Lady of the Woods
by Mark P. Kolba
Copyright 2013 Mark P. Kolba
All Rights Reserved
Lady of the Woods
Could faeries really exist? Kinsley told me he’d seen one. I snatched the last piece of wood and balanced it on my chopping stump. I looked at the wood for a moment—birch, it was, with fragments of silver bark still clinging to the edges. Did that tree once shelter some magical creature or play host to dryads? I shook my head. What an odd thought. A swift stroke of my axe split the wood, and I threw the pieces on top of the pile by the shed.
My pops used to tell me stories, before he and mum passed on, stories about warriors, mystical places, and magic creatures. About faeries. Pops had a way with words, and when he described a monster or a sorcerer, it all came to life so vividly inside my head that I felt it must be real. When he finished a story I would ask him, “Did Tiberion the wizard really exist?” And he would furrow his brow and look offended that I had asked such a question. “Real as these two hands,” he would say, and then he would grab my shoulders and shake me. I let my axe rest against the stump and studied my own hands: cracked knuckles, dirt caked into the creases, small droplets of sweat glistening in the morning sun. I shook my head again. When my pops died, most of my belief had died with him. Adolescence had claimed the rest.
But now Kinsley told me he’d seen a faerie. I’d heard people claim things before; down at the Red Lion I once heard a man swear he’d been attacked by a two-headed ostrich on his way to Pentheloam. Of course he’d downed nigh on half a barrel of ale by that time, and Brogan had sent one of his barmaids to walk the poor wretch home just to make sure he didn’t end up six feet under in a ditch somewhere. Kinsley, though . . . he’d sooner knock his head into a tree than lie about something like that. Could that mean it was really true? I looked towards the dark expanse of the forest that rose up just a dozen yards behind the clapboards and half-finished roof of the shed, and I wondered aloud, “What would I do if I saw you?”