Artemis Drifting

Just because she tippietoes, doesn't mean she's a creepin'.


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She laid her head back onto the ground, leaves crackling beneath the heavy mane of her hair. Calmly, she laced her fingers together and rested them over her navel. The sky was out of focus and the towering trees above drew the attention of her eyes. It would be easy to push herself up, dig her calloused fingers into knotty bark and ascend up waist-thick tree limbs to the very top. She could go above and have the entire sky opened to her. The wind would, undoubtedly, comb through her hair and pull free the husks of autumn. There, she could see everything – the lethal grace of predators stalking frenzied prey, to the miniscule movement of chilled ferns unfurling to catch the last replenishing rays of summer.

However, at this moment, she was perfectly content to lay flat on her back and feel the plush rise of moss pushing into the lumbar curve of her spine. Violet closed her eyes, feeling crisp wind rob heat from the surface of her skin. It made her grow all the more still, and the only way she could part her consciousness from the earth before was with the continuous beat of her heart. She did not bother to tune her ears to the tiny lives scurrying in the undergrowth, no more than one tries to concentrate on a particular drip in a damp cave. It all rushed over her, within her and around her. This was certainly all real enough, but she felt the same unsettled ache of longing as Adam did within the garden. There was plenty enough in the forest to keep her occupied, but it was never enough to fulfill her deepest desire.

This would, perhaps, have gone on forever. The Violet beneath the trees, re-inventing her age each day, arbitrarily deciding whether to stay her hand and let the wild boar pass – or slay it from destroying yet another tree within the woods. She would have been curious, but by her power alone never revealed a path away from this solitude. Any type of complaint would be useless, for there were no ears to understand her grievances. So like the animal that has forgotten the world outside of the cage, she learned to stem her loneliness by routine.

That was until one favored tree of hers, the rowan, turned to glass.

Perhaps it was the transformation itself that had her sitting up, the rearrangement of molecules and energy that sent a wave of calling across her like the startled death scream of a rabbit. Before she knew it, she had braced her calloused palms into the soil below and launched herself to her feet. She had grown so familiar with every inhabitant, both flora and fauna, that even a new birth into her territory caught her attention no matter how far she was from the miracle itself. To put it simply, she flew, her naked feet stirring leaves high into the air as the force of her movement threw her leather garments flush to her body. When she found the site of the disturbance, she might have looked clear through it. Her mind was not made to rationalize events outside of nature, for the supernatural had no place here.

And yet there was no other way to describe what she saw. Where she should have seen ripe sunset berries, there were glass beads. Each limb of the rowan tree was a hollow shell, and the wind could not stir the shards of glass that drooped frozen from the branches. Violet could have stood there for several lifetimes just to absorb the sight, for it was so unfamiliar to her. Before she could even allow the giddiness of discovery to overtake her, the tree suddenly became less important than what she saw next. She should have been able to see clear through the trunk and beyond, yet her vision was arrested by the creature that was trapped inside of it. Somewhere in her throat, her breath lost its way.

It was a form much like herself, crouched on the balls of its feet and bent over bony knees. Tangled hair swept around the thin blades of bones that stretched its skin as taunt as a kettle drum. The hair was a shroud that obscured the creatures face from the neck up. Violet impulsively drew near, until she knelt at the base of the tree and put both palms flush against the glass. The tree bore a cold that was so deep, she could not imagine the depth of a snowfall that would create such a frozen surface. It was beyond her imagination, and incredibly, still here.

Violet’s heartbeat reached through her fingertips, the veins pulsating wildly beneath the surface of her skin and singing into the glass rowan. Her breath misted the surface, but the cold swallowed up the fog long before she could even inhale. It was her mind that was limiting her, for as long as she was simply looking, the wonder stole her ability to understand. “What are you?” she whispered, a question meant both for the condition of the rowan and the occupant within.

The creature lifted its head slowly, and through the gaps in her knotted hair, she realized at once that it was a woman. Recollection stopped just short after species, and she pushed her hands harder against the trunk. Whatever it was inside, moved with the painful crawl of a fish after the winter freeze has thawed. Violet felt something inside of her struggling, a nameless strength clawing to the surface. A mute righteous fury that scorched her from within. All it took was meeting the woman’s eyes, the gray-blue feverishly bright with the sprawl of burst veins across the whites planes surrounding.

“It’s you.” Violet hissed, memories spilling down on her like the dust from a long forgotten attic door. “You are the one who put me here!”

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