The Fleeing of the Trees
For so long the trees have been silent. Their stillness is natural, for nothing has come to wake them up. But she comes and whispers; their limbs stir, and their long-shut eyes flick awake.
The call is not expected, made of two feet, pressed into land where feet have not been for a very long time. Planted, as it were, by someone who has almost failed her duty. She has been a guardian of the forest for an eon. Perhaps longer; she has lost count.
When her guardianship was still new, she watched, heeding the smallest breath of wind, watching where it went, how long it lasted. The feel of its dance curling in and about the trees she watched over. She saw everything, and nothing was as it should not have been.
Centuries, as they do, caused her to grow lazy. Too often did she go and frolic with the wind’s small spirals, that danced further each day from the forest. And she all but forgot her charges. Until the day the wind changed. Sharp, bitter, ice. A cold gasp, with nothing of the close winter air that takes the tang off and makes a crisp breeze a refreshing friend. It came as a warning, and she was almost too far gone to heed it.
But, out of the corner of her dancing eyes, she saw it, and left her revelries to take up her duty.
She calls the forest awake.
The trees groan and shake off the sleep of an eon. She moves among them, touching them swiftly, beckoning them to heed her call. Her faulty vigilance makes her task a chore. For rousing the trees proves tricky, and never are they all awake before one threatens to fall back to the trance of a thousand years. She works her feet over the land, her hands over rough, ridged bark until one by one, they are all awake, listening. And asking.
Why the fuss, the trees want to know. Why wake them from their steady slumber that causes roots to grow deep and trunks to stretch tall.
Attack, attack, she cries.
They counter with deep, sleepy rumbles.
And before the trees can bury their consciences, she speaks again, I feel it in the air, the wind has changed. Do you not feel it? On it is the stench of decay. It will be your doom.
She feels the trees sway in hesitation; curiosity swells collectively.
The guardian sniffs, and closes her eyes.
Smoke. Smoke on the icy wind. And noise rumbles, threatens. Too close. Too soon.
She should have been paying attention.
But there is time yet, if she can make them yield their roots, and duck their boughs for fairer land.
She sets to work, until every tree uproots.
The trees begin to move. Move as they have never done before. With steady swinging limbs, and dreams of deep rich soil, they move, aided by a rush of wind—penance for its distracting ways.
And in the span of a wink, they are gone.
While a silent cry in the bareness calls out and asks why, the guardian keeps her vigilant watch. And you may hear her whisper on the wind, The trees have gone to the ends of the earth, and when smoke and flame and deep rumbles cease, I will beckon them return.