By Damien McKeating
THEY had warned her about him.
A bad seed.
But sometimes a warning is as good as an invitation.
She skipped, fleet footed, through the rolling woodland. She danced through ferns, moved as one with the trees and stepped bare foot across a shallow brook, the water icy cold on her toes.
He chased her.
As hunter chases deer. As wolf chases rabbit. As owl chases mouse.
He stumbled and ploughed through branches and bracken. The woods confounded him. They grabbed at his limbs and ripped his clothing; invading and groping.
She looked back at him and laughed, her tousled hair rippling with the movement. She moved like sunlight on water. She could feel his frustration building, see the clouds move across his face, feel his… lust.
He was a bad seed.
Seed. She giggled at the word.
That was just what she wanted.
She slowed her pace, stepped over a moss-covered log and spun to a halt in a clearing, hands clasped to her breast, laughter spilling from her.
She knew how to play this game.
Run and he will chase… but don’t run so fast that he can’t catch you…
With a snarl he thrashed through the thorns and stood in front of her. Blood seeped from a shallow cut on his cheek. Scratches covered his arms. Mud covered his trousers and boots.
There was no telling where his lust ended and his anger began.
She had run too far.
But she wanted it. She wanted what her sisters already had. They talked about it, from sunup to moonrise, and now it was her turn.
He stalked towards her.
She swayed her hips in coquettish invitation. On tip toe she reached up and licked the blood from his face.
He stopped; shocked.
She shoved him.
He fell down onto a mossy bed and she straddled him, popping a button from his breeches as she ripped them open.
She had him… rapt…
He gave her his full attention.
She could feel her sisters watching. They would be so proud of her.
She swayed with the rhythm of the wind; a sapling caught in the breeze. Her hair whispered like the leaves and her heart rose in a pulse that made her tremble.
Like hot sap rising through the oak after a long winter.
She raised her arms and straightened her spine. Her skin grew dark and hard. Her knees and legs sank into the earth, trapping him beneath her. She soared up into the sky, twisting and creaking as she grew. Her branches stretched out towards her sisters, creating a canopy of shadow.
She could taste his blood, mixed with the earth at her roots.
Ravens settled on her boughs, waiting for the feast, and through their many eyes she saw his mangled, terrified body writhing in agonised ecstasy in her roots.
Her leaves rustled in the breeze.
And ripe, pink lips of blossom cascaded down to cover his face.
© Damien McKeating 2016