Dryad

 Part Two by Alex Harford.

page 1

“It’s not what you think,” I said.

Damn. How original, I thought. That’s what they always say. I wondered how best to present this to him so contemplated the facts. Right…I had fallen in love with someone else, but this wasn’t a man, not a woman even. It was something far superior, something that provided life to us all; it had feelings, and was as a race, wiser than any human could ever be. Could he blame me? It was a tree, he wouldn’t be angry at that? Would he laugh? Would he not believe me? Would he send me off to an asylum?

He wouldn’t understand.

I flung my arms around Stan, catching sight of The Beech through the gap in the open window. He looked more beautiful than ever, his marvellous moon-tipped boughs just calling for me to return. His strong silhouette striking even against the backdrop of darkness that stood tonight.

“Of course I have a fella, Stan,” he backed away from me, my arms limply falling from around his back. This meant I had to look into his eyes.

“It’s you, Stan.”

The sternness from his face faded as I said “I’ve been lonely recently Stan…I’ve been spending time in the garden, often, because…well, I have…”

My stumbling, mumbled sentence would bide some time, Stan didn’t seem completely convinced, but I could see he was tired.

“We’ll talk about this later,” he said as he returned to bed.

I took one last glance out of the window at my love, his summer leaves seemingly drooped, as if to give me a troubled look. Of course I couldn’t run away with him, he was a tree, a tree in one place destined to watch the world change around him. The world wasn’t ready for someone who left their husband for a tree. Knowing Stan, later could mean the subject would never be brought up again.

****

Weeks had passed since that night, Stan hadn’t bothered to speak to me about my time in the garden, or the loneliness I had suggested. I wasn’t lonely in the slightest, I had the greatest love one could ever wish for, standing there, always, just a glance out of my bedroom or kitchen window. Stan had made for me more gifts, trying to show in some way that he did care – a four-piece identical candlestick set, which would be one of the most stunning items he had ever gifted me, if it wasn’t for the cry inside I felt for every piece of wood I knew had once lived gracefully.

“How many trees did it take to make those, Stan?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied, “I chopped a couple of beech trees down from in the forest, I made a few mistakes so had to start again, it was really hard to get them so identical, you know.”

“But don’t you ever stop to think the trees might hurt?”

He paid no attention to my concern.

Later that day, my son arrived home from school. We were talking in the living room, “Mother,” he said to me, “Mother!” he repeated more sternly to gather my attention as my thoughts had drifted to tonight, to what I looked forward to every night – the moments I would spend with him.

“Mum!”

I unwillingly drew my attention from dreams of The Beech and turned to Daniel. Today my mind was even more distracted as I contemplated a cold winter approaching. They seemed to get colder, it would be even harder for me to go outside and spend time with my eternal friend, though the autumn was still to pass, when The Beech would be at his most colourful.

“Dad’s been watching you,” Daniel looked into my eyes as I could see him sense the instant worry that spread across my aging face.

“Mother? Are you okay?”

“Daniel, my dear,” he looked at me inquisitively, his head cocked to one side, like a pet dog that was quite unsure of what he was witnessing, “please tell, son?”

Perhaps I should have been more wary about that so called miracle cure for snoring. Also, Stan had recently replaced his nightly glass of warm milk with a cup of coffee, which although I thought strange, I hadn’t questioned. Now I knew he had been staying awake and listening, watching me.

Daniel’s eyes filled with sorrow, and perhaps a hint of fear as he opened his mouth slightly, unsure of how to start, and worried that perhaps his mother was crossing over the border to verge on the senile sooner than he expected. I’d already prepared what I was about to say, if of course he was to mention my Tree. “It’s been years, Daniel, at first I denied it, naturally…” but before I had chance to continue my thought, and before Daniel had chance to speak, I heard a sickening chopping coming from the back garden. I flung the tray of biscuits and tea I had specially prepared off my knee, called by the cry that resonated through the walls and into my conscience. Though I’d never heard it before, it was a cry I instantly knew.

“Mother!? Mum…!” Daniel’s voice faded as I raced through the open door and into the garden.

It was a late summer’s evening as the last of the sun cast over the agony on his face, a grimace so big it seemed to overtake and spread around his whole skeleton and capture his body. There was my beloved, The Beech, with a gigantic gash in his still proud trunk. I stared in horror. Then to my husband, lying on the floor, collapsed on his back over the handle of the axe, clenching his chest like some unknown force was attempting to tear it from him.

I heard Daniel footstep out of the house behind me. “Daniel!” I cried, “Beech!? Help him, please!”

“Mother! Dad?” he yelled, “What’s happened!?”

“My love, Daniel, Beech,” I wailed, “Stan, no Stan, Daniel, get help, please.”

I refused my instincts and scampered over to Stan, almost on all fours as my legs wobbled and gave way beneath me.

“Stan, what were you doing?” I tried to contain my anger. “Stan, you’ll be well, stay strong in there,” I repeated twice as I couldn’t help but glance over to The Beech. He would be okay, the axe not a quarter of the way through his trunk. I was only glad I hadn’t had that axe sharpened for Stan’s birthday. I turned my attention back to Stan who was looking in far less a condition than the still proud tree that towered above, casting it’s now slightly fragile shadow over us.

****

My beloved Beech had killed my husband.

Now there was no choice for me, I had to move. I left them both behind.

“So there you go, my dear,” Mrs Clarke looked into my eyes as a tear trickled from hers, “that was the day a tree, for just one second, did something human, whether it was for love, revenge, jealously, or just plain hatred for the human race. Perhaps that will teach them to get involved with us again.”