An Unexpected Surprise Beyond The Trees

19 Apr 2022  C. chou  6 mins read.


She put her face through her open window, taking a deep whiff of the flowers sitting on the sill. She grinned. It was a good day. The sun was shining. The flowers were beaming. A perfect day berry picking.

She may have been exiled to the depths of the forest, but that didn’t mean that she couldn’t enjoy the freedoms that her prison offered her. Her happiness was her own. It didn’t matter if the others saw her as a witch that cursed her husband to death in the middle of their wedding ceremony. Her life was her own. That meant that it was hers to live, regardless of what anyone else thought.

She smiled, dispelling the subject from her mind. They had their thoughts. There was no reason to punish herself by reminding herself what the others thought. Turning toward the table that faced her in her limited living quarters, she picked up the basket at the center of the table by its handle. Rushing to the door and pushing the wooden barrier open, she grinned at the sight of the bright blue skies and swaying trees that stood before her.

Today was undoubtedly a good day. Closing the door behind her, she stared into the trees. Her heart hastened in excitement. The forest never failed to surprise her. Just when she thought that she had fully familiarized herself with it, it threw another path, or another family of animals her way. Each time she visited, it presented her with something new, something exciting or otherwise beautiful. She had no doubt that today would be the same.

Smiling, she walked past the field of vegetables growing by her doorstep. Though she could probably add some berries to her garden, there was something magical about the forest that she couldn’t bring herself to abandon. There was just something about the place that she simply couldn’t live without. Something that bewitched her, drawing her in despite the dangers associated with the place.

Without hesitation, she stepped foot into its depths, letting its shadows consume her. Twirling and letting her skirts flutter about her, she admired the silhouettes cast by the gently passing sun above. A grim spread across her face as she admired the lovely foilage above her. In a way, she was lucky that she was no longer part of that so called society. They would’ve never understood her love for this place.

Perhaps that was part of the reason that everyone was so quick to cast blame on her for her husband’s demise. It didn’t matter that she’d only met the man, for the first time, at the start of the ceremony. She let out a sigh, and shoved the thoughts aside. None of that mattered anymore. The past was the past.

For all she knew, they’d probably forgotten about her now. After all, not a single person from the village had ever come to visit since the incident. Not even her parents. But perhaps, they never learned of what happened on the day of the wedding. They lived so far away, after all. She had been part of the village for months in advance of the planned ceremony, by special request of her groom’s family. Perhaps, her family assumed that she was happily married other the warm welcome she initally received.

Why should she let something that no longer bothered others continue to bother her? She looked up, she was deeper in the forest then she realized. She head already passed the berry patch that she normally frequented. She sighed. Perhaps today was the best day to venture deeper. She’d just finished planting new seedlings for the season, today would be a great day to search for the subject of her next painting.

Her attention shifted from the leaves to the animals above, near the sky, as she walked. Every scene, every unfamiliar setting caught her vied for her attention. With so much to see, so much for the forest to show, she couldn’t help but grant it. Absorbed by the scenery above her, she hadn’t paid the ground sufficient attention, and she soon found herself nearly stumbling over something that certainly didn’t feel like a log.

Catching herself, she turned back. Her eyes widened as her eyes focused on the perpetrator of her near fall. Was that an arm? A human arm? Her hand flew to her lips, as she stared in shock.

But it didn’t move. In fact, it looked suspiciously limp. Carefully, she approached it. Gently tapping it, she paused and waited for a response but there was none. Gathering courage, she drew closer to get a better look. It felt warm, when she probed it, so she was relatively certain that the limb belonged to a living person. But who would come here?

Was it someone banished like her? What kind of crime did they commit? Was it also apparent wizardry? Or was it something worse? But from the looks of the arm, the person didn’t seem conscious…or at least they didn’t seem capable of moving.

Biting her lip, she pushed the shrub’s leaves aside. It was a man. A wounded man, covered in blood. She wasn’t sure what she expected, but this was definitely not it. Careful, she pulled the man’s arm out from the bush, and returned it to his side.

Crouching beside him, she bit her lip in thought. The man didn’t look like a criminal. Besides the blood that covered his clothes and the injuries that decorated his face, his hair looked well-kept and his attire appeared well-put together.

On careful inspection, his clothes didn’t look like they came from the nearby village. Or at least, she’d never come across any with a similar style in the few months before her wedding. It didn’t fit the styles that she’d seen growing up either. Was this man from a different country?

Was he a war prisoner? His clothes didn’t seem to suggest that. They were much too well put together. She put a hand to his wrist. Whoever he was, his pulse was weakening. If he didn’t get help soon, he wouldn’t make it.

Putting down her basket and drawing his arm across her shoulder, she started back toward the cottage that became her home.


This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.

A wounded soldier is found by a widowed woman living in the forest.

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: