And carefully she moves, step by step, she treads forward, through the darkness, the little lantern in her hand, as she walks, tree past tree, through the woods.
Back and forth she had been wandering, carrying her lanterns, one by one, past howling wolves, past hunting owls, past fleeing mice, past the whispering ghosts of.. nothingness. Wet moss on tree stumps shimmers whenever a weak ray of moonlight makes it through the ceiling the leaves of these trees form, so tight and close knit, you could almost walk on them. Carefully she taps, seeking hidden pathways, maybe hoping for a crossroad she didn’t pass yet, her lantern in hand.
Dark this night, and she keeps looking, searching the woods, and lighting up the night, bright pathways in her back and blackness ahead, she never gives up, as she said she would.
There! There’s a tree, a big one, this would work. Grasping the lantern between her teeth, she smiles, and grabs branch after branch, like ladders are these trees, grown to steps for little girls like her, they ask to take care, they want to keep her safe as she keeps climbing. A lantern for a tree, she hangs it on the biggest branch she can find, she looks at it, and down, and up, and smiles as she climbs back down.
Another look she takes around, searching, maybe if she had more light.. this night is dark and she turns around.
The blackness in her back, and bright this forest is ahead, and she knows she will keep looking, she hasn’t found it yet. And she looks up at her lantern, her little lantern in this giant tree. As ahead, a hundred more, one lantern for each tree, brightening up the darkness, bringing light to moss, and stones and fallen branches, the earth, still wet hours after the rain stopped, is lit, as she starts walking. To get the next little lantern, for the next big tree.
She is going to turn this night into her day, to keep searching, and looking and maybe… maybe one day she will find it.
Whatever “it” may be.
A short story by Alexandra Gregor. Thank you for reading!