Growing Light

Centuries have passed since the tree petals were last met with sunlight. 

Its withered form consisted of grooves, where little moss balls made their home every once in a while. The tree once tried to lift a branch to stroke a particular mossy hide, but its rigidity stopped it. Now there was no use in such matters. It had decided a long time ago that there was no worth in trying to be the light-hearted little sapling it once was. It would be much better to let time do to it what it will; although it was rather curious how time had not decayed its form. Though its leaves were brittle and roots so delicate they might snap, its form had not decayed, or been blown away by a hurricane, or even snatched by a would-be enthusiast the master was talking about one night when all was still.

‘I had better fasten the gate. Those hooligans respect that at least. No one must get their hands on you, little one.’

The withered hand had stroked it then, ever so slightly, and a warm sensation spread to the sanctum, to the bare hollow inside of the young tree. Although it didn’t seem that there was anything touching the innards of its trunk, it was as if the energy the tree received from the glowing, bright sun was magnified. Though this being—this creature that was so different to it—was able to connect. Maybe this long limb is a weird, coloured branch or a larger bird with more limbs, it thought at the time. 

‘Goodnight, precious thing,’ said the master as the sound of his limbs started to draw away from it. The tree fluttered its left most branch, as it often did with the master. 

‘Not now, I have to see to this fence, before the hooligans get inside.’

Though the tree was upset when the master left after such a pleasant experience, it imagined what might happen the next day when it saw the master, and the next, and the next. Maybe it could figure out a way to not feel as lonely at night. A way to let the precious light in, to make all its days seem light. This excited the tree very much, and it passed that night greatly, imagining all of the things that could be. 

The next day, it seemed like the master had changed. He had moved frantically between rooms, gathering numerous objects that it could not understand. The sounds sputtering out of his mouth were no longer loud enough for the tree to discern like it used to, but a slow murmur that sounded scattered, like a bird it once heard. Whenever the master did make his way over to the tree, his voice would fall to a whisper, and he would drop apologies after apologies.

‘I wish I didn’t have to do this, but there is no other choice.’

‘The best choice for you is without me. Those imbeciles would rather hunt me than you.’

‘How will I make it up to you?’

‘If only I thought to fix that wretched fence earlier, we would all be safe.’

Although this change in pattern worried the tree, it thought it was for its own benefit and didn’t seem as concerned as it should when the master finally touched its branches (it was only thinking of the possibilities of the small gesture again). 

‘If I am able to come back, I will, little one, but soon others like me will return. You will be able to sustain the power to exist till they return. Please remember the moon. It can guide you when I cannot.’

When the warmth came over the tree, despite its exuberance, it remembered feeling something foreboding, like when it somehow knew a sapling would hit it when it was young. It decided to ignore the warnings and repeat its master’s words: they had to be important after all. 

However, when the days turned into weeks and months without the master, the tree lost its glow and began to grow gnarled. It still harboured hope the master would return, but it became smaller and smaller. Attempts to reach the little white object the master called ‘moon’ were futile, as it could not reach the large opening in the structure above it. When the tree’s limbs grew long enough to reach it, the gap was filled with some soft, but thick, green substance, similar to the leaves at the end of its branches.  

This made the tree’s hollow grow larger and it withdrew into it, willing to stand underneath time’s wing, until it finally decided what to do with it. 

On one particular night, when it recalled the warm touch of the master, something lightly tapped its branches. It tried to sense what and where this something was, but it didn’t feel like any creature at all. It grew confused when the thing constantly tapped its branches—like an annoying little bird. As it thought about the last time it felt annoyed at a bird, its branches suddenly shook. 

It had realised the air beneath a bird’s wings was beneath its branches now. There was air where it was, and where there is air, there is an opening. 

It suddenly started waving its branches as hard as it could, trying to break the dense mound of green above it. Though it attempted to move quickly, its branches had weakened from fatigue and moving them at all proved difficult. The most the tree moved was around the length of a small leaf. 

The tree became more and more tired, feeling that everything was hopeless, as it always seemed to. 
Its limbs grew tight. Branches began to weaken as the decaying process began. 

Weird branches suddenly started hitting the tree, flailing faster and faster. The tree tried to protect itself but noticed they were not aiming at it, but the green above it. They were punching through the leaf-like object above, leaving holes in their wake, more holes and more holes, letting in light.

Moonlight. 

As soon as the silvery light touched one branch, the tree began to grow and expand above, making a new maze of branches. More and more branches grew as more holes appeared. 

The tree’s warmth extended into its hollow as the green roof was finally broken. There was suddenly a wide sky before it, filled with structures and nature it couldn’t describe. It noticed the weird, coloured branches belonged to something like the master below it, though they were smoother than its own branches, and smaller than the master. 

‘Be free now! The master wished me to tell you the hooligans are gone, and that moonlight is your energy, that it will help you survive!’ the master-like being yelled. 

The tree looked at the wide expanse and didn’t know what to make of the new freedom it had. The master had given this to it though, and now it had a choice.

The tree bowed its branches, as the master had done.

‘Good luck!’ 

The master-like being waved as the tree meandered, blossoms falling and leaves waving.

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