Naked and defenseless against the furious wind, trees stretch out of the shadows, transforming into restless silhouettes against the deep cobalt sky. They were silent witnesses to that formidable night in April. They know the untold story.
Carmella slowly treads along the edge of the circular clearing, absently hugging her forearms in pursuit of comfort as much as warmth. The cover of trees shields her from the stinging wind. A faint trickle grows increasingly more turbulent as she approaches a glistening stream running along the back of the clearing. An ancient Oak, the old wishing tree, sits near the water’s edge. Carmella reaches out with a trembling hand. Her fingertips trace a scar where Jason once carved a declaration of his love for her in the trunk’s rugged surface.
The sun sinks low, deepening the ominous shadows. The surrounding forest is an aphotic tomb imprisoning her soul. She drops to her knees and closes her weary eyes. A dull ache gathers in the hollow of her stomach. The subtle sweetness of wild Honeysuckle that used to grow here still lingers in her mind and mingles with the scent of decaying leaves.
A single tear sketches a path down her pale cheek and pools in the crease of her mouth. She licks the salty dew from her lips. This was once a magical place, a place of dreams and laughter. It is now a lair for torment, a cesspool of anguish, and the origin of all her nightmares.