It could not even be called a clearing, just a tiny crack in the density of the forest. Maybe thirty feet wide, fifty feet long, surrounded and hemmed in by the towering evergreens that stood shoulder to shoulder protecting the silence and isolation of the place. Their boughs reached out to each other, joining hands overhead and leaving the place in twilight. Between the trunks of the giants came glimpses of vast fields of wildflowers and in the far distance a mighty mountain range, their peaks covered in snow and wreathed in wisps of clouds.
He slipped between the trunks of the trees and into the place. He was fully eight feet tall. When he unfolded his wings to their full span, even in the filtered light, the effect was startling. What sunlight reached him was enough to cause an amazing, ever changing rainbow of colors to reflect back from his feathers. They seemed to generate their own light, sending shafts of color bouncing around the place and lighting its darkest corners.
The feathers on their own adjusted themselves to their neighbors till all was in order. He folded his wings neatly into his back. Now it was as if they did not exist. He was only a man, beautiful and regal in appearance, but just a man. He looked around the place as if greeting an invisible audience. Then he stepped forward onto the mossy carpet that covered the floor of his secret place.
He strode purposefully to the other end of the clearing and stopped at a large flat rock. The rock was white and, while one could not say that it glowed, it did give the sense that it contributed somehow to the dim light that suffused the place. He knelt at the base of the rock, leaned his forearms on its edge, and carefully interlocked his fingers in front of him. He slowly inclined his head forward till it rested on his folded hands.
How long did he stay in that pose? Fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? Two hours? Who can say? Time passed and it did not. Time loses its meaning when eternity is ahead.
Suddenly his head jerked up. He looked around at the trees as if searching for a hidden face to go with the hidden voice.
“No.” It was as much question as statement. He sat back on his heels and searched for a face that he knew he could not see.
“But why?” He looked around searching for the source that was not to be seen. He paused in his searching. A far away vacant look came in his eyes as he listened intently to the voice that could not be heard.
He half rose from the rock. “No. You can’t.” The words were harsh, accusing.
Since the beginning of this exchange the clouds over the distant mountains had been turning dark and threatening. Now there were streaks of lightning and rumbles of thunder. The rock he had been praying at had turned dark and what light had been in the place was nearly gone. The wind had risen outside and the mighty trees were beginning to sway under its force. Matted clusters of evergreen needles were skidding across the floor of the place, twisting and rotating in the agitated air.
He gathered his disturbed robes around him and started for the path that had brought him there. He turned this way and that as he walked, looking up at the thrashing limbs, looking around at the chaos where peace had been, looking back at the rock that had been his alter. He reached the edge of the trees and stopped. He scanned once again the place that had been his sanctuary. Then he was gone.
Copyright © 2011 by Angus B. Lewis
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