His Tree.

The dark was like an endless twilight under the dark ceiling of green. As a breeze moved through the leaves above, sneaky sunbeams managed to get by the thick green. He looked at these rare circles of light on the earth and moss-covered ground. They looked like pools of water, rippling as if afraid the breeze that gave them life would return to end it.

He smiled as he plodded through the forest. He moved slowly and deliberately, cane in one hand and a bag in the other. His smile firmly planted on a face as wrinkled as the trees. He pushed through a familiar thicket to a clearing and his tree.
“Hello old man,” he said as he approached the large tree.

He placed his cane against the large trunk. His bag dropped to the ground with a sound of clinking metal. The old man placed his hand on the trunk and marvelled at how smooth it was.

“I think you are aging better than me Rupert.” he chuckled.

He called his tree Rupert, not sure why, it just seemed right. He knew that no tree was his, but after spending 65 years together he felt a bit of ownership. He leaned down to his bag and got out his shovel and fork.

“Work time Rupert,” and he began his weeding.

The day wore on, the old man on his hands and knees, methodically removing anything that could bother his friend. His joints ached and his breathing was heavy, but he smiled and talked as he worked. He talked of when he first found his friend.

It was after the war that took so much from him. The house he lived in was his parents and where he spent most of his life. The day he stumbled, quite literally, on Rupert, was the day he decided to stop living.

He had returned from the war, to the care of his parents. His voice long-lost in the horrors he had endured. The long nights, the blood and loss of so many of his friends tortured his mind. It was endless and painful. No one understood what was wrong with him. They tried all manner of treatments and nothing brought him out of his long nightmare.

One night he heard a whisper, deep down in his noisy head. Though quiet and distant, it seemed to break through the other voices and memories. He picked up his service revolver and left the house quietly. He moved into the forest without thought or plan. Slowly the whisper grew louder and the distance between him and his home grew farther.

He didn’t notice the branches or brambles that cut his arms and face. The weight of the gun heavy in his pocket. He moved toward the whisper until it stopped. He stood in a small clearing, covered in vines and rock. The rocks themselves seemed to be alive with the green moss that covered them almost completely.
The whisper was quiet, but he wanted to hear what it had to say. He looked up at the dark leaves of old trees and then closed his eyes to the world. He heard it.

“Just leave Peter,” his own voice whispered.

He reached into his pocket and held the gun in his shaky hand. He knew that the answer was to end all the voices. Perhaps if he joined those that left before him, he would finally be free. The gun’s barrel rested with a coolness against his temple. He closed his eyes and tightened his grip. As he increased the pressure on the trigger another whisper was heard.

“Help me,” as clear as his own voice.

Peter looked around in the slow light of the morning and saw nothing immediately. He shook his head and was about to lift the gun when he saw it. In the middle of the clearing, covered in vines and surrounded by craggy rocks was a sapling. It looked almost desperate in its need and want to live. Peter stared at it and felt his heart warm, felt his head clear and just like that he had purpose and a friend.

The old man chuckled and winked at Rupert.

“You saved me that day,” he said with a wink.

After a time the old man turned and sat with his back against his friends trunk. He stared up into the strong branches and marvelled at every leaf. If there ever was anything in this world that came close to perfect, his tree was close.

“I know I have tried to thank you Rupert. Tried to be good to you. I have moved rocks and vines. I have weeded and fed the soil around you. I have fought fungus and bugs alike, but you always seem to do a bit more for me.”

Peter reached into his pocket and pulled out a yellowing photo.

“She loved you too you know. We spent so much time here. I still thank you for being here when she passed. I am a man of few words, but you let me cry without judging me. You never judge me Rupert, I never thanked you for that. God I cried rivers for her. I know you did in your own way.”

As if to answer, the leaves of his friend rustled in a light breeze. Peter looked up again and nodded.

“Thanks old man.”

Peter felt his bones ache, felt the air in his lungs struggling to feed his old body. He felt the tingle in his hand and the heavy beat of his tired heart.

