Thursday, 16 June 2011
Forestness - Claudia De Bella
The elf was running through the forest.
As he ran, his backwash of magical sparks sprinkled the leaves, coloring them with a more intense green than the one the storm had injected. The earth was still wet. In a short while, armies of hard-working sprites would come and repair the fallen branches, the broken nests, the wind-twisted plants.
Shining in joy-blue, the elf smiled. In the forest, there was nothing left to chance. Nothing to spare. Nothing to miss.
All of a sudden, an unfamiliar sound made him stop. Looking around, he listened. Entangled with the forest voices, a human voice.
It wasn’t a hunter, because he’d driven the hunters away long ago, with the most simple spells he knew—the breeze swirling around their legs, the horrifying whispers of a thousand snakes, a hundred wings of invisible bats slightly touching their cheeks. The hunters who carried more weapons were always the first ones to run away.
It wasn’t a peasant, because peasants never entered the forest. They were afraid. In the forest, they used to say, death was waiting.
And it wasn’t a destroyer, because destroyers never came alone. Along with their offensive voices, you could always hear those dreadful metallic noises. In the end, they ran away too, like all the rest.
The elf walked cautiously towards the sound, preparing the bow and arrow he knew how to use so well. If a human was brave, like some he’d met, spells weren’t enough. He had to shoot his arrow. Later, they were found on the ground, at the edge of the forest—not a single wound, but their hearts broken into a thousand pieces.
In the forest there was nothing to miss. And there should be nothing to spare.
He peeped from behind a bush, his pointed ears tilted forward, and caught a glimpse of a figure. A human. Sitting under a tree, his head pressed against the hulled trunk and his eyes closed, the human was playing a strange instrument, singing.
Surprised, the elf put down his bow to listen. His slim body started to glow in curiosity-amber. He’d never heard human music before, only their screams, their weapons thundering, the gasp of anguish and astonishment when the arrow broke their hearts.
The human was singing something sad that seemed to sound gloomier in the lively silence. To the elf’s ears, the words the human sang sounded the same as every human word: coarse, unpolished and barely expressive. But the story they were telling was not alien to him.
It was the story of the men who thought something was missing in the forest. And something was to spare. The forest was to spare, and the missing things weren’t from the forest. They had to be brought from somewhere else, once the forest ceased to exist. Things with straight lines and artificial colors.
And it was also the story of those who thought there were some people missing in the world. And some people to spare. The people to spare would rather sing than destroy forests. The people missing helped the straight lines to advance instead of singing.
And it was also the story of the singing human. He thought, like the elf, that nothing was missing in the forest. Nothing was to spare, except the brutality of those who didn’t know how to sing, the same men who had banished him to the forest, so that he would later be found on the ground—not a single wound, but his heart broken into a thousand pieces. From then on, nobody else would dare think that straight lines shouldn’t go any further.
The human was singing, and all of a sudden he started to cry. And the elf, radiating compassion-blue, cried too. He cried for the treacherous stab of straight lines, for the ignorance of the world, for the sincere pain this human felt for the death of the forest. His own death didn’t matter to him.
Slowly, the human’s sobs faded away. With his eyes still closed, he stroke the tight strings once more and the music intertwined with the leaves, the roots, the muttering of the opening flowers.
The elf tightened his own string. He raised his bow. He aimed.
The arrow that flew towards the human was surrounded by a beaming brightness, a cloud of tiny white explosions that appeared and disappeared in an instant. It went through the air, leaving a misty trace behind, and hit the singing human.
The elves’ magic is the most powerful in the whole forest. Nobody knows how to break a heart into a thousand pieces without leaving a single wound. Nobody knows how to multiply the ability to acknowledge truth. Nobody, except the elves.
The human felt something in his forehead, something that went in, stabbed his brain through. Then, together with his own singing, he started to hear the forest’s voices that came from the tree he was leaning on, from the moss covering the trunk, from the soft soil. Amazed, he understood what they were saying and his sad face filled with joy. The voices said they wanted to welcome him. The forest was the home of everyone who loved the forest. The forest didn’t expel those willing to take care of the forest. And no arrow could break a heart that was immune to straight lines into a thousand pieces.
Soothed by happiness, the human sang with the forest.
Satisfied, the elf listened to him for a moment and then walked away. While he disappeared among the foliage, gleaming in wisdom-yellow, he smiled again, because nothing was left to chance in the forest. Because, once again, there was nothing to spare. Nothing to miss.
Not even an unbroken heart.
Original title: Bosquedad
Translation: Claudia De Bella
Versión en castellano