The roar of a waterfall drifted on the flower-scented breeze, beckoning with the promise of cool shade.
The water cascaded down the rock face, an ethereal light shining behind the dark curtain of water. The water bubbled and boiled where the raging waters touched the surface of the river. Rocks jutted out from the bank, dripping water, the drips shining like diamonds of mist, before they fell, creating an iridescent rainbow of colours, then they touched the water and created honey coloured ripples to swirl against the black depths.
Mist flowed from the waterfall, coating the curtains of ivy that screened it from the surrounding woodland. They parted, the beaded drops twinkling briefly in the sunlight as Arabella stepped into the river. The cool kiss of water swirled around Arabella’s legs as she blissfully waded on the shallow side of the pool, savouring the touch of the water.
The rippling sheen of water caught the sunlight, shooting rainbows of colour up and down the length of the waterfall, catching the corner of Arabella’s face behind a curtain of dark, honey-streaked hair, glinting like garnets in her impenetrable forest eyes before the beam slid on, slicing into the shadows.
There was a hollow drip of water that reverberated around the cave that lay hidden behind the curtain of rapidly flowing water. Its black depths were silhouetted by the fangs and claws of the stalactites and stalagmites that framed the mouth like a huge pair of jaws. Arabella cautiously led Satan in, but he had been here many times before and did not shy at the curtain of water, or the black depths of the desolate cave. The crackle of dry leaves underfoot and the smell of rotting vegetation mingled with the wet smell of the river, speaking to Arabella through her bones, ignoring what her head told her; listening to her heart. Home. The rippling, living curtains of water sent light dancing up the inside of the cave, throwing light into darkness and darkness into light. The light revealed the images that lined the cave walls, beautiful images of bears, hunters, trees and flowers that seemed almost to form a border to the stone of the cave, encircling rippled, marbled patterns, forever set in stone. Arabella traced these with a familiar finger. As she left the cave a soft spray of water brushed gently against her cheek, leaving it damp, but blissfully cool. The hollow drip of water still echoed in the hidden cave, like an ancient tomb, encased behind the dazzling, rippling screen of water, safe from any wandering bandits or enemies. Safe from the world.
Outside, the wood whispered in the breeze, leaving snatches of a dazzling ocean blue sky between the emerald green branches. Birds hopped from branch to branch, singing their sweet songs to the summer. Swallows flitted backwards and forwards over the canopy of leaves, before diving down to the ground, to pluck an unsuspecting insect from the rich, dark earth. Arabella marvelled at their swiftness and skill, and laughed at their comical antics, her eyes lighting up with mirth for one of the first times in weeks.
Squirrels hopped from branch to branch, scurrying about on the ground for last season’s cobnuts or searching the bushes for berries to add to their growing stores. A soft downy head appeared from the encircling safety of a nest, its shriek answered from high above by a circling parent, this in turn answered by several piping, hungry voices in the hope of more food. Arabella suddenly remembered her rumbling stomach and pressed on, the rough, textured leaves brushing by her bare skin as she walked beneath a canopy of singing birds and dappled shade.
The ground dipped and she entered a small dell of wildflowers and soft grasses. As she sat down the sudden smell of crushed flowers and wild garlic reached up to envelope her. After gathering a few leaves of the garlic, the blissfully cool shade and the lullaby of the birds trapped her in a dream like world of wonder, where the ground seemed to fall away and the trees to spin. When she surfaced she saw above her the first attempts of flight by a late hatchling. As it leapt into the air and took its first swoop, the proud parents cheeped appreciatively and leapt from the nest to be by their chick’s side.
The breeze caressed her face and blew out her hair in a wild tangled dance. She closed her eyes and absorbed all the scents from the breeze, slowly unwinding, relaxing. This was as close to a home as she had.
The web of a spider glistened in the hot sunlight, each thread shining like a piece of pure silver wire, framing the backdrop of leaves, transparent in the warm sunlight that trickled down her back and filled her ears, mouth and nose like honey.
White, fleecy clouds scudded across the sky, sheep being herded into their blue fields, chased by the sheepdogs of the wind. A falcon shrieked in the sky and the woods became a silent place of beauty, as deeply enchanting as a dream. Thick vines hung from the tree limbs, like swings in an un-ordered back garden, wavering slightly as the breeze blew through the tops of the trees and set them shivering.
Sunlight streamed down, like a spotlight from heaven and played its warmth on her face, the deep indigo blue sky bringing the promise of more hot days to come. She revelled in it, opening up to the wild beauty and blooming sunshine, letting herself soar.
Arabella suddenly remembered her job and set off once more to find early harvest, her stomach complaining and driving her on.
Only when she got back did she allow herself to strip off her mud-stained, worn travelling clothes, before glancing around and diving into the emerald green depths of the pool that swirled around the base of the waterfall. As she surfaced, golden drops of water hung from her face and her hair, trickling from her ears, before returning to the river.