The Forest

Blossom Prompt
Here is my Daily Post entry about the word Blossom! I hope you enjoy!

          Milo lived with his grandmother in a cottage at the foot of the forest. Before them lay a field of healthy green grass. When the sun rose to compliment the soft blue sky of the morning, the field shined with dew. But no flowers blossomed there.

          The forest was not as beautiful. Upon glancing behind the cottage into the thick woods, one could feel full fear. But Milo’s grandmother was not afraid. The people who inhabited the neighboring town called her crazy.

          “Doesn’t she know of all the people who have died in that forest?!” they would say.

 

          She didn’t care. Milo’s grandfather built the cottage when he first married his grandmother. The happy couple always dreamed of living far away from the town and having a few children. Just a lovely, and peaceful life. Unfortunately, they were only able to bear one child. A baby girl. Since she was their only offspring, they cherished her with all their hearts. The baby girl soon grew into a little girl and attended school in the town. There she learned of the frights of the world. War, famine, pain, and mystery. The little girl felt she could change the world! Her mother said she could do as she pleased. But she made her promise she would never go into the forest. As she grew into a teenager, she helped around the town, mowing lawns, caring for the elderly, and reading to younger children. A young man caught sight of her good deeds, even though he was not good himself.

 

          The teenage girl soon grew into a young lady and her and the young man unduly fell in love. She never saw how rotten he was or how he just wanted to use her. His goal was to find a good wife who would obey his every command and care for all his needs. This young man had a heart of garbage. Not long after they married, the young lady gave birth to a baby boy. Her husband was furious. Never had he planned on having a family. Moments after his beautiful son came into the world, he left his wife.

          Stricken with grief, the young lady held on tight to her baby boy. “Don’t grow up to be like him. Please! Just don’t grow up to be like him.”

          Only a year later, the young lady would die of heartbreak and her parents would come to bring the toddling Milo to live with them. The people of the town disagreed. They claimed two older folks could never give a baby the care he needs. Especially not the old woman. But Milo’s grandparents loved him more than anything. So they left the town and brought him to their little cottage at the edge of the forest.

          When Milo turned ten, his father paid them an untimely visit. Knocking at the door, his grandfather answered. The man demanded of the boy, saying his rightful home was with him in the big city and the old woman needed help. Telling Milo and his aging wife to stay inside, the old man walked outside with the crazed man and their conversation turned into a heated argument. The two came to blows and tumbled back behind the house where the forest began. A few punches and kicks later, the man rolled into the forest. Because of how thick it was, the foliage swallowed him instantly, as if it were alive.

          The old man hobbled back into his home and comforted the scared Milo. “Promise me you wont become like that man. Please! Promise me you will not become like that man.”

          Milo promised. For he had a heart of gold, just like his mother. But he knew he couldn’t change the world. No one can. His grandparents continued to teach him at home all the lessons he would have learned at a public school. But his grandmother never mentioned the forest.

         His grandmother was in the town market one day, buying flower buds to try to garden. Flowers just seemed to not blossom in the field. But she would try anyway. She adored flowers. An old friend greeted her and asked about her husband.

          “So how is Edgar?”

 

          “He’s doing very well. Thank you.”

          “Hmm. Its too bad your son in law has gone missing. A boy needs his father, you know.”

          The old woman was surprised. Missing? He was dead! But she dared not tell her old friend anything of the incident. She nodded her head and paid for the buds. Preparing to leave, she noticed all the townspeople were staring at her. And none of them said a word. The old woman was used to this when she came into town. She got in her buggy and back across the wide field and told her husband of what transpired. But they said nothing of it to Milo.

          The next day, the old man got on the buggy and rode to town to turn himself in. In a rushed court with a biased jury, he confessed to have pushed Milo’s father into the awful forest and not help him out.

          “You know very well, Edgar, that the forest is not fit for anyone to enter! And you know anyone who has entered into its branches has not survived!” the judge roared.

          The old man stayed silent. They refused to let him go free, regardless of knowing how deranged his son in law was. No one seemed to understand that he deserved death on account of abandoning a young lady and their child. Taking the old man to the prison yard, he was executed at night fall.

