The wizened tree stood on top of the volcano, a rather pathetic looking spindly piece of dried wood, that somehow was able to support the weight of the bird which slept on top of it.
Forgiveness rubbed at their arms, looking at the majestic beast. The feathers were of varied colour. The plumage of the body was golden where exposed with the occasional line of a deep red which showed between the line of each individual feather. The wings darkened, where those two different colours eventually blended together into a ruby tip for each primary feather. The scales of her feet were red as well, with white nails. The same colour as the beak, which stood in contrast to the carmine colouring of the head. No other winged creature would look like this, especially not at this size.
And at this stage of life, looking very healthy. Nowhere near the rebirth in her cycle.
Forgiveness sat down to take a moment – particularly to see what they could do about their own wings. Such a mess, after Pup had left them, and they hadn’t been fast enough to pass unscathed through the creatures of the world that tended to think an angel didn’t belong. Forgiveness was used to this behavior, though they usually did better at avoiding any marring caused by it. They didn’t want to return to Life like this, she would be saddened by their pain.
Then there was a sound. The angel looked up and saw what it was. Bright sapphire eyes glimmered with irritation. The phoenix had awakened. Apparently there was some sort of protocol that Forgiveness hadn’t observed by coming up here like this and the phoenix wasn’t happy.
Every day I see the tree.
It’s not a big tree. A bit wiry, never has all that many leaves, no matter the amount of branches. I don’t know trees, I don’t know what it is. If it weren’t for the white blossoms, such small things, no one would ever see it where it decided to grow. On the side of the hill, surrounded by the greats which could completely encompass the entirety of the tree in their trunks.
I don’t know when I first noticed the tree. Many years after driving past it, I’m sure. And my attention changes nothing in the tree’s existence. I’m not sure it changed anything in mine.
Yet every time I pass by now, I look to the right. It stands there, resilient as ever.
Perhaps something has changed.
The booming voice had been whispered, but the mass of the tree who had said it contrasted greatly with the ears of the small individual who received the greeting. She covered her ears, certain she would still hear the great tree perfectly well, but hoping she would be able to save more of her hearing. It wasn’t as though time had already taken some of it from her naturally, she didn’t need a loud (though still well-meaning) tree taking the rest.
“Hello to you too,” she replied. “I’m here in response to your summons?”
The tree’s voice was a bit louder now, they had forgotten to whisper that time. The woman took some steps back, not that it would help.
“You wanted a gardener for the western edge of the forest! I wanted to apply.”
For a few moments, there was the blessed quiet of the natural forest. Then the tree spoke again. “Yes! Too many pests! Burrow into wood. My children cry.”
She nodded, before remembering that the tree either wouldn’t register that motion as her understanding or wouldn’t notice it at all. “I have heard. I am willing to give my everything to save them from that pain, if I can.”
“Then do so!”
She winced, stuffing her fingers as much into her ears as the canals would allow. “I will!”
At the very least, the western edge was far enough away that if the massive tree said anything, she wouldn’t worry about being deafened.
The damp made it difficult to pierce the earth with the shovel. With as much force as she could muster, she drove her weight down on top of it to scoop off another load of soil. One down, who knew how many to go. It had to be deep enough, after all. And big enough in all other dimensions. All she could think about was that it wasn’t supposed to have rained today and this was supposed to be easier. If the morning had not been spent procrastinating, perhaps, but now the time neared dusk. If she wanted this done right, she was running out of time.
The recipient stood motionless nearby, unable to assist. Unable to do anything but wait for her to finish the hole. She didn’t look over at the hole’s soon-to-be occupant. She didn’t need to. She shouldn’t have waited, she kept telling herself. She knew what she had to do today. Perhaps she should have prepared for it yesterday. Procrastination had struck her again and she ran out of the bare light that remained to her.
There. Deep and wide. She smiled to herself, looking down at it. That had to be good enough, she decided. Finally, sure of the space required, she reached over and took the sapling by the supple trunk and lowered it into the hole. In this place she had painstakingly chosen, it would hopefully flourish. Now, not minding the lack of light, she filled the earth back in around the roots. It was almost too dark by the time she had finished, but she had finished. In the dusk, the small tree stood almost tall. Happily, she patted the dirt firmly down around the trunk and then left.