368 words

The pain was excruciating, but she wouldn’t scream. The tree howled as his branches pierced her skin, his upper branches whipping as if in a windstorm, sap rolling down his trunk like teardrops, but he wouldn’t stop. She had made this choice, wanted this connection and he knew that she might be the one who could restore balance.

For too long, war had ravished the countryside. The new weapons could cause more damage than he had ever seen. Acres burned, fire came from above. No more was it simply arrows piercing their bark, swords slashing their branches or horses galloping over their roots. They were truly in danger now, and the humans did not seem to understand that their lives depended on the forest more than the trees had ever depended on people. The ancient tree did not care who was fighting, it made no difference. He had seen kingdoms rise and fall and human politics meant little too him, but the creature who lived in the forest’s shade, even the distant see that he had only heard rumors off were what mattered. They would last longer than any nation, unless these damned battles destroyed them beyond recovery.

Occasionally in the past, a wise man had come to him for advice, but through the centuries only a few had been able to hear his response, and if they listened to him he never knew. She was different though. He had known the minute she approached that she not only could hear and understand his sighs and waves, she truly believed that he could help her bring peace. She begged him to share all his knowledge with her, to allow her to become part of the world he lived in. She seemed to feel that if she could speak with the trees, with the animals, their powers together could stop the humans from ruining each other and his land.

He could only hope she was right. He knew no less painful way of sharing all he was than to truly become part of her and allow her to become part of him. This connection would continue, even when he withdrew his branches. But she could have control of them all, if they allowed her to.

Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take. It’s a quick rough story today, but I’m on vacation, so I did what I could.


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