Stopped by woods….

I wrote this for a competition for Christmas…. didn’t hear back from them. Oh well…. It’s a bit of whimsy.

*

Regeneration.

The team stopped and caught their breath.

They stood still and waited rubbing at the ground with its dusting of seasonal shake wondering, why stop with nothing near? A busy night to pause…. But perhaps the rumours were true. They’d been running for years after all.

He walked around them all placing a soft hand upon each of them before walking off without much more ado towards a gap into the forest beyond. Yes, perhaps it was the time….

Falling floating, down through downy flakes, the traveller came to rest with a bump in a glade. He sat up, and considered them the team with sadness in his eyes sat on the other side of the glade.

He became aware of someone behind him. He turned and saw a figure emerge from the depths of the forest and walk towards him. He was clad in cloak and cowl, and had a steady determined gait.

They each considered the other a moment before this stranger man spoke.

‘Welcome.’

‘To? Where am I?’

‘A forest.’

The traveller put his hand to his side, as a memory rushed back at him. He looked down and saw that he was fine. Unblemished. He looked at the man for understanding.

‘You are in a safe place. Please walk with me.’

‘What happened?’

‘You passed over.’

‘I felt nothing.’

‘Yes. That often happens. They tell me. We don’t know much about the system. But it seems to be benign.’

‘So I’m…..’

‘You are not as you were.’

He looked across the treetops at the glow of a distant city. ‘I so wanted kids.’

‘We know. Walk with me.’

They went into the forest, through the trees where they found some shelter. The man waited for his companion to speak first. It was most clear he was a guide. Someone who understood things.

‘This is destiny. But look, you have a choice. You’re on a short list. And the dates right. It’s the night when your people still believe in magic and hope. You can help all of them.’

And with a swish he revealed the waiting dreams of the globe as a vast swathe of sparkling expectation was laid out before them. He nodded.

‘I’ll do it. Oh yes, I’ll do it.’

‘No hesitation. Just awe.’ A pause, as he seemed to think. ‘Yes, you’re in.’

And then they drifted up and across the glade to where they waited – his team of six – all shimmering browns and red trimming.

‘No red nosed one?’

‘Oh no no, that’s just a myth.’

The man walked up to them, and as they gave their harness bells a shake he transformed before their eyes. He adjusted his wide belt, smiled and said the first thing that came to mind.

‘Ho. Ho. Ho.’

*

Michael Carey.

(with help and apologies to Robert Frost.)

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