I Am a Tree
My side of the woods is usually deserted, except on holidays like the Fourth of July, which happens to be today. On this day, kids and adults alike usually sit and relax under the shade of my tree during the day and watch the fireworks during the night. It is only at this time when I see my own kind.
Well, at least I think they are my own kind. To be quite honest, I do not know what I am. I am shaped like a human, but I am stuck to a tree. There is no possible way that I am just a tree. I have hands and legs, but I cannot move from my spot. Everyone who knows of my tree just believes the delusion that I am just some old carving of a young girl.
Maybe I am just a tree. The tree is me.
I have no clue of how I got here, but I do know that I have been here for a long time. I can remember living through seventy Fourth of Julys, probably more, but the rest are lost in memory.
Every Fourth of July, I hope that someone will see me as more than just a carving but no one ever has. A day has not gone by that I do not think about being human. They fascinate me. Maybe today someone will free me from my bondage.
Here come two young girls. I have a good feeling about this.
“Tana, get those out of my face!” shouts the eldest girl swatting away some dandelions that her younger sister had picked. This takes Tana by surprise causing her to catch a mouth full of dandelions. The eldest sister laughs.
“It isn’t funny, Morgan,” says Tana spitting out the dandelions. “Just wait until I tell mom. I’m sure she won’t find it very funny.”
Morgan ignores her sister’s remark and looks directly at me.
“Whoa! Look at that tree!” she exclaims, running up to me. “That’s one crazy carving. This one looks better than the others. Look at how real it looks. I think this is the perfect camping spot.” She reaches out her finger and drags it across my cheek.
Tana scrunches up her nose and frowns. “No, no, no, no,” she says apprehensively. “It’s a little too lifelike, Morgan. It will probably watch us while we sleep,” she whispers while looking suspiciously at me.
“Oh, please, Tana, don’t be dumb. It’s not real. It’s just a carving.”
After Morgan declares this, both girls leave. When the sun begins to set, I see the girls again. This time they carry large bags on their backs and sleeping bags in their hands. Within an hour, their camp is set up and they have a fire going.
“I still think that the fire is too close to that tree,” states Tana pointing at me.
“The fire is perfectly fine where it is,” replies Morgan. “If you just watch it and be careful, everything will be ok. I am going to gather some more firewood. I’ll be back.” Morgan pats her younger sister on the back and nonchalantly walks deeper into the woods.
Tana rocks back and forth by the fire. She glances at me every once in a while as if to assure herself that I was not watching her.
“I know you’re not just a regular carving. You look different than the others,” she says aloud, not bothering to look at me, but I know she is talking to me. “I do not know how I know. I just have a feeling.” She then takes a piece of wood and sticks it in the fire to make herself a torch. She holds it up near my face and her hand falters. She scrutinizes my face.
“Tana, what are you doing!” yells Morgan from a distance.
Tana flinches and drops her flaming stick right on the roots of my tree. Morgan emerges from the darkness and yanks Tana away from me. Both of the girls fall back in terror at the sight of my tree going up in flames.
The fire burns away the bark that had encased me and leaves me unscathed as the rest of my tree becomes ashes around me. A thick smoke fills the air, and I find myself choking on the remains of my own bark. The fire spreads quickly to neighboring trees and soon my whole side of the woods is burning. I just stand for a while and watch it burn, not knowing what to do next.
Eventually, I look back to where the girls are lying, but they are not there anymore. Suddenly, I hear the sound of sirens. I decide to pursue the ruckus. I struggle to keep my balance, but I manage to follow the noise to a clearing that the fire has already touched. I see a bright red truck and men spraying water out of a large tube on the nearby trees. A man, who is not busy, rushes up to me carrying a blanket.
He lays it across my shoulders and says, “Are you ok, young lady? I’m going to take you to the sheriff.” He wraps his arm around me and leads me across the clearing. “What is your name?”
“I am a tree,” I reply.
He looks at me kindly and chuckles. “No, you are not a tree,” he says gently. “You’re a human.”