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As One Shouts into the Forest

Sentient forest

By NazPublished 3 months ago 6 min read
As One Shouts into the Forest
Photo by Edoardo Busti on Unsplash

„When I woke up, something felt different. I...felt?!“

And when they were bored of cruising with their bikes through the desolated village center, sick of playing stick and stones in the mud, they used to imagine new adventures in the old, dark forest. The trees behind the village were uninvitingly mysterious; perfect for a young band of brothers and their schemes.

But as the trees grew slowly older, adulthood betrayed the kids in just moments of time. One grew up to become a worker under the hard fist of ruthless employers, as it has been his wish ever since. Another started to live in a marriage which quickly burned down his savings and his hope. The lives of the others were mentionless, even that of the one who left the village behind.

And the forest grew older and older, leaf by leaf. And it grew to become even more dense and dark. With no children to play in it anymore, the trees formed bigger trees and those trees built wooden cathedrals. And which used to be a big bright clearing, will not be touched by light once more, as long as the years will pass. And year after year, time happens and timeless are the stories to be told.

Shortly, after she realized her new gained ability to feel, the young beech tree began to think. And while she thought, a pair of strange round objects appeared above her new grown nose. And when she began to see, she couldn’t ask the creatures around her for help, because her mouth wasn't formed yet completely. But her eyes were full of fear.

„Natural selection“, answered the big strong oak next to her, not even knowing the question.

„You see this fawn to my right?“. He pointed to it with his eyes.

„I don’t see any sign of intelligence like you have, or they have.“

The young beech tree turned her view to two trees on the other end of her sight of line. One seemed to be a fir tree, but was much thinner than its kind. The other was a much smaller stump of what seemed to have been the remains of a pine tree.

„You hear, fir tree, the wiiiiise oak is talking about us.“

With despise a big hole in the pine trees underside had trouble, to form words. But the obvious sarcasm could be understood clearly anyway.

„Mr. Darwin himself tells us about life, tells us about war! He is just a tree, like any other! At least like how some of us used to be…“.

His voice turned to sadness.

„Don’t talk! They might come…“.

The fir tree was shaking as much as a tree could shake without breaking. But it was easy, because the tree was lean and it was afraid.

„The enemy! Always they come, 8:00 am Eastern time. The sirens tell.“

„What are you talking about, fir tree?“, said the oak.

„This forest has been silent for ages. Not one soul has visited us since pine tree was in possession of his better half. And you, don’t scare the new one!“ The oak looked at the pine tree.

„It’s strange enough she joined us so late.“

„Why do I…“, started the young beech tree, whispering, „Feel?“, interrupting the pine tree. The new formed absence of wood, where a human would have its ears, made the pine tree's voice sound deep and unsatisfied.

„Yes“, she answered, forming her first word surprisingly easy for never having used her mouth before.

„I feel like I am not supposed to be feeling at all. And when I feel, why do I feel so empty?“.

„Maybe it’s the three new holes that just formed in your head“, said the fir tree and both, fir and pine tree started to laugh.

„Shut it you goons!“ Seemingly afraid of the oak, the fir tree immediately closed its eyes in panic.

„Beech tree, listen. We know as much as you do about, well, our ‚situation‘. But let me tell you, there were others once. But now they are gone. They come and go, being born without a purpose and then they die. I guess this was their purpose all along. Ha ha“, the oak tree’s laughs didn’t come from joy but from sincerity.

„Those weaklings! Now it’s just us that are left. Even though I wouldn’t call those two very strong.“

The pine tree’s eyes looked even more hateful now.

„But now you’ve come. And you will go too. Only time decides when“.

The oak tree closed its eyes and after a few moments it was like it had never been alive in the first place. Shortly after, the other two followed its example.

Night fell. Once again the young beech tree was left alone in darkness. But has she even been before, alone? Wasn’t she ‚just‘ not alive? Her thoughts were now even stranger. They felt different, like small lights from the past. Like imprints of a soul. She didn’t only remember the water, running through her resin cores and the penetrating feeling to gasp for the rays of the sun. She remembered having green offspring on her hands. She remembered taking care of the leaves and buds with love and joy. She remembered the excitement of every new day, she saw her children grow.

But all her body ever used to carry, has long been crushed by her wooden neighbors or. eaten by the larvae of the swarming forest creatures. Now the only feeling that stayed is the feeling of loss.

Shortly after she came to her senses again, the young woman made a decision. She got out of bed and searched her way in the darkness, out of her bedroom.

„There is not much to look back at”, she thought. And she was right, because the old lonely room never had an owner but has been a steady companion to lost souls from near to far. She was one of them. With her decision came no shame or regret. It wasn’t even impulsive.

If you would take a vote around the world, from the rich to the poor, from right to the left, from the author to the reader, you could find most souls telling you that it was the wrong decision.

She stopped at the botanic line between the start of the forest and the end of the village. So she went. Deeper and deeper inside. Smashing mushrooms, breaking twigs.

Suddenly her eyes locked at a tree, colored by the slightly reddish moon. It was a young beech tree. The long fragile branch at the tree's upper half almost felt like pointing directly at her, choosing her.

„Will it take my weight”, she thought. But the thought vanished quickly, because something was strange, something was different about this tree. She felt like it was her tree.

As the woman's hand touched the branch she sweared she heard it say:

„Your hands are cold”.

Fear overcame her. She looked through the darkness wondering if she had lost her mind. There she spotted it: The place she used to play with her village friends in childhood. But it had become overgrown by nature and time.

As she looked up, the beech tree's big branch changed. Now it was like an inviting hand, offering help to her.

She accepted the hand thankfully and a feeling of happiness overcame her. She remembered what she had lost, how she raised her and how good it felt to be a mother.

With a gentle sigh, she opened her eyes, the emotional haze clearing. To her surprise, it was not a hand she had grasped for support but the sturdy branch of a nearby beech tree. The branch, she now saw, was split and jagged, as if lightning had chosen that moment to strike, mirroring her own fractured heart. Yet, the connection she felt to the tree was real—an unexpected anchor in her sea of grief.

The feeling stayed and when dawn came she went back to her home, accepting life step by step.

And when the sun rose, the fir tree said to the pine tree:

„Witches! They must have been here last night. They came and took her!”

She pointed to the ravaged beech tree. But something else strange had happened.

„Why are you standing so still?”, said the pine, wondering about the glimpse of empathy it just expressed.

“This morning courage came to me, pine. This was the first night I did not close my eyes for the fear of darkness. I witnessed what happened.”

What usually resulted in ignorance, now made the pine tree ask:

„So spill the beans, tell me. I want to know what changed us”.

„Hope”.

The atmosphere seemed too still around the old oak tree as it spoke, its voice carrying the weight of ages.

„Hope, it seems, was too much for the beech tree to bear, so it gave it away to a person in need. In the delicate balance of nature, what proves too heavy for one may become the salvation for another. Now it is on us to hope for spring.”

Short StoryPsychologicalMicrofiction

About the Creator

Naz

She is alive and every day she realizes how much life is worth living.

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