Another bit of flash fiction today on the micro level – this one came in at 276 words. The featured image was posted in a Facebook group with the prompt of “Where do you suppose this trail leads?” I’ve been eyeing the image for several days. I knew I wanted to do something, but I didn’t want it to resemble the last one too closely. The Path is a very tiny portal fantasy or a cautionary tale. It all depends on how you look at it.
They’d warned her about the woods, how the shadows distorted direction and distance and footpaths came and went like the flash of a firefly. They’d warned her, and she’d believed them. She came anyway. She belonged here in a way she couldn’t explain.
The crunch of leaves under her boots sang a song of welcome. The wind whispered its hello in a caress against her cheek. Birds sang, and butterflies danced, and she was happy. For first time since childhood, she was happy.
The weathered arch of twined branches and blossoming vines over the path should have given her pause. It didn’t. It belonged here in the same way she belonged here. Something which shouldn’t be yet felt right. Cheerful bows in vivid hues of red and green and blue peeked through the leaves, their ribbons fluttering a joyful welcome. She laughed and waved back.
Yes, this was where she belonged. As she touched the smooth wood and velvety petals, memory rushed back of another arch, of the land beyond full of wonder and magic and welcome. Of a choice made and regretted every moment since. She’d make a different choice this day, the one she rejected as a scared child needing the comforting reassurances of her mother.
“Thank you,” she said to the woods, “for letting me return.”
You belong with us.
Smiling, she took a final look around and stepped through. And in the woods, down a beaten path that was here today but not yesterday and somewhere else tomorrow, the trees rustled their leaves in welcome, the wind whipped their branches into a joyous dance, and the arch disappeared taking her with it.