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A Thousand Words. 

The saying goes that a picture can paint a thousand words. But, can a thousand words paint a picture? Can a thousand words paint a picture in your imagination? The short story that follows serves mainly as a descriptive piece of writing. Though, that being said, weaving between the words is still a story. 

My objective is to find a picture that inspires me. The picture is the inspiration for the story that follows. Your job as the reader is to do what you love to do: read. The picture that I am writing about I will post after the story. The fun is in seeing how close your imagination came to the picture. You may decide you like the picture better or you may decide you like the version in your imagination better. The choice is up to you. 

Read on and, most importantly, have fun while you do so. 

A Thousand Words #1

The Clearing
S. A. Tawks 

Unfortunately for the couple it had rained all weekend and they had not been able to pursue their hiking plans. Though, by some stroke of good luck, they woke on the last morning of their stay at the bed and breakfast nestled in the hinterlands to clear skies. The grass and trees glistened with the remnants of rainfall from last night but weather reports now indicated that the area had seen the last of the menacing dark clouds for a few days. The couple had to be on the road in three hours but that didn’t deter them. It gave them just enough time to explore a small portion of the national park that the B&B sat on the outskirts of. 

Only helping themselves to one plate of the all-you-can-eat breakfast, the couple ate fast and were outside with a backpack of minimal supplies in record time. A trail behind the B&B led into the national park and they set out on it. The trail had taken advantage of the weekend rain and soaked up as much as it could, making it a squishy walk for the couple. After following the winding trail for half an hour they came to a sharp bend. At where the trail began its sharp bend around a small hill, the man noticed something. 

“Check this out,” he said. A thin animal trail running off the path, down a slight, rocky embankment and into some thick growth had caught his eye. “Let’s see where it goes.” 

They were both the adventurous type so they stepped off the trail and began on the unofficial one without a moment of hesitation. It ran for about twenty minutes, taking them first through a thick growth that dimmed the sunlight, then through a long grove of ironbark trees and ended at a clearing.

A small patch of of well kept grass lay between where the trail had brought them out and, despite the amount of rain the area had had, an almost dry creek. Smooth, sleek rocks poked out of the shallow water at all sorts of angles, like the crooked teeth of a monster’s lower jaw. The clearing was home to a handful of trees whose thin branches were decorated with light green leaves. Oddly, the healthy green grass on the other side of the small creek looked to have been freshly mowed. However, oddest of all, constructed in the heart of the clearing was a small wooden house. 

“Do you think anyone lives here?” asked the woman. 

“Someone has to mow the grass,” the man joked. “Let’s get a closer look.” 

The man led the way across the creek. Instead of stepping across the rocks, they made use of a tree that had fallen dead in the trickling water, its few remaining branches devoid of any leaves and its skin in the early stages of a very long decomposition. Having crossed safely, the couple moved towards the house over the wet grass that dampened their runners. 

Time had been kind to the house but not too kind. The structure’s wood was spotted here and there with dark stains and a few of the small tiles were missing from the roof, which allowed shafts of light to enter the bare interior. The doors had been detached from their hinges, giving the sense that anyone was welcome inside. Besides a doorway, one side of the house was completely devoted to a large stone chimney that covered the outside and towered to the top of the roof. The roof came down lower at the back of the house to provide shelter for a back deck that was now missing some floorboards. On the deck was the only evidence that the couple found to suggest that someone had lived there. A rocking chair, one of the armrests acting as the support for a spider’s web, sat motionless beside the door frame. After having circled the house the couple decided to enter through the front doorway. 

The man produced his mobile phone from his pocket and illuminated the dark, dusty and dank interior with the built in torch. He scanned the wooden walls, exposing corners that had been taken over by spiders, and finally shone the light into the fireplace. He expected his wife to scream but she didn’t. She did, however, move closer to him for a sense of protection. A thick, long brown snake was curled up inside the hearth. It surveyed them with its beady eyes, flicking its dark blue tongue at them.

“I think it wants us to leave,” the man voiced. 

“Sounds like a good idea,” the woman replied, hinting at her intentions. 

The man extinguished the light and pocketed his phone as they quietly but quickly left the snake in peace. Outside the sky had begun to bruise. The smell of approaching rain, the darkening sky and the encroaching cold contradicted the weatherman’s earlier prediction. The couple hurried back to the fallen tree and used it to cross the lake, hoping the rain would hold off long enough for them to get back to the B&B without getting wet.

Is this what you imagined?