Constellations

They call me the Woodwose.

But they know that I am the forest; I am the canopies and the wind and the soil underneath. I have been, ever since I inhabited its heart long ago, and settled in another still, in the heart of the Great Tree.

“I have come,” she says in a voice far too large for her frame, “to purge you, fiend!”

To that I sigh, and pay no thought to the years that the exhale holds. I have heard it a thousand times, from kings and knights and furious farmers alike. I’ve made their water and their wealth mine, and so have I their harvest and lands.

Their yield is poor this year. Not the fault of rainfall or the sun, but mine. I grow more able to bring suffering upon them, season by season.

Her father owns a nearby land, she says. Her anger is understandable, but she’s a fragile thing. A girl in her homespun skirts and flimsy limbs, with golden hair curiously chopped to her nape. Strange things they are, humans, that a fortnight of starvation could kill them, and yet they defy, and yet they dare.

She comes with a spade, and it becomes clear that no sorcery could flow from those fingertips. She fails on the first day, and she fails on the second. On the third, I ask why, thinking that it’s a redundant thing; because she’s a farmer’s daughter, and I make their crops suffer.

“To be granted knighthood.”

And my belief in the limits of foolishness disappears. It wasn’t a very strong belief to begin with, not with her futile efforts at my sides, digging at roots that recover in instants.

Being a farmer’s daughter isn’t completely irrelevant, I learn on the fourth day, because her mother died. They couldn’t provide what she’d needed; I’d taken their yield. On the fifth, she cries and I can’t distinguish tears from the sweat running down her cheeks, and it’s the bitter, furious kind because she’s miserable and a little broken. On the sixth day, she learns that I forgot the sight of the sky; and on the seventh, I learn that she can chart it.

Days pass, and she brings apples with her sometimes. When she allows herself to rest, she braids flowers into crowns. It grows, that hair, but so do my roots, back into the dirt where they belong. Soon I learn her name, and Constance watches as her efforts become vain.

She listens when I scoff and tell the tales of her predecessors. Sometimes she laughs too, at the knight who promised the heart of the tree but fled when it talked, and the old king who led his men to where the horses wouldn’t follow, and tripped into the river while he hailed his call.

When I ask if she’s searching for my weakness in their stories, “Perhaps I am,” she cheekily says. But no, and although I am incapable of emotions beyond sins, no tenderness to be offered to humans, I can see it; that earnestness in eyes that should be set on horizons.

“Find my virtues,” I tell her after months she spends visiting, the secret of uprooting the heart of the woods. Seven, scattered across lands and seas far beyond her little village. It intrigues her, and she asks where, not how. And it is a little charming how willful the weaker beings can sometimes be. At least she, whose eyes bear something I can’t read, when she’s told in which scorching desert my Patience I’d left, and in the depth of which sea my Honesty dwells, and how high the mountain that holds my Humility is.

Then they call for her and she heeds. She leaves on a ship, and the wind brings back news of her when he can. She disembarks, and she finds her first companion, a small monkey, on a strange land I must have journeyed during my old life. It wasn’t so robust then.

She spends the year away, guided by voices and the stars. My virtues are gently awakened throughout, but I can’t possess them yet. She is captured and put to suffering for stealing my Sincerity from a land that honored it far beyond its worth, then she escapes unaided. The wind tells me she finds another companion, a boy, and is taught the way of the sword. Beasts become less frightening, and her sobs more courageous and sparse.

Her laughter comes in abundance, and the freckles on the bridge of her nose become more defined by the sun. She struggles still, against mountains of snow and ice and furious skies. But Constance grows and flourishes and takes the world by a storm.

I hear her curiosity finds ways to discover me, and seas away my secrets unravel in old myths and tales of havoc. She knows that I once had the freedom she seeks, and that I exploited it. I raged and plundered; I remorselessly sinned until that heart was spoiled beyond the capacity of a body to contain.

I begin losing myself, perhaps as she finds me elsewhere. I grow weaker in the entirety of my existence. Their crops prosper and her father writes and sends birds with joy. It appears that it soon would be gone, my vision, but it doesn’t shake me, because the wind sometimes carries her voice, but never the sight of her.

