Terminal Bud

If she’d possessed the hard enamel teeth of the men below her, she would have gritted them.  The warm breeze that whispered through the branches offered no consolation.  The rough bark of the limb she’d lighted upon was only a coarse reminder this was not her tree.

Her tree lay upon the ground with many other casualties.  When the half dozen men arrived in this section of the forest, she tricked herself into believing they would not cut down her tree.

It was a beautiful entity, strong and stalwart and among the largest along this mountain slope.  After all, the trees her kind inhabited always grew into magnificent beings.

And at first the workmen focused their predations on her tree’s kindred, which was bad enough.  But then they turned to her abode with their saws and axes, and soon her scream became part of the creak and groan of the wood as her counterpart plummeted to the desecrated earth.

Stripped of her beloved, she sought refuge among these fated branches.  The despicable men beneath her deserved every shred of her ire … but the pittance that was her fault fanned her wrath.

Only a few of their generations ago, humans designated segments of forest meant to be preserved from their own marauding.  She must have strayed outside that invisible boundary when she united with the seed that would become her tree.

Or they might have changed that boundary.  One constant about humanity was their propensity for changing their own rules.

Somebody was going to pay for this….

She chose the largest of the men, the one most instrumental in felling her ally.  Even in her rage, a shudder rippled through her, because the sensation of descending upon him would not be pleasant.

She dropped from the branch and settled on his lumpy shoulders.  Ugh.  If only he could have noticed her, she would have liked to at least send a chill down his spine.

That she didn’t have an exact plan for his chastisement was of no concern.  After all, she was ancient, so waiting for an opportune moment was acceptable even as she despised contact with this goon.

Further back in history, when mankind struggled consistently with devastation and death – and feared it less – they offered supplication upon harvesting a tree necessary to help them struggle for survival.  The intrusion then was still annoying, but tolerable compared to the rudeness of these people, who whooped in profane words and made a variety of foul noises.

The tools of their trade were mostly too complicated for her to influence.  As she perched upon her quarry, the roar of a chainsaw gnawed through her almost as effectively as though she were entangled in its relentless teeth.  A bulldozer occasionally lumbered nearby, rending and crushing the smaller underbrush until they would park it to survey their next killing ground.

Her existence, which began when light was separated from dark, was based on simplicity.  Whenever she occupied a tree while it was a tender sapling, she could preserve it from any beast that might dig it up or trample it or devour it beyond recovery.

But humanity, with whom her kind shared this narrow band of gray between the beings of light and the beings of dark, lost much of their communion with the immaterial as they became increasingly material in their pursuits.  Many no longer heeded her because they no longer listened for any voice whispered from beyond.

Limited in her ability to strike back, she could only wait and watch.  Eventually, surely, he was bound to do something that she could influence.  And then again he grasped the axe.

She’d observed them do this before.  One of his cronies pushed an orange wedge into the notch of a tree and stepped back.  Her corpulent transport stepped forward and swung the axe so the back of its head would drive the wedge deeper into the wound.

Now was her chance.

She shot up the lifeless handle formed from a material that was unnatural and therefore distasteful.  She grasped the heavy metal head as it hurled toward the wedge.

About halfway to its mark, she knocked it free from the handle.

She clung on as it spun, steering it into the hard trunk of the hapless tree.  And as it ricocheted toward her target, she rode it into the angle that aimed it at his forehead, beneath the bill of the hardhat he wore.

He flinched and tried to duck.

Despite the speed of the cool metal, she altered the course of the axe head to match his movement.  When the blade drove above his left eyebrow, she leaped free from the rebound and into the branches of the tree they were assaulting.

More profanity erupted from the other man as her quarry dropped to the ground.  The assistant called to the others as he dashed to the crumpled form.  The others scurried about, mostly to the fallen victim.  One grabbed a red bag from the bulldozer before sprinting to the mob.

She neither knew nor cared exactly how much damage the blow dealt.  For a split second, if she’d possessed the soft fleshy lips of the men below her, she would have smiled.  Her satisfaction evaporated as she contemplated her fallen tree, and she fluttered down to its remains.

As she pressed against the one of the sectioned off portions of the trunk, its cold and silence seemed to seep into her.  No longer did vivacious sap pump through the phloem beneath the bark.  No more did its branches hum softly from the wind’s caress.

She whispered her love to it, said goodbye, and launched herself into the warm breeze.

Everything that had a beginning had an end.  If she did not find another seed to unite with, the wind that carried her now would nibble her away bit by bit, eventually reducing her to her ultimate fate.  Otherwise, there was only one other time she was vulnerable….

As she soared over the green top of the forest, seeking a stand within those protected boundaries humans arbitrarily drew, she remembered her tree.  She yearned for the memory of its life, but the grief of its demise haunted her.

Odd, such events hadn’t disturbed her this much in the past.  Those darn men must have unsettled her in more ways than one.

Odd, recalling the form of the man she struck lying upon the ground was not as satisfying as it initially was … and seemed to deepen her grief….

She found a patch that was lush and promising, and hovered over the ground while sensing for sprouts that might awaken come spring.  A seed ripe with promise caught her attention.

The leaf litter and dirt lightly scratched her as she settled beneath it.  Darkness enveloped her as she settled into the seed and prepared to drift into the sleep that tied her to this kernel.  Its fate became her fate.  She could not influence it at this stage.  If it did not survive, neither would she.

The seed could be her womb … or her tomb.

Perhaps she shouldn’t have acted so hastily against those irritating men.  They did share more than this narrow band of gray.  After all, like them she was born in darkness.  And like them she had the choice of remaining in the dark or embracing the light that reached down to her.

###

Here is my contribution this month to #BlogBattle, and this time the prompt word was Park.  Such a simple word, but it proved to be quite challenging.  So be sure to check out the other stories and see how those writers handled a simple word!

5 thoughts on “Terminal Bud

  1. A very interesting tale with many layers.
    Initially I witnessed a being angry at the damage done to their home and fond symbiotes, to be surprised at the level of vengeance they could bring upon the interlopers, only to realise how vital the trees are to their survival, which made the act understandable.
    Then came the desperate flight for survival which brought to the reader’s attention how important home and shelter is to all Life.
    The final words were very compelling, as these gave an insight into a similarity between invaders and invader’s consciousnesses which for me begged a question at what stage in the long history of Life did their paths cross and diverge.
    A story which was not unlike walking into an unfamiliar thick wood with its own secrets and dangers.
    Captivating.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just read a story about leaves and pixies and now this. I had no idea ‘park’ would spark such magical responses. Was your vagueness about who ‘she’ is done on purpose? In the beginning, I thought she was some sort of being similar to a pixie (forgive my ignorance on fantastical creatures), but by the end, I wondered if it wasn’t ‘just’ a soul.

    Side note: I think there might be one too many ‘froms.’ — when light was from separated from dark)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, and yes, her identity is suppressed on purpose. I’d given thought to three different ways to portray this creature, and decided the anonymous ‘she’ alluded more to her other-worldliness. Her identity is actually inspired by the dryads of Greek mythology. Thanks for the catch on too many ‘froms.’ I’ll get that fixed right away!

      Liked by 1 person

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