“I don’t think I will be able to tend to you much longer,” he said as tears filled his eyes. “It isn’t that I don’t want to. I hope you know that. It’s just I am old and men that get old usually don’t last to long.”

He chuckled as he grasped the photo.

“I wish I could have buried her here. I wish I could be buried here. My kids never really understood you and me. I think my eldest thought his dad was a bit nuts.”

The breeze rustled the leaves, though no wind was felt on his face. He smiled as he felt his friend on his back, strong and well, Rupert would live on. His breathing became shallow, his aches faded, as his mind drifted to his wife. He remembered the first day he introduced her to his tree and how her face it up with joy. He loved her for understanding and sharing in his tree, his friend.

The sky moved on to night and the old man moved on too.

The middle aged man and his son moved quickly through the forest.

“Dad!” He called out worried sick.

His son kept up with his father calling out for his granddad as loudly. They had not realized the old man was missing until the morning. The Father busy with a deal that would earn him some much needed debt relief and the son just busy being 14. They didn’t spend much time with the old man, life always seemed to get in the way.

As they pushed through a thick bramble they stumbled into a clearing that didn’t fit.

“Welcome to wonderland Alice,” the father murmured.

The clearing was immaculate. Almost a perfect circle, completely clear of debris or tangled weeds. In the centre was a tree, huge and beautiful. The boy felt his breath shorten at how perfect it was. The father shook his head as tears streamed down his face. He stared at the lower branches seeing his father cradled like a babe almost 20 feet above them. He moved closer, placing a hand on the mythical trunk of the friend he had heard about all his life.

“Hello Rupert,” he sobbed falling to his knees.

The boy stared up confused as to how his old Papa could have reached those branches. He felt tears on his own cheeks and a warmth that he couldn’t explain. His eyes moved to the ground where he saw the start of a weed in the clean dirt. He knelt down and carefully removed the pesky intruder.

“Don’t worry Papa,” he whispered, “I got this.”

 

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The Girl and a Horse Called Moon.

There once was a land that seemed to be made of gold. The meadows, the houses, the streets, shined as if polished everyday with sunlight. The people smiled and worked each day. When they came home they laughed until the last rays dipped down below the hills. When the dark came all the people slept and dreamed of the day to come. This was all that was needed; all were satisfied with their lives, except one small girl.

She wasn’t a bad girl, or a girl who didn’t work as hard as the rest. She was a girl who dreamed of something more than the gold of the day, more than the laughter before bed. She felt as if there was more to see, more to feel, more to be.

On this night she lay awake until all were sound asleep and dreaming their own dreams. She crept out of her warm bed and slipped into her slippers. She left her house silently, into the cool night.

The moon was the first to greet the little girl. Its smile shined down from the sky. The stars seemed to wink hello to her and the breeze whispered her name. She felt alive in the night air. Alone with the world she had never seen before. It was as if the night had waited just for her and she finally heard it.

She wandered up the main street, her slippers muffling her steps, her nightgown clinging to her as the wind touched her lightly. All the houses were dark; all the people were dreaming unaware of this little girl. She walked off the path, running through one of the many golden meadows.

The long grasses caressed her as she went. It was as if each blade wanted to hug her close, but she was too fast to hug them back. The girl headed for the hill that she often climbed in the day. It was a gentle slope that went on and on, until it seemed to touch those winking stars.

The moon grew as she climbed. The further she went the larger it became. She was in awe of it, she marveled at its beauty. By the time she crested the hill, she was sure she was in love with it. At the top of the large hill she fell onto her back and stared up at the moon she loved. She held out her hands willing it to come down to her. She wished so very hard. She just wanted to touch it and feel it’s warmth on her palm.

“Oh Moon, why don’t you come sit beside me?” She asked in her little voice.

The moon was silent, just smiling down upon the girl. She frowned at its silence.

“Oh Moon, please come down and sit with me.” She called once again.

Still the moon just smiled.

“Oh Moon, I wish you loved me as I love you,” she whispered.

