A Different Point of View

Write a story about a tree? Yes, I guess that could be interesting. If you get a good author, one that can really think himself into a tree, it might even be good. After all trees are interesting subjects. So by all means, go ahead and write your stories, and maybe I'll even read some of them. But have you ever thought about the stories a tree could tell? After all, here we are in the middle of the woods - mysterious, silent places often frequented by people with secrets. And they don't see us trees. At least, not in the sense of actually taking us in, of realising we are there, aware, listening, watching. That's why we trees make such great storytellers. Like an author we can penetrate unseen into the heart of a situation leaving no traces whatsoever until our story is told.

Sometimes, a story unfolds itself before our eyes, and we don't realise it's happening until it's almost over. Like the time I was awakened from my siesta by the sound of the church bells slowly meandering across to us from the little church by the river. There wasn't much going on in our part of the clearing, so I spread my branches a little and tried to get a glimpse of what was going on elsewhere. But again to no avail. All I saw was a young man sitting on an upturned trunk, writing poetry.

Now, you'd be surprised at the number of young men who come walking into the woods to write poetry. I guess it has something to do with the university in the nearby town. Universities seem to regularly produce a spate of young people writing poetry. I guess it has to do with their being together with the girls all the time and having nothing else to talk about but experiments, and anthropological mishaps and the like. But I do wish someone at the university would teach these young people how to write. Some of the stuff I've seen is enough to take all the colour out my leaves. But I digress. I must get back to my poetry writing, young man. Actually, there was nothing to get back too. That's all there was. A young man writing poetry. No romantic violin music coming from the stops in his ears; no pretty young lady suddenly surging from the undergrowth to throw her arms about him and declare her eternal love. No such luck. I say luck because the young ladies often lean their back against my trunk to receive their reward, and I really like that. But today, nothing. Not until the poem was finished. For then, instead of and folding his masterpiece into an envelope and sealing it with a kiss, as I'd seen hundreds of others do, the artist got up, pricked his paper onto the end of one of my twigs and walked off.

Once he was out of sight I lifted up my arm and settled down to read what the young man had written. He had seemed so intense I felt this must be something worthwhile. But hardly had I began reading when I heard the sound of footsteps as crackling through the brush. To be honest, I didn't like the look of the three ruffians who were coming towards me, so I kept as still as I could, hoping they wouldn't see the paper I was carrying and realise I was more than just an ordinary tree. They were obviously looking for something but failing to find it, they sat down on the tree trunk and opened several bottles of beer. At one point in time they turned on the radio and I heard the story of a bank robbery in town. The thieves had yet to beidentified but there'd been three of them and they had got away with over half a million.

My visitors laughed heartily at this and the ensuing conversation left me in no doubt, that I had here before me the three villains. If only I could find some way of alerting the authorities. But rooted to the spot as I was, I could do nothing. Besides, the three were so villainous I was in no doubt that they would take an axe to me, the moment they suspected I knew their secret.

"Where the hell is Karl? He must have hidden the money by now."

"Maybe, the little bastard's double-crossed us!"

"No way, we've still not paid off those debts his mother contracted. Until we do that, he's in the palm of his hand. Besides, he'll be wanting to claim his reward from Vicky. He's had to take so many cold showers over the past three days, he'll be needing her badly."

Vicky sniggered a reply. "Sure he will. But don't you go getting no ideas, Mitch, cause I'm telling you now, he ain't going get a thing from me. I ain't ruining my reputation by going with a wimp like that."

"Well, whatever. But he'd better come soon, cause if he doesn't, then we'll just have to pay him a little visit." The glint of his knife almost blinded me as he drew it along the dry stone, preparing it for action.

But they were soon in a better mood as more bottles were opened and their troubles were forgotten. But their mood darkened as the shadows began to lengthen across the clearing. They'd obviously been expecting some kind of message telling them where the money was to be found. And as neither message nor its bearer had turned up, they were now determined to mete out justice in their own way, as they forged a path through the undergrowth towards the town, fearing they might be observed if they took the usual route.

I breathed one long sigh of relief the moment they disappeared over the crest leading towards the river. At last, I was safe again. So relieved was I that I actually let the paper I was holding drop to the floor. To be honest, I'd forgotten all about my poetry writing student. But as I bent down to pick the paper up, my eyes caught the first words and I turned as pale as ash. This wasn't a poem. This was the message those villains had been looking for. And now, the three of them were on their way to deal with my student, and it was all my fault. What had I done?


ah, a tree that became an interloper by just being caught in the moment.

Good story.

2 May 2008 at 20:22  

You had me thinking of the wise of the wise ... the ents!

Perhaps we shouldn't poke our nose into other's business, nor should we presume to know things about others. This was a great take on the prompt - getting under the bark of a tree (so to speak!)

3 May 2008 at 09:15  

This comment has been removed by the author.

3 May 2008 at 17:57  

Try commenting again...

The first thing I thought about when reading this was (if I recall correctly) a Terry Pratchett book - I can't recall which one, but he writes about a species of tree on the Discworld that grows its age on its bark, so get cut down for house numbers. The trees are sentient and talk to each other, but time passes slowly for them, so they rarely notice the fast moving human world.

If trees could tell stories, what wold they tell? The second thought I had was that of course we tell stories through trees, eventually, once a book is printed.

I kept thinking I knew where this story was going, and kept getting surprised. Nice one.

3 May 2008 at 17:59  

I love the naughty tree who enjoys when the ladies get their reward on his trunk. You embued him with such personality. Well done!

5 May 2008 at 03:51  

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