“In the Clearing”

381 words

Jack felt as if he was being watched. Of course, here in the woods, all manners of creatures were watching him, the deer and birds, mice and squirrels, fairies and perhaps the witch whose cottage was nearby. But this different, it was as if the watcher was always with him, following him for weeks from village to village, delighting with him when he had tricked the giant into leaving the valley, mourned with him when his dog died. Friend or foe, Jack wasn’t sure. At times Jack sensed the watcher wanted him to get into trouble, was not content with the days he was in peace in his own home, happy and content.

Jack came up with a plan. He needed to know who was watching over him, a guardian angel or someone more sinister. He would retrieve his grandfather’s harp, the one who could play by itself. It was against the rules of course, the harp kept locked safely away in a cupboard. Jack knew the danger, the music of the harp was nearly irresistible, those that heard it wanted to be closer to it, to see its glittering strings, feel its smooth curves.  But he could take it deep in the forest where no one would hear, except the one who was never far away.

The following day when the house was empty, Jack jimmied the lock on the cabinet, easy enough to do, grabbed the harp and stole into the forest. He was determined to see his watcher, to see this person who haunted him day and night. Jack trekked deep into the trees until he came to a small clearing where he sat on a stump, set the harp on his knees and unwrapped it from its blanket. A mournful melody filled the wood, its notes rising and falling gently, a plaintive song of love and longing. A fox approached cautiously, followed by a curious rabbit.

Then Jack saw her. She wandered into the glade, looking confused by staring at the harp on his lap. She looked like a princess, her long, full white gown not stained by the grass or dirt, her brown hair long and silky, not a single leaf or twig caught in its waves.

“Where am I?” she asked softy, tentatively. Jack stared.

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Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.