          Some years passed and Milo and his grandmother stayed far away from the town that took Edgar from them. They had sheep, cows, pigs, and fruits and vegetables to keep them fed. Milo was a young man now and a good one at that. He helped his grandmother around their cottage and tended to the animals in the farm.

          He hated to see her slave over those old flower buds that just wouldn’t blossom. And her health was failing. All he wanted was to help her make those stubborn flowers grow.

          One night, Milo went into their guest room that held many books. He had read most of them, but one he never cared to read. The cover was dull and lacked any interesting features. It was called “The Trees.” That sounded boring to him, but being the wise young man that he was, he decided it might have some meaning to it.

          After he tucked his grandmother in her bed, he went out to the back of the cottage to stargaze. The moon was bright enough so that he could read too. He looked forward at the forest and thought about his life. The forest was impossible to see into, for it was always dark and the night sky made it even more difficult.

 

          Remembering a book about gardening that he also hadn’t read, he got up to go back and get that one instead. As he was rising from the grass, the tree book fell out of his hand and landed, opening to a certain page. Milo looked down at it and was shocked to find out that this book was about the forest! He kneeled down to read the page. It read:

          “This forest has the most gorgeous flowers. Brightly colored petals array the interior of the area, sitting prettily on trees, shrubs, ferns, and rocks. Since the founding of the state park in 1808, it has been a famous attraction to the surrounding towns.”

          Milo was confused. He had never heard anything but bad news about that forest. But this book said it was a state park! There had to be benches, and monuments, and trails! What happened to make it a death trap? But what grabbed his attention the most is that the forest was known for its flowers! None ever blossomed in the field where he was. His sweet grandmother always talked about how she had a garden growing up in the town. She loved flowers almost as much as she loved Milo.

          Reading more, he learned that the forest spans into a mountain range and there are prairies within its trees. But then he got to the part he knew about. That state park’s plants were introduced to a fungus that when touched, drove people mad. And the book ended there. Nothing else. He flipped it over and front to back. He flipped through previous pages about everything but how people were disappearing. He had made up his mind.

          Milo planned to go into that forest, locate the flowers, and bring them to his grandmother as a gift. He knew it was a crazy idea, but she had done so much for him. The book had a map of the forest so he would be able to find his way around. Would almost dying just to make someone you love happy really be a bad thing?

          The next morning, he snuck out of the cottage after he made his dear grandmother breakfast. He had packed food, a compass, bandages just in case he got hurt, a knife, and the map of the forest.

          Making sure she didn’t see him creep behind the house, he walked up to the very edge of the forest. He was not afraid. He had passed this area his whole life. What was the worst that could happen? People probably were just getting lost in the unruly forest and dying from starvation. He didn’t really believe in the fungus. Taking the knife out of his bag, he cut through the vines and stepped forward. He fell directly into a pit.

          All was dark. And something smelled like rotting flesh. Suddenly, he felt that full fear. The knife was still tightly grasped within his palm, so he sliced around him to try and find some light. After a few tiring minutes of swiping around, he broke through the vines. Light shown in and he saw he was sitting in a pile of bones. Milo screamed and tumbled out of the smelly pit. Coming into the light he was in a luscious forest! With the map in hand, he saw he was at the entrance to the state park. A rotting sign said “Flora Wonder State Park, California.” His grandmother’s name was Flora. Old benches were decomposing in a picnic area and signs pointing to what would have been trails were leaning over. At first, Milo was filled with joy, but upon looking behind him into the pit, he realized that he could be in extreme danger. The people who failed to survive the dark pit surely weren’t the only bodies he would find.

           The grass was high and bushy. He stomped over it, making sure not to fall in any deep spots. The sun was shining brightly all around. He wondered why it looked so dark from the outside. The trail signs were illegible. But one had an embossing of a rose on it. He chose that trail.

          As he stumbled through the weeds and grass, he began to feel dizzy. He collapsed to the brush and passed out. When he woke up, it was the late afternoon. The sun wasn’t nearly as bright and he could hear birds chirping. Then he heard voices! Quickly standing up, Milo ran in the direction of the voices and called out to them. Then they stopped. Turning around in circles, no one was to be found. He felt dizzy again. Seemingly, he was still in the trail. So he walked on.

          Taking out the map, he saw the trail he treaded was called “Rose Bush Way”. His grandmother loved roses! He planned to find some and bring them home by nighttime.