She’s carrying trinkets in the palms of her hands when she returns. Seven of them; little, old things that gleam even in the dead of the night, even to eyes that could see nothing else. I’ve become too weak for the year she spent away to feel as insignificant as it should.

She cries again, and it’s a headache how much she does. “Why have you withered away,” she says, her voice barely wrapped around a sob. “We had an agreement, I was meant to purge you.”

I lie and tell her that it was because she found my virtues that I began dying, but she only weeps harder. “But I have many stories to tell,” she says, and a number of them are about me; small, lost pieces of a past. “You’re not meant to just die yet.”

But I am; because finding my virtues wouldn’t take me, but my own desire to leave would. To leave the tree that took me in when the rest of the world refused is how I am made to die.

She tells her tales as I disintegrate. The bark that kept me for centuries falls apart in the circle of her arms, and the roots that held me dissolved beneath her feet. “Stop crying, you fool,” I say, and it’s met by a mess of small laughs and sobs and persevering stories.

“You never told me your Kindness was swallowed by a Kraken. That took a whole crew of pirates to retrieve, and another band of outlaws, too. And a massive carnivorous flower was guarding your Tolerance! I almost decided you could live without it at that sight.”

The Tree vanishes along with all the sorcery that rooted the forest. I feel it in me that it remains behind unchanged, and it could recover and grow without my notoriety keeping it in place. I have lived a burden, and remorse finds its way into me unprompted by the waiting virtues now scattered around her. Her stories are rushed and desperate, and so are her breaths. She breaks a little farther when my past as a human tumbles down her lips. She tells me that she knows and she says it again, that she knows and she knows, and she never says what it is. But it resonates in my body, every piece of the past she unraveled and willfully discovered, that left me with only envy and wrath. I feel it in the form that I undertook, and whether I am a beast or the human I’d once been I don’t know. But I am weaker than I’ve ever been, and even Pride can’t hold me upright against it. My head is cradled in her lap, on the harsh fabric of her breeches. And my eyes are gone, but she shifts me so they’re looking up. Constance pours Benevolence on them, and, “Open your eyes,” she says, “Look at the sky, Woodwose, isn’t it beautiful?”

My sky is green-eyed and freckled.

“That, she is,” I say, slipping away under her tears, “That she is.”


Notes

Advertisements

This is a pointless post, but feel free to despair along (or tell me about your writing projects)

Heyo!

I feel like I haven’t heard from anyone on wordpress in pretty long. Are you guys still here? I hope you’re doing well.

Me? I’ve been frustrated, haunted by an unrelenting writing/ reading slump. The rest of my life has been chaotic and overwhelming, but in times of quiet I still feel desperately stagnant. I’m too busy to pick up a new hobby, and the very little free-time I have has been going into keeping my sanity intact. It’s a period that will pass along, so until then, I’ll keep my head up.

I’ve talked about this quite a few times here, but I miss having something major to work on, a big project or a long story, that, although challenging, does not confront me with the unbearable stress of my creative bankruptcy.

But what about you, reader? Is there a craft in your life that makes it a little easier to wake up in the morning?

Two thousand friends and another update you don’t really need

Hello!

So my blog’s hit two thousand followers recently. Thank you so much! I have been doing none of you justice, but I genuinely appreciate your time and kindness. There’s really nothing as gratifying as knowing that someone’s enjoyed what you’ve created, so I’d still be happy if just one person cared to read this blog, but I guess I’m two-thousand times as grateful now.

Currently, I’m as writing-blocked as I always have been. My last post, Soft callings , was actually written as part of a twitter activity. I asked my followers to send me emojis and used them to write tiny stories. This was my favorite.

(I have around 10 more requests but I’m so creatively bankrupt to the point where I feel like a joke saying that I write for a hobby)

Have a great rest of the day, friendos 💓

Hearts in tribulations

I’ve been anxious for about as long as I remember.

I really have; and whether I owe it to my blood or to a wrecked gut-brain connection I don’t know.

