The woods were always dark, deep and intense. He could not remember exactly when it had been the first time that he had set out of his house in the morning, meaning to do all the tasks earmarked for the day and had found his way into the woods instead.
He had passed that way a million times, but then one day, someone had actually called out his name and the voice allured and dared him to explore and defy the unknown.
He entered the woods tenderly at first but was soon sucked in by some mystic indomitable force that enticed, charmed and captivated him, and stripped him one by one of all his carefully cultivated defences, leaving him a willing and helpless pawn in the game played by the elements. The woods were magical, more magical than anything he had ever conceived possible. There was a veil of mist that surrounded him and let him see just enough to lust but not enough to really trust. It vaguely created a turmoil and challenged him to make a choice as he treaded spellbound deeper and deeper. In his mind he knew, he always knew that there was no choice, he had already crossed the threshold. There was no turning back.
And if this path was leading to hell, he was prepared for it, or so he thought. He would have it no other way.Just then he would have the first glimpse of her. She was the Lady of the Woods, the ultimate temptress whose charm had held mankind in a trance created by her whim through centuries of evolution. She sat on the carpet of fallen leaves, defying and wearing the jewels of Reason itself. When she set her eyes on her prey they surrendered themselves with the full force of their will. And then they never knew what hit them next.
Many a times he had woken up, with a bitter-sweet taste in his mouth, shattered and ruined, but alive enough to believe in a road ahead that would take him to his home.
Many a times he had walked by those woods, swearing to himself that it had nothing more to seduce him with. He shut his ears and looked away, whenever he passed that way; but the voice, always the voice from the woods reached his head, anyway. And it always found a way to lure him back into the misty woods.
Then one day, he changed his way to work. So what if he had to circumvent the whole town and take twice as long to reach his destination? At least that way he would be safe. And he followed that safe route for many years. No more adventure graced his path. He was free; free from being captured and rendered powerless by an illusion. He led his life with dignity and faith. Gradually he even forgot the existence of the woods although the Lady of the Woods did appear a few times to haunt him in his dreams.
Then one fine morning, he woke up. The sun was shining, the sky was clear. A lovely summer breeze caressed his senses. He was free. But doesn’t freedom in truth entail a freedom of choice? Doesn’t it necessitate the freedom to kill the monotony of security? It slowly sank in that he was more bonded than ever before by offering himself as a slave to the life that forced him into a long and winding path everyday that went against the path of nature.
He made himself a rich brew of his morning coffee and sipped it savouring the essence of freedom in every drop. Then he showered and dressed with care and put on his hiking shoes. He chose to deliberately traverse the forgotten path that led to the woods. When he approached the now familiar trees, he paused, and smiled. The woods were waiting for centuries to be explored. Why had he not realised that before? He shouted out to the Lady of the Woods that it had been a while but he was now ready. His voice echoed all around and reverberated in every heartbeat of the woods. He plunged forth with pride, penetrating the layers of intensity as the mist cleared. Stripped of her veil, the virgin Lady of the Woods exposed herself for the first time. And then, with extreme joy and purpose, she raised her eyes to him. There was no seduction, just an appeal. Innocence revealed itself and they made love in the shade of the trees, with nature celebrating the triumph of love over temptation.