The Figure In The Woods | In This Future Or The Next

The Figure In The Woods

In the outskirts of a large city, beneath the glow of a white moon, the cool wind whistled through a crack in Ean’s window. He opened his eyes and watched the moonlight on his floor, making a grid of four squares as it passed through. There was a knocking, too, just outside, in the woods, maybe, or in his backyard.

It wasn’t the first time he had woken up with the knocking, or the whistling, but it wasn’t a common occurrence either. He had first heard it exactly one month before. He didn’t think much of it then, and he didn’t think much of it the nights after that, but the last week had been different. There had been a voice too, a woman, it seemed, singing a melody in the distance.

So he sat up on his bed and listened. In the silence, quiet sounds stand out. The branches of the trees swayed with the blowing wind, a song in itself, but not the one he searched for. Crickets chirped sporadically. A car moved through the road a hundred yards away. Knock, knock, knock, faintly in the woods. Knock, knock, knock.

Below the silence and the silent sounds, and below the darkness and the soft white glow, a melody. Ean sat motionless in bed, not wanting to disrupt the distant singing. He stood up and opened the window, and gazed towards the black pathways below the trees. The cold entered his bedroom and he shivered.

A neighbor’s dog barked and another car passed by, and for an instant the disruption of the quiet flooded out the melody, and he cursed. Something called to him. He didn’t yet know what, but he wanted to find out. Ean slipped into a pair of flip-flops and took a scarf from a drawer. He wrapped it around his neck, and he stepped out the window into the cold.

The grass, bright green in the day, turned gray at night, and it wrapped its damp leaves around his toes. The wind hugged him from the side, and his skin tensed with its cold, and again he shivered, and his teeth clattered. The swaying of the branches grew louder, and the knocking in the woods more frequent, and he wondered if he dared go into the shadows.

He began to walk. Across his outdoors table, and his grill, and the area he was never sure if he should care for, the treeline waited, and he stared back to his small home.

“I’m coming back.” He said.

A white figure appeared deep inside the woods, and Ean took a deep breath. He wanted to scream. He wanted to ask who that was, but more than that he wanted to see the woman who sang to him at night. Was that her? Did she live there? Did she peer through his window, and sang to him up close, giving him the sweetest dreams?

He moved slowly and quietly. His steps made the slightest of sounds, and the white figure seemed to dance a slow dance. As he moved closer, the song became clearer. There were no words. The voice was the instrument and it played a sad tune. He thought he could make out a sobbing, and tears rolling down into the dirt.

Ean stopped behind a tree, close enough to listen to the chords, and notes, and the sobbing.

“Hello?” He said, hiding still. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Ann.” The voice replied.

“I’ve been listening to you. I can hear you from my house.”

“I hope I didn’t bother you. I like to come here to sing, it helps.”

“You don’t bother me. You have a pretty voice.” Ean leaned on the tree, not daring yet to come out of hiding, listening to the words the sweet voice spoke. Its ring reminded him of someone, but he couldn’t think of whom. Like the smell of ginger cookies, it brought to him nostalgia, and he was overwhelmed by it.

The wind blew harder, and the branches above creaked and groaned. The cold again enveloped him and his teeth tightened against each other. The knock, knock, knock of the woods approached him.

“Aren’t you cold?” He asked.

Knock, knock, knock they said from behind.

“What are you doing here?” The voice asked.

“I came here… I wanted to listen to you.”

“Who are you?” The voice screamed. And the words echoed, permeating the air with its hiss.

Knock! Knock! Knock! The woods screamed too.

Ean crouched to the ground attempting to escape the cold, and the woods, and the angry voice.

“Who are you?” The voice whispered.

His heart stomped in his chest. His breathing filled his blood with cold oxygen. His muscles trembled and his voice gave out, no longer willing to speak another word. He crawled away from the tree to peek at the white figure, to maybe answer her question by showing himself, but the question faded into air and he saw what the white figure before him really was.

An old white blanket hung from a tree, half-torn, swaying in the wind like tattered leaves. There was no voice, there was no song, and the woods became quiet.

“Oh yes.” He said, alone. “I remember you, Ann. I shouldn’t have forgotten, and I shouldn’t have come here at this hour.”

He rose to his feet and said a prayer, and then he went back home. The crickets sang again, and the wind whistled in his window, and it was painful, but it was alright.

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