Chapter 1 Into the Forest

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Four days ago she decided to go out to a pine forest on the outskirts of town. The sun was shining and her heart, although heavy, was lifted by the sound of waves washing onto the black sand over a sandy hill. She felt her heart lifting as the warm air and shuffling sounds drifted around her and the scent of sweet pine embraced her. Pine needles pricked her bare feet then disappeared beneath the soft sandy loam. She wrapped her arms around herself and held them there, embracing her in a self-moulding hug.

Although this place brought her peace, beneath that calm surface she felt as if she was trying to gather up the broken bits of her life and put them back together. But the bits kept slipping through her fingers as if they were made from some watery substance.

She leant back against a tree and closed her eyes. The knobbly bark of the tree pressed into her back and seemed to massage away all the knots that ran up either side of her spine.

The sun touched her eyelids and warmed her skin. A sound of rustling leaves made her open her eyes. Above her the sun sparkled as if it fell on clear sea and a light breeze shifted the leaves making the sun appear like a dazzling star with many points.

A rabbit snuffled among the leaves not far from where she sat.  It was nibbling at someone’s discarded apple core. It looked up, whiskers twitching, then went back to nibbling with quick sharp grinding of its teeth. Momentarily taken from the lonely place her mind had gone to, she watched the rabbit hop over the sandy loam and leap up on the end of the log she sat on.

There it sat on its hind legs and washed its face with its paws. Then it seemed to become aware of her and it paused, looked sideways at her and sat perfectly still. She wanted it to know she would do nothing to harm it so she also did not move.

So they sat, looking at each other, neither moving as if at an impasse.

“Hello,” she heard from nowhere.

She snapped her head around to see who spoke. Startled, the rabbit leapt from the log and hopped away.

The man from The Morton Bay Fig tree appeared from behind a tree, his hands hooked into the straps of his back pack as he made his way towards her in his tramping boots. A white line between his socks and thin tanned hairy legs told her he spent a lot of time outdoors. His baggy khaki shorts flared out as he sat down.

“We meet again,” he said, his blue eyes sparkling and breeze catching wisps of white beard.

He rummaged inside his day pack and brought out his water bottle and offered her a drink. She took it. Before them, the light wind formed a tiny swirling whirlwind and lifted the sand from the ground in a spiral.