Prompt courtesy of The Daily Writer by Fred White
Prompt: "Spend several moments contemplating a work of art of your choice, and then write a one-page story in which you enter that work of art. Describe how you interact with your surroundings."
Piece of art: Wildwood Dancing by Kinuko Y. Craft
original website: http://www.kycraft.com/detail_pages/wildwood-dancing.html
Inspired by the novel Wildwood Dancing by Julliet Mariller
original website: http://www.julietmarillier.com/books/wildwooddancing.html
The music came as I completed the puzzle. Distant sounds of laughter and the slow lap of water beckoned me to put my ear to the work and listen. My ear touched soft mossy green, and I saw a light in the distance. I was no longer in my room, the haunting melody grew louder as the light came closer. I could it hear it now, the language of the other realm. I took another step and realized it was water. The light was getting closer, but now I wasn't moving. I finally saw the outline of a boat, in the shape of a swan and a person made of wood rowing toward me.
"Ready to cross the Bright Between?" He called.
I looked around, and only found darkness from the other direction.
"Yes," I said with a shaky nod. Disbelief fading away with the steady tempo of the music.
As I reached the shore, the light revealed my feet, which were not in the tennis shoes I had on moments ago. Delicate sky blue slippers peeked out of a matching ballgown. I sucked in a breath as the boat pulled up to shore.
"The Queen was expecting your presence." The tree man said, holding out his hand. I climbed in the boat and watched the shore slip away faster than I had expected. Different lights came into view, tiny dots of orange and yellow. They formed a pattern while the moon peeked from tree branches illuminated just enough to appear like a shadow in the distance. Finally, I saw them. Dancers dressed in bright colors twirled and laughed. Some had masks and others had little or no human appearance. Musing with her guests and watching from the throne, the Queen smiled at me. As the boat pulled up to shore I saw other ladies like me, dressed in finery and arriving to shore. One young woman dressed in green stood patiently with a frog on her shoulder. She waited until all the boats were emptied, then turned and saw me.
"Hello. You've never been here before have you?"
"She is a special guest of the Queen," My escort spoke for me.
"My sisters and I have been coming here for many years." The young woman smiled. "No harm will come to you here. The Wildwood is always safe during Full Moon."
"Thank you." I said smiling. "It is an honor to be invited here."
"The Queen requests your presence." My escort said. He took my hand and led me around the dancers and musicians. The scent of flowers and fresh pondweed filled the air as we walked around the guests. I passed under a giant butterfly wing and passed several feathers until we finally arrived at the Queen's throne.
"Welcome." The queen stood, holding a scepter. The harpist next to her played a soft but happy tune that rang through the air.
"Once a year we invite someone new to the Wildwood to enjoy the delights of the Other Kingdom. You have been chosen as our special guest. Jena?"
The girl with the frog on her shoulder stepped forward.
"Show this young lady around. I'm sure she would enjoy a tour before her first dance."
"Dance?" I asked.
My escort smiled at me. "Your escort is allowed a special dance which you pick throughout the evening."
Jena nodded and took my hand.
"First I should introduce you to my sisters."
As Jena described each sister by name and interest, she occasionally interrupted herself to talk to the frog on her shoulder.
"Yes Gogu I was getting to that." she laughed.
"This is Gogu. He's been my companion for years now. He says it's an honor to meet you."
"It's an honor to meet you as well." I smiled at the frog.
After a few dances and stories around the edge of the forest, a white fox appeared in front of me. I excused myself and followed him through the dancers to a flowery patch of grass.
"Are you having fun?"
AN old woman with silvery white hair stood next to the fox. Although she looked frightening, I was only curious as to what she had to say.
"I'm having a lot of fun, thank you." I swept my best curtsey and waited.
She laughed, a loud and gritty cackle that echoed through the trees.
"I am glad that you have been dancing here, but you have not been dancing where you're from."
I looked at her. Her eyes were crinkled with an all knowing smile.
"Yes I don't dance there very often. I like to sit on the sidelines."
"This is very true." She nodded. "But you have yet to realize that you can dance. Remember this when you return."
I nodded, but when I looked up she was gone.
I walked back to the forest and found that Jena was looking for me.
"There's not a lot of time left." she said, "Where were you?"
"I found a white fox." I told her.
"Draguta's up to her tricks again is she?" Jena said while the frog moved on her shoulder.
"No Gogu. I don't think she meant any harm. Anyway, the last dance is for everyone to join in."
The music grew louder as we all joined hands and spun around. Once the dance was over, the Queen left and everyone waved goodbye.
I followed Jena and her sisters to the boats where our escorts were waiting.
"It was nice to meet you." Jena smiled, "If you're ever in the Wildwood again, look for us."
I waved goodbye as the boat pulled away. My escort smiled.
"It was an honor dancing with you." he said, "I hope you enjoyed your time in the Wildwood."
I may have replied but suddenly it was dark again, and the music was fading away.
The next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes and staring at the completed puzzle. As I got up and stretched, I could have sworn that the old woman in the picture winked at me, and I could still hear a soft hum of music.