Light fades as I leave the fringe of the forest behind and step under the heavy shadow of its canopy. I have lost you in this wilderness, and it closes in on me; a cloister of infinite shades of seafoam, chartreuse, lime and olive. I am reminded of your eyes, emerald, flecked with splinters of bark. I see them clearly, like on that day, when you looked up at me from this forest floor – your hair, a tangled untamed thing, with gnarled roots breaking through the deep ground.
I have been wandering through this endless expanse searching for the place we first met. The gentle green slopes, a reminder of your flowing, silky curves, so delicate, so inviting.
Leaves flutter and toss in the breeze. I listen for your voice. I am greeted with birdsong and the lull of running water in the brook. It is hypnotizing, like a symphony. I want to drink in the sound. I am getting close.
My legs ache, my mind is weary, yet I continue in search of you.
You tasted like forest berries, sweet and bitter, when I had you in that secluded place. Loam and mud rose up beneath you. Your ragged breath caught in your throat. Your eyes welled up, mirroring the place where the forest kissed the water, where I kissed you. The towering pines hid us from prying eyes, and our bodies rolled on the forest floor.
I miss you now.
I feel you when I hear the snapping of twigs. I am reminded of your shattering bones.
I lean against a moss-covered tree, my search not over yet. My hope dwindles and is carried away by the wind.
My hand reaches for the solid bark, fingers grope at the moist husk, my body seizes with pleasure as I think of your pale skin pulsating beneath me. I breathe you out and look over the lake; it is pure and clear like you. But you are not here, and no matter how hard I try I can’t remember where I hid your body.
“In Search of You” was originally published in The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings, 2019.
Yael Maree has lived in many places and often struggles to answer the seemingly simple question, "Where are you from?" A lost soul, she seeks others who love strange places and stranger stories. Due to her disjointed past, Yael loves anything fictional. Her bookshelves are lined with books and she spends hours immersed in their pages. When she is not writing or reading, she loves to spend the remainder of her time with her three young children, feline companion and fishies. Yael is best known for her magical realism and speculative fiction with splashes of romance, but has also dabbled in other genres, particularly enjoying thrillers, suspense and flash fiction. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.