The thrum of rubber on pitted tarmac gives way to the static crackle of leaf litter, and her mind burns white hot. The engine idles and dies. She’s almost there. A muffled click and a flash of orange give a final brief contact with the new world. She begins to walk.
The woods feel different today, shades of emerald and fern slipping into amber, leaves and beech mast a rustic carpet beneath her. She’s known a thousand Autumns here. A scramble through fading briar traces vermilion lines on her skin, but she doesn’t feel it.
She easily finds the sunken lane, where the moonlight is her lantern. The dappled glow of the waxing orb picks out familiar landmarks; the tree root, the dull gloss of the holly leaves, faint mist over the bracken. Each step carries her closer to the glade, carries her further into the past.
She dips her head beneath an arc of maple boughs, and steps lightly into the clearing. A fox screams a clarion call as she slips off her shoes, standing barefoot in the damp earth. She finds the tree, and settles into her familiar groove, contours of skin and bark entwined.
She’s always known this place. Eyes closed, visions of times past fill her as her mind drifts. Modern life will drag her back soon, but tonight she inhabits the forest, her thoughts dancing nimbly through the landscape of Albion past as sister tawny sits sentinel.
She’s always felt different, always been an outsider. Few know that she belongs to the earth, steward spirit of the land. There are so few of us left these days, she ponders sadly. The wind stirs, unsettling the rookery above her. Time ceases to exist.