Rhiannon Wood - Editor in Chief
February, a month divided between those of us who care about Valentine’s and those of us who really don’t. At school, it was always ‘a thing’ – who got a card, who got flowers, who had a boyfriend, girlfriend. Then life happened, and we realised romance was kind of exhausting. Still, I always thought that, once I did – assuming I ever did – get a partner, I would be so romantic. It turned out, not so much! I always forget Valentine’s. Like clockwork, every year, I forget. My husband used to remember until he realised that if I forgot, why was he remembering? It’s the little things I prefer: filling up the car with petrol, making them tea, knowing that when you argue, everything really will be all right.
The biggest thing I have learned about love is that it comes in many forms.
I know this is trite, but truth is often at the bottom of well-worn clichés. Love is not always romantic; the deepest, most long-lasting loves often aren’t. Love is personal; it feels different for every single person. Love is also not the route to happiness; yes, it can make you very happy, but it can also make you miserable! Love should be worth the trouble it causes you. Love should be equal. Love should be whatever you need it to be.
When discussing the theme for this issue, we collectively rolled our eyes at making this the ‘love issue.’ Yet we adored that the submissions we got were all wonderfully complex and beautiful (I know I’m not supposed to have favourites, but they are all in this issue!). You see, we are happy when our forest blooms with roses, but we will take those blood-dripping thorns too. We’ll take the weeds, the ivy and the moss. We want it all from our writers, and we know our readers will too. We are the home of the weird, the strange, the spooky owl cry that sends a shiver down your spine. Love is scary, after all, terrifying even. Horror and romance have long been problematic bedfellows, gaslighting each other for centuries. I mean, Saint Valentine himself lost his head. I think our cover this issue, a black burning jewel, sums up how we all feel in this forest. Darkness and light. Life and death. All merging together as intertwined roots under the ground. Again, these may be a little cliché adjacent, but the truth is often over-written (though not this issue’s stories).
Instead, we felt that the theme for this issue wasn’t just love, but life and, of course, death. These three things, after all, are connected. You can’t have life without death, and love is usually lurking, wanted or unwanted, around both. If you see something beautiful die, you are marked by it. It can cause your life to change forever. There is no coming back from that, especially when it continues to haunt you. Sometimes you could do without the inconvenience of a heart altogether – they do get in the way most of the time. When given a choice to fly for the rest of your life or be stuck to the ground, weighing up your options is always important; these choices often come with an unexpected cost. Just ask Sheila. She made a deal she can’t remember, and it continues to take its toll.
Whether you are a die-hard romantic, roses, love songs, clichés and all, or more of an I’d-rather-have-a-cup-of-tea-and-watch-a-horror-movie type of person, we hope you can find a little bit of love in our forest. We send it to you, slightly broken, probably a little damp with red, but still beating, wherever you may be this Valentine’s Day…