I hadn’t walked in Crow Woods since we had moved away thirty years ago. Trailing my fingers across the rough trunk bark of the first tree, I took a deep breath. The heavy scent of damp soil and green nature with a hint of pine was all too familiar. Underneath me on the single track, mud coated my boots and there was touch of frost and ice in places no one had yet been.
The sight of all the trees like old friends, made me recall my childhood. Everyday, I’d come here to play, my imagination fuelled by the nature and freedom. I hadn’t needed anyone else or any toys, I had searched and used what the woods had. Sticks had became swords to fight off monsters, the stream became a mighty river that I sailed on and tree hallows had turned into deep caves.
I smiled at the memories. I had been so lucky. Pausing, I looked around and admired the bare trees as they reached skyward. Birds were singing in the distance and there was a breeze now knocking things together. I shut my eyes and thought if I listened hard enough I could hear the ghost of my mother’s voice calling me home.
Mum didn’t like me staying out once it got dark. I had to agree with her as once the light had gone from the sky something seemed to happen to Crow Woods. It was a hard feeling to describe but it was like the atmosphere changed to a dark, grim feeling. You could no longer trust the trees or the ground, they harboured shadows with ill intent. But the light was the worse part.
Reaching the last stretch of trees, I ducked under their shade as if I was a shy child again. Stretching in front of me was a low raise, framed by a rusty wire fence then wild fields surrounding a hill with a flat top. I couldn’t see it now because of all the growth but this was Crow Farm and up there had been the house.
A lingering fear grew in my stomach as I remembered everything. Only once, I had been up to that hill and stood in the ashes of the house. I had told my parents and they had forbidden me to return. It was dangerous and trespassing, if anyone catches you they could shoot you! Despite my fear, curiosity stayed with me but I didn’t leave Crow Woods again. Though I came close countless times.
I heard a woman singing sweetly, often on cloudy afternoons when I had followed the stream too far down. I would go looking for her but I would never find her and instead end up on the boarder of Crow Farm. On Sundays, I would hear children playing and laughing when there was no one else there. When it rained and I tried to go home, some strange wanting to be in the woods would overcome me and I’d have to fight it off.
Then I started seeing the light. It was a single beam from a high window, but it was so strong that it shone out over the trees. It came on cloudy and rainy days, in the evening whenever the daylight was low so that It would be seen more clearly. I followed the light sometimes, when I was feeling brave and I would end up at Crow Farm. There on the hill, I would see the shadow outline of the the house with one of the upstairs rooms lit up.
I didn’t tell anyone. I thought at first it was just my imagination but it was just too real to be. Later on, fear kept me away as I started seeing figures and hearing piano music coming from the house. I stopped following the light and thought that would solve everything. I tried to go back to normal but I could never play in Crow Woods like I could be before.
One winter night, I woke up and found the light in my bedroom! It was shinning through my window and the beam was leading straight out to the farm house. I screamed and screamed but It didn’t stop. Only when my parents came in would the light leave and they thought I was having nightmares. There was no pattern to when the light would come but I knew it was not going to go away.
My parents tried everything; doctors, specialist, moving my bedroom, moving schools then finally we had moved house. Mum had always wanted to live on the coast and it was there that I found peace after six years. The light had become a faded memory, nothing more then a childhood accident that I grew out of.
Standing here now, all that was hard to believe but I knew it was true. The Light was still calling me, it always had been.