Murder Ballads.

The knurled branches of ancient oaks and redwoods fingered, supplicating to the open sky far above, on such a sanguine day that I strolled into the forest in search of myself.

Time stands still in the deep of the wood where the air is quiet and gentle, and I like to retreat away from the pressing concerns of a more manufactured and socialized existence, though rarely enough do I take the time to do it. But they wait. The trees speak novels more than meager words from fumbling human tongues; our leafy communion is always a cathartic dialogue and volumes are related to and fro without discord or misunderstanding.


On this particular occasion, this cool and misty day, I was thinking about mortality. About mine and theirs – the endless acres of tangled vegetation, perpetually propagating regardless of weather, time, or the will of the human parasite. We like to think we can control the relentless forward motion of the wildwood; we sculpt our hedges with oblivious arrogance and offer potted sprouts as quaint gifts tailored to conform with human emotion. But nature always wins out in the end. Our edifices become rubble that the greenery tangles throughout, our bodies are nothing but mulch that feed the next generation of intractable vegetation. And, as if to punctuate this ominous conclusion, the forest cleared in front of me, and I came upon her.


She was lying on her belly, wreathed in mossy foliage. I was taken aback at first, but morbid curiosity won out, and I carefully approached to survey her delicate, prostrate form. The fallen twigs crunched beneath my feet as I made my way off the marked path to investigate further, cracks and splinters echoing in my head as my pulse quickened. Even in death she was beautiful; she would have been simply radiant with the glimmer of life still in her eyes. Red, petal lips laid open just enough for the breath of consciousness to leak out for the last time. Pale, porcelain skin still flushed with the remnants of blood just beneath the surface; it was impossible to tell if this was her natural complexion or a symptom of her passing. Her hat lay askew, pierced by a stray branch of fallen redwood. Night-black silken locks thrust out from beneath the fabric, as if they were trying to escape the terminal oblivion of their host.


I knelt down beside her open purse, contents scattered from her last trauma, and looked down upon her face. Strange, the serenity that enveloped her. Perhaps she hadn’t struggled; maybe she was just too tired to go on, and, walking far out into the gnarled forest, she gently lay down and let the undergrowth take her. But she was so young! And there were branches woven over her that she could not have crafted in death. Such trouble upon her thin brows, carefully tended and no longer furrowed with mortal angst and pain, gorgeous eyes staring out in front of her into the trees, waiting for them to tell the story of her demise. But trees don’t talk unless they wish it, and I would not learn of her fate that day.

I sat with her for three hours, soon after realizing that it was getting dark, but I didn’t want to leave my gentle nymph. I had suppressed multiple urges to softly kiss those still lips, not for fear of being seen by anyone, but for not wanting to fall in love with another unrequited soul. It would have been too familiar, too urgent. I would have then lain down next to her and willed my own life to cease if my trembling lips met her cool, placid ones. The risk may have been well worth the reward, but I took the high ground of my own selfishness…or was it respect for the dead? I knew this was my only time with her; that should I come back tomorrow, it would all be different: her skin would have taken on a bluish tinge, soft limbs rigid in the open forest air, glassy eyes attacked by insects and heart slowly decaying from the inside. Just as mine has. Yes, this was our only time. There would be no tomorrow.


I never looked inside her purse. I didn’t care if she had money, credit cards, or jewels. I didn’t even want to know her name or her identity. There was something perfect about our meeting and the unsaid words between us, something until then I had reserved for the trees alone. But as I said, we can’t transpose human emotion upon Mother Nature. She always wins out in the end. So, with great reticence, I left that silken maiden. I left those finely curled fingers, delicately clutching her beaded purse. I vowed not to think of her again as I ripped myself away and kicked earth upon my tracks, so no one would know I was there. So no one would find her.

I remember that day as if it had just passed. I remember that day as if she were living, my Dead Forest Girl.

15 Responses to “Murder Ballads.”

  1. angledge Says:
    December 12th, 2005 at 9:22 am

    What's the rest of the story?

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 12th, 2005 at 10:24 am

    Everything is in there.

  3. catness Says:
    December 12th, 2005 at 1:01 pm


  4. lady_in_satin Says:
    December 12th, 2005 at 2:29 pm

    I could be wrong, but I think what angledge was asking (and I here echo) was "What happened when the police came?"
    You know, after you called someone with your handy mobile phone so that the living people in a panic about her whereabouts could have some sort of closure? Perhaps some sort of investigation could then get underway and vital clues that might reveal the perpetrator(s) would not be lost to weather and time?
    I mean, you clearly had a spiritual experience here, but there are earthly, practical matters that should probably be tended to as well. I'm just saying…

  5. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 12th, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    This is why I didn't want to dredge it up. I'm still completely smitten, and I might just go back there some day to see her.
    No police, no perpetrators. It's how she's meant to be; how WE are meant to be.

  6. lady_in_satin Says:
    December 12th, 2005 at 4:45 pm

    So, this was a long time ago?

  7. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 12th, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    Millennia, it seems.

  8. dirtbaby Says:
    December 13th, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    The best compliment I can give you, is that it has elements of Poe. If this is a reflection of your general demeanor these days, I would stay away from sharp objects, alcohol and drugs. Avoid the Cure or NiN too.

  9. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 13th, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    There's no reflection there, my friend. Just a vision, a dream, and a connection. Harmless, gentle, and nebulous on the wake of my memory.
    Poe? He was a charlatan. He had rude, noisy birds – not petal-white wood nymphs being laid softly on the forest floor before him.

  10. Anonymous Says:
    December 15th, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    He also had Annabelle Lee….

  11. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 16th, 2005 at 10:25 pm

    Okay, there was her.

  12. Anonymous Says:
    December 17th, 2005 at 12:06 am

    Also, speaking of slight errors, your music line has a tiny typo. It's Miss Catherine Brosnan, like Pierce. 🙂
    But you knew that.

  13. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 17th, 2005 at 12:16 am

    Yes, that'd be my iTunes and the CDDB. I'm suing those bastards at Apple, then. And then the whole world.

  14. angledge Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 5:36 pm

    I'm glad you finally explained this post a little bit, too. I was still wondering about it.

  15. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 9:29 pm

    I've done my job, then.

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