The Women in the Woods

The true power of beauty is a darkness that blinds all to what lays just beyond, you cannot see past the face of one so ravishing, and, in a moment, your world is lost without you even noticing, or caring. A horror based around the Slavic myth of Veela.

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2. The Golden Maple Leaf

"Ma, think you could look after the kids tonight?" A women spoke into a phone buried into her shoulder, a cigarette shaking in one hand while the other stirred a mug of dark coffee, the clanging echoing around her empty home.


"Where's Frank, April? He's supposed to help with the kids. He does bugger else."


April paused. Her cat jumped up at the dangling phone cable that stretched across the kitchen, forcing her to answer. "He's gone again, Ma." She said shooing her cat away.


"Men. They're all the same. How many times did I say? They all leave, just like your father."


"He's not like that, he just needs his space now and again, that's all," April said defensively. "Since the mine closed he's been depressed trying to look for work."


"How long has he been gone?" Her mothers voice cold.


"Tuesday evening."


"Three days? Darling I know you mean well, but this can't be good for the kids."


"They think he's away for an interview. All of his clothes are still here, so he's not gone far." The kitchen was starting to become saturated from the boiling pan on the stove, forcing April to push her golden curls out of her face. The steam making her skin glisten; a sad, pathetic looking beauty. "Can you look after the kids or not? I need this extra shift, I wouldn't ask otherwise."


"I know dear, I'll come over. Have the spare bedroom made out, there's a storm coming and I don't like driving at night at the best of times, never mind in the rain." 


April managed to smile, "it'll be just like old times." 


"That it will. But dear, you need a real man. You could always have done better than Frank."


"I remember you saying, at my wedding if I recall." She said smiling, thinking, 'classic Mam.' "But I'm no spring chicken anymore, Ma. Plus with the kids and all..."


"A real man wouldn't see that as a problem, and you're barely into your thirties. I got married when I was fifty six."


"For the third time..." April added.


"Third times the charm." Her mother laughed, a throaty laugh ending with a cough.


"Oh and Ma, make sure Joseph gets a good nights sleep. He's been saying weird things over breakfast, I think he's been having nightmares."


"He's always been a bit funny."


"My son is not 'a bit funny,' Jesus. He just... He keeps saying that there's a girl in the back yard at night." April said.


"There might be, it backs on to a public wood. Probably teenagers." 


"He says she's naked, Ma. And... Dances. But he's not smiling when he says it, and he used to smile when he poops. I mean he's too young to care about girls yet, but he looks..." April paused, remembering the look on her son's face, thinking of the right word. "He looks disturbed, like he's scared or something."


"Well I would be too if naked people were dancing in my garden. It'll be that television, that stuff'll rot your brain out of your ears. Don't worry dear, he'll get plenty of sleep."


April said her goodbyes and hung up the phone, her cigarette finished, her coffee now cold and bitter, and her cat scratching at the nearby patio door begging to be freed.


She moved from the kitchen table and opened the outside door, the cool breeze of autumn air rushed in, refreshing her damp face. The view from the back patio area was the reason she had bought this place, the rising trees dominated the landscape, and only a stones throw from her door. Growing up in the city with her father made her appreciate nature more than most, she longed for trees, and peace. 


She flicked her cigarette butt aimlessly into the wind and was about to go back inside but something caught her eye. Something glinting in the soft moist grass of her garden, something shining, beckoning her to pick it up. 


So bare foot she trudged across the earth, still damp and sodden from the heavy rains the night before, and bent to pick it up. To her surprise it was one of her husbands cuff links, she'd recognize that design anywhere, a golden maple leaf. 


She stood straight, holding that cuff link in two hands, perplexed as to how to arrived here, in the centre of her garden. She tried to remember what Frank was wearing the day he left, but it escaped her.


April was about to go back inside, with the wind picking up and the sun hidden behind dark clouds, the cold was getting to her already, but she stopped. She stopped dead in her tracks. She looked down and saw her footprints leading back to her kitchen, but there was another pair. In a circle around where she stood, around where she found her husbands cuff link were another pair of footprints, left behind in the muddy grass. A circle of smallish steps, going around and around, toes facing in different directions, as if chaotic. As if they were dancing. There were no tracks leading to or away from the circle, just that ring, and nothing more.


April didn't know what to think, so she went back into the house, slamming the patio door behind her. Unsure of what any of it meant she forced it away, and instead decided to get ready for work and wait for her kids getting back from school.

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