In the silver dusk the slender black limbs stretched towards the last glimmers of dwindling light. Winter had stripped leaves and cast a stony silence in the air, only to be cut by the shrill sounds of the wind.
Within the depths of the sinews below – winding ribbons the ashy shade of a thunderous sky – a movement broke the stillness. The weaving strands seemed to cavort, twisting and turning, until a spiral opened up the dry earth. Pale fingers arose. Through the haze delicate arms were revealed.
She clambered upwards, untangling herself from the silvery sinews that had entwined her body like a spider’s web. In the struggle to pull up the great plumes of her skirt, the red ribbon that held her hair neatly was ripped against the black bark of a nearby trunk. As she rose to her feet, sleek, a soft cascade of chestnut hair flowed down her back. Her startled eyes drank the scene.
Before she could step forward, a creature swept towards her with white wings, speckled with gold. The owl plunged not at the girl, but to where the twisting streams of her entrance. Exposed, the red ribbon was laid limp, like the body of a wounded soldier left to die. Rescued by the soft feathered creature, the ribbon was carried to its owner. The sharp talons left only half the ribbon in the hands of the girl. She clutched at the strand, staring first at the frayed end; then, fearfully, she eyed the huge bird before her small frame. A quiet gasp. Dark eyes rimmed with deep blue just like her own. But these had a strength to them – these eyes were wise. She blinked and yet the flutter of her eyelashes did not change what she saw.
It was at this moment, during her realisation, that her mind was cast back to the last time she had visited the forest. Her face had been even more delicate, yet to be carved with the beauty, the raised cheekbones of a princess. While her hands were not built with the strength of a woman, her slight body was able to wind its own way out of the tangled streams.
She remembered those years of stumbling through different worlds, falling into the depths as the spiralling bands pulled her dainty feet. Sinking into darkness and rising up through the next weaving ribbons of grey. Aimlessly wandering through the abandoned places until her next fall.
Those had been long forgotten memories, just bad nightmares, until now. Now there was no escape.
The owl had gone when she opened her eyes. She felt the prickles of sweat beading on her temples, but began to run. She was so fast, dashing to dodge the towering trees, that her feet were unharmed by the threatening looms of ashen grey. But soon she became tired. Not because her body was exhausted, but because she was lost. Everywhere was the same: desolate silver air pierced by the shrieking wind; misty grey sky shattered into pieces by the fine branches. She felt a ring of the cold grey vine snag her foot. Like an animal she had been caught. She felt herself lose control of her body, plummeting down. Soon the darkness encased her completely. She closed her eyes, to shut out this strange and haunting world. But this couldn’t stop the dizzying feeling as she tumbled through time, spinning madly. Her hands trembled, still clutching at the ribbon.
When she finally felt stable and the dizziness had died away, she opened her eyes slowly. She could feel the dim light of her next world filtering through the threads above her. This time she didn’t reach up and explore the next place. She couldn’t bear it any longer. Even the weight of the strands pushing down on her shoulders was too much knowing what it was. Knowing that in every fibre was the soul of another of the dead. That was what pulled her down every time – their desperation. She knew that if she stayed she would only join them, she would only be consumed by the darkness and become eternally ensnared in the endless web. The only other hope was to become a guardian. But hers had left her in her thoughtful daze, so how could she hope to become one?
Maybe it’s time, she thought. A last look into the pale light. For the last time, she closed her eyes.
Her wings were beautiful and golden.
This is a response to the Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge #14
Jump or dance around excitedly.