woods. Though James never touched me on the way back, Alex became kinder. He’d hold back branches and point out gnarled roots I might trip over. He’d pick thorns from my skirt and mutter that he’d expect nothing less from a city-girl. That I was trouble, annoying, stupid. Gently, he’d untangle my hair and gather handfuls of wild dock to ease the stinging nettle welts on my bare skin.
Every time mother dropped me off, she’d ask what we were going to do, and I’d tell her that we would play in the woods.
She’d warn me to stay safe. To not get dirty.
I never knew how to explain how that was impossible. For James only took my hand on the way into the woods.