From the Forest


Writing challenge from Grammar Ghoul Press.

Claire woke with her heart pounding. She’d had the same, damn dream again, the one with a massive owl flying in a misty forest, and her stuck in a dress like a blueberry meringue. This was the third month of waking abruptly from that image; it was unnerving.

She slipped out of bed, careful not to lift the covers and send a chill across Yvette’s legs and wake her. Groping through the dark, she found the knob and inched the door open enough to sneak through. Once in the hall, the moonlight coming in the far window got her to the stairs without knocking her shins into the eighteenth-century English tea table or the Jin Dynasty vase.

Downstairs, she made tea and pondered her dream. What in the hell did it mean? Why the dress? She’d never been one for dresses, even as a little girl. When her mother had made her wear one, she’d cavorted around the yard like a puppy, showing her underpants and covering the skirts with grass-stains—her mother had stopped trying after that. And why the swirling mists? They’d been more like ropes than water vapor. Just before she’d woken, the mist had tangled around her legs so that when she’d tried to move, she couldn’t; they’d tied her to the skeletal forest as perfectly as shackles.

She shuddered and stood, pacing into the living room.

“Claire, you are being loopy,” she said to herself, clicking on a lamp and settling down in the one piece of furniture that was comfortable—her grandfather’s Naugahyde chair. Yvette had frowned when she’d brought it home after his death that summer. But, because it was the one piece of furniture Claire really cared about, her partner had finally relented, regardless of how it looked next to the Louis the Fourteenth fauteuils.

Claire pulled the afghan—another remnant from her grandfather’s house—around her shoulders and yanked on the chair’s lever to kick up the footrest. It protested with a squeal, but clanked into position, allowing her to stretch out her legs. As she leaned over to spread the blanket across her feet, a glint of something on the floor near the chair caught her eye. She looked closer, and found the tail end of a red ribbon sticking out from under the chair.

Her vision narrowed and she felt the world tip; she’d seen this ribbon in the talons of a bird, the dream owl.

She pulled the end of the shining strand, feeling resistance on the other end, something bumping the springs and metal rods as the ribbon brought it from its hiding place. What emerged was a bundle, wrapped in purple silk, tied with the red ribbon.

Scarcely breathing now, Claire brought the thing into her lap and slipped the ribbon from the cloth, letting it fall away to reveal the bundle’s contents. A carved crystal, the size and shape of an egg, lay nestled in a bed of white feathers. Immediately, her gaze was tugged into the endless facets. In the next breath, she felt herself following, head-first into the maze of prisms. She tried to look away, but the room began to fade beneath glinting rainbows which swirled this way and that until the color became white mists twining around skeletal trees.

Just as Claire felt the cold twisting fingers around her ankles, the footrest of her grandfather’s chair snapped closed with a resounding crash. The room sprang back into focus as the crystal egg launched from her lap.

With shaking fingers, Claire picked up the nest and scanned the floor. She found the egg winking beneath the edge of Yvette’s Turkish settee. Keeping her gaze averted, she picked it up and wrapped it back in the silk, concealing it completely.

A flash of white at the window made her look up. Golden eyes on a swiveling head met hers, and once again she felt caught out of time.

“It’s this you want,” she said, her voice a whisper, or perhaps nothing at all.

Opening the window, she laid the bundle on the sill. A brush of fall air, the softest rustle of feathers, and then the night was still. The crystal and silk were gone.

With shaking knees, Claire climbed the stairs and slipped back into her blankets. Yvette murmured in her sleep before rolling over to lay an arm over Claire’s belly, tying her as perfectly as a life-line to their bed.

19 thoughts on “From the Forest

  1. I love all the details in this, like your description of her grandfather’s chair, or the way there was resistance when she tugged on the ribbon. It really brought me into your story. Your writing is rich and textured. Wonderful use of the prompts! 🙂


  2. Your switch from Claire in real life being sure that she was simply dreaming to the realization that there is a connection between the dream and reality was so smoothly handled: “Her vision narrowed and she felt the world tip.” I almost felt the world tip myself as I read that! The mystique of the second half of the story, after that realization, is fantastic and very engaging. And I love the final, sweet and comforting image we’re left with, as if to say everything is again as it should be – while leaving open the possibility that there could be more strange dream-life crossovers to come. I like Sandy’s idea as well!


  3. I love the smoothness of your writing style. This was an easy and enjoyable read. I fell straight into it as though having a pleasant dream. I love the way you used the prompts. You truly know your furniture. I feel like I’ve visited the house and know every nook and cranny. The prism as an egg is just brilliant. This is a wonderful piece of writing, and a joy to read.


    • Thank you for your kind comments! Google is a wonderful thing…can you imagine being a writer trying to research furniture on the spur of the moment in 1990? Terrible. 🙂 I am glad to hear you felt the story flowed. I did labor over it a bit (getting it down to 750 words was tough) so I’m happy it worked.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nicely done! Good details of furnishings and introduction of mystical elements. You didn’t resolve the issue of why she was wearing the dress in the dream–that has intruguing possibilities. And I seem to connect Yvette’s anchoring arm to the anchoring tendrils of fog/mist and the talons of the owl. Is the owl Yvette’s dreaming spirit? Do the two have an alternative dream drama/existence that runs parallel or even counter to the this one in RL?

    Liked by 1 person

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