Mary-Anne had always loved Sherwood Forest. Even as a child she’d found it to be a magical place, but now she knew it to be a place of real magic. A couple of weeks ago, she’d stumbled across a doorway in the forest floor that led her down to a completely different world, that of the fae, Tír Na nÓg. There she had been graced with magic by the Lady Nimhue.
Fourteen years previously Mary-Anne had tripped and fallen into a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night after rescuing a cat from being burned. It had left Mary-Anne dreadfully scarred on her face, upper body and arm. Now her skin was smooth and unblemished, as though nothing had ever happened.
Since then, Mary-Anne visited the forest every day with her Border Collie, Jax, hoping to find the doorway once more so she could thank the Lady Nimhue. The doorway was nowhere to be found.
As they walked the forest on that mid-October day, Mary-Anne felt there was magic there anyway. The bare branches of the silver-barked birch trees appeared stark against the pale yellow light of the late autumn sun, now hanging low in a sky painted palest blue, mingled at the edge of the horizon with varying shades of ochre. The oak leaves, still green and always the last to drop, clung stubbornly to branches and rustled as a grey squirrel leapt from one tree to another. His bushy tail flicked when startled by the slate-coloured wood pigeon.
Jax spotted the sable brown of a rabbit rustling through a pile of crisp, yellow-green leaves beneath the mighty oak tree, black, beady eyes catching a glint of evening light under the creaking boughs.
There was no silence in the forest that evening; branches clicked, cracked and snapped in the sighing of the wind. In the distance a red fox slunk through the undergrowth, emitting a single bark to the coming dark.
As night time descended, Mary-Anne conceded that another day had passed with no sight of the faery door. But at least she’d borne witness to the magic of the forest.