Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 -

The Green Man

by Lucy Appleby
Published: Jan 08, 2013
Words: 4,897
Category: general
Orientation: M/F
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After thirty five years, she went back. Back to the secret place deep in the heart of the wood, her childhood sanctuary, her teenage retreat; a place where she would lay in the embrace of moss and fern, leaf and bough, to dream her dreams and listen to the drone of insects and the song of the birds.

The wood called to her now, as it had done back then. She had been restless and ill at ease without knowing why. The feeling intensified throughout the week, and images of her secret place kept popping unbidden into her head. So, on Saturday morning she threw a few things into an overnight bag, grabbed some food from the fridge, got in the car, and drove two hundred miles north to the village of her youth.

It seemed smaller, somehow. Or maybe it was her who had grown in stature and now viewed things from an altered perspective. And although she hadn't visited the place since her parents died, she still felt a connection. Much to her relief, there was little outward change. There were no smart shops or cinemas or bingo halls or new houses and fast food outlets. A row of old stone cottages with mullioned windows flanked one side of the road close to the pub, and beyond the grazing fields were the slate roofs of farms and barns and isolated dwellings.

The post office come general store was still there with the same shuttered windows and interminable coats of paint covering the bright red door. Further along was the schoolhouse, and next to that the small 12th century Norman chapel. Her Father had helped with its restoration in the early 1950's. She smiled and remembered her day dreams in that place on Sunday mornings, when instead of paying attention to the sermon, she would gaze at the stained glass windows on either side of the chapel and muse on the meaning of the poem they depicted. She remembered the words, even now:

'When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept. When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked. When I became a full grown man, time ran. And later as I older grew, time flew. Soon I shall find while traveling on, time gone. Will Christ have saved my soul by then? Amen.'
Ah yes. Time for her was in the running phase. Yet in this rural backwater, it was as though time moved very slowly, imperceptibly. There was something very reassuring about the enduring sameness of everything here. She glanced across the road. There was the tiny pub, The Green Man, its namesake staring out from the ancient hand-painted sign, its features blurring into leaves peering outward from behind a mottled screen of vines and leaves. She looked closer - dark eyes, a curving mouth peeping out from the leaf mask of its foliate head. She crossed the road and stared up at the image.