I’ve been inspired by the Isle of Wight Literary Festival to set up my own blog to share my creative writing. I’m new to writing which I’ve only been doing since joining a creative writing group in July 2012 and extremely new to blogging which I’ve been doing for about 10 minutes. I write all kinds of fiction and am really enjoying playing with styles, characters and genres. I’ve written first, second and third person and particularly enjoy taking the story in a way the reader least expects, hopefully with a killer twist!
Here’s a story I first had the idea for when I was at school but it took me almost 30 years to get around to writing it.
She runs fast as lightning through the dense wood which is still and black as velvet. Leaves rustle and a branch cracks loudly; there is something out there, watching, waiting. She can hear nothing except her heartbeat and is close to collapse but, when she has almost no breath left, a cottage appears in the night. With smoke curling from the chimney and a welcoming glow at the windows, it is sanctuary and she emits a high-pitched laugh of relief.
She bangs at the door, hears a shuffling from inside and then a deep voice calls out, “Who’s there?”
“My name is Ruby. Will you let me in?”
There is a pause when she can hear a low muttered exchange, then the door opens a crack and dark eyes under heavy brows regard her suspiciously.
“Please. There’s something out here.”
The door opens wider and she slips through the gap before he can change his mind.
From the kitchen a woman stares at Ruby, her eyes a startlingly bright blue, as fair as her husband is dark. Two cherub-cheeked faces peer at her from behind their mother’s skirts, as alike as peas in a pod but for the fact that one has long blonde hair and the other’s is short.
The woodsman looms above her and Ruby stands with her back against the door as she is scrutinised by the family.
“Sit down. Meg will fetch some soup.” It is more order than invitation so Ruby removes her red cloak and takes a seat at the kitchen table just as a bowl is placed in front of her. “Thank you”, she smiles at Meg who silently moves back to the fireplace.
She hasn’t eaten for some time so holds the wooden bowl below her chin to be able to spoon the hot broth more quickly into her mouth. She takes a chunk of bread and mops up the last of the liquid from the bowl then sits back, hunger sated.
“What damn fool girl runs around the woods after dark?” the woodsman demands angrily.
“I went to visit grandmother and took the wrong track on my way home,” Ruby replies calmly. “I could hear something following me and got scared.”
“So you should be. There’s things in these woods that terrify grown men, never mind young girls.”
“What do you mean?” she asks, frowning slightly.
“There’s things out there that’d eat you soon as look at you.”
Ruby glances over towards Meg and the twins. The woodman’s wife is ashen-faced with fear and the children cling to her as if she can make nightmares go away. Without a word, she picks them up and leaves the kitchen to put them to bed.
“What kind of things? Bears? Or something else?”
“All’s I know is that livestock started turning up dead a few months ago. And then … people.”
“The blacksmith’s boy and Old Tom. Lord knows what they was doing out after dark. I found Old Tom an’ it weren’t pretty.”
“What I heard out there sounded big. Could it be a wolf?”
“There’s been no wolves around here for years!”
“Maybe not, but I’ve heard tales of men who aren’t men all the time. The animal part of them takes over when the moon is full. Like tonight.”
The woodsman looks at Ruby like she’s lost her senses. “You’re more of a fool than I thought if you believe that rubbish,” he snarls.
Ruby presses on, “These are big, strong, dark men of few words. They are also passionate lovers, or so I’ve heard.” She holds his gaze and lets her words linger.
The woodsman stares at her for some time. Ruby can hear him breathing. He stands and approaches her, grasping her shoulders with his large hands. A smile plays across Ruby’s lips as looks up at him.
“I know what you’re playin’ at and I’ll have no part of it. My wife and children are in the next room. I’d throw you out right now if it weren’t for what’s outside. I don’t want blood on my hands.” He pushes Ruby away and heads towards the bedroom door without a backward glance. “Sleep in here tonight.”
Ruby kicks the table out of frustration then, nursing a bruised toe, sits down to sulk. As the fire turns to embers, she grows cold and wraps her cloak around her.
Ruby pads quietly towards the bedroom, moonlight glinting off her sharp teeth. She nudges the door open, needing something more substantial than broth to satisfy her hunger. All along she had known, one way or the other, that she would have the woodsman.