Three young children were running through the forest. They were playing. They had given Richard a head start, and the other two, Amanda and Greg, had to chase him down.
The forest looked like a place of pure magic. The beams of light from the sun were penetrating down through the trees on to the forest floor, and high above the children the tops of the trees were gently swaying in the wind, and their leaves seemed to dance and rustle from far overhead. It was quiet, other than the distant rustling, and the giggles and occasional shouts of the children who were running along the ground.
Richard had been running and turned around to see how close the other two were. He was in a thicket of trees far off any man-made path, and he thought he might be able to trick them. He got in behind a large tree and waited for his friends to run past him.
He heard them approaching, and Amanda began to say that they couldn’t see him. Richard’s heart was beating faster, feeling he may get caught soon. He saw his two friends either side of him run past and then slow down not too far ahead of him, and he was watching them quietly.
They began to look around, and before they turned back, Richard disappeared round to the other side of this big tree, and he began to quietly wander off in the other direction. He could see a small circle of trees about a stone’s throw away, and he wanted to go and sit in the middle.
“There he is!” shouted Greg. Richard began sprinting towards the circle of trees. He knew he would soon be caught, but there was something about that circle of trees that seemed alluring to him, like he just wanted to sit down inside it.
He went and sat down, and he felt a huge calm come over him. The other two ran up, making stomping sounds as they slowed down, and they entered this circle, and sat down as well.
They were all panting, out of breath, but no one said anything. They just looked around for a while.
“Do you ever think these trees might be alive?” Richard asked.
“They are alive,” Greg said, nodding surely towards Richard. “My Dad was telling me, they have all kinds of processes going on inside them, so they can drink water and eat the sun’s light. They start off tiny and they end up growing big and strong like that one.” He pointed to the tree Richard had been hiding behind just a moment ago.
A thoughtless moment emerged, after which Richard said:
“Yeh, but I mean really alive, like us, like they could move and talk and speak if they wanted. Or maybe they are speaking now?” He heard a rustling of trees in the wind. “But maybe we don’t know it, maybe they just speak a language we don’t understand.”
Richard felt uncomfortable all of a sudden, as he was sure that the small tree he had his back up against, moved. Ever so slightly. He was sure he felt it tremor. He sat forwards and looked behind him, then decided it may have just been the wind.
He looked up at Amanda, and her eyes went from a calm gaze to a widening look of horror. She pointed behind Richard, “Richard, look!”
Richard sat forward and stood up as he turned around, to see this tree morphing shape and turning into the body of a man. A big shirtless man with some brown, muddy-looking cloth for shorts, and he was sitting there, with his eyes open, looking at Richard.
The three children ran. As fast as they could, all the way out of the forest without stopping. They went their separate ways and went back to their houses, and immediately told their parents what they had seen.
“A tree turn into a man?” Richard’s mum repeated as she was making him a nice cold drink. “Ok, dear. What did he look like?”
She did not seem surprised, but Richard told her, and she indulged him.
“Oh, wow dear,” she said, drinking her own drink and enjoying the wildness of imagination of her son. “You didn’t ask his name did you?”
“No I didn’t, I just ran straight here, what could it be, what was it?” Richard asked, feeling too exhilarated to drink any more.
“Oh, I don’t know dear,” she said. “Now remember, if any stranger ever comes up talking to you for real, you mustn’t engage with him, you must come straight home and not trust anything he says. But if you are just playing and see a tree come to life and speak to you, then you can go ahead and speak back, there’s no harm in that. But,” she repeated, “if it is a real man, then leave him.”
“But this was a real man! I watched as he turned from a tree to a man, and he was sitting there, absolutely still, looking at me with big bright eyes, and his body looked all muscley, even more muscley than those men in those magazines you read.”
His mother shifted in her seat, and her skin turned a slight shade of red. She pretended she had not heard that last comment. She thought her private reading material had always done well to be kept private.
“Ok dear,” she said. “Now, what would you like for your dinner?”
Part 2 Coming Soon…