The Squirrel and The Tree

I pulled away the vines and glanced inside the green, growing walls. Eyes falling upon unknown beauty, my knees gave way and I crawled inside.

There is a distinct melody, happy and sad, coming from a weeping tree. The leaves pointed down, slowly falling to float in a rushing stream. A squirrel stared. Staring at her mangled bark, I caught a leaf and felt such sorrow I couldn’t bear. I trembled all over- I tried to release the leaf but could not. Furiously I shook my hand as the tears fell leaving brown spots on the ground. “Eat it.” I jumped. “It’s the only way.” I stared intently at the rather large squirrel.
 “I-I… I can’t.”
“You shouldn’t touch things you don’t understand.”
“How can I understand if I don’t seek to know?”
“Don’t be foolish. Eat the leaf and it will stay inside.”
“Inside? You mean this never goes away?” I shook the leaf at him.
“Never really, it will always touch you. Better to just keep it on the inside. People won’t know that you know.”
“That I know what? Why am I cr-ying? I don’t understand.”
“Oh, you don’t? Are you sure?”
“Sure… about what? God it hurts.”
“Shhhhh… you can’t say that.”
“Say what?”
“What’s that? That it hurts?”
“Don’t. Don’t trick me.”
“Trick you?”
“Ohhhh… You… You…. GO AWAY”
“Stop it!”
“Stop what?”
The squirrel scrambled up higher and began throwing twigs.

“Hey! Ouch!”
“Go away!”
Bewildered, I ran and tried to pull off the leaf- the harder I pulled the more it became a part of me. Pain welled up within me and I did not feel the thorns against my bare feet. Water splashed against my knees as I stumbled into another stream. Falling up the bank, I tried wiping the mud off my bleeding feet. It clung tightly. The moss screamed.
Faster, faster I ran, desperate to lose myself from these feelings- suffering so maddening. I came upon a pool of water like a mirror and gazed within. A different person stared up at me, pain contorting their face, and fire reflected in their eyes. God! My god what is happening?  I heard the voice of the squirrel echo in my mind. Go. Run.

My feet grew heavy and my eyes burned from tears. Never had I carried such weight. Suddenly hedges grew up around me and I jumped one, scraping my shins against upturned, gnarled fingers. Blood began mixing with mud.
I ran.

My breath could not catch enough and my lungs began to burn and my vision blurred. Darkness began to converge about me. I tried to scream- desperately cursing the leaf. I fell and never touched the ground.
I awoke in an unfamiliar place. Reaching up I felt hot tears on my cool skin. The sorrow I had ran from settled deep in my chest. I looked at the once dead leaf and marveled at the faintest tint of green. I looked down at my weary, battered, mud caked feet, to see the most lovely shoes on strangely healed feet. I rolled up and stood among a city of oak trees.
I looked around for the person who must have delivered me here… no one answered. I looked about me and saw brown grass where my tears had fallen. I took a step and screamed. Taking another I gasped. Every step turned brown grass green. Wonder overtook sorrow and a giggle rose within. I stepped again and watched the change. A step quicker and I spun to see a brighter green than these weary eyes had ever seen. I touched the tears as they fell. I looked at the leaf turning even more green.
“What is this?”
“Who’s there?” I turned quickly as a breeze swirled around me.
“Who’s there?” The wind grew stronger, the tears fell into the swirling mass of air and noise and… flowers. What? Eyes frantically following each one as it spiraled about me, I stood silent as each tear transformed before my sight. Arms thrown wide, I closed my eyes. Here I am. My voice ceased to be mine and I heard a song so lovely, I knew that time was not and I was not and all that was was here now. The wind pulled my hair and the flowers fell at my feet. Follow me. It stopped.

I opened my eyes and found myself back at the strange weeping tree with the squirrel still throwing twigs like stones.
“Go away!”
I smiled and tears fell as I stepped into the stream, which slowed it’s rushing. Marvel filled me.
“Turn around! Don’t touch me!” The squirrel threw harder and faster and I smiled.
“What are you afraid of? Don’t you know that the leaves of this tree are magic?”
“Who told you that?”
“Why, I guess it was the wind.”
“Shutup. You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“I don’t? Don’t these leaves teach you what is it is to be humanity?”
Little squirrel, what did sorrow do to you? I know this tree-this tree knows me.
“She took everything. Now I am a servant in her tree. Keeping the likes of you from discovering the meaning of it all.”
How did you do that?
“Don’t you know? Don’t you know that I am inside you?”
“Silly girl, I am the parts of you that believe only sorrow’s truth.”

(C) C.E. Thomas