Painting above created by me E.W Brown.
The crisp breeze caressed my hair, cooling my now hot skin from running so far up the craggy hill. The early morning fog hung softly, almost whispering to the first new-born rays of sun light as they speckled to life upon the hill-top. Again I shouted out the name of my dog, Arthur. He had raced off up the hill a few moments ago and now here I was all hot and bothered chasing after him. He had always been mischievous, had never grown out of it from a puppy. Darting off here and there, wanting to explore and find the next adventure, I suppose that was the Beagle in him. Nevertheless I always fretted if he was gone for more than a minute out of my sight, especially when we where out on the open hills like now, which led to a thick of woods at the top, and legend had it that these were called the abandoned woods.
Finally off the rough of the hill, now onto smoother ground, I stopped to catch my breath then remembered I had brought Arthur’s treats with me. He loved his goodies and it was a sure-fire bet that, if I rustled the packet and shouted ‘Sweeties,’ then he would come running. Well It must have been a whole five minutes that I walked rustling that packet shouting ‘Sweeties,’ and his name over and over but there was no sign of him. Now I was getting worried, this was so out of character for him.
Panic was slowly beginning to creep in as I edged to the start of the thick woodland, surely he wouldn’t go into the woods? I asked myself. He knows never to run off into dark places and normally he would be too afraid to venture in there alone. But there was nowhere else he could be, if he had come back down the crag then I would have seen him. With a slight uneasiness I pushed back the first piece of thicket in my bid to enter the woodland. I gagged as I did so, quickly covering my nose with the sleeve of my coat with attempts to drown out the appalling stench that was now insulting my nostrils. These woods weren’t named the abandoned woods for no reason, no one from the village I lived ever ventured this far up the craggy hill. Especially since old Ned the farmer had done so many years before and never returned. A sudden chill ran through me now on remembering that story. Rumour had it that old Ned had done exactly what I was now – Searching for his dog Shep, but neither Ned or his dog were ever seen again…
Pulling out my I-pod, I quickly plugged my earphones in and scrolled down to The Script, then braced my self as the song ‘If you could see me now,’ belted into my ears, if only the to ease the anticipation and wariness I was feeling now. A million thoughts raced into my mind as I trudged deeper and deeper into the dark thicket, although my heart told me to stay focused on the words of Danny O’donoghue, ‘Focus Samantha – Focus, if you could see me now.’ I knew that the only thing keeping me going here was my love for my beloved beagle Arthur, and my love for Danny O’donoghue’s music. Because every single ounce of me wanted nothing more than to turn around and run.
I had walked for what felt like hours now, who knew, it could have even been days. My mind didn’t feel like it was mine anymore, I had even forgotten what I had come here for? I could hear faint music playing in the distance, it sounded oh so familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on who it was singing? For some reason the name Arthur meant something to me, but what? I didn’t know? Again it was a oh so Familiar name, but why, why was it so familiar to me? and the stench, the stench that insulted my nostrils, was now having a fight with brain. Why was I here? What was I looking for? Where was that music coming from? Everything felt so odd, strange, like I was here but I wasn’t, was I dreaming?
I woke up to Arthur licking my face as he did every morning, sheer elation ran through me as I hugged him to me, it was a dream after all.
‘Arthur, my little babyboo, I thought I would never see you again.’
I lay back down again, closing my eyes as I relished in Arthur’s kisses and the fact that it had only been a dream, that my boy Arthur had never gone anywhere, that he had been right here with me all along…. That was until I pulled a twig out my hair and a dry leaf out my ear. Sitting bolt upright I realized it wasn’t a dream, it was real. As real as theeeee… What the hell was that?
Jumping up from my moment of happiness I quickly gripped Arthur into my arms. My whole being told me not to make a single solitary move, whilst my head told me to leg it, NOW. The only way I could describe what I was seeing, is that it was a tree. But not just any tree, noooo this tree was tall and black with an array of colours sprouting out among its branches like leaves, but they weren’t, it was paint. Colourful hues of multicoloured paint leaped out from branch to branch while a foggy sparkle of purple-ness danced around myself, Arthur and the tree that was now beckoning me to it.
So I fainted and came around for a second time, only this time I woke up directly under the tree, with Arthur sat obediently, right by my side, which freaked me out even more as he never does that.
‘Well hello, oh mighty tree, nice meeting you. I’m sure you won’t mind if me and my little Beagle-dee-boo here just slip off- out of here, I mean, I’m sure you won’t miss me and little old Arthur here.’ I said in my nicest voice as I gathered Arthur up in my arms and made too run for it.
But oh no, it wasn’t as simple as that, just as I thought I was in the clear, little old painty tree goes and wraps its painty little branches around me and pulls me right back to where I was… unbelievable! Now I don’t know what I was dripping with more, paint from this crazy tree or sheer fear? Then almost as sudden as the fear had come to me, I now felt it seep away as a rage inside me built up to an almost boiling point.
‘Leave me be tree, why are you keeping me here? I just want to go home with Arthur.’
‘Because dear Samantha, you created me, you nurtured me and now you have to look after me.’
‘Who said that?’
No surely it wasn’t? it can’t have been, did that tree really just speak? I looked around frantically for someone, something, anything that could be classed as real, as normal. For anything other than this bizarre tree now talking to me. Then it dawned on me, why of course, it was Arthur who had just spoken. Naturally I bent down and smothered him in kisses saying ‘whose a clever boy then,’ whilst all Arthur could do was throw him self to the floor delirious in belly tickles.
‘You know perfectly well that the dog does not speak Samantha, so please! spare me the drama.’
Drama! Drama, I’ll tell you what drama is oh Mr big-I-am-painty-tree. Drama is getting lured into this Forrest/woods, what ever it is and made to feel delirious. Drama is thinking something awful has happened to your dog only to wake up to a tree made of paint, that then covers me in paint and won’t let me go home! So don’t you go telling me about drama!’
‘But don’t you see Samantha, I’m your creation. You can’t just walk awa….’
‘WHY DO YOU KEEP SAYING THAT? I’ve never met you before in my life, so how did I bloody create you? Stop saying that!’
‘Tell me, what do you love to do Samantha?’
This tree was really beginning to grind on my very last nerve now. I couldn’t actually believe that I was talking to it, and one made of paint at that!.
‘Listen, I’ve had enough of this, I’m off and don’t dare try to stop me or I will get Arthur here to lick your last ounce of paint away!’
‘Just answer me that one question Samantha and I will let you go, just answer me, what do you love most?’
My patience it seemed, had completely evaporated with my fear and had most defiantly now been replaced with sheer annoyance and the need to go home with Arthur. But I also knew if there was any hope of that happening, then I would be best to answer the trees questions.’
‘I don’t know…. Well I suppose food, sleep, music, taking Arthur for walks, my family, friends, the list goes on. There are you happy now? May I leave?’
‘But what is your undying passion Samantha, what could you get lost in for hours upon hours? What do you always wish you could be in when you create it?’
Then it dawned on me, and not just any dawned, no- this was a bucket full of thick runny, painty-treed dawned on me that I actually created.
‘Art,’ I squeaked.
This could not be true, could not possibly be real? How? How is this even possible?
‘Sur-r-ely I’m not speaking to the tree I painted only last week? No! Never! Ho-w-w is tha-a-at even possible?’
‘It is possible Samantha, and it is real. Welcome to the Enchanted Woods, the place where all your hopes and dreams become a reality. Now the question is, do you stay and follow them through like dear old Ned and Shep? Or do you leave and go back to your daily life of hoping and dreaming? The choice is yours Samantha?’