The clearing waited in stillness. The wind blew through the thickly-green upper branches, but nothing stirred below. The earth slept under layers of dead maple leaves. Three tall pines sheltered the spot form the sun, but no living soul rested in the shade.
Her skirt snagged thorny blackberry bushes, low and lazy, without warning. Long had those brambles waited at the entrance to discourage all but the bravest from stepping foot within, but time had disillusioned them and tricked them into retirement.
Young birch trees, startled suddenly out of their nonchalance, grasped desperately for her. They caught naught but her golden hair, which slipped like silk through their fingers. Time had tricked them, too, into pride and forgetfulness.
A moat of thin, brown leaves enclosed the clearing. They cried out in crackling voices to be so suddenly woken from their daze. Time had made them old and weak; they could not endure and their backs broke. Even under so light a tread as hers, they did not have the strength to bear her across.
In the heart of the clearing, three pines stood watch in a circle like great pillars, no more than five feet apart. The earth around them was bare and exposed; and time had baked sticky pine needles and dirt together to form a springy layer of topsoil. It molded beneath her feet and sprang back, akin to walking on a mattress.
One last lonely, scraggly branch lived low on the trunk of a pine. All the branch's companions had withered and died in the shadow of the canopy above, but this sole branch had survived by stretching out beyond the shade and shadows to where a hole in the roof let in playful sunbeams. There, in that sunny haven, a tuft of needles sprouted and drank in the warmth.
On this lone tree branch hung a homemade swing – a simple two-by-four, dangling three feet from the ground on a thick bit of splintery rope. The rope slithered up from one end of the swing to the branch, coiled up along it a foot or two, and dropped down around the other end of the swing.
The branch pitched and jolted under the weight of the swing's passenger; the tuft of leaves chattered. A dry, grey rock beneath the swing acted as anchor, and her feet kicked against the rough trunk of a tree to launch backwards – one, sweeping motion. Barren branches, pine needles, and patches of maple leaves wove a dizzying mosaic against the blue sky overhead.
All was still. The smell of age and rot wafted stealthily in the air. The distant rush of the freeway went by in ignorance. Stray sunbeams danced with old dust; and together, they blurred the lines, softened the edges, and transformed the forest. The clearing had become a creature – wise, and maternal, and very, very old.
It was secret. It was still. It was timeless.
Wrote this for English class recently and got a great grade on it. What do you think?