The Writers Voice
The 'prompt' was a picture of a dense forest glade in the South. Sylvia grew tired of the manicured lawns and the regimental rose gardens, and when her nurse put her book down and closed her eyes, she waited for her to drop off to sleep. Then she ran off to the woods she loved best.
The “Oaks” looked liked this long before Sylvia’s family bought the property. Everything here was moss covered, damp and still -- somehow magical. “This was the way it used to be,” she thought. “The memories were alive here then.”
They were of course, but they were gradually driven out by the rich families that came to Louisiana from the north, then came the factories, the roads and the tract developments of the middle class who worked there. It was only in the few isolated places like this, that if you were really quiet, and sat very still, you might hear the voices of eager children -- and if you were really lucky you might even see them darting between the moss covered trees.
It was late afternoon now. The quiet hour. She would have an hour before the nurse roused herself and decided it was time for them to bathe and dress for dinner. Her parents would want to know what she had learned today ...
“Have you conjugated your verbs today, Sylvia?”
“ ... and your Latin child. Of all the things I learned as a youngster, Latin was the most valuable of all to me. You can’t have too much Latin.”
But, until then Sylvia was free to explore this quiet clearing in a forgotten corner of the estate. The one she chose was an open glade, lush in Spanish moss, deep in English ivy. It was soft and moist underfoot, a dragonfly hovered above her and a redheaded wood warbler loudly objected to her presence. There was an expectancy in the air, as though something was about to happen.
She shut her eyes and listened to the stillness. Just above the level of audibility she could hear calm and patient voices. She heard music and just above the sound of the strings she could hear a woman singing. There was the scent of lilacs -- then lilies and lemon verbena - she could smell wood smoke too, and baking bread.
She opened her eyes but her sight was blurred through her tears. She thought she could see the vague shapes of marching men in gray, their fixed bayonets glinting in the sun. She could clearly hear the song they sang ... Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie Land!
Suddenly there was the sound of feet behind her ... “Good Lord, Sylvia! There you are! For Heaven’s sake child, you gave me a fright.”
She must have been here longer than she thought, now the nurse would tell her father what she had done and he would make the gardeners come here. They would clear this place and all trace of the memories would be gone forever.
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