I had never thought of him as being a talker, all those centuries alone in the woods would have made talking a redundant function. He may have talked to himself but that may have been a little risky in such a dark place. I was coming around to the understanding that these woods were the haunts of all kinds of things that set themselves against the wellbeing of man, and boy. We hadn’t spoken since we met. He had an understanding of me that I had not truly expressed and this was in keeping with his compatriots who were starting to mouth the next lines on the page before I had even arrived at them. As I was saying, I never expected him to be a talker but four words in half a day was a little extreme.
“To go where?”
“You need to get to the far side of the woods. They are after you. They have your scent and they will rip you limb from limb, arm from arm, and use your head as a drinking vessel. You need to get to the far side of the woods.” Fee, fie, foe…
I was in agreement, fully. It was still a little unnerving to have a small boy from a fairy-tale, one that has become the vehicle for a recovery novel, to tell you things about yourself that you had not yet revealed.
“Don’t worry, nobody will ever know,” he added.
“That this is not fully your story. That you did not complete it on your own. That there were others involved in the writing process.”
“But this is my story. It’s about me and it was written by me. Nobody else was involved and I haven’t plagiarised anything.”
“Nice word. The type of word that will probably be able to stand up in court, unlike you at the moment,” he said with a flourish. “I’m just saying this to help you to realise that we have a say too. Being lost in these deep woods for so long allows us to develop our understanding of things. Apart from avoiding the wizards and witches, keeping out of the way of the wolves and shapeshifters, and avoiding the apples or toadstools, means that life can get a little boring here. I’m one of the lucky ones, you didn’t keep me waiting as long as some of the others have had to endure.”
I had stopped walking so as to give his words my full attention. A not too distant howl encouraged me to recommence my journey. The boy gave me a smile that could only have been described as knowing.