I knew you would come.
The night is cool. Calm. Peaceful, like the water. The birds have gone to their roosts, the bats have come out to hunt, and the flowers have closed their petals to the sky. A soft breeze blows through the trees, rustling their needles with a sound like a thousand whispers. It rustles your hair, as well, and you brush a few loose strands from your face as you come to the edge of the forest.
You pause, hesitating, and a look of confusion passes over your face. I smile. Such strong, handsome features: Hair too dark to any longer be blond, yet too fair to be truly dark. A strong jaw, but not so strong as to be called hard or angular. Skin tanned and weathered by the sun, the skin of a man who knows that he was made for wildness and nature, not the soft, sickly life of man's world. Eyes, a soft brown flecked with green, like the forest floor beneath your feet. Eyes that watch me now from a distance, wondering.
"Where am I?" Your voice is strong, but puzzled. I smile again, and imagine that voice whispering love poetry in my ear as the wind rustles through the trees and the water laps at the shoreline.
"You are where you belong, my darling. Where you have always belonged. Your heart knows this to be true."
You take a step forward ... but only a step. Your eyes sweep over the water, over me, and then you turn back to look at the forest from which you came.
"How did I get here?" you ask.
I turn over and rest my chin on my hands. The cool water laps around me, licking the sand on which I lay.
"Your heart led you here," I say. "I called to you, and your heart answered me." A coy smile. "As I knew it would."
Your eyes meet mine, and again you step forward, entranced, captivated. Can you feel it, my beloved? Can you feel the calling of my heart to yours, the calling that draws you even now, each step taking you farther from the life that you have known?
"Who ... who are you?" you ask, your face poised between fear and happiness. Another step, closer to the water's edge.
I rise to my feet, brushing dark locks away from my face as I look on you, so handsome, so perfect...
"I am the peace in the midst of the wildness. I am the preserver, the sustainer, giver of life to the forest and all that is in it. I am serenity and constancy when the storm rages and the fire burns." I stretch out my hands, gesturing at the woods that surround us. "While I am, this is. When I am gone, so goes all that you see. Come to me, my darling."
You stop, and a strange look fills your eyes. Why do you hesitate, my love? Why?
You answer my question, though I did not speak. "Why?" you ask. "Why me? What do you want with me?"
I fold my hands before me like a supplicant. "I am lonely," I say, and my heart trembles along with my voice. "My heart cries for one like itself, one that feels the call of the wilderness, a heart unsatisfied with man's way. You have such a heart -- I know this. If it were not so, you would not have come."
Something changes in your eyes. You know I have spoken the truth. You come a little closer -- I can almost reach out and touch you now. But still the fear remains.
"What will happen to me?" you ask.
I smile broadly. "Something wonderful," I say. "You will know pleasures you have never dreamed of. But it is so difficult to explain in mere words..." I stretch out my hand toward you. "Come to me, and I will show you."
You are very close now -- nearly ready. I can see it in your eyes.
"Will I ... will I ever be able to go back?" you ask.
I gaze at you tenderly, sharing in the bittersweet emotions you feel, the truth your heart already knows but fears to admit.
"Would you ever truly want to?"
In answer, your hands stray to the buttons of your shirt. One by one they come undone, and you let it fall to the sand at your feet. Your shoes follow, and then the rest of your clothes, until you stand before me as nature intended. With eyes full of love and a heart sure of its choice, you step forward into the water to meet me.
I take you into my arms, the arms that have longed to hold you, and our lips meet, and you run your fingers gently through my hair. We press closer to each other, hearts and bodies joining, becoming one, until you are in me and I am in you and now, at last, forever and always, we shall never be alone again. Come, my lover! Let the waters surround us, fill us, entwine with us, as we rest forever in each other's arms.
"I'm sorry boss. We've combed that lake from one end to the other. There's no sign of him."
The ranger threw his hat on the table in disgust. "Damn it," he muttered. "What are we going to tell the family, Michael? That their son decided to go skinny-dipping in the middle of the forest, then disappeared without a trace?"
"Maybe the fishes got to him."
"No, there's nothing in that lake that's big enough to eat the bones. We should have at least turned up a skeleton, or most of one." He gazed out the window, frowning at the trees beyond. "No, something else happened out there. Damned if I know what it was, though." He sighed and shook his head. "I'll write up the report and send it out to the police tomorrow. They won't like it, but it's the best we can give them. Go ahead and call it a night, Michael. Your wife's waiting for you."
"Thanks, boss. G'night."
The younger man walked to the door, reached for the handle, then paused.
"Wasn't that the same lake where that little girl disappeared -- what was it, sixteen years ago? The one they say fell in at the north end of the lake and drowned?"
The ranger frowned. "Now that you mention it ... yeah, I think you're right. Damn..."
"Did they ever find the body?"
The older man gazed thoughtfully out at the woods. A wind blew through the trees, rustling softly.
"No," he murmured. "No, Michael,
I don't believe they did."
Copyright 2001 by Raven Blackmane. If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask for permission first. Thank you.
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