Once, far across the lake, a fog lay thick and immovable, concealing an island. The people of the nearby village would often look up as they went about their day to see if the fog would lift. And when it did, driven by some unfelt gust of wind, there appeared at the edge of an island shore, a woman of surpassing beauty. She stood with her hands out stretched to any who looked upon her.
Some said she pleaded for rescue. Others knew that she offered herself and their greatest desires. But the only thing each held in his heart was the need to reach and win the apparition for himself. Year after year men and young men vanished soon after an appearance. Year after year men were found murdered by friend or foe in the desperate fight to reach her first.
Mothers told their children of the temptress that lived across the lake. They warned never to look or their heart too would be consumed by the fire that had destroyed so many. For not a woman in the village had not lost a brother or son or, in some horrific cases, their very own husbands.
The children grew and told each other frightening tales of the witch. Little children wouldn’t go near the lake shore to play let alone look across to the foggy waters. The village withdrew from the evil. Women found new streams to wash their clothes. Men found new rivers to fish and hunt near. The children grew to fear and loathe the thought of even looking south toward the lake.
A great forest grew up around the lake. The children became parents and told their children of the witch that lived across the lake on the other side of the forest. They told of how their father’s and Uncles were lost to her hideous grasp.
Their children grew and they told their children of the witch who lived in the forest who was haggard and would eat their hearts if they wandered too far in.
These children grew and found these stories as quaint, traditional ways of keeping their children safe. They themselves had played in at the edge of the forest growing up and had of course never seen a witch. They told the stories around the fire late at night and at special times of year. It was part of their tradition that had been well kept. But when their smallest daughter came running in the night, crying of a nightmare, they took her in their arms and assured her there was no witch and these were only stories, nothing more. For indeed that’s all they were.
One day a young man sat with his friends on the edge of the forest, just as they sat on the edge of their manhood. “I wonder what the world holds for us.” He pondered.
“No more than it held for our fathers.” Came a lazy reply.
“Why shouldn’t it? What is stopping us from being greater than they?”
“They have done all there is to do.”
“What do you propose?”
The young man smiled and answered. “This forest here could provide good income should we choose to chop it down. But think even further. To go to the city we must walk around it. Why not chop it down and make a road to the city. We shall be rich and our town would appoint us as rulers they will prosper so much as well.”
Much pleased with this idea the young men set about planning it all out. The elders of the village opposed them greatly at first. Tradition held that the forest was evil. In their hearts they felt anxiety at going in the face of what they had always known. But the boys were persistent and soon persuaded the leaders with thoughts of the money that would flow into the village. While the oldest of them warned and bemoaned the traditions being abandoned.
Free at last to follow their hearts the young men set to work. Tree after tree fell to the laughter of boys building their dreams on wisdom their forerunners had not possessed. Recalling the witch of the fairy tales and actively cutting down the bondage she represented.
Till one day they came upon the shores of the lake. Whole new possibilities rang in their minds. Soon half the town had moved into new homes built with the lumber down nearer to the lake. New boats were built and fisher men rejoiced in the abundance of the catches. Ferries built and began moving across the lake as the road to the city was completed on the other side. Commerce from the city made the village prosperous beyond their imagination. And the young man, now older, was made governor of village which had now grown into a city itself.
Everyone was so happy coming and going they rarely looked toward the distant patch of fog that never seemed to lift. As prosperity grew a pleasure boat was made and people road just for fun to look about the lake. The governor’s daughter went excitedly. Upon that first voyage the ship never returned. Many looked day after day expecting them to return from the misty side of the lake. Then a slight breeze caressed the curtains aside, there stood a lovely young woman with her hands out stretched.
None restrained themselves, boy and girl alike, all were lost in the murky depths trying to reach that distant shore.
Again it happened. and again. Till like a plague only those who had remained in the old village were left to morn the loss and replant the forest.
The first crytic on this one said "You don't write happy stories do you?"
My reply "I didn't feel happy tpday. It's suposed to be profound."
His reply "This would go well in a phylosophy class." I guess that's a compliment? LOL