The moon seemed to shimmer at her words, and then seemed to melt from the sky. It poured down like a stream of pure light, almost blinding the girl. The light landed just in front of her and as it dropped its last bit of light she saw before her a stallion of brilliant white. Its mane twinkling like the stars, it stood tall and strong in front of her.

“My lady, don’t doubt my love for you. I am just the moon and cannot sit with any mortal being, but tonight I come to you so we may spend this evening together and this memory shall stay with us forever.”

The girl grabbed the mane of her moon and swung herself astride the its back and became the woman she would be. She felt the strength of her moon as they galloped into the night sky. The wind rushed and the stars bowed. She and her love, making the sky their own. The night seemed to go on forever, but forever has its own boundaries and soon they returned to the hill.

“Our time is at an end,” the moon said to the girl.

“But I don’t want it to end,” the girl said as she slid from the moon’s back.

The beast smiled down at the girl and lowered its head into her hands. She felt the warm breath upon her palm, it was like feeling heaven.

“Some day I will come for you, remember my touch.” and with that the stallion melted back into the sky and the moon returned to its night.

The girl was left alone and cold. She turned her back and made her way back to the town and her life that seemed less. The years passed and memory fades as it usually does. The girl did become a woman, a wife, and a mother, then finally a grandmother. She stayed in at night and dreamed her dreams of the day to come, her moon slipping from her.

One night she awoke from her dream and wandered to the rooms of her grandchildren. Upon arriving at her granddaughter’s room she found the bed empty. She searched the house but was not able to find the little girl. All she found was the main door open to the night. She slipped on her slippers and stepped out into the dark.

She felt the breeze call her name, she saw the stars winking down at her. She could not run, but she never stopped moving up that familiar hill. When she finally made it to the top, she saw a grand horse, as bright as the moon which was strangely absent. Sitting on its back was her granddaughter.

For some reason she could not remember, tears flowed down her cheeks. She wished she could be the girl on that horse and that she could ride through the night. She moved closer to the pair and they both looked down on her.

“Grandma, you came!”

“Well of course I came; I wouldn’t have my girl out in the cold.” She said to the girl.

“You were right, you were right,” the girl seemed to say to the stallion.

“Right about what child?” the old woman asked.

The white horse turned to her and let out a long breath. It danced on the night air searching for the hand of the woman. As it touched her palm warmth filled her hand.

“Remember,” the stallion whispered.

The old woman felt her chest heave and fell to her knees in tears.

“Oh my moon, My moon…you, you…”

“Oh my lady, I once told you we would meet again, and here I am. Your sweet child has brought you to me and at last we can ride on from this place together.”

The woman moved to touch the beautiful face of her moon. Her wrinkled hand smoothing the fur of its cheek, “But moon, I am old, and no longer that girl you loved.”

“My lady, the moon does not know time and is older than you will ever be.”

The granddaughter slipped off the stead. She moved to her grandma and hugged her tight. “Go grandma, the moon told me all about your night so long ago. You need to ride one more time.”

The shaky woman grasped the mane and tried to swing onto the beasts back, but strength had left her. The beast dropped to his knees and the grandchild of the little girl helped her onto the back off the moon. Soon the woman she was sat high upon the back of her love. She felt the wind pick up and the power of the stallion beneath her.

“I love you child,” she said to her granddaughter.

“I love you too,” the granddaughter replied.

The moon ran off and into the sky. Once again time stood still. The wind rushed and the stars bowed. This time forever seemed to last a bit longer as they both rode into the sky. For the moon was not letting his love go, and the girl wasn’t letting go.

Simple

I send a smile,
that stays for a while,
a whispered kiss,
a moments bliss,
a light caress,
to help you rest,
a quiet song,
so sleep is long,
a friend’s ear,
for one so dear,
a calloused hand,
from this gentle man,
a chest of steel,
when you can’t deal,
inner peace,
for your release,
but most of all,
when you make the call,
I will be true,
when friends are few,
my fragile dove,
I give with love.