Twilight loomed as the silver sedan pulled into town and wound its way through the quaint streets. The sun was still visible over the top of the trees just discernable behind the town. As the sky toward the east grew dark and the tendrils of color snaked across the sky in vibrant sunset, the sedan pulled into the parking lot of the town's bed and breakfast.
"Here you go, Hon." The elderly innkeeper smiled as she opened the door. "Just as you asked, it's a corner room with a view of the ocean and the forest out back."
"Thank you, Mrs. Cooper." She returned the smile, set her bags down and surveyed the room. "This is perfect."
"If you don't mind me asking, Hon." Mrs. Cooper continued. "I understand why you might want a view of the ocean, but why the forest? It's nothing special and terrible dark."
"I'm a writer, Mrs. Cooper, and a great story has to be more than sunshine on a cloudless summer day." She responded good-naturedly. "Most people won't trust a happy ending that isn't tested first."
Mrs. Cooper didn't look convinced.
"I noticed your small library downstairs," I continued. "Would Elizabeth Bennett be such a memorable character if she accepted Darcy's first proposal? And what of Scrooge? Would we even have A Christmas Carol if he wasn't a miserly old man?"
"Oh, I don't doubt the need for characters to stand against tests of quality, Hon." Mrs. Cooper interjected while mindlessly fluffing a pillow. "I just think there are some things better left alone." She paused for a beat before shaking her head. She looked up with a smile that belied her momentary discomfort. "If there's anything I can do for you, just let me know."
"I will. Thank you, Mrs. Cooper." She watched the older woman go before letting out a sigh of relief and sinking down onto the bed.
Lying back, she stared up at the ceiling, and instantly flashed back to her ceiling as a child, covered with glow in the dark stars. As a kid, there were those who accused her of having an overactive imagination, an attribute that now came in handy as a fiction writer.
With another sigh, she stood up and moved toward the room's desk where she set her computer bag. Digging around for a moment, she located and removed her journal and pen. Settling herself at the desk, she opened to the first blank page.
April 25, 20_,
I'm here. It's taken me years, but I'm finally here. I first heard about the forest years ago, long before I became a writer. Since, I've loved tracking down lore and local legends – the more mysterious the better – to use for the basis of my writing. And if I'm completely honest, the legends of this particular forest probably started it.
I wish I could have found out more about the forest before coming, but information is strangely absent. And I don't mean that there isn't much information…there's NONE. Throughout the entire history of the town, there is not one mention of the forest; it is conspicuously absent from all written and verbal accounts – even guest reviews. Zilch. Nada. Nil.
It was the lack of information that finally brought me here. The forest obviously exists, and if Mrs. Cooper's skittishness is anything to go by, there's definitely something here, and it scares the locals.
She paused in her writing and stared out the window, where she could just make out the last sliver of sun sinking behind the forest.
So much time has passed since I first heard of the forest, that the memories are distant and faded, like an old photograph. Yet when I found the website for this quaint bed & breakfast, it was as if my childhood imagination exploded off the page. Reading the brochure downstairs while waiting for Mrs. Cooper, I didn't have the heart to correct her "Family run since 19_". For, if the single eyewitness is to be believed, there was an unforgettable summer spent in this house twenty-three years ago, well within that period of time. Which was also how I knew this turret room at the south corner of the house would be perfect, with its windows covering half the walls and the clear view of the ocean to the east and forest to the west.
One last thing: I didn't want the double view to give my story darkness as I told Mrs. Cooper, but to give it light.
There is something about this particular legend that has had a hold on me for years. Something that continues to draw me here.