The path, pockmarked by the claws of the black dog, curves before me.
I can hear the beast as it scratches at the world and breathes into the indifferent lungs of the forest.
I long for the sanctuary offered by the claret stained cloak, and dream of the warmth its arms will lend me.
She treads, softly at first, wary of the shadows that dwell in the crevasses of time.
She listens for the signs the curse is near, but its footfall mirrors her broken gait.The black dog's presence looms; its rotten breath sulks around her ankles and clutches to her exposed limbs.
An ill-wind calls out to me,"Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf?
Who's afraid ... ?"
The wind enjoys the taunt, and revels in my inability to capture it.
Its frenetic whispers stir a great fear inside me that scratches against my glassy chest and reminds me of my fragility.
I must hurry, the wolf is near.
The light from the moon beguiles her, and catches glimpses of her steps upon the ground.Its silvered light falls into the abyss that trails behind her.
The night offers a mask for her foe; the moonlit path becomes blemished with the accusations of her conscience.
She knows that there is one other on this expedition.
I quicken my steps and look for the light that scars the darkness.
The forest is filled with the rambled musings of the night, and my ears drown in the laboured breathing of the moonstruck dog.
It is a painful scratching that drags its ill-kempt claws through my ears.
I am disoriented by the anarchy that has poisoned the air.
She runs, no longer stopping to pick the wildflowers that line the trail.
This journey is nothing more than a frenzied gambol through a maimed hinterland.
Aware of how close she is to the precipice of exhaustion, a sense of foreboding grows and begins to choke her with its shameful onslaught.
She lacks the courage to see what warms her now, and fears that it is a pelt none would dare to rip from her flesh.
"Who's afraid ..."
I listen to the metronomic bedlam that pervades my heart.
A purposeful tread - one, two ... three, four.
I rest; a crimson shroud disguises the beast.
The pursuit continues
She lays curled in the leaf litter, the dew that collects in the discarded foliage acts as a tarnished mirror.
Her breath distorts these impromptu eyes of the forest and she does not see the child who climbs from the tree.
"What beautiful, big eyes you have Mama."
Recognising her scarlet caped shadow, she answers the girl,
"All the better to see you with."
She relaxes, knowing that the child does not mean her any harm.