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The Place He Loved Most
by Darren Speegle

The house around him felt not only empty but forsaken. The only thing left to do, he figured, was wander into the silent heart of the forest, by the stream, and lie down for the duration. The forest was his favorite place, and he had never lost anything to its peaceful depths.

He looked down at his sister, the swell of her half-exposed breast, the wisp of hair across her dead face. He could go find Jazz. But that would only encourage Jazz.

Sis was the last, except for Jazz himself. War had taken Gramps. The cuckoo bird got Gramma. Jazz ended Mother’s life when she birthed him. Suicide grabbed Dad. Jazz got Apple and Krackle and Stuffy and Balloons, all of Pete’s dolls and animals. Now Jazz had taken Donna, Pete’s sister.

The forest was all that was left for Pete. The place he loved most.

He lay down by his sister, unconcerned about getting his hair in her blood, placed his arm across her midsection and fell asleep almost at once. In the dream the fairy said it would all be okay. The forest would make it better, like it always did.

When Pete woke, he felt his mouth all stretched out and loose by the smile he had worn in his dream. He smiled now because it was easy. He kissed Donna on her cheek, covered the spot where Jazz had torn her blouse, then went outside. The sun was just peeping over the edge of the forest.

Silent and peaceful, the wood, as it swallowed him into its heart. By the stream, babbly and gentle and clear, Pete dug his bare toes into the soft moss and shook the bottles of pills in his fists, pretending he was an Indian doing a medicine dance. The roots of the great oak around which the moss grew concealed the abode of the fairy, who promised she would come and kiss him away when his eyes were fluttering to sleep.

Pete let the rattles rest, sat down on the bed of moss, put his toes in the babble. He opened a bottle, took its contents into his mouth, only to spit them right back out again.

He looked around for the hand that must have struck him on the back.

No one.

Then he saw the fairy emerging from her earthy den. “Oh Pete,” she said. “That’s you resisting. You, Pete.”

“Why would I do that?”

“I think you know. If it were just you, you wouldn’t hesitate. But it’s not just Pete, is it?”

He blinked and said nothing.

“What you must realize, Pete, is that Jazz wants it this way as well.”

“How do you know?”

“You told me,” she said, her clear eyes reflecting the surrounding forest, so full of understanding. “You told me it’s finally time to put Jazz to rest.”

He nodded, remembering now. Okay. He looked up through the shimmering leafy canopy and thought just that. Okay.

When he’d tossed the empty bottles into the stream, he lay back on the moss and waited. Soon he felt the touch of the fairy’s lips, kissing him away.


Darren Speegle's work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in various publications, including Chiaroscuro, Redsine, Writer Online, Bloodfetish, Darkness Rising, Wicked Hollow, and Horrorfind. Darren resides in Germany. Visit his website at www.geocities.com/koobie2stoobies.


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"The Place He Loved Most" © Darren Speegle. Used by permission of the author.
Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.