          Knowing his feet to have walked for hours, he finally began to see rose petals. And then the voices came back. They sounded distant but like they were having fun. Milo’s legs ran him in the direction he felt to go. Upon getting deceivingly closer, the voices turned to laughter. He halted his running. His head looked this way and that. The laughter became louder and filled his ears. That laughter turned into a ringing and this brought him to his knees. He felt a finger tap him on his shoulder. When he looked up, the ringing ceased. But no one was there. And then he recalled the fungus that drove people mad. But he had gone too far in to let some hallucinations stop him.

          It seemed to be that every time he got dizzy, he would hear things. So next time, he would ignore it. Finally, after much walking and stomping through the forest floor, he arrived in an area with many types of blossoming roses! All colors! In the middle of the area was a picnic table. Milo began carefully grabbing roses off their stems. Only wanting to get a few, he zipped them up in his bag and proceeded to jog out of the area. But then he felt dizzy once more. Looking at a tree next to him, he saw an orange slime oozing out of it bark. That was the fungus. And it was everywhere. He violently shook his head to relieve the nausea.

          But then he heard a familiar voice. Slowly Milo rotated to see his father, mother, and grandfather sitting at the picnic tabled. They looked so…real.

          “Milo, come sit with us.” they said in unison.

          He backed up. His mother stood up. “Where are you going, my boy. Come sit down.”

          Its not real! he told himself. He kept shaking his head, which just increased the dizziness. His father and grandfather stood up as well and all three began walking toward him, blankly smiling. Milo finally was fully afraid. The faster he moved out of the area, the faster they walked at him. All of a sudden, he gripped tightly to his bag, and ran with all his might.

          The three of them began to scream like cats and chase him down the trail. He occasionally would glance behind himself to see if they were gaining on him. They screeched and howled fiercely. Getting down on their knees, they ran on all fours. Tears poured out of his eyes and back into his hair. He knew it wasn’t real, but he couldn’t stop the fear! Milo began to slow down, and the slower he got, the crazier the sight became. His father, mother, and grandfather, exchanged their screaming for laughter. Their heads shot backwards so they galloped while looking upward. Their teeth grew long and jagged and their hands and feet turned into hooves.

          Milo ran for what seemed like days. He was growing weary. But then he saw the state park sign. Yes! he breathed. But he didn’t see a way out. The only way he knew of was through the pit. Reluctantly, he jumped in and that fowl stench hit his nose. As he struggled, the creatures behind him jumped into the pit as well. Its not real! Its not real! he cried. Feeling for his knife, Milo jabbed at the creatures. They shrieked, as if he was actually hurting him. Jumping on his shaking body, he didn’t feel them pounce. Its not real, its not real. he said once more. He was going unconscious. The last thing he saw was the pit close over him.

          “Milo! Milo! Wake up!” his grandmother said.

          Milo jerked awake on the edge of the forest. He was scratched up and dirty. Remembering what happened, he started to yell and convulse. His grandmother slapped him.

          “Did you go in there?” she kindly asked.

          “The book! I-it said something about beautiful flowers! I-I just wanted to get you some. Im sorry.” Milo let his tears run free.

          The old woman unzipped the bag and took out the blossoms. She didn’t smile or thank him. Shrugging, she grabbed his hand and they walked into the flowerless garden. While she put the roses into a pot, Milo stared on in confusion.

          “Grandma?” he said.

          “I hoped you never would go in there. But at least you survived. You know, that state park has the best flowers! And they are the only ones that grow around here!” she giggled.

          Milo gazed at her in horror. Had she read that book before? She was a teenager when the park closed. Had she been in there? Did she know about the fungus?

          “Promise me you won’t go back in there. If you do, your mind might just kill you for it.” she whispered.

          “Of course, grandma!” Milo promised.

          Milo never really stopped feeling dizzy. Especially not around those roses. His grandmother moved them into the dirt of the garden and they soon blossomed up everywhere. They spread out onto the field and further. Her health got better and she lived a long time. She would make tea out of the rose petals and give it to him.

 

          She started to always say, “Someday, my boy. Someday you will know it.”

          Milo wondered. Every day he just wondered. Was his grandmother hiding something about those rose blossoms?

         

 

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