The Mad Woman



Her calm was found in the dark depths of the wood where she had parked her caravan many years before. Her home was a place of ornate and painted beauty, which contained all the comforts she needed. Named after the Ancients, most only knew her as ‘The Mad Woman’ and would do all they could to avoid her. As she leaned against the frame of her sanctuary that evening a slight smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Only very few truly knew her and knew the path to her home very well. There were moments of heaviness of heart at those who were happy to embroider and spread their fanciful tales of her mad deeds, dissuading prospective acquaintances as they sprayed their venom. She sighed slightly and whispered words into the forest night “Ah well, at least it keeps most away.”


What would always bother her was that those she cared about might suffer tales of being mad, if only by association with her.  Her family cared not, saying that kind of treatment said more about those who sat in judgement than anything else, but still for her, caring meant she wished she could spare others.


It was not easy for others to reach her. The path through the woods was a treacherous one, and one of the stories about her held some truth. It was said that she had something of ‘fairy’ about her; that she could speak and command the natural world. She could not command it, but the woods were alive to her thoughts and suggestion. She cared for them and acted as a guardian, so the plants and trees returned the favour.


Many had tried to find her. It for long had been a dared quest amongst youngsters to see if they could sneak through the woods to catch a glimpse of The Mad Woman, and return to the village to tell the tale. Few had! It was not that they failed to return, but they had not got nearly far enough into the woods before bramble stems had tripped them or torn at their clothes. In their heightened state of anxiety, it always seemed far simpler to return to the safety of home.


She left her thoughts of darkness with the shadows outside and went back inside to sit in front of the fire. The velvety blackness of the forest acted as a muffler, wrapping her home in warmth and protection. She smiled as her dog came and laid its muzzle on her leg and looked up at her, wriggling closer so that its head was almost under her hand. She chuckled slightly “Was I neglecting you?” Its tail wagged a couple of times, thudding against the wooden floor, eyes blinking up at her as its head grew heavier on her leg. The warmth of her home and the ticking of the clock had quite a soporific effect on her as she let the atmosphere envelop her.


She had no idea how long she had sat there, her thoughts drawn into watching the glow and flames dance in the wood burner.Its warmth seeped into her body and bones and all the way to her heart as she relaxed. In this, her place of safety and peace, the only ones who could truly reach her were those she chose to permit entry, and those few were always welcomed with open arms. A smile spread over her face and to her soul as the dogs ears pricked up. She didn’t need to call out as she recognised her Love’s footsteps outside. The dog’s rapidly thumping tail echoed her jubilation at his return. As the door opened, she turned her face to him, his smile matching her own and in two of his strides he crossed the distance to her and placed his lips on hers, wrapping her in his arms. What more could she ever want? Here in her perceived solitude, she had more than most ever find.


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