At seven I was anxious about a war suddenly breaking, and at twelve about death, my own and others’. At twenty-three, I doubted that I’d ever be loved; I felt lacking and wasting away, always giving too little for the life flashing by. I felt unworthy and undeserving, and guilty about the blunt pain that had always been nagging.

These worries have been life-long companions, and they’ve aged me far beyond my years. They took away beauty when it presented itself, or my ability to see it, at least, and the joy of youth along with it. When you’re anxious, you’re just waiting for all your happiness to end.

“Weak,” people have called me, or “crybaby.” But as much as I’ve grown to hate being a crier, I know it’s a problem far beyond weakness. It’s the result of a heart worn out by worry for months and months, then shoved into a point of breaking.

In my 24 years, these fears were never realized. Hadn’t been, until last month.

It came as numbing bad news; it wasnt unexpected. I’m anxious, I’d dreaded it, but then it actually happened. I heard my pulse in my ears, and the muffled sobs of my aunt across the line. It had happened.

I’ve had my sorrows, as unworthy as I’ve felt of them, being blessed with more than I can thank for. But this one is a sharper pain, like shards of glass tearing at my insides. I cried more that I ever had, my tears streaming against my wavering will. I let them; it’d left no strength in me to fight.

It’s been a month now, and I think I’ve been learning to mend; to grow around it, to grow against it. They’d called me weak, but I’ve become the pillar, and the steadfastness of the big sister finally emerged. I’ve become one to be told the truth raw, as seemingly harsh as it could be, no longer sugar-coated, because maybe, I’m a little stronger than I’d expected.

In all honesty, I think could be a little proud of that. So bear it, heart; don’t fail me now. Don’t fail us now.

This is sorrow like I’ve never felt, but I have faith somehow, that happiness will follow, something so profound that it’ll piece it all back together. The trial has begun, so bear it, brittle heart of mine, bear it and brave the journey.

إن شاء الله.

In the Land of the Rising Sun

This would be one of the posts I write as I go along (and I’ve forgotten how to write by the looks of it, so apologies in advance).

Anyways, hello!

I went on a trip to Japan for 10 days. I walked more than I had ever, and I saw lights and snow and mountains and shrines. I held up a hedgehog called Mina, and pet deer that roamed around the parks of Nara, and the owls in its cafes, and touched a shark and screamed when I felt its pulse. I hiked up a mountain to a monkey park and bought a Ghibli music box that made me cry when it played. I also sprinted across Hong Kong Airport twice cause I was too busy eating melons and almost missed my transit trip.

I ate so much, and I wore so much. It was colder than the last time we’d been there and definitely colder than Dubai. I started understanding why people who don’t live in the desert hate the cold, but I didn’t come to hate it anyway.

It was a wonderful trip, and now it’s over.

(Photo credits to my brother @_bnfahad)

I’m not really sad, I’m grateful about how smooth it went. It was the first two-person trip I’ve ever been on (joke’s on you and all the people of Japan who thought we’re a couple staying in different hotel rooms. I went with my younger brother), and the first I was primarily responsible for planning. Needless to say, I was anxious as heck every time we had to catch a flight or a train, or to check-in into a different hotel. Which means a lot of anxiety, because we stayed in 3 cities excluding the ones we went for one-day trips to.

But I’m feeling less grounded now. It’s hard to explain, but I was so dependent on this through 2018. Every time my thoughts would get out of control, I’d remember that there’s a trip waiting for me at the end of the year, so I would look up places to go to things to do. I’m glad the trip lived up to my expectations, and there is something I am anticipating in 2019, so I’m grabbing hold of that now, and using it to keep my eyes set on my goals.

Speaking of which, have you any resolutions? I generally don’t believe in them, but I’ve decided to write a small review/summary of (almost?) every book I read and movie I watch in 2019. I’ve gotten frustrated with forgetting the substance of all the media I consume, so what better time to begin something like this than the beginning of the year?

And finally, thanks for putting up with this loser of a writer (me) who posts once every blue moon. I wish you all years of happiness and prosperity 🙂