“Can you smell them?” the fauna held my breath. It was the denser parts of the forest that I usually visited alone. But I brought along a new friend today. I wonder if the trees were surprised to see another person in their area.
“Can you smell them?” I repeated.
“The ghosts.” She replied with a smile she wore just to hide her fear of the place. “No, the mushrooms! Come on. Those are just stories… Like this one.” She was a strong one, a curious one. A character that seems appropriate for the forest. I have thought of taking many with me, but they wouldn’t come along for all the stories they have heard. I made them up, I don’t even know if those are true or not.
“Mushrooms? I don’t know what they smell like. I have been allergic to mushrooms so I have avoided them. Maybe that’s why. But I like the idea, independent fungi. Grows out in absence.” She would never look at me while talking, once done, she would give me an assuring look.
“They do need darkness, silence and peace. I love mushrooms. They have a subtle flavour. Look here is one.”
A canopy of fungi was flourishing underneath a giant leave. The colours on the mushrooms were astonishing as always, a bush of blue over a ripped red. They were spread out in a constellation, stretching out to the sky in every way possible.
“So are they edible?”
“I don’t know. But they are interesting. Maybe too much filled with darkness. I hope they are all about peace. Mushrooms are so much like people. We never know. I am sorry, I know I am weird. I get very much in touch with this place whenever I visit. But do you like it here?”
“Any place is better than the behavioural science class. I don’t know about people, but you are a mushroom for sure.”
“Haha.. am I causing you some allergic reaction?”
“Well, not yet. But you sure have your peace in this darkness.”
“Oh yes. That is true. You will see there is a lot more to this place.”
“More mushrooms like you?”
“Yes, and you know a lot of metaphors.”
“Oh, that’s important for the writer-kind of fungi. I know. I edit. So I know.”
“You are really good at jokes. Yes, it’s a good place to collect metaphors. Do you edit? Perfect. I will give you a little story and you edit it right here.”
We sat on a patch of grass that spread only enough for both of us to be comfortable. The surface was covered with leaves, branches, feathers and a lot more hidden under the collective ruins. I picked up a brown feather that was stuck to the tree next to us. Unharmed, the single feather had a great composure of weight. When held, one could feel that it was meant to fly.
“Here is a story. A gift. A story that has seen more characters than any and no plot. And that is it.”
She took the feather from my hand in a swift manner and I saw the feather gaze across the distance between us in a flawless motion.
“This feels like the narrator. Yes. But not the story. Look around, Mushroom. There are dead bodies of these narrators covered by the leaves.”
I never realised the presence of the corpses, I would always look up to find the nests hidden in the branches of the wild trees. The birds that were never visible. The sound and the sudden movement of the trees that would tell me that I am not alone.
“I don’t want to steal the beauty of this place from your head, Mushroom. But your story will only do justice if you portray the entire forest. Everything in it.” The smile that came to her face then was more comforting.
“Yes, you are right. It makes it all the more beautiful. So we are sitting on a graveyard, but also under the brooding womb of this place. Look for the nests. They are harder to spot but are everywhere.”
“Nice touch, Mushroom.” She leaned towards me and I did the same. For it only made sense for a story to have it all. Death, love and life brooding under darkness like fungi.