By Chloe Charlotte
You separate the hanging vines with curled fingers. Their spindly leaves brush gently against your cheeks as you pass through them. The cold, mossy scent of the damp earth lingers in your nostrils and the misty air clings to your skin, chilling your face and hands. You feel refreshed.
The sound of cracking sticks and crunching leaves underfoot breaks the silence. Your ears tingle. Suddenly, you become aware of the sound of your own breath rhythmically whispering through the thick mist. As you take a few steps further, a silhouette emerges from the fog.
The silvery moonlight outlines her figure, highlighting her otherworldly aura. She takes the form of a pale-skinned woman, with muted red hair spiraling down her back and chest. Her pointed ears peak through the curls, and from them hang teardrop opals. Upon her head sits a dense crown of emerald leaves and peonies.
She tiptoes toward you, her dainty feet making no sound as she steps. Her eyes connect with yours, and you see the galaxies embedded within her sparkling irises. They speak a truth you have never known before; she is grounded to the Earth in a way that others will never understand. She presses her sylphlike fingers to her pouted lips as if to blow you a kiss. You feel giddy, yet at ease in her ethereal presence.
From her lips, she creates a bubble, a perfect glowing sphere with translucent, iridescent skin. It grows and swells to the size of her hand, and she gently guides it in your direction. The bubble barely grazes the skin on your forehead before it bursts and releases glimmering sparks into your eyes. You blink rapidly with shock, and as you blink, your vision grows dark.
“What’s going on?” You ask, panic laced in your voice.
Your blindness begins to dissipate, and you frantically look from left to right. The ground is barren, and the trees that surround you are bare and charcoal black. The stench of smoke makes your nose burn and throat sting. You cough hoarsely. You see flurries of animals; squirrels, rabbits, and deer fleeing from their homes in desperation as the coarse drone of chainsaws fills the air. The animals are joined by hundreds of fae, all attempting to make their escape. Their distressed shrieks make your heart drop in your chest.
A sickness clenches the pit of your stomach. Birds swoop past your head. Instead of singing a cheerful melody, they are screeching warning tones to one another. In the distance, the wooded horizon incandesces, accompanied by the sound of crackling timber. The smoke makes your eyes water, and so you blink again. The vision vanishes. The smells and sounds disappear as if they had never been. The woman gazes at you motionlessly as you come back to your senses. She places her face next to your ear and utters:
Her voice is silky, yet it has an eeriness that chills your neck. The chill travels down your spine until it returns into the Earth through the soles of your feet. Su evas. You ponder what language it could be, as you have never come across it before. She is gone.
You look around at the empty forest, but the phantom cries of its inhabitants ring incessantly in your mind. Over the swell of voices, the words “su evas” repeat themselves time and time again. But what could they mean? As you wander deeper into the forest, you no longer notice the sound of your footsteps, nor your breathing. Instead you find yourself mumbling “su evas” in repetition as you mull over every possible interpretation.
Through the darkness, you see a small brook whose water fluoresces with a turquoise glow, reminiscent of the Nymph’s bubble. As you stand at the edge of the pool, your knees buckle, and you are forced to kneel. The moist ground dampens your clothes, and your palms become dewy and muddied as you lean on them.
You look down into the luminescent water, still muttering “su evas” quietly to yourself. You catch sight of your reflection, whose lips mouth the words back to you, distorted. The familiar face speaks so silently that it is impossible for you to make out what it is saying. You furrow your brow and lean closer; your reflection does the same. You say it again, louder and more clearly. Your reflection’s voice matches yours as you speak, and suddenly you hear it: