A short story about a forest.
They call it the silent forest, I guess because no sound ever gets out. I wonder how that is possible, are there no animals, campers, teenagers looking for a cheap and safe thrill? What about the wind, dancing and whirling around the trees? That ought to make a sound. If the wind blows in the forest, and there’s no one there to listen, does it make a noise? I’d rather say it does.
My grandmother disagrees. She has another name for this place; she calls it the haunted forest. Creative, huh? Of course, with such a daunting name comes a story. One I’m told every time grandma happens to look at those gloomy trees. I’m not sure why she keeps telling me the same story over and over; perhaps it is the only one she knows.
There is a house, in the middle of the forest, that stands tall and magnificent, marking the exact center of that agglomerate of leaves and twigs people fear so much. Long ago, when people used to live in scary houses, far away from everyone that could help them and in the weirdest places (ok, maybe that wasn’t the way I was told, but definitely the idea that was formed in my mind), there lived a maiden, young and fair. She was the daughter of a very rich man, but having fallen in love with a thief (an arrangement her father would not approve), decided to steal some of the family possessions and run away. With the money she got from her thievery she built a house, as far as possible from her father’s estate; and with the rest of it, she lived happily with her beloved thief. Long story short, the guy left her when the money ran out, and the young and fair (my guessing) no longer maiden fell into a terrible despair.
I have to say, for a story that is so often told, the details after these events are relatively unknown, but they don’t matter, anyway. The cool part is about to start. Somehow the lady died, still fair, still young, sitting in a chair by the window, hoping her love to return. People say she is still there, encased in webs, her eyes always open, staring at the darkness outside.
Obviously, this being a true story and all, there are witnesses, people who entered the house, only to be chased out of it by a screeching woman, who followed them until the edge of the forest. There are victims too, said to have been torn apart by a grieving maiden (they still call her maiden, even though I’m sure nobody believed she was one). Never once they considered those people lost, no… they were killed, by a ghost who has a fetish for banshees and is also corporeal. I tried to explain that you can’t be a ghost and still have a body, but no one would listen. She was real, she is real, and that’s why no living creature inhabits the forest, hence the silence. “Well, that’s not true!” I said once “Trees are living beings.” My grandma smacked the back of my head so hard, I never publicly questioned the story again.
Sure, a ghost in the woods, could it be any more cliché? I suppose she could have a chainsaw… and maybe she does, she tears people apart after all!
Needless to say (but I’m saying it, anyway), granny made sure I never stepped near the forest, and she did so after my first attempt, dressing in white and appearing in the dark next to my bed. I was three.
Well, I’m sixteen now and not afraid of a flowing white sheet anymore.