Emma Wellington



Silent girls amass in their hundreds, thousands, some holding each other tight, others holding hands, many walk alone. In the dark night they file through streets, walking in deserted roads, they move slowly and peel off their clothing, piece by piece, a fresh start. An unforgiving wind is on the rise, and lifts long hair playing with it as it passes through, trailing it behind their small faces. The soles of their feet are white with the ashes of the cities they have burnt. Each girl is singing, each tongue, a merry smile, feet marching on and on, toes gripping the earth, balls of their feet pushing it away, as they propel their bodies forward. Soon they begin to sway, softly like a lullaby, an army of untold, painful mysteries fall from their arms. Soldiers of the life they bring, ever giving ever changing. The cities are emptying, more and more, their tiny bodies luminescent specs against the vast landscape, crawling on the earth like ants but moving like a shoal of krill in a vast ocean, expendable and vital, endless in the their march.

Together they have a presence that is far greater than the sum of their parts, singularly they die, wither and become the mulch, the trodden crumbling earth below their feet, but together they are a vast army. Swarming humming and flexing like the tides, that one day will rise within them each waning of the silent moon. The girls begin chanting and drumming their feet, the sharp sound of slapping and smacking of flesh on flesh fills the air as they hit and clap themselves in their glee and excitement, skin tingling, sensations bringing the tip of their bodily crests higher in joy, pouring forth a great unseen roar of laughter from their tiny unspent bellies. Unseen by those that count, and accrue, those who note the value, men of acumen, the counting of objects of beings and worth. The accountancy of matter, the ordering the filling, the sorting one from the other, ripe from fallow, useful from spent. A great roaring against the cropping of life, of lives, of movement of time into materials into money, to order and file away for futures imagined, stored in great cages to be protected and melded, fought over, traded, to be mixed and changed turned into more by the great machines of men, ripping and tearing all the beauty of the earth, to make useful the bounty that is a cathedral of matter from time. Elegant branches sweeping out to touch one another, huge columns of flesh a comos of life holding up the sky and holding back the creeping dust of death, costed and sold.

The army of girls are slithering on, like silver fish over the side of a vessel, naked bellies, bare legs, they twist and dive in a vastness to which they belong. The chanting is rising higher, birds loop and sweep through the boughs of sound. The girls are growing, taller and wider, in number and in spirit, in souly gasps between refrains, the prodigious choir of the might of young girls is being born into a sky parting and trembling with the sheer effort and number of the force and the will of them.

They arrive, in the cathedral like forest, on the edge of an ancient lake. The trees make up a web of tendrils beneath their feet spanning the earth. The tiny toes of the girls wiggle in the soft sandy soil of the waters edge, as they ground themselves into this new land of life. Great solid towers of the wood and leaves, teaming with so much life, so many species. A universe in each lofty shaft of existence, in each huge expanse of tree, no scientist could account for its magnitude. The girls bearing down with a force so huge, release a cry tearing into the sky and daring it to fall. The trees shake and tremble, releasing a thousand living creatures, seeds, and spores into the air. The girls continue to throw up their voices like a thousand tolling bells from the towers of men's cities. All gone now.

In a song of celebration, a song of so much sacrifice. A song leaving the millions of tiny throats tumbling over tiny tongues and teeth, leave their souls and fire up up up into the the sheer becoming night,into the the abyss of dreams and monsters and unknown things. They sing and sing in a language that is of all humans. Linguistic twists of memory more dense than remembering, new words, that have never been spoken before. They sing into existence new girls, brighter and other worldly sparkling. Shining as they drift down from the stars to stand beside them. The army of thronging singing girls begin to slowly shine. The trees sing too, humming basses so low, they aren’t heard by ears. But are felt in every cell and tissue of their bodies, as if a pulsing rhythm had always been there, but only now in harmony with the army of girls, the tone is released into the vibrating hearts of its listeners.

The largest forest creatures walk, stalk and swoop among the army of girls, bears, wolves, lynx, and eagles. They too sing their wild song, the language of wilderness dripping from their jaws like honey. The girls reach out and touch these beasts. As they do the great bodies of these predators fall into the song and are lost. Their coats and heavy heads caught by the girls and are slowly tried on. Tiny girls slipping their slight arms into the arm and paws of the brown bear, wearing their skins, like royal robes. The beast heads rest atop their tiny crests like hoods of cloaks, tiny fingers pushed into the the claws of animals driven by fear and survival. Placing the tail feathers in their hair, the beaks over their faces, they are hidden again and ready to roam. The song still rings out, although it is part of the sky now, the immense nothing filled with breath, from the bodies of the girls small heaving chests.

