The world was dark and tasted like mold and wood. Taste was my first impression of the world, and my only smell and my only sight. Rotted wood, mushrooms, and bitter spores were the first of my sights.
The past was, to me, something that went on forever. I don't know how old I am. Standing in one spot, still as the rotting wood of the forest, would feel to me as though I had been in that little space forever, looming over rotting leaves and fuzzy twigs, feeling both insignificant and powerful, moving only slightly to ward off biting insects and the itch of humidity. But back then I was simple. Knowing no language, no colors, and only the sounds of the forest, I knew only what nature intended for me – or, rather, what I believed she had intended for me. I knew that if it rained I could hide under the rotted wood. If I was cold, I would find a patch of warmth – I did not know yet that this was sun – and soon I learned that tilting my face up to it let the warmth travel through my veins. Through it nature put happiness into my heart and mind and I knew little else.
I suppose it is my first years I remember best, those years when I learned what the forest offered and felt each individual shape of every type of leaf, simply because it was new to me. I remember those first scents, and I remember not long later learning the smell of flowers and tasting the smell of pollen. I remember warmth, what I now know as "summer," and I remember the strange smell of autumn and every tree falling into sleep but me. I remember the loneliness of winter, how the only birds I heard where those who sang loneliness into every ice chipped note, and I remember the cold that left me barely able to think that even the sun couldn't cure between the few times I could find it. Winters were lonely times.
As every season repeated itself again and again, I began to look forward to summers, to birds chirping and landing on me as the youngest failed to fly. I began to dread winters, so much that when I smelled the first sign of autumn I could instantly feel the sun sadden in my heart. I would feel the loneliness before its time and dread the silence, the taste of cold, the lack of a happy bird or brute insect or careful mouse. I began to feel like I had existed forever, and I could no longer remember my beginning or appreciate each thing as I had once been able to. Everything faded into one existence, and during one winter I began to realize that it was possible that I had no purpose.
When the idea first appeared I was too simple to understand it. I don't know how long ago it was – for all I know the thought was born a thousand years ago or just one. But once it was born it loomed in the back of my mind, ever present even in summer.
Strangely it was winter when I met Auha. It didn't seem strange to me at the time, nor did the name, for the name belonged to a deer. And as you know a deer does not know English. You also know that an English spelling does a name no justice, but only makes it ugly and raw. If only you could hear it, if only I could hear her say her own name! I was blind but I am not deaf, and her tone and her breath were enough to tell me she trusted me.
It was what I suppose could have been a field. In a ray of sun, I waited for the chill to escape my bones, knowing full well that it couldn't until I tasted the first flower of spring. Like a tree I stand straight, but like a tree I hold many branches. It was a strange change in that lonely cycle to finally have another first. That first was a cold, moist thing touching a branch and nuzzling. I didn't yet know that that huff was language.
Every winter was a time I would be so hungry that I would feel a gnawing numbness in my belly, numbed both by grinding hunger and frozen limbs. Something in Auha wasn't wet and frozen, and she nuzzled me with a soft, warm body and put something cold but leafy and edible into my hands. It tasted as sweet and the first meal of spring, and with her warmth I enjoyed winter for the first time.
She didn't stay pressed against me forever. Soon she moved free, and I heard the sound of four hooves (I was quite proud of my deduction) and a huff – "ah-huh." Auha, Auha. It didn't take me long to realize this was her voice telling me her name. (I was proud of being able to realize this, too.) It didn't take her long to realize that the noises I made back were, to her, deer nonsense. She named me Fauha, which only sounds as beautiful as it did when a deer huffed it. I know this because when I followed her she would say it over and over, and it could mean nothing else. Sometimes she would say it with fright, as when I first moved. I moved as I always had, with tens of branches lifting me up and moving me forward like a delicate spider, which she hadn't expected. But she tamed me quickly.
She allowed me to stay with her and follow her silently to her places of rest. She moved around often, with a few friends who were also girls. My first time there, I swooped into the "herd" silently as she had directed, and as her friends huffed in fright she huffed back, "Fauha, Fauha!" I knew she was prancing about me, trying to show them I was harmless, and only some of them believed her. A few of them fled, and while many come back, some we never saw again. One who didn't flee came over and sniffed my face, and I stayed still as a dead tree in winter as she huffed angrily in my face. She wasn't happy with me, and she left, taking at least two others with her, but Auha stay by me. Or rather, she allowed me to stay by her.
Her remaining friends accepted me quickly, and quickly I awoke to any one of them huffing, "Fauha, fihhf." I've supposed that meant, "Fauha, get up," or, "Fauha, good morning." It was said with affection, whatever it was, and they seemed pleased when I attempted to return it.
Their scent eventually became part of my own, so well that the first spring I spent with them, the best spring I had ever known, the first male deer I ever met was only curious about me for a moment. He considered me one of the girls, I suppose, though nothing compared to Auha or her sister.
With the scent of mold and spores coming back into the air, I felt my bones thaw. Auha didn't seem to need this stillness to let loose the ice on her fur, but she was patient with me and even assisted me. But well into the cold spring nights and the beginning of warm nights between spring and summer, I began to feel more and more at home. It felt purposeful to me, no matter how simple it was. With summer came that smell of mold, and with that, the simple happiness I knew before. But there was a small chip of ice behind my heart that chirped at night like those lonely winter birds, and something in me seemed to understand that the seasons of the day – cool, warmth, hottest, cooling, and cool – meant that those cool nights in summer were really just a reminder of the winter that would have to come back.
When it did didn't matter to me at the time. I felt endless, and felt like we, Auha and them and I, were too. Before long there was no beginning with me and Auha; we had been together since the beginning of time, and all our days began to blur together. This blur, though, was pleasant. One day I would learn the word for this was rough and edged: "love." But to be said by her was beautiful and somehow, in my own mind, soft. Like the first bird of spring, with his voice cracked from fresh awakening, before the first pang of hunger in his belly sets him searching.
Author's Note: Hope you enjoy this. :) In case you weren't aware, the Slender Man is an Internet-born mythical creature, first created in around 2005. He's pretty interesting, in my opinion. Thank you for reading this. Feel free to review; it makes me happy. You don't have to, but I will love you more if you do. Even if you just say ":)" or "What?" :D