by Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik
mountain spring water
Dusk. Secluded. Remote. A clearing in an otherwise desolate forest provides a hidden home for a large opulent structure towering tall to the fast blackening sky. Starless. Birds do not seem to fly above this place. An uncomfortable, unnatural stillness breeds, unbroken in the dewy chill. The grey skiescloak the unspoken secrets of the woodland; a subtle mist seeps in from the glass shards of mountainous rock behind, shrouding whatever may’ve call this clearing its home. A sense of movement where there should be none.
The thinning grass lay somehow dry despite the light fog swirling and waltzing above. Seemingly untouched and untrodden by those of the world of the living. Brown, orange and copper crisp leaves lay thickly in patches, uninterrupted by the gentle breeze from an unknown source. Beneath the sticklike grass, dusty fine hazel mud, weather-beaten and sickly. Nothing good could grow here.
Surrounding, many small withered trees of oak, elm and maidenhair with thin phantasmal forms and branches with there dead brittle leaves bronzed as if painted in liquid metal piled around beneath them, oddly unmoved by the whispering wind. They form a barricade against the skies; emitting no light from the distant horizon.
Obscured by the branches, a house, untouched by its surroundings. Bright white. With a shallow crest raised higher than all the trees as a herald to the heavens. Seven windows with large crystalline panes shine in the mundane darkness. All with thick sweeping ivory curtains tight shut. They hang in creases. Unmarked. The huge doorway has a Brobdingnagian white peak with columns preceding it. The entrance to the house seems as the entrance to a temple. The blackened stone beneath the thick white paint coating the structure is cold and unforgiving. The black fencing over the proud balcony above stands imperious and foreboding.
One tree of maidenhair stands proud, taller than all its fellows, directly ahead, almost blocking the house from view. Its trunk is gnarled and has tiny green shoots sprouting out into the twilight air. It curls up and up until it towers over the scene below. One branch protrudes out further than all the others: It appears something obscured from view is attached to it, what that could be remains presently unclear.
A singular miniature lily in perfect white emerges from the disfigured trunk. Innocent and unspoiled. With beautifully soft inner petals in bloom at last. Nothing else lives here. Adjacent, an inky black shape, a shadow, is suspended silhouetted, floating upon the ground, hanging from the branch. Motionless.