The beast girls turn slowly. Silent now surrounded by their songs armour. The atmosphere changed forever, the cosmos called down and spread like an enormous quilt, settling down for a long winters night. The air deadens and ignited with the fire from the bellies of the army of beast girls. The branches parting and sweeping them along, like huge brooms their mothers used to chase out the dust from the day before. The hushed trees seem to whisper ‘begone, wild women, begone and be heard’. The army of beast girls stamp out a new beat, tiny feet in paws and claws and hoves, sinking into the soft mulching soil beneath them. Crushing the fallen twigs and leaves, grinding new life into the floor. They march forward, a beastly army risen taller and stronger. Fighting one another, they leap and howl, using might claws they rip into the ground with a new power that fills the beast girls full of delicious might. Laughing they slowly turn to the lake, take confident heavy steps to the waters edge and wait.

The beast girls file in. Surrounding the lake. Soon there is no patch of ground between the lake and the forest where a beast girl doesn’t stand. In a cold deathly silence they attend to the lake. Not with song this time, but a thousand tongues whispering their names. Time passes. Still, weightless. The words hang, suspended in the frosty exhalation in front of their faces. It makes some of the girls giggle and smile with a childish mirth of girls waiting for an elder to arrive. Slowly, so, so slowly it starts. As if its always been starting but they just didn’t notice it before. Ripples in the lake grow faster and more frequent. Bubbles rise, and burst on its surface, more ripples until they become waves, waves that break not on the shore but on top of themselves. Over and over, bubbles bursting and fish leaping high zig zagging wildly before crashing down again more and more. Some fish larger than the girls whispering their names on the shore line. In the lake a storm is rising, its an ocean of rage. The waves rise and crash in lilogical un-rhythmic slashes, ungodly, like a curse. The lake is boiling now, rolling waves burst threateningly, some of the girls scream and shriek, its coming now, some shout we’re here, its coming. Some girls jump and splash the surface, as if to entice the lake on shore. Some are laughing, huge belly laughs of girls cut free and they hang off each other and grip each others arms to stop them falling to the ground. Their eyes are shining. There are girls crying too, some silently as if at a sad film, others wail, lamenting the the rough treatment of girls before them. Salty tears falling into the boiling lake joining its raging body.

The sky is clear and yet a sudden crack of thunder, barely heard over the rage of the lake and wildness of the girls emotions, clouts the air above their heads and a hard rain falls down on them. Every beast soaked, rain running over their bodies and on to the soft shore. The lake a column of water reaching the sky meets the rain, like a lost lover. The girls realise that now is the time. Reaching up their arms in the wetness they pull. They pull with every muscle and sinew, every ounce of strength and longing, and spent lust in their perfect hearts. Arms open high above their heads, hands taught and reaching, prising the stars from their lazy perches. At first, the reaching and prying seems to be for no end. But tinyly, and with the smallest of grip, the girls begin to feel their traction. Once they know their power, a cheer ripples round the crowds on the lake. Harder and harder they pull, and in small slow movements the stars are pulled from the sky, balancing on the column of lake before the girls, they bob, boat like, excited to meet them. Claws and paws, tiny hands attached to slender arms, grab now at the thronging lake lowering the celestial vessels eagerly, with hungry haste. Their sharp golden light shining brighter as they are beckoned closer. Soon they are there, in front of them. Giant dazzling phosphorescence, smiling from their watery throne. The lake now calm and inviting.

One by one the girls brush off their beast hides. As the skin lands at the feet of the wearers, they flee feverishly back to the forest in a dark exodus. Holding hands the girls climb on the floating stars. Hands pulling one another up. Some girls alone, others making pairs and happy groups on a dancing star, small parties of light and laughter, readying themselves for the their final flight.

The Sky is humming and the rich darkness is bruising to a watery light in the east. Quietly unsummoned there is movement in the forest. Leaves turn and colours are muddied. Out from every crack in the bark of the monstrous trees as old as time, come tiny beings, covering every surface with their mass. Barely seen even close up, invisible to the girls although they can feel their presence approaching. The mites creep and scurry, buzz and flow in their minute millions. Out of the flesh of the trees, they team and pour onto the floor of the oldest forest in the world. Silently covering the sandy soil, undulating over each other and into the fertile skin of the landscape. The mites disrupt the moist earth, which silently with out hesitation or effort breaths out into the night, invisible spours. As they start floating up from the ground, in clouds of invisible hope, so rise the stars and their girl passengers.

Floating upward freed by the nothingness that carries them home.

Submission Title


Submission Location


Manifesto Statement

The mites disrupt the moist earth, which silently with out hesitation or effort breaths out into the night, invisible spours. As they start floating up from the ground, in clouds of invisible hope, so rise the stars and their girl passengers.

Additional Responses from B1

The name of someone in your field you admire

Rebecca Solnit

One narrative idea

An army of girls have burn all the cities to the ground. They march unsummoned to the oldest forest of the world to begin their journey to a new world of their own making.

Details of a location, real or imagined, where a filmic scene could take place

The shores of an ancient lake surrounded by the oldest forest in the world.

A photograph you’ve taken

A historical image

B1 Response Prompt Material

The Freewoman
(10 October 1912)

by E. H. VISIAK, page 402

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