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Friday, 18 April 2014

Saturday Story - 'A Shared Experience'

Nik Morton

A story for Easter


My brethren once numbered in the millions.  But that was a long time ago.

Racial memory tells me of great apes who could swing through our forests from dawn until dusk for many days, seemingly without end. 

Now, though, there are no forests here, and no great apes.  Only desert. Our memory goes back even further than mankind's.  We trees share in each other's experiences, down the years, until perhaps the last tree is no more.

            The decimation of our kind began when men started to build ships.  The Phoenicians, the Greeks and Romans, the Turks, all amassed formidable fleets at the expense of our great forests in North Africa. 

Denuded of trees, the land degenerated into desert.

Through our worldwide network we have learned all of mankind's languages, though some of their naming-words are beyond our combined experience: it is a veritable Babel - that's a term from one of their great books.

Unlike we brethren of the green, mankind forgot how to commune through the ether; and they never harnessed a racial memory.  Instead they discovered the transmission of thoughts by written means, first on stone then papyrus and parchment and paper made from our wood.  This written medium enabled them to communicate from beyond the grave: they considered that these invented books were a kind of immortality. 

            And, inevitably, their hunger for printed words took its toll on our brethren too.

            I remember so much, as do we all.  Our lives do not stop when we are felled.  Our senses enter another, different phase, that is all.  We can still perceive through our pores, detecting sounds, smells, temperatures and even, sometimes, thoughts.  If fire takes one of us while we are rooted in the earth, then that tree is no more; but its experience of the world is not lost, its soul is within us all.

The carpenter's hands were gentle, almost loving as he shaped a part of me into a baby's crib.  He was a gifted artisan and though I was shaved into many separate pieces I could not blame him: out of my natural perfection he carved another beautiful form.  A part of my life would share in the growth of another being, imbibing the infant's intellectual awakening.

Other parts of me were transported around the land of Galilee, bartered for and even sometimes fought over.  One beam that was me became soaked in a foolish man's blood: the stain seemed to sum up so much of our relationship with mankind. 

In exchange for the decimation of our millions we shared in new experiences and feelings.

            Another part of me encountered that same carpenter a number of years later.  His blood stained me too as he painfully struggled to carry me on his back up the hill to Golgotha. 

            Strangely, I ached, as did we all in his shared experience, as we sensed the carpenter's agony.

Yet there was no hate in him.  He was strong: I could feel a power capable of felling all our kind at an instant's thought.  But he was in control.  He knew what he was doing.  His purpose was steadfast, inspiring.

All my brethren in the vicinity swayed as the precursor of a storm whipped their leaves.  This was something we had never known before. 

Of all the multitudes of people who had impinged on our very old memory, none had affected us like this man.

When they crucified the carpenter, nailing his wrists into my wood, and his essence mingled with my own, I knew that no matter what privations our brethren suffered, we would survive and even flourish. 

A time would come when trees would be nurtured in their own habitat. 

It would take a long time in arriving, but it would come to pass.

            And I know one day I shall see that carpenter again.


Previously published in the Easter edition of the Costa TV Times, 2010.

Copyright Nik Morton, 2014.


My collection of Spanish themed crime short stories, Spanish Eye, is available from Crooked Cat Publishing.
Spanish Eye, which can be purchased post-free world-wide from here
and the Spanish Eye e-book bought from Amazon com here
or bought from Amazon co uk here





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