In Nature She Rests

by jaywcoombes

“Where are we going Dad?”

“Just a little bit further kiddo, I promise.”

It was a balmy summer afternoon;  mayflies filled the air, and shafts of warm sunlight fell through the canopy above the pair. The little boy brushed past the ferns growing over onto the worn path, watching his step carefully so as not to catch his legs on stinging nettles. His father glanced back and grabbed his son’s hand, leading him safely through the dense growth.

They walked in calm silence for a while. The boy’s eyes could barely keep still, darting between catching glimpses of colourful birds and marvelling at the height of the great trees surrounding him. Somewhere along the way, he had appropriated a gnarled branch which, he proclaimed, could slay the most powerful of monsters,

“Don’t worry Dad, if anything nasty comes out the woods, I’ll beat them up with my sword!” said the boy.

Hi father suddenly stopped, his shoulders tense.

“Did you hear that?” he said, crouching low. “I think I heard the sniffling of the Great Forest Boar!”

The little boys face turned stoic, his jawline set hard.

“It’s getting closer,” said his father “it’s nearly on us!”

The boy’s father grabbed him and started making grunting noises. His son swung his mighty branch sword and it broke to kindling against his fathers shoulder.

“I got you! I got you!” shouted the boy, standing triumphantly next to his first kill.

They both laughed, filling the forest air with the happiness of family.

“Come on kiddo, let’s get going, it’s just round the next corner” said the boy’s father, dusting himself off from broken bits of branch. He hoisted his son onto his shoulders, and began walking down the path.

As the pair rounded the bend, the landscape opened up in front of them. The forest melted away against a backdrop of a great valley. Steep slopes, littered with broken rocks and hardy trees, led down to the valley floor where a sparkling river meandered towards the horizon. The boy was in awe. He stood staring down into the valley, his mouth and eyes wide in wonder.

“Here is it son,” said his father, “this is where your Mum is.”

The boy looked around to his father and said, “She’s really here Dad? I mean, I can’t see her.”

“She’s here sure enough,” replied his father, “she’s in in the trees, in the rocks, in the river way down there. She’s all around us, keeping this place beautiful.”

He sat down and picked his son up onto his lap. The pair sat for a long time gazing at the vista before them. They watched as the sun made its slow way across the sky until the azure blue vaults turned to a deep fiery red. They talked constantly about the boy’s mother, and the father told his son about how this was her favourite place in the whole world. They shared memories of the woman they loved and missed.

Eventually, the boy’s father stood up and said “I’m glad I brought you here. I miss your Mum more every day, but she lives on in you and this place, and I…” his voice trailed off as his voice cracked.

“It’s O.K Dad,” said the boy, “I know.”

His father smiled at his son and, once again lifting him onto his shoulders, made his way back through the forest, content and happy.