Writing Exercise: The Portal

It’s not every day that you see a portal. Actually, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a portal in my life. Well, let me amend that; I’ve seen portals, but they were just regular doorways or windows, a portal from one normal space to another. This portal, the one I saw today, was different.

At first, I wasn’t sure that what I was seeing was a portal. It looked like a shimmer of air – like the sort of shimmering that happens above the flames of a bonfire in a hot and humid night. As I drew closer to the wavering patch of air, I realized that if I looked at it out of the corner of my eye, I could see something through it. What I should have seen through it was just the trees, tall and boring palm trees, on the other side of the park. Instead, what I saw through the patch of air was something exceedingly odd.

It looked like a kind of demonic vortex: a sort of whirlwind of dark colors, weaving through each other and around and around the spiral they made, tumbling over one another and creating frightening images if I tried to concentrate on them. Sweat poured down my face in the summer heat as I kept turning my head this way and that, trying to see where the moving tunnel inside that patch of air led to. It was no use, however. The spirals of color just kept on and on inside that portal, and the ending was so far away it just looked like a black dot at the end.

The portal drew me towards it. I took a step, and another. I wanted to enter it, get swept up in that endless darkness and see where it would lead me. Before I knew it, my hand was inches away, reaching towards the shimmering air through which I saw the tunnel.

My logic kicked in. I snapped my hand back. I shoved both hands in my jeans pockets, like unruly children who had gotten away from me and needed to take a time-out. With one last, involuntary yearning, glance at the portal, I turned away. I turned my back on the fate that would await me if I entered that darkness. Now, at day’s end, my curiosity burns for that knowledge and my logic must sooth my imagination. “There, there,” it says in my mind. “It couldn’t have been anything good. There, there. It’s alright.”

The Woods

As darkness settles, the air grows cool and crisp, promising rain later to those who can feel it in their bones and guaranteeing a cold night for those who can’t. The smell of the air becomes almost a living thing, damp and thick; the smells are of the ponds, of the moist greenery, faint smoke coming from far off, and lastly, the smell of woods in the night. It all smells musty, in a cold sort of way, as if the whole outside world has become the den in an old house.

The woods in the night are magical. Bare though they are of leaves, they brim with a foreign power, a promise of mystery, adventure and danger that can be found in their depths. The branches of the trees seem to be like a hundred arms reaching out towards the sky, some leaning down and beckoning to the watcher to come in, to look closer.

The prospect of being lost in those woods is both frightening and enchanting. There is a feeling that anything could happen amongst the tree trunks, between the wild roots, inside knotholes. The onlooker can easily be hypnotized, drawn into the New England woodlands as if by invisible Fae. With the right sort of courage, perhaps those wild creatures could be discovered.