The Dark Man

    The dark man stood in a clearing and made it wider. The trees leaned away from him and the grasses bowed their heads and lay flat on the ground. As the branches parted he stood in a circle of light, the sun showing up the dust and dirt on the brim of his black hat.

    Soon soon, the leaves whispered. Soon. They sighed and then subsided as the wind dropped suddenly.

    "Too close, too close," the man said. "We'll make it a wider time again. A wild time. Soon."

    He bent down and touched the grasses, which shivered under his hands, dropping lower still, prostrate, submitting. The stems that lay against his boots fell onto the cracked leather and stuck. His brown, weathered hands pressed against the green of the grass, skin loose and crisscrossed with wrinkles as paper screwed into a ball and then unfolded, dusted with liver-spots and crawling with wormy veins.

    Soon soon, came the whispering again, the branches leaning in eagerly, heedless. A wildflower trembled on its stem, its heavy head turned away from the sun and to the no light of the dark man.

    "Wide time. Wild time," the man crooned softly and began to sing. There were no words to it, only feeing and longing and an old old hate. It took up the whispers of the leaves and the shimmer of the pine needles, drew down into the earth where it spread in the dark and warmth, rising green again and growing.

    His song became not a song at all, but everything. It was the trees, the sap inside them, the grasses, the seeds in the earth. It was the petals of the nodding flower and the wet moss. It was the white roots feeling blindly and the topmost branches as they reached for light. It was the forest.

    The grasses beneath his hand withered, turning brown. The rot spread outward, melting green to wet and stinking mulch. Where his hands lay the skin there glowed for a moment with a tint of green, echoing the color of the grass and when it was gone his hands were subtly different; the liver-spots reduced, the wrinkles smoothed a little.

    He stood, stuck both hands in his pockets and strode off whistling, his teeth white and even.



The End

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