The Dryad's Child
Willow trees can scarcely help the fact that they cast the illusion of being dryads. That said, dryads scarcely look like willow trees, so there you are. But I cannot help but see a willow tree and think of dryads. Though perhaps that is only a trick that memory plays.
The substance of dryads is not the leaves of a willow tree, or any tree, but rather flower petals. Cream white in color, the petals can be large or small—it all depends on the coverage they desire in a given night. For night is when they come forth from their trees and frolic in the woods. To feast in a moonlit stream is the height of a dryad’s joy, and when they tire, they sink into their trees to be one with them until their next parting.
It’s a curious thing, dryads being made of blossoms, for many of the trees from which a dryad springs do not produce flowers in a traditional sense. And yet, that is what they are made of. I am rambling, but time has that affect on one bent on reflection. I cannot help but think of such things. The similarity to the willow lies only in how a willow’s branches move, for that is how the dryads dance.
How do I know?
Because I used to be one.
The day I parted from my tree and took on the aged cloak of mortality was on a day not long ago—as so many days have become now that my life wanes. It was a child that caused these fatal breaths. He walked among our grove. A lonely thing. Unloved.
How did I know, me, one of the immortals who cannot feel as feelings ought to be felt?
I do not know. I cannot explain. Perhaps, even then, I was meant to be as I am now. Perhaps the ladies who give no choices ordained it as such. Or perhaps it fell into greater hands.
But I knew like I breathe that he was unloved.
This child, who walked amidst our branches, and stared about himself in wonder, took solace in trees.
It was not that I loved first. And perhaps that made a difference. He found my tree, nestled against my trunk, and I felt him call it home in a language that beat in his heart. And in his call, I felt a shock, a warmth within me, to be chosen in such a fashion.
We do not breed as mortals do, and though our lives are long, a child is rare—a rare moment captured in the isolation of the wood beyond which we cannot go.
But the child still came, day after day—all of which blends together for an immortal. I do not know how long he came and sat against my trunk. But I know the day that he stopped coming.
And when that day came, I left my forest. I cannot explain how anymore than I can explain how I knew he was unloved and that he loved me. I sought him like one drowning seeks air. I only knew that I loved and sought to care—it meant infinitely more than immortality. I went in search of my child from one end of the world to the other. For years I yearned and searched. But I did not find him. For what I did not know for quite some time is that children grow up to be children no more. And so I had searched in vain.
Now my heart begins to fail. My mortality hovers just within reach of this mortal coil. Farewell comes soon. But I will say this before my breath is spent: it has been worth the search.