Being able to touch someone else’s spirit, it’s something that has a certain effect on you. It floods a feeling into you. You feel empowered, enlightened. It brings a wholeness to you. But it’s illegal, and I shouldn’t be here.
Entering the forest is a serious crime, but sometimes there are ways to sneak in. Friends of mine have com here before, knowing the risk behind getting caught. They’ve been begging me for months to come with them, and I always said no. Until now. Here I stand, my hand on this tree, a spirit of someone I don’t know. If I do any damage to this tree, the spirit it belongs to is damaged. It’s an intense voodoo doll situation in a way, and that’s why it’s illegal. People come and set fire to trees, or cut them down, and kill that person. It’s murder, and it’s the worst kind there is. However, if you’re gentle and kind to the trees, the endorphins they give off through your touch is so intense and wonderful. It’s an addiction to some people. My friends, for example.
We’ve all heard stories about people who came to kill themselves and their spirits. If they just kill their body, their spirit lives on. But killing the tree kills both their body and their spirit, and they’re sent to the afterlife. If your spirit lives on, you are put into another body. That’s what we believe. Some people claim to remember afterlives, but most people don’t, myself included.
As we walk through the trees, the air is so clear and clean, and the wind seems to sing through the leaves. Everything is at peace here. The trees are alive with the souls of the universe. Entering the forest is like entering through an invisible wall of light. As you walk through, it hits you. Happiness, serenity, peace from the evil in the outside world. How someone could come here and do damage is beyond me. The negative energy ruminating inside of them must be so deep that the light in here doesn’t change them. Leaving my own head, I realized David was talking to me.
“We only have five more minutes before we need to leave,” he whispers to me, touching my arm. “Staying long is risky.” David and I have been best friends since we were kids. He was the main reason I came today.
“Do you want to find yours someday?” I ask, wondering if I would ever find mine.
“There is no way I could ever find it, there are so many here,” he looks at the ground, disappointed. “Even if you did, they move around so often, you would never find it again.” He told me about people being lucky enough to find their tree, and getting so attached that they come back here so much they start to lose their minds. Apparently when you touch your own tree, it’s such an experience that takes you to another dimension. It’s a feeling you will never get to feel again, but you crave it every single day after that. Some people have been lucky enough to find their tree, and then they stay there, laying next to it, until they die of starvation. They are so attached, they can’t bring themselves to leave. It’s the ultimate addiction, and the ultimate curse.
“I don’t want to go crazy, so maybe I’m okay with never finding mine,” I say, thinking about my aunt who died two years ago in this forest. Nobody ever knew why, the patrol guards found her after she had been missing for a few months. Most people who go missing in here are never found since the forest is so big. My aunt must have found her tree, and her body was found, both of which are extremely rare.
You would think that getting in here would be difficult, but it’s not. It is illegal, but guards willing to patrol are lacking. They become addicted, just like everyone else. Most quit after only a few months, and some are known to have killed themselves. There are thousands of guards, but this forest is so immense, and thousands is nothing.
We were moving back the way we came when we heard something moving in the distance. Getting caught here wasn’t common, but it is a felony if you do. We all quickly hid behind trees and froze. It was only one person, a girl about my age, early 20s. She was crying, and there were fresh cut marks on her arms, dripping into the grass. She stopped at a tree, and starting crying harder. After pushing her dark hair out of her face, she knelt to the ground next to the tree, pulled out a box of matches, and lit one.
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