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What the Forest Said

June 12, 2009

Tell me.

Which part?

All of it. Any of it. Just—something vivid.

I was walking.

Yes?

And there were two deer.

Whitetails?

Yes, whitetails, flashing alarm. They heard the dog. I didn’t tell him; he was looking for a good stick, something nice to throw. The deer flipped their tails and danced away. I could see reflections of yellow beech leaves in the eye of one of them, turned toward me: she was that close.

Tell me another.

I don’t know what to tell you.

Please.

Bobwhites.

What?

Six or seven of them, exploding from the underbrush with wing-beats so loud I ducked. The dog ran so fast he ran right out of the orange t-shirt I put on him to differentiate him from bear.

Bear?

It’s bear season. They’re shooting bears.

Oh.

He treed them.

The bears?

The bobwhites. They were furious.

I bet he was proud.

Very proud.

You’re going to leave, aren’t you.

Yes.

Soon?

Probably. There isn’t much left.

There is. There could be—

Shhhhh.

One more. Tell me one more.

Once I walked into the woods and there was only one way: further in. I walked and walked, and I was fierce and beautiful and brave and resourceful and I had many adventures, but I was getting tired. Very tired. I couldn’t walk any more, finally; I couldn’t be fierce and beautiful and resourceful and brave any more. Also? I was bored with myself. With all of it. I dug a fire-pit, lined it with stones. I gathered wood, and made a fire. I was so hungry, but I had nothing to eat and I was too tired to do anything else, so I sat by the fire and watched the flames. I figured I’d probably die of starvation eventually, but really, the flames felt good and I couldn’t think what else to do. A stag came out of the forest, walked right up to the edge of the fire across from me. We looked at each other for a long time, and I thought: how beautiful. After a while, he lay down across the fire and split himself open, his blood steaming in the coals. I ate his flesh, and was restored.

That didn’t happen.

No?

No.

I saw a peregrine eat a bat today.

Yeah?

You’re going, aren’t you.

I’m going.

I have an idea.

Yeah?

When I go, just look away.

Okay.

Now? Should I look away now?

by Jessamyn Smyth

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  1. Karen
    June 12, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    The final silence, coupled with the title, is very effective.

  2. June 13, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Beautiful Jessamyn, beautiful

  3. June 13, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Thank you, Karen and Allan. Glad you liked it.

  4. June 13, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Somehow, I knew this was yours from the first lines.

  5. June 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Oh. Terrific!

  6. June 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Beautiful. The pacing in this is perfect.

  7. June 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Thanks, all, for the comments!

    I’m glad this piece works out of its context in a larger manuscript.

  8. July 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Jess, you know I love this one…

  9. Charlie
    September 17, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I love the use of single dashes on lines to increase pauses. And beautifully, seductively read!

  1. May 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm
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