Child’s Clearing

Child’s Clearing

Nathan Kastle

Two young kids played in the clearing of a forest. They had found this wonderful grass bubble all on their own–somehow it had been left carelessly in the middle of a cluster of dark trees, among dastardly food chain dynamics that the gesticulating boy would dramatize to sort of sweep the heart of the girl…or something like that, challenge her… scare her… trick her… The boy couldn’t put a name to his tactics, but he knew that he liked to see her hair bounce and her mouth be stuck with anticipation.

The girl approached grass as the boy might have approached a machine, with timidness; She spun and saw the clouds whirling in a blanketing white circle, as the boy watched–her, that is. He watched her and she danced.

She would sniff the ground like a hound, chasing after little collectibles: pink rocks, spotted feathers, fulfilling views of the mountain peaks standing alone; the girl was a tea kettle of excitement, brewing with something unseen that the boy thought may be hot to the touch. So he preferred to watch, to guess, and to enjoy.

She was beautiful, so he loved her.


Whenever the girl seemed upset, it was exactly when her parents would make sounds that Jack could feel through a trembling in his desk. The young girl would burst through the boy’s back gate with a freshly wiped face and red eyes and command that he come away to play.

Her idea, that she admitted to him one slab midnight, was that in order to extinguish the red in her face, she would need something without color.

That, for her, was the clearing of the wood.

And the boy would always consent to come, for after all, he loved her.


The ruckus of the thatch-roofed town was mostly drunken parents, happily hollering and tapping at the cobblestone rocks in singing pairs; It all tugged at jack with a curiously distant glowing rope, but it was exactly what the girl needed to be away from to find her peace. Yanking herself away from the town with Jack heading into the quieter woods, she would look back over her shoulder with vengeful eyes and always mutter something about messiness and originality.

The two ideas never seemed to make much sense to Jack, but he always held fast that his heart knew better than his mind.

And because he loved her, he followed her.


She would pick stones from the twig-filled ground.

She would search the pond for colorful bugs to catch.

She would scan the sky for stars, search the air for birds, look past trees for cuddly creatures.


Jack himself didn’t mind much just to breathe the air, feel the blue in the sky and the trees, stand on the soil; but clearly that was foolish due to just how beautiful the girl seemed when she built her collection. She was brave, and so he loved her.


Now, though, the boy stands in the cold alone with his back to beauty, on the border of the wooded forest and the paved-over town. He is angry. When he begins to think why the girl would leave him at the entrance, on the threshold, he becomes angry and stops.

She was the same girl who seemed to so much enjoy playing with him earlier in time, catching specs of sun and picking stones off of the trail.

But as the girl started to become a woman, she would come to his gate with a darker red in her face and a more wet visage.


And now he had more assumed the duty of watchman.

And he was angry.


Now creaking with the trees, no longer finding peace in the universe but now only hot white balls of gas, dirty twigs on the ground, frightfully boring silence everywhere, the creaking tree Jack snapped.

Trudging through the woods and past dark trees, snapping over brush and twigs, the boy halted and wondered if the girl had become bored of him.

That made him more mad than anything.

Growing to a sprint, snarling at the stars and treating the forest as a narrow smooth tunnel who’s only end was only the girl and only the clearing, Jack stopped. He sunk his tight shoulders and let on a smile. He had reached her.

There he stood, ready for his permission to join in play. The girl was still beautiful and at that he was at once reassured and relieved. He smiled at her. The stones and stars and fish seemed to all finally re-inhale their vital sense of life.

Then she turned. Her face was red like her hair that he so admired. Her eyes were wet like the thin brook, but her face was filled with bright teeth!

She was happy. And she passed the boy.

“Do you see this? Don’t you think they’ll envy this? My parents?” She giggled. Her playfulness filled his heart.

“Yes, it’s beautiful.” He saw only her fiery hair.

“But they’ll never see it, or touch it. This is my prize, my toy that no one else has ever touched!” She ran laughing into the stone town.

All he could come close to thinking was to chase after her beauty and join in the play. He laughed as he went.

She was dragging the carcass of an animal; a beautifully long, bloodied white bird.