Sinister spells of misdirection from witches who once lived here still lingered among these trees. We realized that too late after passing again the place we had started from.
“This is odd,” you said. I was thinking something worse. We’d both seen that movie.
“At least we’re not lost.” I knew where we were, but we hadn’t gone anywhere.
You said it was no good going on. I said it was no good going back. If magic was afoot we’d have to oppose it with whatever skills we had.
You can weave a spell or two yourself, having been brought up right. I can start a fire with flint and track a tiger over rock, but had never learned the charm-spinning ways. This would be your challenge.
You gathered some moss, I don’t know why, maybe you just liked the smell. Then you muttered a rhyme about finding a path and travelers traveling unhindered. It seemed a bit dark for my taste, but gothic was never my style.
I really don’t think it was witchcraft, just a moment you needed to gather your wits — and let the wood spirits know we wouldn’t give in, though we’re sure they mean us no harm. Nevertheless, I was impressed.
You looked up at me. “I know the way.”
This is why I take you along, among reasons too secret to share. No, wait — this time it was me going with you. See how these stories confuse me?
“So where do we go?”
“We follow the leaves.”
Whatever that meant. Ah, yes. Of course. The spells were spoken on trees, but the leaves were free to fall where they would. As we were free to follow.
We kept our heads down and didn’t depend on marking the path by landmarks the forest provided. We didn’t see trees passing us by, but we felt the shadows watching.
I gained a love of leaves that day I had never truly known. They fall to a design of their own to pattern the woodland floor. I was thoroughly enchanted, how each leaf lay on another, angled just so, rhythmically spaced, gold on yellow on red on—
Your voice broke my trance. “Here we are.”
So we were.
The meadow appeared just ahead. Soon out of the woods, we paused in the light. Gone were thoughts of witches and charms, we laughed at our earlier fears. On to bright things, we said, and strode forward with relief.
And I never asked why you kept gripping that moss so tightly the rest of the day.