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Tree of Life
By
LarryFNigh

Tree of Life

It's just a walk through the woods

She trips over the tree root. She hasn't been looking down, but up into the treetops. Now she is on the ground with a twisted ankle.

It's a mulberry tree, Moira knows that. It's filled with purple and red fruits, some covering the ground. The palms of her hands are dyed with the stain of the berries. So is her linen dress with the half sleeves and the calf length skirt.  She winces slightly as she moves her leg. It feels like the pain is not as bad as she had expected when she fell.

She sticks her hands into the clean dirt around the base of the tree, getting the soil on her palms, and then rubs them together vigorously, trying to get some of the berry juice off before it sets and leaves her hands purple. Oh, well. Not "clean," perhaps, but no matter. She looks around in the robust limbs above her to find the bird that was crying out and demanding her attention.

She thinks she recognizes it, but then, not really. The call seems familiar, but what it is she doesn't know. Many birds sound the same to her. She has been so lost in such a reverie that most bird calls would impinge only slightly on her mind. This one has seemed more urgent, and it brings her out of herself.

Out of her sorrow.

Yesterday the final blow had descended, the last thing she could bear. She takes a handkerchief out of her sleeve and dabs at her tears. She may easily ignore the sprained ankle as she considers her losses.

One more time she has lost the potential of a child. One more time. They have been trying for so many years. During Roger's deployment the first time, then while he was at home between tours, then this last time while he was still away, across the seas. She had wept as she considered how she could tell him this news one more time. She had been taking such good care of herself. So careful.

It's the worst thing to ever happen to anyone, she had thought, when she was at home from the hospital, rocking herself into a stupor of pity. Then the doorbell had rung. No, she thought, peeking out around the curtain on the door. No. Not this. Not now.

She had opened the door, shivering, her elegant arms encircling her suppliant bosom and holding her head up, trying not to collapse as she faced the two men. In uniform.

She doesn't remember a lot after that. She awoke this morning, in her own bed, and is now in the forest that stretched out to the horizon, behind their apartment building on the outskirts of the base where they were stationed. She had dressed, waved off the attention of her next-door neighbor, and wandered down across a meadow and into the crunchy, restless, autumn woodlands.

She had not been feeling much of anything until the bird had cried out and interrupted her raging, raving thoughts.

She adjusts herself on the turf under the massive arbor and leans back against the huge trunk of the mulberry tree. She is tired. So tired. As her mind falls into a restless, relentless dream, she remembers. Magpie. It was a magpie calling down to her earlier. As if entreating, or warning. And she now is out. Away in her dreamland, her fantasy land, her visions of joy and hope still alive.

Soft and tender is the sense of being caressed, gently and delicately touched, almost tickled. Her seemingly becharmed delusions entwine in her thinking and rueful contemplations. 

Something is clinging to her as she slowly awakens. The magpie is perched upon her shoulder and is raptly gazing into her eyes, tilting its head back and forth, and finally opens its beak and cries out in the only voice it has. An admonition, or is it simply a welcome? She can't tell, but she knows she isn't afraid, even when she sees the rootlets laid upon her ankle. Somehow warming and soothing the pain. This is odd. Perhaps the oddest of all is that she doesn't really think it odd in the least. It's normal. She's both worn down and borne up. She accepts the healing and soothing.

The pain is being soothed in the twisted joint but not in her wrenched heart. 

The magpie hops down onto the sod and flicks its long tail feathers in a motion that seems to be gesturing to Moira to follow it. Looking back and then striding with its short legs up and over the large twisty roots and around the trunk, flicking a wingtip out and around, circling the tree so that she will follow.

As she passes around the broad girth of the trunk, it seems to spread apart. As she moves, the heavy textured bark is drawn away from the living wood, and its inner wood shrinks back and more inward, forming a chamber of sorts, open and full enough to accept her into it, and that is the first thing she tries. She sits upon a natural seat, worn and shiny, having apparently been well used in the past.

About this entrance of sorts, there are threadlike twigs flittering and fluttering in expectation. Of what, Moira is nothing if not uncertain. She sits, and the fluttering dies down, with some threads and vines quickly and with trepidatious need touching the pinkness of her cheeks and the curls of her wavy brown tresses. They retreat up to the lofty heights of the massive tree's limbs and branches.

A geographer's wish to write about the sense of place she feels might vie with similar feelings from an artist about to paint the ambiance and emotions of a place not often found and seldom duplicated and displayed. Both temperaments may be vital to a true understanding, but at this moment Moira is again relishing a dream that she is floating into, taking her away from her world of ugliness and shame. 

Into a world of understanding. And fulfillment.

The magpie skips away, gaining loft, and rising onto a lower branch to be nearby. It watches and waits, letting out a cry or two when it seems necessary.

And the tree awakens completely, and it wonders. Has she returned? Shall It tender hope and renewal to she who needs?

The tree wonders, and envelopes this new one in its heart of hearts. Twiglets, and rootlets, and vines, and bark all conspire and move and touch and adore. This new one has an intense pain that needs soothing more, much more than the ache of a twisted ankle. Her twisted, broken heart needs healing within the tree's stalwart heart. 

The myths compete with the ensorcelment and encirclement of Moira, the willing Nymph within Morus, the Mulberry. They become the one. And the Dryad smiles.

 

 

 

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright © 2012 - {2017} Larry F. Nigh. All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or distributed or published in any form without permission from the author. Send requests to lfrankn@yahoo.com

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