During the month of July, Flash Fiction Fridays will be counting down our Top Five flash pieces since Bibliophilic Blather began this feature in September 2010. These are the five stories that received the most hits over these ten months. We hope you enjoy seeing this eclectic assortment again.
Coming in at number four from our February 2011 Romance theme...A Walk in the Woods.
A Walk in the Woods
By Margaret Lake
Mathias the Wizard strode through the forest, seeking the perfect subject for the most perfect spell ever invented.
He could feel the magic humming around him. Finally, he stood where the trees grew thickest and let the atmosphere of this dark place fill him body and soul. He spun slowly three times, eyes closed, then opened his eyes. A slender willow tree that he was sure hadn't been there before appeared in front of him.
This is the one, Mathias thought, tall, slender, soft, leaves drooping gracefully to the ground.
He pulled out his wand and gently tapped the trunk. “Exorior Spiritus Salix Alba”, he intoned, once, twice, thrice. At each tap, the tree shivered and Mathias knew he had the right one. When he finished the spell, he stepped back a pace, waiting for the wood nymph to appear.
She was more magnificent than he could ever have imagined. Pale skin, luminous green eyes, long, slender limbs. And when she spoke, it was like the sighing of a summer breeze.
“What do you want, wizard?”
“To free you from your prison.”.
“I am not imprisoned,” she replied haughtily. “I am the handmaiden of the Willow and I guard her spirit from all who would harm her.”
“Ah, but it is you who are the spirit of the Willow.”
“If what you say is true, then the Willow will die if I leave her.”
“But you would live as a human!”
“What has humanity to offer? I take my nourishment from the earth and sky. My limbs feel the caress of the wind and the birds sing their sweet music among my branches.”
“And except for the seasons, your life never changes. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, you stand unchanged and unmoving. Do you never long to see the world beyond? Do you never long for the sound of a human voice? The touch of a human hand?”
“Never!” she declared.
“And yet you listen to me talk, gazing into my eyes. Do not tell me you are not curious about me as a man.”
“I am curious, wizard. Show yourself to me.”
With a shout of triumph, he threw off his wizard's robes, letting her look her fill.”
“You are indeed a fine specimen, wizard,” she acknowledged. “Come closer so that I may wrap my branches around you.”
“I will come closer if you let me say the spell to make you human,” he bargained.
“Then do so and I will enfold you as you say the spell so that we may become one.”
And so Mathias cast the greatest spell ever invented. “Mutatio Arbore Homo…” But before he could say Femina, she wrapped her branches around him and he felt his limbs grow long and wooden as he turned into a mighty Oak. And as she promised, they became one, their branches entwining, their roots entangled forever.
Margaret Lake is the author of five novels, including Ariana's Pride and Catherine and the Captain, as well as a fiction anthology. To learn more about her, visit her website.