They buried me deep to prohibit the evil from returning. Long held superstitious beliefs still ruled the minds of many people. The cool damp earth heavily covered every inch of my body. I felt nothing as shovels of dirt hit my face, my eyes open wide and vacantly staring at the sky above. Dust and mud filled every crevasse of my skin. Soon the darkness completely overtook me and there was no more.
The little seed had long lay undisturbed, wedged between two stones deep within the earth. Now as my body melted into an unrecognizable pile of rotting flesh the dust became damp and permeated with the squalid and putrid smell forming a muddy mixture. The oozing moisture from the decaying flesh began to bleed into the surrounding dirt and covered the little seed in life-giving moisture. In that moment, deep in the silence, life began to stir.
Breaking through the shell and hard outer husk a small white tendril began to slowly struggle upward in the dark. Drawn by an instinct that upward was were there was a place that light existed. The small shoot of living mass passed through my stomach which was now an unrecognizable mixture of internal organs, flesh and earth, weaving its way through the bones of my ribs. Its quest for life seemed to direct it away from the poisons secreted by my decaying liver and kidneys. The multitude of enzymes and proteins from my rotting flesh feed the small seed’s every growing need.
Growing stronger and bigger the long white shoot became a missile as it continued upward through the dark soil. Like an albino snake it inched its way towards the surface around obstacles and powering through the damp earth. After many days, that seemed like forever in the dark, a small white shoot broke through the hard crust of the earth. Protruding upward the small spike of a living plant was overcome by the bright light.
The warmth and power of the sun was overwhelming. Immediately a metamorphosis began to occur. The little white sprout began to synthesize and the color of green began to grow into the small wisps of the upstart life. Steadily the years passed; as rains came down saturating the ground followed by sunshine that gave warmth, silently encouraging continued growth. Stronger and stronger it became, resilient to the cold winters, the restless winds and the myriad of enemies that sought its destruction.
Ever up towards the blue of the sky it grew its branches extending as if sniffing the smells carried on the winds. The pine needles rustled in the breeze creating a symphony of sounds no orchestra could match. The trunk became full and strong, the roots burying themselves deep into the soil, past my long forgotten corpse.
The sun circled lazily through the sky day after day and time moved on as it is want to do. One bright late spring day a young girl and her father stopped to rest in the shade cast by the trees long velvet green branches. They had been walking enjoying the warmth of the sun on their skin and now they sat down in the cool shade, as a faint smell of pine scent wafted in the air about them.
“Daddy, how long do you think this tree has been here?” she asked looking up into the enormous canopy over their heads.
Her father paused, looking up also and replied, “Oh honey, I am sure a long, long time. A tree this huge takes a lot of years to grow this big. You know it started from just one small seed, smaller than the end of your little finger and it was in the right spot at just the right time.”
The little girl lay back in the shade of the mighty tree smiling and looked up into the tangle of branches of gently swaying pine needles reveling in the quiet. She watched as a small bird seemingly unconcerned hopped from branch to branch. The late afternoon sunlight filtered through the branches as her father felt his heart swell with love for his little girl. They sat together remaining silent in the midst of the circle of life that revolved around them.
~Mark Schutter ©2015
The above writing was began during a free-write session of our workplace writing group with the prompt to write about a tree and use the physical senses throughout. I did not have time to finish during the session but already had the ending in mind so I went back and finished it with some editing. What do you think?